A new year means new opportunities for business owners.

That means it’s time to make the right changes to better your business.

Yep, you read that correctly.

I said change.

Change is good and 100% necessary.

So, break out your pencil, notebook, and laptop.

Take a few hours to look over your business. Then, jot down ways to improve your products/services, employee morale, sales, and online reputation.

Yes, time is money, and this will take some time, but trust me, it’s worth it.

Read on and let this guide help you improve your business after the new year.

1. Revisit your business plan

Remember when you first wrote your business plan? You had to write out an executive summary, a concept, financial projections, an industry, and market analysis. All the fun stuff right? As tedious as it may seem, you should revisit your business plan at least once a year.

Stay up to date by going through each section and asking yourself:

Did my industry change? Did any new competitors come into play? Is it time to change my strategy?

Do this, and you’ll be 10 steps ahead of the competition and up to date with your industry.

2. Improve your business strategy

Need help creating a strategy?

Let’s go back to the basics and create a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

S.M.A.R.T. goals help you figure out your objective, establish goals, and pick the right metrics to measure your success.

Here’s how to create one.

Specific: Be specific with what you want to achieve.

Do you want to:

A) Increase sales

B) Gain social media fame

C) Attract younger audiences

D) All the above

Measurable: How will you measure these results. Keep track of all data in an excel sheet.

Attainable: How long will it take to reach your goal?  One, two, or 10 years? Choose a goal that won’t take too long to achieve.

Next year, revisit this strategy, tweak, or change it again.

Relevant: Before making changes, consider how much these efforts will benefit your business in the long run.

Timely: How much time do I need to put in? If I don’t have the time will I need to hire someone or outsource to another company?

3. File an annual report

Yet again, it’s a new year and your annual report is due.

Most states require that you file an annual report to keep company information current with the secretary of state. Each state has different rules and regulations regarding the frequency and filing location for your annual reports.

Avoid financial headaches by using our chart to view the rules and time frame for filing your annual report in your filing state.

4. Celebrate your team every year

Let’s admit it.

Hiring the right people for your business is hard.

And having an amazing team on deck is essential to your business’ success.

Once you have the perfect team, show them how much you appreciate them! Start the new year off right by hosting a company event, catering lunch, planning a company-wide trip, or giving extra time off.

5. Create social media accounts

It’s 2019 and your business doesn’t have a social media account.

Seriously?

Yes, not all industries will benefit from social media in the same way.

And it’s true, many small business owners have neither the time nor resources to maintain a widespread social presence.

So, if you can only sign up for the basics at least make sure you sign up with the big three – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A LinkedIn account is also very useful for networking, and for companies that mainly deal in Business-to-Business transactions.

6. Website changes

So, why would you need to make changes to your website? It works well and looks just fine.

Repeat that last sentence.

Think about the word fine.

Fine is acceptable.
Fine is unacceptable.

Reevaluate your website. Ask yourself: Is my website out of date, in need of maintenance, SEO friendly, or in need of a new interface?

If you’re making changes to your website, you may want to update your cookies. Not the kind that are delicious and warm.

No. These are much better.

Web cookies track customers and help you understand their purchasing behavior. It’s almost like getting a glass window and studying how your customer makes decisions.

7. Community engagement

Just as your community supports your business, you should support them as well.

Talk to your team about their organizational interests and register for ways to give back to the community.

Not only is this a generous gesture, but it’s also a great way for your team to bond together outside of the office. Whether your team is cleaning up trash, participating in a walk-a-thon, or passing out cupcakes, it matters to them and your customers that your business cares about the outside world.

8. Manage online reputation

When was the last time you checked your reputation online?

If it’s been a while, then it’s time to check again.

Scroll through and read all your reviews for the year. If you have negative reviews, address them. Show your customers that you care about the quality of their experience and the product/service. When answering their questions, don’t use an automated response. Be genuine, authentic and transparent in your answers.

Does your business need a little positive boost online?

Ask customers, family, friends, and coworkers to leave reviews on Yelp, Glassdoor, and Trust Pilot.

9. Attend trade shows

Make 2019 the year your business attends a trade show!

Trade shows help owners identify competitors, network B2B, gain media attention, and promote products/services to customers.

10. Customer service training

Every customer or client interaction is important to your business. Do your customers and employees the favor of having them refreshed every new year.

Either host in-house training sessions or offer employees free customer service courses on Alison.com, Dale Carnegie Training, or The Training Bank.

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