By John Swanciger of Manta
Try new restaurants. Go to the gym. Skydive. New Year’s resolutions come in many forms. However, according to a recent Manta poll, only 23 percent of the general public made resolutions at the beginning of 2017. Meanwhile, small business owners set ambitious goals for both their businesses and personal lives. The poll found 66 percent of small business owners set business-related resolutions while another 54 percent set resolutions for their personal lives.
Small business owners are clearly committed to making robust improvements to their businesses this year. Their top ambitions, according to Manta’s poll, included increasing cash flow (43 percent) and boosting their customer bases (24 percent). But in order to stick with resolutions, here are a few top goals for small business owners in 2017:
1. Clean up operations processes to increase cash flow: Businesses survive and thrive on revenue and profits, so it makes sense that the top goal for small business owners in the new year is improving cash flow. Making the best use of revenue is fundamental to small business survival, and it often means juggling product pricing, replacing old equipment if possible, renegotiating long-term contracts and amping up marketing. Instead of giving up when cash is low, small businesses should evaluate their revenue and expenses to detect where changes can be made.
2. Use digital marketing to your advantage to expand customer base: Based on Manta’s findings, small business owners made customer acquisition a top priority in 2017. Digital marketing is one (cost-effective) way small business owners can achieve this goal. Potential customers are increasingly interacting with brands online, so small businesses need to embrace this reality by beefing up digital marketing efforts. A balanced digital marketing strategy in 2017 should include content marketing, social media, SEO and digital advertising to convert leads into repeat business.
3. Create a marketing plan and keep to it: Formal marketing strategies are a necessary business element for small business owners in search of true business growth. Previous Manta research showed less than half of owners (49 percent) had a detailed marketing plan. This often results in failure. Setting specific marketing goals and planning accompanying tactics for the year is crucial to success for companies of all sizes. All marketing plans should answer the following questions: What are you trying to accomplish and why? Who are your target customers? What makes your business stand out? What is your marketing budget? How do you plan to reach your target customers?
4. Hire more people: While small businesses are just that — small — if the opportunity to grow comes, take it. Hiring more employees not only grows a business physically, but can also help a business to branch out and take risks. New people at work means new perspectives, and hiring can present opportunities that drive the company forward while preventing a stale or outdated business planning. New hires also enhance overall engagement, which gives existing employees the chance to collaborate and learn.
It’s important for young businesses to evaluate business tactics each year to see what works and what needs improvement. Making realistic resolutions will put small business owners in a better position to compete in their respective market and enable them to grow in 2017.
John Swanciger is a seasoned technology executive with vast experience in team building, product marketing and strategic partner development. As CEO, he leads Manta to strengthen its current offerings, while expanding products and services for a growing customer base of small business owners. John brings more than 15 years of industry experience working with high-growth business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies, including Accenture, Hotwire and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. Most recently, he was responsible for product marketing, sales, business development and partner relations as Switchfly’s chief commercial officer. John is a board director at Liftopia and received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Boston College.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the authors alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the authors.