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Small Business Development in January: Why it’s so important

Amie Parnaby
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Why is it so crucial for small businesses to use January for their business development? Here’s a quick tip; unlike the large corporations that can offer spectacular discounts and run to break to maintain the flow of clients and customers, small businesses are not likely to be very busy in January. However, that doesn’t mean a savvy small business owner can’t retrieve those clients with a little dedicated planning and preparation while business is slow.

Small Business Owners: Your January To-Do List

While everyone else is spending their money on the Post-Christmas Sales in every major department store, small service businesses and boutique traders can sit back and think about how they will compete in the upcoming year. Small business owners know they cannot compete in overall turnover and revenues. However, they can attract local and online clients with sound business practices and innovative approaches to their workflows and processes.

The following are some things to do in January that will help you to make the upcoming year fruitful and prosperous.

Review the previous year

If you have plans to increase your clientele, your revenues, or your overall turnover, you need to review the last year (at the very least). You can’t measure the success of your upcoming actions if you don’t know what you are trying to improve upon. 

Break down your previous year into monthly and quarterly sections. This will help you to compare your upcoming months and quarters with what you achieved last year. The easier it is to compare results, the more likely you are to keep on top of your goals.

Review Your Actions and Results

It’s not enough to review last year’s results. You need to understand what actions yielded the most favourable outcomes and what didn’t. Your business doesn’t need you planning for the year ahead by repeating poor decisions that won’t bring the progress you want. 

You need to keep what worked, adjust what “kind of” worked and get rid of the stuff that didn’t. 

Now you are ready to plan for the upcoming year,

Plan for the year ahead

When you have reviewed and reflected on your previous year(s), you have somewhere to start from and build your plans for the upcoming year and beyond. If you have business New Year’s Resolutions, this is where you can begin.

Don’t think short term, but make plans that have the option to extend and develop. Make 90-day plans every three months, and review them regularly. 

But back to January. This is when you can focus on the things that will help you achieve your goals throughout the year.

Focus on customer relationships

Unlike larger corporations and chains, small business development depends heavily on cultivating relationships with clients and customers. This means making meaningful contact with your clientele that isn’t necessarily selling. Make January your time to make more profound connections with your clients and keep your brand at the forefront of their minds.

This could mean personalising your email marketing or newsletters. However, the better approach would be to socialise with your current and potential clients on social media. Get your social muscles working to grow your audience and ensure your social media communication goes both ways.

Review and update your marketing strategy

You analysed your performance last year and reflected on what worked and what didn’t. Your small business development will depend on your ability to take what you have learned from last year and apply it to the new year. 

But don’t just learn from the past. Make sure you brush up on marketing trends set to make waves in the coming months and implement them. Create new content for the new year, and make it relevant to the direction of your business. You might want to hold off on implementing significant campaigns until you decide whether to offer new services, change your pricing or diversify.

Take care of administrative tasks

It doesn’t matter what business you are in; the admin can pile up and get unbearable if you don’t take time to get on top of it. However, the best way to prevent this build-up is to create processes for dealing with it. 

Take January as a time to organise your admin work, and then find ways to automate and reduce it. 

That leads us to the tools, workflows, and processes you can use to reduce all unnecessary admin and “grunt” work that takes you away from your small business development.

In 6 days, it will be Clean off your Desk Day (January 9th, 2023). See if you can get through all that dreary admin work in time for that and start your new admin year with a fresh start.

Improving your systems

Many tools are available that help you with digital document organisation, accounting, staff and appointment scheduling, payroll, staff development and much more. By improving your processes, you create more time for innovation, diversification, and other ways to develop and expand your small business.

Once you have managed to work through the backlog of admin tasks, try to determine what has been building up and taking the most time away from building your business. If you struggle with your accounts, would it be worthwhile to engage an accountant? Is your business development time worth more than the cost of an accountant for a few hours a month? If it isn’t, what about accounting software (cheaper than an actual accountant)? 

Are you using a receptionist to take calls and make appointments, or would it be better to have an online booking service and let the receptionist deal with more of the back office admin? Balance the cost of software or extra people against what you could achieve if you didn’t have to deal with a mountain of admin backlog.

Motivating Your Team (if you have one)

When your goals are defined, plans are created, and processes are in place, it’s time to get your team on board. Sometimes it’s easy to motivate your teams, while at other times, the business of running the company gets in the way. 

While it is quiet during the January lull, take a day away from the office or salon (or whatever your work location) and get everyone focused on your plans for the year. Get people excited, make it a fun team-building day, and instil the ideas that inspired you. 

If you can find a day with no appointments, block it out and take the team away from the daily grind. Don’t let your plans fail because you can’t get everyone on the same page.

Another great reason to get your team together is to use the collective mental power for you and your team to flesh out and develop your plans for the year. Your team may have some fantastic ideas that complement your own.

Final Thoughts

January is essentially a critical time in the development of many small businesses. Revenues always have ups and downs, but January is almost always a time of poor income for the small business owner.

Yet, you can still make slow times pay by making the most of them to maximise your efficacy, build on ideas, and implement new ones. 

Put another way, we all need a holiday to refresh and restore ourselves; January is the same for your business. 

7 New Year’s Resolutions for your Business Progress & Development
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