The new year hasn’t even arrived, yet many small business owners may be wishing the clocks would go backwards. With big issues such as the Fiscal Cliff and the early stages of health care reform slated to go into effect on January 1st, there’s little wonder why.
But even if 2013 looks a bit rough from the outside, it doesn’t mean small business owners should be sticking their heads in the sand. If you are running a small business heading into the new year, here are five resolutions that you can make to keep your business on course:
1. Work on focus. If there is one thing that small business owners should have learned from the 2012, it’s that bigger businesses are pulling out all the stops when it comes to acting like a small business. This is evinced by the push for personalized service and same day delivery. To survive, small businesses have to be hyper-focused on their niche market, only providing the products and services they can truly deliver with quality.
2. Work those networks. Another big resolution for 2013, is to work on partnering with other businesses and professionals. Now more than ever, small businesses need to pool their resources in order to be more competitive, more relevant, and more profitable. This goes for businesses based both online and off-line. Even if you are not a natural when it comes to networking, in the new year the success of your business may depend on how well you can reach out to other business owners.
3. Work your customer service. One of the biggest assets a small business can have these days is also one of its most elusive: customer loyalty. I just saw an article at Business Insider about a Zappos customer service representative who spent a mind boggling 9 hours and 37 minutes (!) with a customer on the phone (they weren’t talking business the whole time… but, still…). Now, obviously you can’t afford to go that extreme with your customer service, but you can make a commitment to revamp some of your customer loyalty programs in 2013, and try to improve your overall customer service experience.
4. Work your online reputation. In these heady days of social media, a business’ reputation can literally be made or broken in an instant. The range and speed with which information is exchanged today is unprecedented. Another commitment for 2013, is to improve your online reputation. This includes: staying in touch with what people are saying about you online, ensuring that you business’ profile information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, and in short, ensuring that your business is being properly represented.
5. Work your cash flow. Last, but certainly not least, is to re-evaluate how you manage your cash flow. If you haven’t yet learned your lesson from the chronic economic difficulty or any of the natural disasters that have happened in 2012, then make a commitment to incorporate strategies, such as creating an emergency fund, and using financing tools, such as a business cash advance or accounts receivables financing, to help you be prepared for emergency expenses and ultimately smooth out the flow of working capital in your business.
In short, as a small business owner, if you make it a point to truly focus on any of the areas mentioned above, then it may be just what you need to get your head out of the sand and paint a brighter picture in 2013.