Six New Years Resolutions for Small Businesses (That You Can Do Right Now)

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Is it too soon to be sick of 2014 predictions, resolutions, and assorted New Year’s fodder? Wait, don’t answer that until you read this post. Here are the top six things you can do right now and be done with your list (until 2015 anyway):

1. Get Mobile

Obvious? Yes. Have you done it? Maybe not. Whatever your business model—from consultant to small business—it’s easier than ever to adopt a responsive design to ensure viewers experience an optimized view of your website. In fact, the majority of templates these days have these capabilities already built in, just make sure yours is or can be adjusted it on-the-fly (WordPress makes it easy). Remember, mobile viewers no longer tolerate sites that are difficult to navigate, slow-loading, or result in irksome moments. You can’t afford to lose them in 2014, so don’t.

Shortcut: If you’re not familiar with responsive design, or want to learn how to trick out your site to accommodate mobile viewers, check out an everything responsive design site.

2. Refresh Your Social Media Presence

If you’re like me, your social networks are live, well, and blasting out content on a regular basis. But how often do you check your business description, followers (and those you are following), and general housekeeping of your social media? Strangely, these are the items that get put on the back burner, even though they’re the first impression people get of your brand. Why not check, edit, and improve for a coordinated effort?

Shortcut: It’s unnecessary to create separate versions of social network descriptions based on differing word counts (always tempting to reach the word count, isn’t it?). Instead use a crisp, concise summary for all networks (Bonus: You’ll never have to worry about one being outdated from another. Consistency is underrated).  

3. Set Up Meetings With Prime Customers and Prospects

You might think the beginning of the year is the worst time to get in touch with customers who are just coming back to work. In reality, this is the best time to reach out. With most people still on a “holiday high”, you can snap up their attention for a quick chat, formal meeting, or lunch date. Once 2014 gets underway, they’ll be too busy with other priorities.

Shortcut: Take a cue from the sales playbook. Offer a specific date and time rather than asking the other party to supply one. People are much more likely to accept or counter with another date. Open-ended offers, on the other hand, are more likely to be put off or ignored.

4. Slot in Conferences, Vacations, and Time Off

Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I’m not a big vacation planner. The reason is simple: When you’re a consultant, you never know when client projects will get you in a pinch (not to mention the ever-present desire to keep the revenue stream flowing). Whether you have an online business, brick-and-mortar store, or consulting service, your busy times likely fluctuate by seasons, holidays, or by client activities. Mine this information at the beginning of the year and allot your time off. It may seem like a risky move, but planned events are 99% more likely to happen if you…plan them. It will ultimately save time, money, and headaches. Remember why you made the choice to go into business for yourself. You don’t work for “The Man”; you work for YOU. Go ahead and take that vacay or staycay!

Shortcut: Take another cue from the sales playbook. Ping your clients about their plans for next year (it also makes you look proactive and an excuse to get in touch). For retail businesses, study the purchasing schedules of seasonal, big-ticket, and regular customers, or conduct a quick online survey to find out buying patterns.

5. Be Ahead of The Curve

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made recommendations to clients based on an understanding of what’s coming next in their industry, a new marketing tactic, or other valuable information I’ve discovered. Sure, they may be familiar with some of these ideas already, but the fact that I can confirm this also validates their choice to hire me in the first place. Not surprisingly, I often get my best info by setting up an organized curating system. Whether it’s making recommendations to retail customers or  clients, they will thank you for it.

Shortcut: Google Alerts is not the only game in town. Check out these newer, customizable site and article curation services, or do a test run to see which ones you like.

6. Consolidate Your Marketing Resources

Say you’re doing email campaigns four times a year, pushing out social media content twice a week, and managing a monthly blog. That’s a lot to maintain, organize, and publish; plus you need to review analytics to determine the best performers. Though I’ve always valued  articles and resources from Hubspot, it took client access for me to discover the power of their marketing dashboard. Still, they can be quite expensive for a small business. For those who view HubSpot as the equivalent of the Microsoft Evil Empire, there are many alternatives, some free (but don’t expect the bells and whistles).

Shortcut: Truth be told, making a move like this is time-consuming. Consider adding capabilities to your marketing operations web site or software once a month. You don’t have to do the whole enchilada at one time, but at least make that first step.

Bonus: Add a Resolution Wild Card: We all have something to do for our business, but often we don’t have the time, resources, or budget to pull it off. We tend to get overwhelmed with the anticipation, or we get busy with other things, or both. But think of your own wish that you want to do…and do it!

What’s your first New Year’s resolution for your business?

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