There are certain times when you must evaluate what works for your business and what doesn’t. A new calendar year presents an opportunity to make some changes to your policies and procedures, and take advantage of unique tools to increase sales and profits. There are numerous online and offline resources available to small business owners that can streamline operations and help develop best practices. Implementing these changes near the end of the fourth quarter can give you a leg up for next year. Consider the following measures now to promote success in the upcoming year and beyond.
Leverage the Cloud
There are countless software applications available to help small business owners. A single program can help to manage invoices, track expenses, and store customer contact information. The biggest advantage of these apps is the platform on which they operate. Accounting programs such as QuickBooks Online operate in the cloud, requiring only a computer and an Internet connection. The app, without a need for onsite servers, allows you to access information from mobile computing devices anywhere at any time. The ability to download bank transactions and send purchase orders from mobile devices can save the average user up to 11 hours per month.
You can use accounting software to smooth out internal operations, but you’ll still need to manage sales and marketing efforts. Depending on the number of customers you have, it may be difficult to maintain regular contact with each of them. In the digital world, marketing tools such as MailChimp allow you to put together online campaigns that can be launched with the click of a mouse. The program offers analysis which tells you which day of the week or what time of day works best for email advertising. Mailchimp also integrates with QuickBooks, maintaining contact with established clients while reaching out to new ones.
Seek Professional Advice
It’s tough to master every facet of your business. For example, while your strength may be operations, perhaps your weakness shows in sales skills. To improve on what is lacking, consider enlisting the help of a small business consultant. These advisors typically offer guidance surrounding all aspects of a business, recognizing what needs improvement and what works well. You can schedule regular consultations or use these professionals on an as-needed basis. You may find it’s time to hire, delegating duties that are nearly impossible to juggle on your own.
Build a Network
A great way to boost your business is to create a network. Seek relationships with like-minded individuals who naturally complement your own pursuits. Accountants, financial advisors, and attorneys often work with the same type of clients. Each professional would welcome the chance to gain clients through word-of-mouth, which is typically the least expensive form of customer acquisition. Furthermore, building goodwill with other business owners will no doubt lead some prospects back to your door. Many cities have chapters of networking organizations whose primary function is meet regularly and forge small business referral networks.