Using the past to help the future
While a lot of small businesses believe you should only look to the future, you can actually look to your past for some great tips on how you can help the future. As you create marketing strategies and other business plans for the future, take a look back upon the things that have worked for you in the past and avoid falling into the mistakes that haven't worked in the past.
What marketing tactics have been successful for your business in the past? Can you find ways to cut the costs of those campaigns or can you find a way to make them new and innovative for your customers? What marketing campaigns haven't worked? Why do you think they failed? It could be that the actual campaign was good but you had poor timing, a bad mailing list, or a lousy printer. Take notice of what you liked and didn't like over the last years marketing efforts and use them to your advantage when you are preparing for this year's campaigns.
This is a big planning step you need to look at. Budgeting for a new year almost always focuses on saving money. Since you are working on a new budget, you need to look for ways to cut expenses. What have you tried doing over the past year? Let's say you already "went green" and now you have lowered your utility bills, but how else can you save? Take a look at every expense and ask yourself if you need it or if there is a way you can reduce it. This is a great way to start saving money and controlling your budget for your new business plan.
This is one of the biggest components that keeps a business alive. What are your customer relationships like? Do you have a lot of repeat customers or are you wasting money trying to attract new ones? If you don't have repeat customers, start doing some customer surveys to find out why they aren't coming back. Take their comments to heart and try to find a way to strengthen your relationships with them. Small businesses depend on their repeat customers, even if the person only spends a few dollars here and there.
Some other ways to strengthen your customer service department is to start paying attention to your customers. Treat them like gold when they walk in the doors, even if they don't buy anything you want to make their experience memorable and enjoyable. Create a good return policy that is fair to you and to the customer so they feel like you do care about them and not just their money. Another way to help your customer service department is to focus on listening and trying to solve the problems they bring to you. Your main job is to keep them happy and coming back for more and listening to them and taking notes is the best way to accomplish this.
Take a look at the way you have managed the business in the past. Are your employees happy working for your company or are they ready to move on? What can you do to make their jobs more enjoyable? Do you have a trusting relationship with your employees? It is important to create a healthy working environment if you want to retain your best employees and recruit new ones in the future. Your management style will play the biggest role in developing great relationships with your employees and it will help to lead to the progression of your company into the future if you are able to build a great team.