Summer a time to reflect and plan
A summer break is an ideal time for business owners to take stock of things and identify areas for improvement. Victoria Crone, Xero’s NZ Managing Director, offers some helpful tips.
A summer break is an ideal time for small business owners to take stock of the year that has been and identify areas to establish or improve in their business for the upcoming year. Victoria Crone, Xero’s NZ Managing Director, has put together some tips for small business owners to think about over a barbeque or at the beach.
“If you’re having a break this summer, no matter how short or long, it’s a perfect time to sit back, reflect, and set yourself up for the year ahead,” Crone says. “Take on board any learnings from 2014 and make 2015 your year with these top 10 tips.”
1. Set goals and objectives: SMART (or Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-related) goals are an effective tool for small business owners. Maybe you want to achieve a 50% increase in sales? Maybe you’d like to gain five new customers? Or maybe you’d like to give yourself a day off each week? SMART goals make it easier and clearer for your business to reach its potential. Set some goals with interim milestones, write them down and stick to them!
2. Expand your social media presence: Social media is a great tool for engaging with current and potential customers and gaining valuable insights. It’s important to find the right social media platform to reach your target audience. Spend some time scanning through potential new “Followers” to grow (or simply start) your Twitter base and map out a content plan for the year ahead so you’re posting regularly and engaging your audience.
3. Update your website and enable SEO: Having a website is fundamental in today’s tech savvy world and it’s important to make sure it’s fit for purpose. Is it mobile friendly or mobile optimised? SEO (or search engine optimisation) is the process of making your website visible in search engine results. One way to optimise your website is to identify keywords that could direct people to your site, then make sure these terms are throughout your site. Regularly updating your website with new, relevant content is important as this also effects your search engine ranking.
4. Budget: Work with your accountant or business advisor to establish a budget and financial forecast for the new year. This will help you to plan for tax payments as well as cashflow management. With some planning you’ll be able to set targets with the aim to build your business for the future. Finally, don’t forget to dream about where you want your business to be financially in the next 3-5 years.
5. Consider a business mentor: A business mentor can really help bring a new perspective and fresh ideas to your business. Whether it’s a person you already know and trust, or whether you use a business network, having a mentor is invaluable to the long term success of your business.
6. Consider doing some market research: Market research can really help you learn about the market demand for your products or services. It is extremely valuable when moving into new markets, or launching a new product or service. There are many useful resources available online for free including Google Trends, LinkedIn and Twitter. Use these to make more informed marketing and business decisions.
7. Embrace ‘the cloud’: ‘The cloud’ is a platform to make data and software accessible online anytime, anywhere, from any device. It’s scalable, cost-effective and easy to use. For small business owners this allows the ability to work remotely and not be confined to one device. There are a large range of online softwares available – accounting software (Xero), project management (WorkFlowMax) and point of sale (Vend) – to meet small business needs. And don’t forget to have a good look at cloud storage platforms as well.
8. Get online invoicing: Online invoices can provide your business with a faster and easier method to send out invoices and track them. Online invoices tend to get paid faster so this will assist with cash flow management. It also greatly reduces the amount of paperwork and administration time required.
9. Network: If you've played with the thought of increasing your business network, you can either hold your own event or seek out relevant events to attend. Take the time to see what’s on offer in your area so you can share ideas and business tips with like minded people. Plan your events for the year and lock them in your calendar while it’s free!
10. Improve your customer relationships: CRM (or customer relationship management) applications, like Xero’s Smart Lists, can help small businesses retain existing customers, find new ones and get a better insight into sales. With CRM software you can store client contacts, handle customer interactions, schedule client contact and track campaigns. CRM applications are even more valuable when integrated with other cloud based systems like email software and accounting software.
Check out Xero’s Small Business Guides for more tips: www.xero.com/small-business-guides
December 4, 2014