We are excited to have another guest blog by JT Ripton and Peter Scott. This time they cover some goals to set for next year as a Small Business Owner. We hope you enjoy the article.
Seven Goals to Set as a Small Business Owner in 2018
You might think you have eons until 2018 arrives, but next year will be here faster than you think. Now is the perfect time to start planning your goals for the coming year so you can make your business stronger and more effective than ever before. Check out these seven goals that can help you reach more clients, increase your brand’s reach, improve brand recognition and stimulate revenue.
Devote More Time to Social Media
Some business owners love social media while others avoid it. Whether you love or hate social media, it’s undeniably an effective way to market your business. If you’re ready to launch a social media marketing campaign in 2018, follow these steps to make sure you reach your goals:
- Select the right social media platforms. If you run a restaurant, Facebook will help you share promotions, photos and customer reviews. If you are a clothing retailer, you’ll want to focus on creating eye-catching content for Instagram.
- Involve your audience. If you already have an existing list of email subscribers or contacts, let them know about your social media account so they can follow, friend, or otherwise engage with you there.
- Set specific social media goals. Do you want to get more likes on your content? Are you interested in growing your subscriber base? Do you want to increase conversion rates? Decide what, exactly, you want to accomplish this year.
- Post regularly. Set a specific schedule and avoid deviating from it. Your audience will begin to expect consistent activity on social media from your brand.
- Partner with influencers. If you can find industry influencers, you will expand your social media reach considerably.
Once you get started with social media — or revamp your existing social media marketing efforts — you could experience a significant return on investment. Just remember that you might have to spend several months building your presence and acquiring followers before you see results.
Improve Customer Loyalty
Consider starting a loyalty program in 2018. Assign members a unique number they can use to accrue points toward discounts, free merchandise, and other goodies. Many stores and companies have successfully used loyalty programs to improve customer retention and increase repeat purchases. As long as you offer enticing incentives, your loyalty program will bring in new business.
Evaluate and Increase Employee Engagement
Did you know that employee engagement can have a direct impact on customer satisfaction? Active, knowledgeable, and eager employees pass on their enthusiasm to the customer. They create a rich, consistent customer experience that sticks with the customer long after he or she ends a transaction with your company. You might start an employee-of-the-month program, invest in more employee development, or find better ways to communicate with your staff.
Invest in New Technology or Equipment
Outdated technology and equipment can give your competitors an edge, and that’s the last thing you want. A convenient small business loan or line of credit can make upgrading easier to fit into your budget. Instead of interrupting cash flow with a big one-time expenditure, spread out your investment over several months.
Your company might need several new things for your office, storefront, or work site, including:
- Software upgrades.
- New heavy machinery.
- Better office equipment.
- Improved workspace decor or furniture.
- Enhanced curb appeal.
- Fresh signage.
Take an inventory of your business to determine what looks or feels outdated. A face lift can help bring in more customers, while upgraded technology and equipment on the back end can make your staff more efficient.
Expand Into New Markets
Maybe it’s time to let go of the status quo and find new customers or markets. Maybe you want to open a new location in 2018, which could give you access to a fresh demographic in a new geographic location. Alternatively, you could identify new potential customers for your products or services, or even create fresh products to appeal to a different audience.
Repeat customers can keep a business alive, but you always want to push the envelope. You can bet that your competitors are expanding into new markets as you read this, so why let them take over market share?
Set Short- and Long-Term Goals
In 2018, don’t just focus on those 12 months. Set long-term goals that take you through 2020, 2030, or even 2040. What do you want to accomplish several years from now that you could put into motion today? In some cases, small tweaks can set you up for big advancements in business as long as you time them correctly.
Make a list of short-term goals, such as the ones you see on this list, as well as long-term objectives that you might not put into motion for several years. Share them with your colleagues and partners, get feedback, and start creating action steps that will lead you to your goal.
Increase Employee Benefits
Your staff has worked hard to help you realize your dream. If you want to keep your top talent on the payroll, consider offering better benefits. You don’t have to increase salaries or even spend lots of money on benefits. Many employees want perks that cost little to nothing, such as:
- Opportunities to work remotely
- Access to company resources that they can use to further their career development
- Opportunities to cross-train in other departments
- Shorter summer work hours
- A lounge area in the office where employees can take breaks
- An on-site library with useful resources
Let your imagination take over for a few minutes as you brainstorm ideas. Alternatively, ask your employees which benefits appeal to them most. That way, they know you’re taking their needs into account. You can also use these features as benefits when looking for new hires, snagging the top talent away from the competition.
Building your business requires some forethought, so don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to plan your small business goals for 2018. If you start now, you’ll hit the ground running on January 1 and start implementing the changes that will get you the best results.
About the authors: Peter Scott is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years. You can contact him at PeterEditorial@gmail.com. And JT Ripton is a freelance business and technology writer out of Tampa. He loves to write to inform, educate and provoke minds. Follow him on twitter @JTRipton.
From our team to your, have a great week.
Marc and the rest of the Cisco Small Business Team.
This is a great post. I love opportunities I have to work closely with small businesses. What’s interesting is to identify goals like the seven noted and then challenge the small business to really think about prioritizing as a function of budget while thinking of what can be done for very little cost. There are two things I really appreciate in this post. First is the idea of partnering with influencers in the social media space. No cost and potential excellent return in terms of marketing value. Keep in mind, to truly be a successful partnership you want to align well and it needs to be a two-way street. Second, the idea of updated signage stands out. On the surface this might seem like you are just buying a new sign. I recently was collaborating with a very large business and they are in the process of “buying a new sign”. They are going through a large scale rebranding effort and it has encouraged them to really review their brand including the importance of the logo they have on their signs. I often feel like we are rebranding too many times. Sports teams tend to tweak their uniforms every year now (of course this is to get fans to buy more jerseys). But if there is continued importance in recognizing the PR value in a new sign it is a great opportunity to put your brand out there strong and proud.
Great Post. I love working as a small business owner. Very informative post.
Thank you for your comments and support.
This is really great advice. There are a lot of blogs out there with tips for small businesses, but yours are by far the most useful. Thank you!
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