2016 has dawned, bringing with it plenty of hope and expectations for another great year.
While friends and family are hitting the gym, perhaps now is a good time for you to hit the books and come up with a business plan for the upcoming year. We’ve come up with 12 ways to improve your business in 2016, with a manageable theme to focus on each month to educate, motivate, and inspire yourself to bigger and better things.
January 1st usually starts off with such hope for the upcoming year. The holidays are over, you’ve got a new calendar on the wall, and the year is fresh, with no mistakes in it yet. Take advantage of this blank slate by making a few New Year’s resolutions for your business. Examine your business operations with an honest and unbiased eye (maybe even call in a consultant or ask your customers or employees for advice) and commit to being a better business owner this year.
Ahh, love! There’s nothing better, right? But if you’ve been running your business for a few years, it’s easy to fall into a rut and forget about the things you used to love about your line of work. So, as Valentine’s Day turns everyone all romantic and googly-eyed, set aside some time to fall back in love with your business again. After all, it’s hard to make the rest of the year profitable if your heart’s not in it.
You’re committed; you’re in love; you’re going places! But before you can go one step further this year, you have to make sure you aren’t just spinning your wheels. (Remember: being busy is not the same as being productive.) Get your work priorities in order, and look for little ways you can improve your productivity. By slowing down for a little bit to make sure your engine (aka “you”) is in order, you’ll ensure that the rest of the trip…er, year, goes smoothly.
The 3rd week of April (every year) is “Organize Your Files” Week, so take advantage of the perfect opportunity to get your files in order. Being organized isn’t just about having a clean, beautiful work space (that’s an added benefit), it’s about knowing exactly where your tax information is so your accountant doesn’t have to nag you. Or knowing exactly how to run the report that tells you how well your new flavor of cupcake is selling. Naturally, this goes for both your paper and your digital files, so don’t neglect your hard drive while you’re shredding all those old receipts.
You’re committed, passionate, and organized, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be inspired. Take a tip or two from the experts by listening to business podcasts. There are hundreds out there, whether you’re looking for general business tips or something specific to your industry. Not into the whole “podcast” thing? Find a good RSS reader and subscribe to some awesome blogs. The important thing is to stay informed rather than behind-the-times.
By now, you should have plenty of accomplishments under your belt and plenty of ideas in your head. Get that knowledge out to where it matters (your customers), and start blogging. Blogging does so many great things for your website and, by extension, your business. It reminds Google and other search engines that you’re still relevant. It reminds your customers that you know what you’re talking about. And it reminds you that your business is something you have to constantly update in order to remain a top player in the marketplace.
You probably have at least one social media site set up by now (hopefully it’s not in lieu of a website), but if you’ve put it on the shelf for a while, dust it off and put it to work for you. Sites like Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter might have the disadvantages of being out of your control (for example, you have no choice but to pay to boost your Facebook posts), but they have one thing that your website probably doesn’t have: millions of users. Social media is a tool like any other, and if you can wield it properly, your business will reap the benefits.
Things are probably going great by now and you feel like celebrating! You are rocking this entrepreneur thing! If not, you’re not alone. Every business owner hits a slump every once in a while. If it gets really bad—like, “we need to get some help” bad—reach out to some local organizations for a boost. But whether you’re in Orlando or not, there are plenty of other ways to collaborate with other business owners in your area. Meetups, conventions, or a strategic alliance with that retail store down the road are all great ways to foster cooperation and build everyone’s business.
You’re an expert in your industry, but don’t neglect pursuing other strengths as well. Namely: your grammar. Whether or not you hire someone else to write your emails, social media posts, and blog articles, it helps to have a solid grasp on the basics of English so you don’t come across looking like an idiot. After all, you might be the world’s greatest electrician, but if you can’t spell “wiring,” you’ve got a problem.
Halloween might be a time for shadows and disguises, but that’s the last thing you want for your business. Marketing encompasses a lot of different things, but the main one is getting your name out there. Take some time to evaluate your current marketing strategies (intentional or otherwise) and make sure they’re up-to-date (an outdated marketing strategy is like flushing $100 dollar bills down the toilet). If you’ve got a solid marketing campaign in place, consider taking a few tips from the experts to step up your game.
Take advantage of the holiday slump—or take a breather before the holiday rush, depending on your industry—and read some good business books to prepare you for 2017. (It came quicker than you expected, didn’t it?) There have been lots of great books over the years, but make sure you choose them carefully. Social media manuals published in 2008 are useless now, while classics such as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People stand the test of time year after year. There’s no such thing as too much learning.
Whew! You made it through another great year! Show your business some love by giving it a Christmas gift. You don’t have to spend a lot of money (although you certainly can) to give back to a business that’s putting food on your family’s table. Something small like a new logo, an employee fun day, or even a new office chair (a gift for your tush!) can put a smile on your face and carry you into a brighter new year.
Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. Congratulations on making it through another year and best wishes on the next one!