As a small business owner, this is the perfect time of year to reflect on areas of accomplishment or places where desired results were not achieved in 2014.
Here are some resolutions every small business owner needs to make now to get their 2015 off to a fast start:
I will stop complaining about the economy.
This country has staggered out of the Great Recession. Face the fact that this is the “new normal”. However, in a $17+ trillion U.S. economy, there are definitely more than a few new prospects that can help grow your business this year. While complaining doesn’t help find them, offering solutions to solve their problems does.
I will sell vitamins and painkillers.
During better economic times, customers do buy “vitamins” (i.e. nice to haves). In tough times, find your customers’ pain by surveying them in January and asking where your business can help the most. Focus on selling whatever it is that customers actually want, not what you think they need.
I will fire the employees that do not increase profit.
Stop holding onto the people that are bad performers, poor fits, or just don’t add to the bottom line. If that employee went on a month long vacation, would the company suffer? Everyone one else knows that the answer is no. Get over the fear and fire them in January.
I will only market to prospects that can actually pay for my product.
Businesses spend a lot of time trying to sell their products to people that do not have the money to buy. We waste a lot of time on these “Mr. Maybes” (prospects that show inconsistent interest). Separate out the “tire kickers” from the buyers by determining the customer’s budget, decision makers, and time frame for their purchase.
I will not lower my price to substitute a real marketing strategy.
Have the confidence in what your company sells not to lower your price in an effort to win business. Focus on prospects that value the pain your company solves for them. Leave the price wars to your competitors.
I will meet with customers and vendors face to face.
Stop relying on email and the phone as an exclusive way to talk with customers. Even in a social media world, deep and long lasting business relationships are still built IRL (In Real Life).
I will attend at least one major industry event.
A big part of success in business is to never stop learning from others. Don’t cheat at this while actually attending the conference by spending the entire day working on issues that are happening back at the office.
I will invest in me and learn at least one new skill.
“Old dogs can learn new tricks." We invest in training for many of our employees. This is the year to look at becoming proficient in an area where you are bad or very afraid.
I will take time off.
Professional and personal lives are merging. Take one vacation of seven days or longer this year without the work computer. Go at least one day this year without using the work cell phone. Yes, you can!
I will understand my businesses financial statements each month.
Many business owners are too busy to check or don’t understand their financial statements. Make a commitment to learn what the profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements mean to your business and use them as a guide for future action. Do not delegate that understanding to your bookkeeper, CFO or accounting professional.
I will be proud to be a small business owner.
Celebrate the big achievement of creating a company, helping your customers and employees through it. You are the future of this country.
According to a recent forecast by consulting and financial advising firm Deloitte, US holiday shopping and sales are expected to grow by as much as 4.5 percent in the 2014 season, with purchases expected to total between $981 billion and $986 billion.
David Gilbert, CEO of small business lender National Funding, shared five ways small business owners can prepare.
1. Make sure you're adequately staffed. The holiday shopping season is the busiest time of the year for most retailers. Gilbert advised small business owners to review their projected sales for each of the holiday months and determine whether they will need to hire additional employees. This may not be an option year-round, Gilbert said, but higher sales during the holiday season could make it possible, not to mention a short-term necessity.
2. Lease additional equipment, if necessary. If you anticipate significant increases in sales, you may need more equipment to get you through the season. Determine, in advance, if you need things like additional cash registers, point-of-sale systems or mobile credit card readers, Gilbert said. If you do, rent your equipment with a short-term lease.
3. Stock up on potentially popular items. The last thing you'll want is to run out of your most popular merchandise before the season is over. That's why it's critical to understand your product or service demands during the holiday season, Gilbert said. Plan strategically in advance, he said, and stock up on popular items.
4. Boost your marketing strategy. The holidays are the perfect time to rethink your marketing strategy and increase your advertising plans. Gilbert recommended that business owners take advantage of their increase in sales by using new funds to create a comprehensive marketing campaign that will draw customers to their store.
5. Know your financing options in advance. If you think you might need additional funding to get you through the holiday season, make sure you research your options and don't wait until the last minute. Because applying for bank loans can be time-intensive and complex, Gilbert suggested that business owners consider alternative lenders during the holidays because of their quick turnaround. Just make sure you let your lender know exactly what you want.
"[Business owners should approach] a lender with their express needs for financing — additional staff, increased marketing and advertising, payroll, inventory, equipment, and such," Gilbert said. "Any good lender will advise based on those needs, and those needs alone, rather than trying to sell unnecessary products."
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