It is amazing how much difference one month can make. Each New Year starts with a period of calm and positive reflection, for example, as we evaluate our own lives and set new, forward-thinking goals for the year ahead. These can include anything from new career aspirations to achieving considerable weight loss, with the main objective being to improve your lifestyle and enjoy a happier existence.
Fast forward one month, however, and these aspirations have usually disappeared along with any left over Christmas turkey. As the holiday weight lingers like an unwanted guest and you reprise the familiar role of battling against your employers as an underpaid minion, you could be forgiven for abandoning your self-improvement goals and avoiding any positive resolutions in the future.
See Also: New Year Resolutions for Freelancers
Real world Business Resolutions for the year ahead
Before you begin to berate yourself for ever believing that 2016 would be any different from the years that have gone before, however, consider the New Year from the perspective of a small business-owner. For them, excess holiday weight translates into commercial debt or the consequence of overspending; while a lack of career ambitions highlight the absence of a scalable development plan.
Put simply, ambitious entrepreneurs do not have the luxury of setting goals that are doomed to fail, while they cannot wallow in sadness if they struggle to achieve a particular objective (at least if they hope to sustain their business for any serious length of time).
Instead they must be constantly proactive in attempting to accomplish their goals, while tenaciously tackling any obstacles that block them along the way. Of course, the key is to set balanced and viable real-world resolutions in the first place, while also ensuring that each goal is relevant to an existing, business development plan. This requires a longer period of introspection at the beginning of each year, to ensure that all New Years’ resolutions are as achievable as they are meaningful.
So now, it is time to finalise the New Years’ resolutions that will catapult your business to further success this year. Here are some ideas:
1. Be Prepared for a Financial Crisis in 2016
While financial experts are renowned for not always issuing accurate predictions concerning a potential downturn in the global economy, as a general rule there is usually no smoke without the presence of a great big, roaring fire. Given this and the continued decline in the Chinese economy, small business-owners would be wise to prepare themselves for the onset of an increasingly likely, worldwide recession in the year ahead.
This should start with your outlook as an entrepreneur, as you focus on profitability rather than widespread growth. After all, increasing turnover means little if your costs simultaneously spiral out of control, as this will reduce in a squeezed bottom line that could potentially devastating consequences in a depreciating economy. To avoid this, ensure that you develop an organic growth plan and priories investments that optimise your company’s profitability.
On the subject of investment, solo entrepreneurs with a trading portfolio should also look to adopt a proactive approach towards managing their finances in 2016. The fact remains that anyone who retains all of their investment capital in a single asset class will suffer in the event of a global recession, while those who diversify and balance derivatives with risk-averse dividends have a greater chance of building wealth and creating a financial contingency for their business venture.
In layman’s terms, be prepared to streamline your growth plans and scale your venture profitably in anticipation of a recession in 2016. Otherwise, your firm may become swollen, bloated and ultimately unable to keep pace when the crisis hits.
2. Steal a March on Those Pesky Competitors
Regardless of the market that you operate in, those pesky competitors of yours will continue to target your customers and pick-pocket much needed revenue in 2016. Rather than sit and wallow in the shadow of this inevitable truth, however, January provides you with an opportunity to steal a march on your competitors and take advantage of the festive hangover.
This process should start with a period of concerted market research, and you evaluate both the competitor landscape in 2016 and the trends that will influence consumer spending. If you are savvy enough, this should identify some potential gaps in the market and offer some insight that will enable you to fill these. Do not worry if you are not sure of how to collate this information, as there are a number of free resources that can provide excellent support (such as the Wells Fargo Competitive Intelligence Tool, for example).
While we are all for this type of theoretical strategizing, however, it means little unless you can translate this into direct (and not to mention rapid) action. In general terms, it may be worth re-evaluating the payment options that you offer to customers in the year ahead, as while online spending is on the rise it is offline sales that still account for 83.8% of the retail market. With the commissions associated with credit card payments falling and Apple Pay becoming increasingly commonplace in the UK, integrating these options into your business can give you a critical edge on less proactive rivals.
3. Update Your Website for the Modern Age
Ask yourself a question; how often do you hear about website, browser and other graphical technologies being updated throughout the course of a typical year? The pace at which browsers are updated is particularly quick, as developers are constantly looking to ensure that their products are compatible with modern design coding and consumer habits.
This leads us on to the rise of mobile, which is being driven by both user trends and the efforts of Google. Smartphones and tablets are now used by 34% of consumers to search for and reference products, for example, while mobile spending will account for 30% of the global retail e-commerce sector by the end of 2018. In addition to this, Google also began rolling out its highly anticipated mobile update last year, aimed at enhancing the ranking of mobile friendly landing pages on SERPs.
These insights tell us two things. Firstly, the metrics for successful websites are continuing to evolve, especially as Google will continue to prioritise mobile-friendly resources online. Secondly, the mobile platform is becoming increasingly influential when driving traffic to websites, as consumers become more familiar with devices such as smartphones and tablets. With these points in mind, it would not require much strategizing to determine that updating your website is a potentially game-changing business resolution in 2016.
In purely practical terms, this means integrating new technology into your website and creating an infrastructure that optimises the experience for mobile consumers. Keep in mind that Adobe Flash websites cannot be indexed by Google and are incompatible with Apple products, for example, so this type of exclusive technology should be abandoned. Also, it is important that you create text that is readable without the need to tap or zoom, while also taking the time to ensure that top targets are spaced appropriately for the media.
Oh, and try to keep the average loading time for each landing page at between three and seven seconds. Otherwise you will create an army of frustrated customers who are likely to abandon your website quicker than lemmings leaping from a cliff-top.
Ultimately, the resolutions that you set for your business will be individual to you, but the key is that you set manageable goals that actively improve your venture. With this in mind, what are the objectives that you have set for your firm in 2016 and how do you hope to achieve them? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below!