Reason to celebrate

Marking another year in business is a good thing, but take it further by making some New Financial Year resolutions.

How fantastic is it that as small-business owners we can have two New Year celebrations every year, with the end of the financial year being one of my favourite times — not only because it is my business birthday (I started my business on 1 July 1999), but also because it is a celebration of another year of just being in business…

You get to say goodbye to the past year if it was not so good for you, and start afresh.

There is an energy about the end and start of a year that can be harnessed for good business outcomes. So give yourself the opportunity to draw a line in the sand, release the year that’s been and set yourself up for a great financial year ahead. And like the start of the calendar year, why not set yourself some New Year’s resolutions for your business?

Your business could be in an amazing place this time next year. Want to take the challenge? Here are 12 steps to success…

1. Try one new thing

This might be a new form of marketing, collaborating with another business, saying no to a customer or maybe trialling a new supplier. It is easy to become stuck in the way we’ve always done things because they work, but you could well be missing out on a great opportunity to do things even better.

2. Undertake training/ professional development

To improve your business, you often need to improve yourself first. Investing in learning a new skill can pay great dividends. Consider attending a training course, workshop or seminar, or do an online course to upskill in technology, business management, marketing or cashflow management. Attending an industry seminar to keep your professional skills sharp can provide a motivational boost to help you through the year.

3. Implement one piece of technology to help your business

There are many apps and pieces of software for businesses that can improve your productivity, customer service, financial management or record keeping. How about implementing just one? It might be as simple as updating your phone to the latest model or putting some business activity in the cloud. It could be recommitting to some software you are not using to full capacity. Just keep it simple and achievable, and make sure it’s not just technology for technology’s sake — it must benefit your business.

4. Update your website — or launch one

We all know you need to update your website, it’s getting around to it that is hard. Make this year the one you do something about it. Your website is your main marketing asset, so it’s time to take care of it. If you don’t have a website, it’s time you did so.

5. Measure your marketing activities

Many businesses spend money on marketing but do not measure the results to know if it is really working for them. This year, monitor and measure your marketing. Recording the answers to “How did you hear about us?” is a good start. Marketing tip: if you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

“Give yourself the opportunity to draw a line in the sand, release the year that’s been and set yourself up for a great financial year ahead.”

6. Book a holiday

Too often as business owners we feel as though we can’t take time off. If you don’t schedule it in, then it definitely won’t happen. Running a business is stressful and everyone needs time to recharge. Start with booking a long weekend, then work up to a three- to four-week holiday. You might be flat out before and after your holiday, but it is well worth it because it means you can hang in there longer.

7. Develop one system or procedure that saves time

Is there something you do over and over again that could either be automated or made more efficient? Make this the year to tackle this. It might be the way you organise your workday, checking emails less frequently each day, limiting your social-media time or outsourcing your bookkeeping. Identify where you spend most of your time then brainstorm ways you could be more efficient.

8. Write down three business goals for the year

If you have been in business for a while, you know where you are heading. It is important to articulate exactly what you want to achieve, otherwise it’s easy to drift and take longer to reach goals. End of Financial year is a great time to revisit your sales goals, marketing goals and overall financial goals. What are three things you would like to achieve in the next 12 months? Write them down and look at them regularly — that way they are more likely to eventuate. If possible, make the goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific). When you reach those goals this time next year there will be plenty to celebrate.

9. Clear out your emails to start from zero each week

Do you waste a lot of time trawling through emails or, worse still, do you lose business because you lose emails in your overcrowded inbox? An overflowing inbox can add to the everyday stress of running a business, becoming a constant reminder of all the things that have to be done. It can be like weeds in garden — if you don’t get on top of them, they can take over. This year, choose to keep on top of your emails and enjoy greater peace of mind, feel in control and feel energised. Clear out the emails in one crack, then allocate time each week to bring that inbox back to zero.

10. Organize a celebration for your business birthday

Every year you survive or thrive in business is a success, and definitely worth celebrating. Even if it is sharing drinks or a cake with your staff on your official business birthday, noting the occasion is important. If you are celebrating a milestone like 10, 15, 20 or more years, consider going to town with a year-long celebration including customer specials, a birthday party or releasing a special anniversary product, service or promotional product.

11. Attend a business networking event

If you have never attended a business networking event before, then this is the year to do it, Networking is one of the most powerful ways for a small business to attract new custom. Even if you already attend networking events, maybe this year find a new event to attend, or go to one outside of your area.

12. Get good, or get off social media

Businesses are spending more and more time either on social media or worrying about what they should be doing there. Fewer than half of small businesses in Australia have a social-media strategy, which means many are doing random things that may not be achieving results. If that is you, maybe your New Financial Year resolution could be to tame the beast. Wrangle your social media, learn to do it better or just give yourself permission to get off. Choose one resolution, choose them all or create your own set. The most important thing is that you act on them to ensure that when the next financial end of year rolls around your business is in a better place. So, to all my fellow business owners, Happy Financial New Year. Celebrate another year in business, and I wish you much success and prosperity in 2017/2018.

Ailsa Page, Director, AP Marketing Works