The dawn of a new year might be nothing more than changing to a new calendar, but it presents you, a busy entrepreneur, with the invitation to do a little soul-searching. Whether your business skyrocketed or floundered in 2014, this benchmark gives you a chance to make one simple resolution: to increase your profits over the next year. Here are a few tips that will steer you in the right direction as you work to achieve this very attainable goal.
- Change how you do business. This might sound painfully obvious, but you will bring in more money if you cut expenses, while simultaneously finding ways to ratchet up your sales. Consider furnishing your customers with new services or merchandise that complements what you are already retailing. Give them incentives like loyalty cards or frequent buyer discounts that will encourage them to come back and buy often. Trim costs by outsourcing time-consuming tasks to contractors or part-time employees.
- Keep your name in the spotlight. Ensure that all accreditations and licenses are current. Tap into the huge pool of potential customers out there in cyberspace by building a social media and blog presence. Keep your website interesting by making seasonal or even more frequent modifications and special offers.
- Take steps to track and minimize expenses. Numerous software packages are available that let you automate most of your administrative tasks, including accounting, time sheets, payroll and many others. In addition, these systems enable you to track your customers and their buying habits and communicate with them on a regular basis, with minimal work on your part. That leaves you with more time to sell your products and services.
- Leave the old-fashioned cash register behind forever. You can only fight the inevitable for so long. The time has come to bite the bullet and invest in a point of sale payment system that allows your customers to pay with plastic. There are numerous options that can be tailored to all types of merchants, from one-person operations to multi-national corporations. Best of all, they aren’t nearly as expensive as you might think, and they will open the door to a group of customers who may have passed you by when you only accepted cash.
- Take networking to a new level. Chamber of Commerce breakfasts and flyers on bulletin boards may net you a customer here and there, but the Internet truly is your ready, willing and able marketing tool. It is impossible to overstate the impact that you can gain if you make yourself known on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You will be amazed at how quickly the word will spread about your events or promotions if you take advantage of these sites. If you have a skill to demonstrate, why not set up a webinar or record a quick podcast for immediate download? Then measure what is most effective and engages the most customers by investing in customer relationship management (CRM) software and connecting it to your automated accounts receivable system.
- Never stop building your team. Reward any of your employees who go the extra mile to spread the word about your unique products and services. Believe it or not, one of the best ways to encourage this positive mentality is to model it yourself. If you take the lead and forge ahead toward success, your employees will follow. But be warned: people can smell artifice a mile away. You truly must believe in what you are doing.
We live in an era of constant growth and change. Take advantage of this dynamic atmosphere as we finally begin to move away from the economic downturn that has dogged so many businesses for the past several years. Let 2015 be your time to shine.