Whether they like it or not, the time is quickly approaching for business owners big and small to look back on the highs and lows of the past 365 days and evaluate the progress they’ve made.
Regardless of whether you’re disappointed, satisfied, or ecstatic about how your business did in 2017, you most certainly want to fire out of the gates in 2018 and set the pace for the rest of the year. Here are some helpful tips to aide your year-end reflection so you can make 2018 the year your business officially pops!
1. Give Yourself a Chance to Reach Your Goals
Start the new year fresh with a list of accomplishments you want your business to achieve in the next twelve months. Getting your goals down on paper is a great step in the right direction. But what do you do after you know what you want?
For every goal you have on your list exists a huge chasm between where you are now and where you want to be. The key to getting from point A to point B is to figure out the realistic steps you need to take to get there and set benchmarks to track your progress accordingly.
Whether you want to increase your website traffic, get x amount of followers on your social media sites, or boost sales of a specific product, it will help immensely if you have some kind of guide to stick to, explaining what your next step is and setting realistically achievable benchmarks to dictate your progress.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
When you’re running a business of any size, you can often feel like you’re being pulled in all directions which can get overwhelming quick. Wearing multiple different hats to complete dozens of different tasks is only viable for so long. Why not reach out for help so you don’t have to constantly sweat the small stuff?
Now-in-days you don’t have to hire a full-time employee to fill a small role and blow a hole in your budget. Freelance is the name of the game if you have a job you’re not 100% on that needs to be done quickly. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork can provide professional, affordable freelance talent to help with anything from web development to market research on a per-contract basis.
3. Don’t Go In Blind (Use Data)
Taking shots in the dark, especially when it comes to your marketing efforts, is acceptable when your business is in its infancy. But, when you’re more than a year in and you’re still making decisions based on your gut instinct alone, you should maybe reconsider.
All of your digital marketing efforts have generated insight-rich data just waiting to be mined and implemented. Everything from your website and social media traffic to your email marketing statistics can start to give you a glimpse into what your core audience likes and dislikes about what you’re doing.
Even if the insights are as simple as your audience opening emails more frequently on a Monday than a Friday, at least you have something tangible to build your marketing plan around and test further. The best free tool to use when just starting with this whole data collection thing is Google Analytics. It’s not the easiest tool to understand right out of the gate, but the insights it can provide are worth the time and effort. Here’s a beginner’s guide if you’re interested: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics
4. Reevaluate Your Website
When’s the last time you redesigned your website? If the answer is more than 1 year, it may be time for a new look.
User experience on a website is vitally important to the success of a business, especially if your main source of income comes from an online store. If you’re even on the fence about the quality of your website, consider that 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience (source).
It’s common for companies to be “too close” to their website, making them unable to see the forest for the trees and ultimately damaging their reputation without them knowing it. If you think this may be the case, you should consider having it audited by a third party to see what they think of the UX. To go back to tip #3, Fiverr has plenty of website auditors to choose from.
5. Learn From Your Mistakes
There’s no better time than the weeks leading up to the new year to sit down with your team and have a serious discussion about all of the steps and missteps of the past year. Take an honest look at all of your goals for 2017 and determine where you succeeded and where you failed so you can begin figuring out where you went wrong.
Did you make too many lofty goals? Were you unable to expand as quickly as you’d hoped? Did your video not go quite as viral as you thought it would? Go through all of these flubs and try to drill down to the core reason of why things didn’t go as planned. Whether the mistakes were big and systematic or small individual screw-ups, addressing these failures head-on with the intent to correct them is the only way to avoid tripping over the same potholes in the future.
Remember, you don’t have to wait until the arbitrary date of January 1st to start making changes for the better. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get results so why wait? Start laying the groundwork that will make 2018 the best year yet for your growing business.