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The start of a new year often comes with a long list of goals and tasks that can quickly become overwhelming if you try to do too much too quickly. I’ve always approached resolutions by setting short and long term goals that stretch throughout the year – after all, we have 12 months to achieve our goals and there’s a reason they’re not January- are called resolutions.
Now is an important time for business owners to reflect and plan for the year ahead, but it’s easier than ever to get bogged down in business challenges.
I encourage all small business owners to approach 2023 with a dose of empathy and realism. Don’t bury your head in the sand – think about the economic headwinds we’re facing, but don’t let them monopolize you. Instead, devote your time and energy to the challenges and processes that are within your control.
Here are four trends shaping the small business landscape that you should be aware of and take advantage of as you execute on your plans year-round:
See Also: 4 Success Tips From Small Businesses Doing It Right
1. The Big Picture: Business owners are prioritizing marketing and hiring amid recession concerns
We conducted a nationwide survey of entrepreneurs late last year which found that 78% expect a recession to impact their business initiatives. Despite this, business owners actively invest in their businesses, with a focus on marketing and advertising, hiring and increasing wages, and investing in new equipment and technology.
The best defense against customers tightening their wallets is a proactive attack. If your marketing efforts could use an update, consider these best practices:
Keep it simple: A streamlined strategy aligned with your overall business goals will help you stay on track for success.
Identify your target audience: Start with your end goal in mind. Who are you communicating with and what are you trying to tell them?
Choose the right platform: Once you know where to find your audience, you can choose your preferred marketing channels. To start, I would recommend focusing more heavily on one or two specific marketing channels, at least initially.
Measure your success: In the age of social media, marketing is no longer a one-way street. A successful marketing campaign is now a cross-platform, multi-interactional way to engage with your customers. Set your goals and KPIs early, and review and reassess them frequently to see if your message is resonating with your audience.
2. Don’t get left behind by the latest business technology
In recent years, small businesses have embraced new technologies at scale to make their operations and their customers’ lives easier. At this point, integrating the latest technology is no longer a nice-to-have—it’s essential to the future of your business. Even in the face of a possible recession, 68% of business owners plan to upgrade or integrate new technologies this year.
Implementing new technologies and services can be confusing, if not downright intimidating, for many of us. If you’re looking to integrate new technologies but don’t know where to start, here’s what to prioritize this year:
Invest in an automated payroll or human resources (HR) platform to reduce complexity and optimize operational costs.
Accepting new forms of cashless or peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, such as B. cell, at the point of sale of your company.
Modernize your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system with advanced omnichannel capabilities that can communicate with your customers no matter what platform they are on.
Enhance your cyber security measures to protect against hackers and the latest cyber threats. Unfortunately, small businesses are becoming popular targets for hackers and scammers.
Also see: 3 things to consider before investing in new technology for your small business
3. Business owners use free educational resources
It’s never too late to learn. Free educational resources for business owners have greatly improved and proliferated in recent years, and many entrepreneurs (at various stages of their business journey) are looking for it. Last year we learned that the majority of business owners wish they knew more about corporate finance – including 75% of female business owners. So if you’re looking for tips, here are some resources to consider:
Educational resources such as SCORE and Bank of America’s Small Business Resources website provide answers to many common questions and are readily available.
If you’re interested in a more formal education, organizations like LinkedIn and the SBA have online learning platforms. Bank of America also offers a free online program for women to earn a Cornell Certificate in Business.
Your local small business banker can also be a key factor in your success and can make your life a lot easier.
4. Owning a business can be lonely – don’t go it alone
Starting the new year with the burden of running your business on your shoulders can be beyond stressful. If only one piece of advice sticks with you from this article, I hope it’s this: Find someone to talk to who’s been there before.
Explore organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Luminary, your local small business chamber of commerce, the Entrepreneurs Organization, Business Networking International, or similar groups. The return of in-person networking events has also created opportunities to meet other local entrepreneurs and work with mentors who can support you on your journey as an independent business owner. Less formal avenues of networking like LinkedIn groups or coffee/drinks with like-minded people can be equally beneficial.
Prioritize building relationships with people and communities you trust, and you will reap the benefits for years to come.
It can be daunting to achieve all the goals you dream of for the year, but by adding the tips above to your game plan, you’ll be actively positioning your business for continued success in 2023 and beyond.
Also see: 7 Networking Groups Every Small Business Owner Should Join