The infamous year 2016 is now behind us and we all have a fresh start moving into the new year. A year which could be one of the most unpredictable since the market crash in 2008. Low confidence and an anxious approach to ambition could stunt the growth of startups. Our UK MD, and co-founder of Xero, Gary Turner offers his key New Year’s resolutions for your business in 2017.
1. Smarter marketing, not larger
It’s good business sense to always look after the pennies. With unknown economic territories ahead of us, it’s now more important than ever. One area of your business where thousands could be wasted when hundreds could take you further is marketing. Social media and SEO are the most cost-effective ways to drive brand awareness. Invest in consultants and training sessions to help you cover the basics. It’s important to learn about the efficiency of micro-targeting — put spend purely into targeting where your audience digests content and news. Don’t look to reach large numbers, look to reach relevant numbers.
2. Inspiration comes from the workplace
It might sound simple, it might sound unimportant – but neither is true. Your working environment plays a huge role on your energy, motivation and inspiration – three characteristics you’ll need in bundles to launch a startup. Walk into any office in the country and you’ll see loads of unnecessary paper, overcrowded desks, and a general mess. Take action and declutter your office by taking more of your work online. With the rise of cloud-based services such as Google Docs, sharing working documents has never been easier. What’s more, the cloud has been utilised across industries, and some services even allow you to take your accounting spreadsheets and numbers purely within the cloud. This takes me nicely onto…
3. Re-evaluate your business tools
The beginning of the year is an opportune time to take stock in all the tools your business subscribes to and analyse what’s working and what’s not. Consolidate tools that have overlapping functions, and look for replacing multiple small tools with a larger one that could do the same job. For instance, Xero is a tool that allows you to take control of payroll, pay bills, send invoices, creating POs and more — it’s time to research what tools out there will optimise your business.
4. 2017 will be the year of networking
With Article 50 now in play, business owners will need to keep their finger on the pulse of trends. You can make predictions based on what you’ve read online and how your business has been performing, but to get a deeper understanding and grasp on where trends will head, you will need to discuss the industry with your peers. Like Open Data, everyone will benefit from each other’s learnings so they can adapt accordingly. SMBs are the backbone of the UK economy, a united effort will help us thrive as we leave Europe.
5. Prioritise your employees’ happiness
Good workers are hard to come by. You’ve certainly spent hours interviewing countless candidates who simply weren’t right for your company. Use that experience to treasure what you have now. Research what the larger organisations are doing and you’ll see a host of perk packages, health schemes and away days. While this is great and a real morale booster, employees really respond to one-on-one time with their boss. Simply showing your appreciation of their work and reassurance of their career path will give them the confidence to work for you, and the ambition to achieve for you.
6. Protect yourself against security threats
Hackers and cyberattacks are more sophisticated by the day, and the threat of a data breach is more likely than ever before. It’s vital that businesses of all sizes who use online and financial services ensure they have strong security practices. Using the most up to date virus protection and firewalls is a given, but extra layers of security such as multi-factor authentication (requiring a username and password as well as a piece of information that only the user knows) can help your accounts from being compromised by phishing and malware. You can find out more about keeping yourself safe here.