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7 Ways Small Businesses Can Plan for a More Productive New Year

As everyone prepares for holiday parties and gatherings, thoughts come to mind about the new year ahead. People often make personal New Year’s resolutions. There are also 7 ways small businesses can plan for a more productive and happy new year. A few simple changes can make 2014 your best year ever.

1. Think About Your Pricing Structure

Sometimes businesses continue to charge the same prices as they did three years ago. Each year is another opportunity to analyze your pricing structure. The cost of living increases and often the cost of offering certain goods and services increases, too. Often businesses worry about losing customers if they raise their prices. A small raise is reasonable, especially if you are providing real value to your clients. After all, people in “regular” jobs expect a raise at least once a year. Another way to earn more is to bundle certain products or services. It is a way to encourage people to get more for less. It can also make certain customers take advantage of some of your additional offerings they might not have tried before.

2. Get Rid of Your Worst Customer

We all know there is one customer that gives us ongoing headaches. In many instances, they are paying less than other customers and demanding more. They sap your energy and cause you endless hours of extra work. Customers have a right to complain but there is always a customer that is just never happy. These customers make you second guess your abilities and bring your morale down. It’s time to get rid of your worst customer so you can focus on better ones. You’ll be amazed at how much time you have to devote to developing your business when you aren’t being hassled by an irritating customer.

3. Analyze Your Current Target Market

Savvy businesses owners define their target market before they open their doors. This target market might change over the years. For example, a product offered to younger women five years ago might now appeal to older women who are “growing” with the product line. Review your sales over the past year to see who your customers are. Get familiar with the people who are buying from you right now. Gear your marketing and offerings toward your current target market to stay relevant in the coming year.

4. Determine Your Hot Commodities

What did customers want most? Now that you know your target market, pinpoint what they want to buy most. Focus on improving these products or services. What can you do better? How can you make them even more useful to your customers? Conduct a simply survey on social media to determine why customers like this particular item and what they would like improved. These surveys are free, take very little time to monitor and can help your business become even better in 2014.

5. Check Out Your Website

Small businesses tend to get comfortable in a certain routine. This means your website could have a tired design that needs updating. Your website should be navigable and simple as well as mobile-friendly. More than half of shoppers are accessing websites on their mobile devices. Check on your blog and make sure it is being updated. If you’ve neglected it, get back to blogging on a regular basis. Your customers should know whether to expect a new blog each week, every other week or every month. Create a schedule that works for you and stick to it in 2014.

6. Review Your Budget

The key to remaining profitable is to remain on top of your expenses and earnings. Never speculate when it comes to money. Maintain accurate records throughout the year. If you currently have sketchy records, set up a simple system that works for you. Some people like to use QuickBooks or other programs. Others find a basic accounting ledger is best for them. Present any documentation you have to a professional accountant. It is worth paying an accountant so you know you are filing taxes correctly and making the most of the income throughout the year. Knowledge is power when it comes to money.

7. Manage Your Time

We have all heard the old saying that time is money. This is an honest assessment and something to consider for 2014. How are you wasting time? Do you check emails all day or devote an hour at the end of the day to sort through them? Are your clients interrupting you through the day with phone calls or online chats? Learn how to schedule your time and stick to the routine in the New Year. You’ll be surprised at how much more you can get done. Make sure to fit in time for eating, unwinding and exercising so you stay refreshed. Devoting all your time to work can make you stale and dissatisfied – and it shows.

[box type=”shadow”]Main Takeaway: The New Year is an ideal time to reassess your current business practices and improve on them. Determine your current sales winners, get rid of your worst client and be aware of your accounting procedures. Find ways to better manage your time and revamp your website for a stellar 2014.[/box]