3 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Success in 2019

This article was written by guest author, Jim McKinley of Money With Jim, retired banker providing free financial counsel. 

New Year’s resolutions are a great opportunity for personal growth. Whether you want to improve your health, finances, or habits, the start of a new year inspires change. But resolutions shouldn’t be limited to your personal life! The new year is also the perfect time to make plans for growing your small business.

If you want to improve your business in 2019 (and what small business owner doesn’t?), these are three resolutions you should make.

  1. Improve Your Online Presence

A strong online presence is a must no matter the size of your business.

Start by reviewing your website. Is it mobile-friendly and compatible with popular web browsers? Do all links work, or do links lead to 404 error messages and empty pages? Is information about products, staff, and contact details up to date? Does it look good? Many small businesses take a bare-bones approach to their website to save money, but a weak website loses more money than it saves. 88 percent of customers won’t return to a website after a bad experience. Fixing these website issues among others improves the customer experience so clicks are more likely to convert.

Next, examine your social media presence. Are you active on the same social media platforms your customers use, and do you post interesting, engaging content on a regular schedule? A weak or misdirected social media presence is worse than no social media presence, so use Digital Marketing Institute’s advice to improve your social media efforts.

  1. Streamline Business Processes

As the head of your small business, you shouldn’t be bogged down with back-end tasks. Yes, administrative work is what keeps your business running. But if you’re spending all your time and energy on work that doesn’t produce income, it won’t be long until your business is hurting for cash.

Software is one way businesses can streamline processes. Businesses can use software and apps to automate customer service, social media, email marketing, and more. For businesses managing many different projects and employees, project and task-management tools add efficiency to planning and communications — and with free and open source options, it doesn’t have to hurt the bottom line.

For tasks that software can’t handle, staffing is the answer. Unfortunately, many small businesses can’t afford full-time staff, especially for tasks that don’t require full-time effort. If you can’t afford to keep tasks in-house, look to outsourcing. Contracting jobs like human resource management, bookkeeping, and marketing to outside agencies ensures high-quality output without the expense and effort of payroll.

Not sure where your business processes need improvement? Use Mind Tools’ guide to identify the weak spots in current processes.

  1. Strengthen Your Business’s Finances

Financial problems plague small businesses. If you’re not managing your company’s finances effectively, it eventually will catch up with you.

Drastic variances in cash flow are a big problem for small businesses. If your business can’t meet this month’s payroll, it doesn’t matter if you have a big check coming next month. Tracking cash flow is the first step to solving cash flow problems. Once you’ve identified shortfalls, look for solutions. Modifying payment terms for customers and suppliers, factoring invoices, and securing a revolving line of credit are three ways small businesses can solve cash flow problems.

Is the problem that more money is going out than is coming in? Consider how your small business can tighten the financial reins, like trimming overhead costs, finding cheaper suppliers, or paying debts before they accrue interest. Alternatively, it may be time to raise your prices. Many small businesses undervalue their products. Raising prices could push you into profitability without losing customers.

As a small business owner, you should always be searching for opportunities to grow and improve your business. But when you’re bogged down in day-to-day responsibilities, it’s hard to think about the big picture. Take time out at the start of the new year to examine your business’s strengths and weaknesses and use your findings to inform business practices throughout the year.

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