Making Changes Could be Profitable for You in the New Year
Before we get too far into the new year, it is time for small business owners to take stock of their enterprise and consider changes to make 2013 their best yet.
For help, we turn to Justine Smith, outreach manager at Fresh-Books, the No. 1 cloud accounting specialist for small business owners.
Smith, who joined Fresh-Books after four years as a social media and marketing blogger, offers five "simple things" small business owners can do to start the year off right.
First, retool your pricing and packages.
"If you're a solo professional or small business owner, you have undoubtedly realized that no one is responsible for giving yourself a raise but you," Smith says. "Too often, self-employed individuals end up working for the same rate year after year because they're too busy to evaluate just how much their time is worth."
Why not, Smith asks, enact a rate increase effective this month for all new clients?
"To give enough notice for your existing clients, it may be wise to offer them a special deal or incentive to continue working with you," she says. "For example when I raised my rates a couple of years back, I immediately applied it to new clients but let existing clients continue working with me at my old rate for three months longer."
Second, revive your workspace.
"If you can't get to your desk without knocking over a pile of papers, your workspace could use some sprucing up," Smith says. "Spend a day organizing, filing and/or recycling all the paper you've accumulated in the last year."
If you work from home, Smith suggests trying shared office space this year.
"Working in a shared office environment one day per week can help you beat the isolation and distractions of working from home," she says.
Third, get your books in order.
"Think about which aspects of your financial books caused you the biggest headache last year, and get a new tool to solve it," Smith says. "The right tool will free up your time and benefit your business' financial health."
Fourth, set trackable goals.
"Come Jan. 1, 2013, everyone is keen to set a goal or two," Smith says. "Unfortunately, by the time February rolls around, these goals are long forgotten."
Smith suggests setting one or two "aspirational" goals for the year, then smaller goals that can be tracked on a quarterly basis.
"It's important that the smaller goals feed into your aspirational goals to ensure your day-to-day activities work toward the master plan you're envisioning for your business," she says.
Finally, focus on your customers.
"Regardless of industry or annual revenues, a successful business hinges on happy customers," Smith says. "Therefore, the most important step toward a successful 2013 is to continue putting your customer's needs at the forefront of everything you do.
"If you're not sure what your customers need from you this coming year, just ask them."
Business, I came to learn while publishing Sandhills Business Times, is all about relationships. That means making personal contact with your customers on a frequent basis, not just from time to time.
So get on the phone or out of the office, because your bottom line is at stake.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or tnatt @thepilot.com.
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