Written by Mark Williams
The start of a new year is a great time for quitting bad habits and adopting good ones that leave your business more productive, more efficient and more profitable. So, what could you do in 2019 to make your business more successful?
1 Control your cash flow…
Cash is king. It’s critical. So, make 2019 the year you finally got your cash flow under control. You must minimise your costs, because then you’ll pay out less. Seek better value from all your suppliers. Negotiate better deals or explore your options.
You must also maximise your prices and margins, so you make more profit from cash that comes in. And to ensure prompt payment, which is essential to healthy cash flow, your credit control must be robust. Don’t grant more credit than your business can afford. Send your invoices as soon as possible and chase payment when due.
Set aside regular time each week to update your accounts, so it doesn’t become a more time-consuming chore. Also, assess your key numbers regularly so you can better understand your sales, costs and cash flow.
2 Boost your brand…
Successful businesses have a strong, engaging, distinct and authentic brand. And it’s not just a case of colours, slogans, fonts or logos. Your brand is the perception people have when they think of or come into contact with your business.
What does your business stand for? Does your branding impress or put off potential customers? Does your brand identity (ie how you want others to think of your business) match your brand image (ie what they actually think of your business)? Does your business need a new name? Perhaps it’s high time you updated or recreated your brand, maybe with help from an expert? Investing time and money in your brand in 2019 could bring great rewards.
3 Give your website the wow factor…
Once you’re sure your brand is a winner, you’ll want to showcase it, and what better way than on your website? Be honest – how good is your current website? Do you need a new website for your business? Are you proud of your website or do you avoid giving your URL?
Does your website bring you leads and customers? Can visitors quickly find the information they’re looking for need? Is your website is a slow-loader? Does it look terrible on a smart phone? Perhaps it has a high bounce rate? And rather than attract, engage and inform, maybe your website content is dull and out of date. What about refreshing it with better imagery, adding video content or a thought-provoking blog?
4 Make more sales…
Obvious, eh? Easier said than done? Usually. But, in 2018 – were you really trying hard enough to sell more? How do you market your business? Which sales channels do you use? Can you target new types of customer? Can you sell elsewhere in the UK or overseas? How do you tell potential and existing customers about your business? Are you saying the right things in the right way? Are you making the most of social media and other online market options? Are your prices too high or too low
Carry out some fresh market research and take the time to create a new marketing plan for 2019. Use it to create a new business plan, while you’re at it, with new objectives and a revised business development strategy. Once again, getting professional help can prove a wise investment when planning.
5 Do something new…
Life gets boring when we just do the same things all of the time. When things become boring and predictable, it saps our enthusiasm. Why not introduce or develop a new product or service? This could help you to sell more to your existing customers (which is much cheaper than attracting new ones). You may be able to improve your existing products and services to make them “new and improved”.
If affordable, should you move to better premises or add to your team? Bringing in new ideas, expertise and energy can make a big difference. Increase your network in 2019. Go to new business events; put yourself “out there” more. Offer your experience to the small-business and local media. Why not learn new skills?
6 Look after yourself more…
Consumed by the demands of running a small business, many owners neglect their own health and wellbeing. However, making a few small changes can make a big difference to our mood and performance. For example, eating healthier (rather than snacking or skipping meals), drinking less alcohol and tea/coffee, taking more regular breaks, getting more fresh air and exercise, not placing unrealistic demands on ourselves, can help us to feel less pressured and enable us to contribute more value to our business.
De-stress and work smarter in 2019 – not longer and harder. Recognise and reward your contribution. Make maintaining your happiness a key objective. The happier you are, the more value you’ll contribute to your business.
Mark Williams is a freelance editorial consultant, writer and SME content specialist with over 25 years' experience. He contributes to The Guardian Small Business Network and planned and wrote the Start Up Donut website. As well as award-winning magazines and websites, his writing has featured in national newspapers and Sunday supplements.
You can find out more about Mark's work on his website: www.markiwilliams.com