Well 2016 will be a year to remember. With the shock Brexit result and the imminent arrival of Donald Trump on the world political stage, there has and will continue to be much speculation as to the impact of these events on the UK and the Global economy and the impact on businesses. There were several bits of encouraging news over the festive season but an air of caution still exists around how 2017 will fare:
British manufacturing growth climbed to a two-and-a-half-year high in December, fuelled by new orders from both home and abroad and adding to signs the economy ended 2016 strongly.
Britain's construction sector expanded at the fastest rate in nine months in December, boosted by more house building, but sterling's weakness drove the biggest rise in costs in over five years.
Although house prices have risen more slowly since Brexit they held up in the latter part of the year with growth picking up speed for the second month in a row in December, helped by a shortage of homes to buy, but price increases are expected to slow in 2017.
Only time will tell how business will fare in 2017, but for now business owners can only reflect on their own firms, and what can be improved about their company to move it forward over the new year. The team here at Pulse have developed our top new year resolutions for business.
1. Set realistic goals
It’s a good time to realign what you are trying to achieve and where you have got to. Refresh your goal in this context ensuring it is stretching but realistic. Make sure you have a plan for how you are going to achieve it. Do you need extra resources – people, funding, or equipment.
2. Review performance regularly
Regularly reviewing how you are doing is vital if you want a healthy growing business. Taking stock of what worked and what didn't work, helps you set new directions or adjust old goals. So why do it just once a year or once a quarter? Set aside time each week to review, adjust, and look forward – include members of your team to include their ideas.
3. Make Customer Service a Priority
A focus on providing the best possible service to your customers, whilst always looking at ways to save money and increase profits is a must. Listening to your customers and acting upon feedback you get is crucial to identify business pitfalls and make improvements.
4. Step up your marketing efforts
You need to let your potential customers know what you can offer them. Invest some time in building a social media presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. It is an inexpensive way of promoting your company, offers and latest news and can reach a large number of potential customers very quickly.
5. Make sure you have the right finance solution
Review how you finance your business. Do you have access to sufficient sources of flexible working capital? Banks may be the first port of call, but there are an increasing number of alternative finance solutions which may be better suited to your requirements.
6. Update your technology
Don’t put up with poor technology which impacts on your business productivity. Employing the latest technology will help you increase business efficiency and give you a competitive edge. Common areas of improvement are accounting and financing, order-taking, database management, communications and human resources management. Make your decision based on your needs and goals and be sure to get the right support and training.
7. Be aware of your risks
Don’t let unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances destroy all that you’ve built. It’s important not just to look at the opportunities, but also to review the risks to your business. Are you meeting all your contractual obligations? Are you customers able to pay you? Are you covered should the worst happen?
8. Delegate activities across your team
There are so many things to do when you're running a small business, it's easy to delude yourself that you need to do all of them. Let someone else do some of the tasks for a change. You may have a member of your team who have under-utilized skills or is looking for a challenge. Delegation is the key to a healthy work-life balance for owners and managers but can result in motivating the talent in your team!
9. Make sure your staff are happy and motivated
A happy team deliver great service and result in happy customers! Make sure you communicate what you want to business to achieve, what role they can play in achieving it and provide regular updates. Make sure your team can contribute ideas to increase engagement.