The new year is a time for reflection, and that includes small business owners.
As everyone prepares to enter 2017, entrepreneurs need to be thinking about how they’re going to improve their businesses. This could mean several different things for individual business owners, but there are some things that everyone can benefit from, such as increasing their use of technology, investing in employees and revamping their marketing strategies for the year.
It’s critical that owners have a plan before the year gets under way, otherwise they will be left disorganized and falling behind their less chaotic competitors.
Follow these guidelines to make the transition into the new year a smooth one for your company:
Streamline business operations with technology
At this point, business owners who file or organize more than one or two aspects of their workflows are behind the times. To adapt to the fast-paced and constantly evolving economy, entrepreneurs need a computer system that can keep up with the daily demands of running a small business so employees can devote their time to more important tasks. In addition to streamlining everyday tasks such as filing and storage, technology can also help a business owner organize his or her supply chain and help spot any issues before they become large problems.
Technology such as CRM mobile software can help entrepreneurs that need to communicate with vendors that handle their transportation and storage of goods by giving them a single medium to exchange data on. This software can also give you a deeper look into customer purchase habits, the success or failure of different marketing strategies and other important sales information.
Lastly, technology such as an EMV card reader or self-checkout counters can improve customer service by decreasing the risk of point-of-sale fraud and cutting down on the time customers need to wait in line, respectively.
For business owners who don’t think they can afford to integrate technology into their stores, they should consider applying for an alternative business loan. Unlike banks that have onerous credit score requirements and can take several weeks to grant approval, alternative lenders can approve applicants in as little as one day.
Take the time to train employees
It might seem arduous to do it right, but onboarding employees effectively will benefit a business in numerous ways. For one, 69 percent of employees said they were more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they have a great onboarding experience, according to research from human resources consulting firm O.C. Tanner. In addition to losing an employee, turnover can be one of the most expensive processes for businesses to manage, so investing in an effective training process will save time and money in the long run.
This will also help improve customer service. The more capable and knowledgeable employees are about a business, the more they will be able to competently assist customers. For brands that are trying to establish their presence in a market, exemplary customer service and word of mouth can be an efficient way to earn a solid customer base.
New year, new marketing strategy
Business owners don’t need to start from scratch, but it’s always good to keep marketing fresh. Most importantly, entrepreneurs need to update their websites and social media accounts to reflect their current deals and promotions. If a business’s website hasn’t been updated for several weeks, it sends a signal to potential customers that that company isn’t organized well. It’s also important to stay on top of the latest trends to make sure you’re connecting with as many shoppers as possible. Business owners might consider redesigning their websites for the new year if it has had the same look for a while.
In 2017, digital and mobile marketing is going to be more important than ever. As consumers increasingly look to their phones to accommodate their shopping needs, business owners need to make sure that their websites are optimized for mobile activity and devise a marketing strategy that targets consumers directly on their smartphones if they want to remain competitive in the new year and beyond.
Business owners who aren’t sure if they can handle the cost of creating a new marketing strategy should consider applying for a small business loan from an alternative lender. Entrepreneurs don’t need to worry about jumping through hoops for approval, and they can get cash in as little as 24 hours.