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6 Small Business Tips to Start the New Year Off Right

The New Year may mean new hires, new clients, new successes and new challenges. The actions you take today can help lay the foundation for a strong year and pave the way for business growth.

Here are some tips and resources to start your year on the right note.

A new planner that has New Year and several goals written.

  1. Set measurable goals. Resolutions to "grow your business" or "increase sales" are admirable goals, but with no concrete numbers, it can be difficult to measure your success and stay motivated throughout the year. As you set your goals, consider what will constitute business growth or a sales increase. For example, by how much do you want to increase sales? With a clear number in mind, you can begin breaking down this goal into smaller, achievable increments, such as a 5 percent increase in Q1, and then put a plan in place to achieve this growth.
  2. Grow your team. From part-time seasonal support to freelancers to full-time employees, there are a variety of options for growing your team. Your job description can play an important role in helping you find the right addition. An effective job description typically includes background on your company (mission and vision), an overview of the role, what the individual will do day to day, and desired skills or experience. One common job description pitfall: too many "must-haves" that scare away otherwise qualified employees. Consider which skills are essential to possess in advance, such as strong communication skills, and which skills can be taught on the job, like how to use the company CRM platform.
  3. Prioritize cybersecurity. According to the Insurance Information Institute, reported data breaches were up 44 percent in the last year — and that number is likely to rise. It's not just big corporations that are at risk. Cybercriminals are performing "supply chain attacks" and hacking smaller businesses in an effort to gain access to larger companies. Cybersecurity is not a concern you can address once and then forget about. Schedule a "cybersecurity appointment" on the calendar every month as a reminder to review your company's data protection policies and stay up to date on the latest threats.
  4. Be proactive with customer communication. Is "grow my business" on your resolution list this year? In addition to acquiring new customers, don't overlook the value of your current customers. There may be opportunities to improve their lifetime customer value through proactive communication. This approach to communication anticipates and delivers what your customers need before they ask for it, increasing satisfaction, building loyalty, and ultimately helping you grow their accounts. From email and social media to direct mail and client surveys, consider different opportunities for building a more proactive customer communication program.
  5. Improve productivity. Feeling overwhelmed by to-do lists or struggling to focus while in the office? Your daily work habits could be counterproductive to achieving business objectives. Small changes can help you build good, consistent habits that support productivity and help you stay fully engaged with your work. Try working in 60-minute blocks, blocking time every day for your "Most Important Thing," and taking a break from your phone or email by disabling notifications. Designate 15 minutes at the end of every day to review "odds and ends," so you can start every morning with a clean slate.
  6. Connect with local resources to support business growth. From your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to community events and nonprofits, consider how you can best leverage local resources to support your growth. Mentorship programs, partnerships with other local businesses, and local trade association memberships can open up new networks that may lead to exciting opportunities in the new year.

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