With last year in the rearview mirror and a new year looming ahead, now is a good time to assess where you just came from – and decide where you want to go – with your business. Here are 5 key business elements to consider right now:
Business Plan. Last year, did you get to do everything you wanted to in your business? What helped you make it happen – or kept you from accomplishing it? Do your business objectives still align with the markets you compete in? Will those goals still help you take your business where you want it to go? If you aren’t sure, start with a broad view of it, break it down into specific, measurable pieces, and then make the needed adjustments as you move forward with it through the year.
Marketing Strategies. The lifeblood of every business is effective marketing. How profitable your business becomes depends on how much you can invest in it and the strategies you use. Fortunately, even smaller businesses today have access to the same powerful systems and marketing tools only large companies could afford before. That's great, yet it does open up the playing field to everyone who wants to compete online. If you aren't already investing in proven strategies like reputation marketing and website retargeting to help attract and convert more new prospects every month, start now. Then, build on top of those foundational strategies with others like video, social media and paid cold traffic to boost the return from your marketing spend even higher.
Human Capital vs. Automation. Your people are still what makes your business run on a daily basis, so treat them accordingly. Help them keep their skills sharp by encouraging a constant learning environment. Make your team strong and competitive by rewarding true achievers, and don’t be reluctant to prune under-achievers; that’s how championship teams are built. Show your commitment to positive change by nurturing creativity and flexibility in your corporate culture. Automate or eliminate as many low-value, repetitive tasks as you can, and reward true excellence wherever you find it.
Expense Management. “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money,” a politician once famously said. Well, your business may not be spending billions of dollars, but a few hundred bucks here and a few thousand there in unnecessary expenses can ruin your bottom line. Actively search for and eliminate waste wherever possible. Challenge your team to behave as if they owned the business and had to authorize every expenditure themselves. Expense management is everyone’s responsibility.
Finding Competitive Advantages. Did you know the first type of business to implement a customer drive-up window wasn’t a fast food company? It was City Center Bank in 1928 in St. Louis, yet it wasn’t long before that simple model started being adopted by restaurant operators and other types of businesses nationwide. Look around. What are other industries doing? Do any of their methods offer potential competitive breakthroughs for your type of business? Sometimes it’s an existing idea, re-applied in a different market, which can give your company a real advantage over your local competitors.
Paying attention to these 5 key issues now can help you take your business to the next level in this opportunity-rich new year.