With many people out on holiday, late December is the perfect time to reflect on your business and set goals for the coming year. Here are five New Year’s resolutions we recommend to ensure a prosperous 2017:
1. Evaluate Your Business
Successful business leaders take time to assess every aspect of their business, to gauge its strengths and weaknesses and to plan for the future. Evaluate your employees, vendors, contractors, etc. Do you have overlap in some areas but need extra staffing in others? Are you and your executive team delegating work for maximum production and efficiency? Identify high, middle and low performers. Weed out the slackers. Motivate the middle. Reward top performers in whatever manner works best for you (praise, raise, promotion).
Evaluate your marketing mix. What worked well last year and what didn’t? Where were your dollars most efficiently spent? What is your competition doing? Are you keeping up? Advertising and marketing have undergone a tremendous upheaval, as more traditional approaches like print media give way to digital and social channels. Ask your marketing partners to provide you with a detailed analysis of previous advertising efforts and recommendations for moving forward.
Evaluate all of your spending. Get a precise accounting of everything—from big things like payroll and benefits packages to small things like office supplies and equipment repairs. Knowing where your dollars are going is the best way to get a handle on where you should be investing and where you can afford to make cuts.
2. Cultivate Your Online Presence
Start by asking your advertising/marketing partner to provide a professional analysis, an in-depth survey of your online landscape to see if your business is capitalizing on the Internet and social media’s ability to influence consumer behavior.
An analysis is a good start, but you’ll have to devote time and resources to implementing the recommended strategies, such as SEO evaluation, paid search, and regular posts on your web blog and social media accounts.
Think of your online presence as your virtual business. Like your brick-and-mortar business, it requires upkeep and, when needed, renovation and upgrading. Some of that work will need to be done by professionals, but you can increase your ROI by doing some work in-house. Get your staff involved in producing compelling content, and commit to writing posts yourself. You’re an expert in your field, after all, so why not leverage your knowledge to attract new customers by giving them information they can use? You can further engage your base with surveys, polls, contests and the like. Try to find interesting ways to ask customers what they want, and then position yourself to give it to them.
3. Get More Involved
Commit to engaging more with your industry. Attend a conference, networking event or seminar. Host an event of your own. Take an online course or tutorial to sharpen or expand your skill set. Read articles and/or books related to your business/industry, and then share what you’ve learned on your web blog and social media. (If your post is for colleagues, LinkedIn might be a better fit.)
Take a more active role in the community, and encourage your team to do likewise. Offer to serve on a board or committee for a local nonprofit or civic organization. Find some causes you care about and volunteer your time or donate money or goods. Look for good works you and your team can do together. The more you give back, the more you get in return. Few things affect customer loyalty more than goodwill generated by your company.
4. Stay Focused on Quality
The one thing that trumps goodwill in keeping customers coming back is quality. Review every aspect of your business offering—products, services, customer care—and make sure your clients’ experience is top-notch top to bottom. That includes your online customer care. Respond quickly to bad reviews and do whatever it takes to make it right.
Maintain your focus on quality. Schedule time to evaluate operations and results regularly. Work up a plan to remedy anything that is not working. Evaluate needs that could affect quality. Do your people have all the tools they need to do a good job? Do you need to upgrade their equipment? Do they need to update their skill set?
Finally, get together regularly to celebrate successes and brainstorm ways to generate more. I’m not sure which adage applies, but whether it’s “you catch more flies with honey” or “nothing succeeds like success,” there is something about a team celebrating together that makes members strive to do even better individually.
5. Take Time Off
Study after study shows that taking more vacations is good for the bottom line. More time off translates to more productivity and less turnover.
Working hard is wonderful, but all work and no play is stressful, emotionally and physically. People need time to relax, recharge and rejuvenate. Vacations help relieve built-up stress and avoid burnout.
Emphasize the importance of PTO by taking time off yourself. Encourage your employees to take all of their days, and consider upping your PTO offering. Give employees a week or two away from it all, and they come back with renewed perspective and purpose, often inspired and brimming with new ideas. But working vacations do not produce the same benefits, so tell your people to unplug as they unwind.
Do you have New Year’s resolutions in mind for your business? Tell us what you think.
HERE’S TO A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT APPLEYARD AGENCY!