Need some ideas for growing your business in 2017? Turn that positive New Year feeling into action by following our tips below.
1: Talk to your customers
How many new customers do you want this year – 10? 100? 1,000? Just before you get drawn into setting your new targets, take a look at your client retention figures and how often they’re making repeat orders.
The New Year’s a great opportunity to review what you provide and how you deliver it. Start talking to clients at every stage of the buying process to get their honest feedback. Don’t simply ask them whether they’re ‘happy’, proactively ask what you could be doing better in 2017.
2: Ditch the timewasters
Have any customers that you dread getting another phone call from? We’ve all been there!
The reality is there are likely some customers you really shouldn’t be taking into 2017. List them by spend; who’s spending the least yet taking up the most of your time? If the margins are slight, and they’re preventing you from doing more productive, rewarding work, it’s time for a cull. Instead, work harder at getting more business from your best customers.
3: Build a roadmap
We all have goals on January 1st. Then on January 2nd, we get busy. To make 2017 different, you’ll need a realistic roadmap for how you are going to achieve them. Start breaking the goals into smaller, manageable chunks so they can gather momentum. Get your team together, decide on responsibilities, and set your deadline for each task.
To ensure you stick to the plan, put time aside in your calendar. Whether it’s a business plan or a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, habit requires repetition – studies show you have to keep at it between 20-30 days. If you’re struggling to prioritise your ‘To Do’ list, it’s worth reading up on Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle.
4: Less talk, more action
Research shows that managers need to talk to each other more. More importantly, they need to be worthwhile discussions. According to the Harvard Business School, 12% of executives believe their management meetings consistently produced decisions on important strategic or organisational issues.
Booked that first meeting to discuss your roadmap for the year? Remember to appraise it – was it a success? If it started late, went on for an hour and resulted in no actions, the answer’s no!
5: Check your Resources
Once the goals are set, the less exciting next step is planning the resources to ensure you can actually make them happen. In order to achieve growth, you’ll likely need an increase in resources – whether that’s in the form of time, staff, materials, or finance.
Be realistic about how much additional time it will take to realise significant change, whilst still doing your job. If you and your team are stretched too thin, the chances of falling short inevitably increase. So, do you need more people? Do you need to hire an expert to assist? Make sure these costs are built into your plan.
It might be an idea to look at what funding there is available to help. Alongside the more traditional route of financing through banks, there are a wide range of initiatives to support growing businesses. Whichever the route, the key is to demonstrate exactly how much money you need and where it will be spent. A business plan – effectively your pitch – will be a necessity, and for government funding they’ll be looking at how you’re going to benefit the local economy.
BUSINESS PLANNING: The importance of a Business Plan, and how to write one.
6: Embrace online technology
Customers continue to do more research online before purchasing. To win them over, your website needs to be able to answer when potential customers search for risks, challenges and implementation strategies associated with what you offer. Without this kind of content, your website is unlikely to rank well in search engines, or convert.
The same people also want options – video has now become a critical source of information. According to a study by Forbes, 75% of executives said they watch work related videos at least weekly.
As more are embracing e-commerce, mobile, cloud technology and other digital products, they are becoming increasingly affordable to even the smallest businesses. If your website isn’t providing a significant amount of leads, now is a great time to look at your options.
7: Look after your biggest asset
Another hot topic during 2016 was staff wellness, and how that can impact the bottom-line. Your people are your biggest asset, so consider the positive impact of a healthier, more motivated team. According to one American study, an investment in corporate wellness programs yielded up to a 5x return through reduced sick days, higher productivity and decreased overall costs.
Engaging and retaining staff isn’t just down to free yoga classes and Christmas bonuses. In fact, financial rewards are not linked to long-term engagement. What’s far more important is understanding one’s role, being focused on clear goals and seeing how it contributes to the organisation’s overall success. So when preparing grand plans for 2017, remember to consider how you will communicate this organisation-wide.
Young businesses often struggle to look far enough ahead. The British Assessment Bureau helps businesses become more efficient and effective by implementing ISO management standards, used by over 1,000,000 successful companies worldwide.