Whether you’re planning to start or expand your small business, make 2019 the year you make it happen! New Year’s Resolutions are slippery things that can easily be forgotten about by February, but here are 5 that are really worth keeping this year.
Prepare for the B-word (yep, Brexit)
Nobody really knows what will happen on 29th March because, unfortunately, nobody has a crystal ball. If you can afford to take out personalised legal and financial advice tailored to your business then now is a good time to do so, but as most SMEs lack bags of excess cash to pay for such, some generally sound advice is:
Look now at ways of streamlining your business to maximise your cost efficiency (such as securing cheaper office space - see #5, below) to avoid having to raise your prices if no deal is reached on trade tariffs.
Consider sourcing your goods from UK sources. The unit prices may be slightly more expensive than EU suppliers, but cheaper when you factor in additional taxes and tariffs.
Look at other markets. If you’re going to be paying tariffs and higher fees for goods from or to the EU, why not sell to or buy from other nations?
2. Build or refresh your website
Create a website
Make sure that you have a website that is easy-to-navigate and (ideally) mobile-friendly. Ensure that your contact details, as well as positive reviews and unique selling points, are clearly visible. If you already have a site, have a look at recent trends in website design to make sure your site looks fresh and modern.
Make sure customers can find it!
Start and maintain a regular blog to generate interest in your business. A carefully worded blog with a good balance of decent content and SEO keywords can boost your visibility on the web and draw more customers in. Link your blog to your website’s landing page and your social media pages...
3. Sort out your social media
Control what your customers see
Happy customers will often recommend SMEs to their friends via social media. It is, therefore, a really good idea to have separate social media accounts for your personal and professional pages… You want potential customers to see testimonials and photographs of your work - you don’t particularly want them to see photos of you on a night out!
Fill your professional page with regular status updates showing examples of your work or interesting snippets of industry news to generate interest and conversations with potential customers and suppliers. A professional page will also make it easy for customers to message you or click through to your website.
Respond promptly to social media contacts
Check the settings on your account to make sure you receive notifications of new messages and comments so that you can quickly respond to new and existing customers. If you can’t respond in detail then and there, always send a ‘holding’ text or message to say when you’ll get back to them - or risk losing a customer to a rival who is better at returning calls.
4. Get involved in your community
Get your business known in your local community and be the first name that people think of when they need your particular goods or services. Get involved in local causes, sponsor local events and do something as simple as signing up as a drop-off point for your local food bank to get people through your door and help a good cause at the same time.
5. Sort out your office space
SME owners often report that as their business has grown, their living space has shrunk if that business is run from a back bedroom - files, stock and equipment have a habit of spreading out throughout the rest of the house! If you are working from home at the moment, you might be considering moving into dedicated commercial office space.
Opt for flexible office space
Perhaps you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and invest in a commercial lease (or buy a property). If so, consider renting empty office space
(and furnish it with the essentials you need) or an office at a dedicated business centre (which can include a range of office support services if you need them) depending on what you can afford and what you actually need. The benefits of doing so are:
- You can rent office space for a week at a time or longer-term, with no lengthy tie-in periods or hidden fees.
- You can increase or decrease the amount of space you rent over time to match the ebb and flow of your normal business patterns.
- You can use the space as your business’s address for correspondence, instantly creating a more professional impression for your customers.
- You can store your stock and equipment on site if you choose office space with onsite secure storage units.
Hopefully, we’ll all soon be a bit clearer about what Brexit will mean for business in the UK and you’ll be able to tick that particular resolution off your list. The rest can evolve from resolutions into good habits to last throughout the year and beyond!