Make big improvements to your small business in the new year
Congratulations. You are already a successful entrepreneur. Because of that, you know that the work never stops, and there’s always room for improvement. Improving your business isn’t just about identifying shortcomings or fixing problems. It’s also about making strategic changes that allow you to innovate, grow and become more successful. Being stagnant isn’t just boring – it’s also bad for business. Dive into the new year with an open mind, and move your business forward with these improvement ideas.
Score some goals
Small business owners dream big – that’s what drives them to start independent ventures in the first place. Big ideas are great, but if they’re not translated into workable goals, they will never become a reality. Take some time to set goals for the year. Start by picking three areas of your business that you want to target. They can be financial (increase gross profit by 10%), customer-focused (use paid social marketing to gain at least 100 new customers), organizational (declutter your back office by the end of February) and so on. Don’t pick goals based on what you think you’re “supposed” to do – really think about your unique business needs, and tailor your goals accordingly.
We know this isn’t your first rodeo – you’ve already come this far. But, as a friendly reminder of the fundamentals of effective goal-setting, be sure to make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based). Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew – that will just leave you feeling overwhelmed. If your goals are on the small side and won’t take long to achieve, feel free to pile them up (in an organized way, of course). If your desired achievements are more sweeping and significant, limit them to one or two, and break them down into less daunting, bite-sized goals.
Find entrepreneurial pals
You may be independent, but you’re not in this alone. Networking is an invaluable tool. Connect with fellow small business owners both inside and outside your industry to share best practices, tackle common issues and avoid duplicate work. Just because you’re an expert doesn’t mean you won’t continue to learn, and you could have the opportunity to mentor someone who’s just starting out.
Being part of a local entrepreneur community is richly rewarding for both practical and emotional reasons – you’ll find ways to improve your business, and you’ll make friends who truly understand what it’s like to run a company.
Here are some groups to check out: Canada Business Network, Small Business Community Network, Small Business Association and Canadian Small Business Women.
Use time as a tool
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of running a business and lose sight of long-term goals. To actually achieve what you’ve set out to do, prioritization is key. It’s amazing what can happen when you make time – even just a little bit. Set aside a block of time every day – 30 minutes, 60 minutes, whatever you can spare – and dedicate it solely to chipping away at your current goal. Do it at the same time every day, and treat this time with the same importance you would any other appointment or meeting. Minimize distractions as much as possible – close the door, don’t check your phone or email, and set a timer for the full amount you’ve chosen to set aside. When you allow yourself to really focus, you’ll achieve so much more.
Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash
There’s an app for that
Making business improvements, big or small, requires a lot of work. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to save you time and keep you on track.
- Office 365
Office 365 from GoDaddy provides online versions of the Office suite you know and love. This cloud-based solution lets you work from anywhere, so you can really make the most of your time. Traveling for work? On the other side of town for a meeting? No problem. Even when you’re away from your desk, you’ll have access to the files and programs you need to get the job done.
Project management is so important when you’re tackling larger tasks. Basecamp makes project management seamless and intuitive, and collaboration easier than ever. It’ll keep everything you need for a project organized and in one place.
With Dropbox, you can upload and share large files and access them from anywhere. It makes collaboration easy and ensures you have access to the files you need, when you need them.
Start fresh with a deep clean
Consider making your first goal a deep clean. That way, you can kick off the new year with a fresh start and really focus on tackling the goals that matter most to you. What kind of cleaning, you ask? Get to work on anything that could use a little dusting and decluttering – whether that’s your desk, your brick and mortar store, your email inbox, etc.
Once you get organized and make a plan for the year, you’ll be unstoppable.
Image by: Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash