This year is looking like it’s going to be an interesting one, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. 2018, with so many cultural shifts in our country and little crises for small businesses, has been interesting enough, to say the very least.
At the same time, though, it shaped up to be a year that set the stage for a technological revolution wherein innovators and entrepreneurs stepped up to put the growing power of tech advancement to good use behind their products and services.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs of all kinds, for that matter, are in a position, this year, to move into a new phase with the resources that are now available.
Don’t Let the Past Year Discourage You
Many of us didn’t have the best year in 2018 for a variety of reasons. The elephant in the room is that our country has undergone some big changes in the past year, but that extends well beyond the government.
The U.S. economy and the stock market, alone, have made it a precarious environment for small businesses. The best way for you to make sure 2019 is a better year for your business is to look at it with a wide lens, and then zoom in, to see where you missed the mark you were shooting for.
What do you wish that you had done differently in this past year? Make it a priority to take the reins this year and improve in every area where you failed or missed out.
Make Preparations to Succeed in the Coming Year
Business owners instinctively understand that the best way to have a positive outcome when issues come up is to be prepared for it way in advance. Solve problems before they happen. One of the first things that you can get ready for right now is tax season.
It comes up quickly, so it behoove you to prepare for it as early as possible–namely, right now in January. You can start by speaking to your accountant or tax professional and finding out everything your business should be doing right now to get a jump on the rapidly approaching tax season.
It’s especially helpful to get everything together early if you’re self-preparing your business taxes. Something else that will help you prepare for success this year is online marketing. If your business doesn’t do much online marketing, if any, then you really need to make a push in that direction.
Create a content marketing blog, at the very least. Start posting on social media regularly to promote for the business. Check out the following article to learn why you should be taking advantage of content marketing:
And of course, we can’t leave out every business owner’s favorite subject, the budget. Scrutinize your operating budget down to the smallest degree just to make sure you’re spending in all the right places. Trim the fat; find out exactly where you’re bleeding cash and stitch it up.
There are professionals you can hire to do this very thing, but you can basically do a good portion of the work of a financial consultant by simply looking at the cost vs. return of literally everything in your budget. That is, you want to make sure that everything you’re spending money on is worthwhile.
Business is Speeding Up
What we all want is for everything to move more quickly so that we can save time and energy whenever possible. The performance of a product or service, inasmuch as it saves us time and energy, is the real metric that determines how people will respond to your business, and how they will gauge their experience.
Take a good look at your customer support. This is pretty much the easiest element of your business that you can make faster and more efficient. There are a few online customer support resources that are great tools, and there are also CRM providers if you want to delve into it more deeply.
Simply by signing up for Zendesk, though, gives you pretty much everything you need to provide faster customer service. Zendesk will immediately add for you a ticketing platform through email, as well as live chat support. Technology updates are constantly making it better, too.
On top of the online support that you provide through your website, you can even streamline call management by using a virtual phone system like Talkroute that eliminates the need for expensive traditional phone systems while making your phones much easier to manage and adding every professional feature that you need without paying a premium for it.
There is a lot more that today’s tech will enable you to do, to increase the speed and efficiency with which you do business. We’ll go into this in the following section.
You Can’t Ignore Mobile Tech Any Longer
You may have already implemented mobile technology in every aspect of your company, and if that is the case, good for you. Many business owners, however, are holding out, which will cripple a business in the coming year because there’s just no scenario where you can meet your full success potential without making it possible for customers to interact with your business in every way, from their phones.
Not only that, but with the mobile technology available now, you’re also adding a handicap to your team if you don’t go mobile internally, as well. You can hand out smartphones to all of your employees to manage just about anything. Here are a few applications for mobile in the workplace.
Everybody on your team can easily receive and make calls from their cell, no matter where they are. The same goes for text messaging. Managers can monitor time and attendance, POS activity for cashiers, sales, reports, and other information as needed, which is updated in real time using software they can access easily through an app. You can literally track all of your business’ revenue from your phone or tablet.
If you don’t already, make sure you have a well-designed website for the business that is optimized for mobile devices. Any website builder, such as Squarespace, Shopify, or Wix will have mobile optimization built-in.
Technology is Making Everything Way Cheaper
Small businesses used to be forced to pay a ton of money for everything from phone service to payroll, but these have all been made far cheaper and more accessible now. Switch to a virtual, cloud-hosted phone system to have a system to manage business calls with every professional feature that you need.
For payment and merchant services, use a provider like Square, Clover, or Braintree, depending on whether you sell via an ecommerce site or traditional, brick-and-mortar store. Square and Clover also offer complete POS systems.
Employ content and social media marketing to market your product, which costs nothing and is one of the most effective methods to draw in new sales.
Hire designers and developers to work for you with Toptal, and use Gusto or Intuit for payroll services. Conventional services are still available but expensive and many times, unnecessary.
The new year brings a lot of promise for the future and opportunity to do business better. As they always have, quality and dependability bring in the most loyal customers, simply by one satisfied customer telling someone else about your business, but as far as how you run everything and reach out to a larger market, there are now a lot of tools you can use to make that happen. Use all the resources available to you this year, and make sure your business meets its full potential.
Greetings from the Talkroute Content Team!
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Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.