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Key tips to make this year the big one

It’s back to business for many and for the thousands of SMEs that kept on going over the festive season; I hope that your tills have been filled with plenty!

Early January is always the time when most fine-tune goals and objectives, and also think about what they could have done the year before. 2015 is history so let’s learn from it and focus on the NOW. We all want to go big every year, but let’s make this year the Big One.

Since you first launched your business, your goals have likely changed. Now is the perfect time to update them. Outline your most important goals and priorities for the year. What do you want to achieve in 2016? How will you get there? Now is the time to set aside a day away from the office, with your staff and set priorities and strategies.

Hold a post-mortem
Did you have a successful 2015? Identify what didn’t work last year, now either make changes or eliminate – Don’t repeat them. Where did your business shine? What’s holding it back? Has your systems and procedures kept up with the times? Are they efficient? Don’t let outmoded ways of doing business or poorly performing staff determine your business outlook in the new year. With a brutally honest assessment of your business you can now guide the implementation of any improvements that need to happen.

Stand out this year
Find your niche and distinguish yourself from the competition. When you’re a specialist, customers will pay more since you meet their specific needs. Remember, just because it’s a niche, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily small. 2016 is the year to get out of your comfort zone and do things differently. This year is about new ideas, new processes and new ways of doing things. Remember Albert Einstein’s words “Doing things the way we have always done them and expecting different results is one of the definitions of insanity”. Challenge the status quo, get out of your comfort zone and stretch your abilities. Stretching your abilities will make you great.

Treat customers like guests in your home
There’s a reason why there is a common saying “the customer is always right.” Of course logically the adage holds no water because the customer is, in fact, sometimes, or even often, wrong. But the customer can never be made to feel wrong. The nature of the relationship is not one of equals. The seller/supplier is a servant of the buyer. The most successful businesspeople are those who realise this early and no matter how successful they get, never forget it. Treat customers as if they are guests in your home and strive to ensure that all your customers love what you do.

Want to grow this year?
Then it’s time to hire and/or delegate. You’re a “can do” person. But no one “can do” everything. So get more help this year – help to serve more customers, create new products and services, and increase your sales. Stop doing everything yourself. If you want something done the reality is you probably shouldn’t be doing it yourself. Focus your “all” on what you are best at, then hire or delegate to the appropriate team member who is best at that task or outsource the task. Now grow your business and make money. I see and hear this often; the most successful people in the world aren’t busy.

To take care of your business, you need to take care of yourself
So spend time focusing on your personal goals. For starters: eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. These are business necessities, not mere personal indulgences.

Don’t listen to the doom and gloom
Sure, the business climate may sometimes be rocky, but business owners should always be on the lookout for opportunities. With all the talk of economic uncertainty, entrepreneurs risk turning these negative sentiments into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Make your business a positive and “wow” experience for everyone
Be positive, laugh, have fun and approach life with a sense of gratitude. Focus on the important stuff, be fast, do it today, always say thank you and just keep smiling.

Proudly brought to you by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC).

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