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New Year’s resolutions for your small business

New Year’s resolutions for your small business

Happy New Year! Hopefully you have had a chance to relax and reflect on 2015! Now is the time to make plans for 2016 to ensure it’s the best year yet for your small business! New Year’s resolutions are always fun but can be extremely difficult to fulfil especially when life and work get busy, but it’s important to set some time and money aside for business improvement to ensure your business continues to grow and prosper into the new year.

We’ve put together what we consider a few of the top priorities for innovative and dynamic small businesses in 2016.

1. Embrace mobile technology to make life easier for your customers. A recent study conducted in the US by research company Clutch revealed that only 15% of small businesses had or were using an app to enhance customer satisfaction. The numbers are likely to be similar in Australia, representing a huge opportunity for you to differentiate your offering and grow your customer base. There are lots of things you can do to enhance your mobile presence including:

i. Use an existing mobile app that helps your customers interact with you – Sign up to an app that allows your customers to make payments or order goods from their mobile. For example, mobile app ‘Skip’ allows customers of participating cafes to skip the coffee line by enabling them to order and pay for their food and drinks in advance via the app. The customer’s order is ready and paid for when they arrive at the café.

ii. Develop a custom app – You may think the cost of developing a custom app is prohibitive for most small businesses, however there are lots of DIY app facilities that can offer fast and easy solutions. Business News Daily recently published its list of ‘Best App Makers for Small Business’ – giving plenty of online options for app development on a budget. These facilities mean it is not as difficult or daunting as you would probably expect to develop your own app and can be extremely beneficial to small businesses.

iii. Make your website mobile friendly – In 2015 the number of people browsing the internet using their mobile devices exceeded 50% of all internet users. This means that if your website is not easily navigated using a mobile device you are potentially missing up to 50% of leads.

2. Get on the cloud. In the simplest of terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing your files and business software over the internet instead of via local networks and/or your computer’s hard drive. There are a number of ways you can take advantage of this for your business:

i. Use cloud storage – Using cloud storage has many advantages. It means you have the ability to access your files from anywhere as long as you have internet access. It also means that you can share your documents with other members of your staff, wherever they may be. Using secure cloud storage can also improve your data security and give you enhanced peace of mind – when using a secure cloud storage provider you are taking advantage of their equipment and expertise to protect your potentially sensitive files. Some of the most popular cloud storage services include Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox – many cloud storage services have free starter packages so get online and give it a go!

ii. Use cloud based software to do business on the go – Cloud based business management software allows you to move your business admin to the cloud. This means that you can issue invoices, manage and pay bills, create staff rosters and much more from anywhere via your desktop or mobile device. Most of the time these software facilities require no download or installation to your local device and allow you to immediately start work, wherever you may be. Xero is a great example of online/cloud based accounting software for small business.

3. Focus on optimising customer experience. There is one given in business, if your customers are happy they will be promoters of your business. Word of mouth and personal recommendations are the most valuable form of advertising your business can have - it is effectively free advertising, but more than that and perhaps partly because of that, it is also the most powerful form. Spend some time in the new year looking at the end to end customer experience of someone engaged with your business and make improvements wherever you can – put yourself in your customers shoes and work towards giving them exactly what you would want if you were them.

Perhaps these few things seem quite daunting for this early in the year, but if you pick just one or two to focus on for 2016, by this time next year you will surely be reaping some tangible benefits!