2012 was quite the year for small businesses.
It was a year filled with uncertainty, oftentimes with small businesses watching and waiting to see what might happen. The 2012 Election was an absolute roller coaster ride with endless twists and turns. The looming fiscal cliff was avoided thanks to a last-minute deal. The economy continues to move slowly as many Americans continue to hope for the best.
The common thread for SMBs in 2012 was a “wait and see” approach to doing business in the midst of seemingly murky times.
But the New Year is upon is. Now what?
Many small business owners are optimistic for 2013 and why shouldn't they be? As a number of businesses focused on simply surviving 2012, this year those businesses will be looking to find ways to thrive. The world didn't end last year, after all, so what's to stop them?
The “wait and see” game is now a tale of the past. Small businesses are taking matters into their own hands in 2013, and while a number of big issues still face SMBs this year
, there are steps your business can take to put its best foot forward. The rules of running a business never stay the same year to year, so take the following business resolutions into consideration as you ring in the New Year.
Know Your Audience
Now's the time to know your customer base like never before. Thanks to the wealth of knowledge afforded by the digital age through web analytics, Social Media and review sites, the amount of data you can gather on your audience today is astonishing. You can use this data to your advantage when it comes to appealing to buyers and knowing what makes them tick. What sorts of promotions perform the best? What type of content gets the most clicks? If you haven't kept track of such data in the past, now's the time to get on board.
Understanding the behavior of existing and potential buyers should be a top priority to any SMB looking to make a splash during the New Year. While it takes time and persistence, such practices help to nurture new relationships which result in sales. The least a business can do is take the time to know and understand the people that are interesting in buying from them. The Internet has afforded the tools for business owners to gather such information with almost no barriers; it's that simple.Choose Carefully (and Pick Your Battles)
It's not profound to say that small businesses face a number of choices on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes it's nothing major, meanwhile some decisions are make or break.
Make a resolution to take a moment before making decisions, both big and small. Small businesses were cautious in 2012 and rightfully so. While we're all hopeful that 2013 brings good fortune, many small businesses may be tempted into risks that yield no reward thanks to false optimism. As always, look before your leap. Less uncertainly and an improving economy means that SMBs will be hiring more and attempting to receive more funding. Decisions on such matters can
be make or break for a business if they go awry.
Furthermore, many small business owners feel as if it's them against the world when it comes to businesses. Once again, take a step back and understand that small businesses often must pick their battles. You can't always crush the competition, dominate and be the biggest business on the block overnight. Many businesses burn out from trying to go move too quickly or do too much, forgetting the old adage that slow and steady wins the race.
For example, small businesses are consistently being told to have a presence on the Social Network. But this isn't 2008 or 2010 or even 2012; Social Media practices change so rapidly that it's difficult to keep up. Where it used to just be Facebook
and Twitter, then came Google Plus and now sites like Pinterest
and Tumblr are taking up chunks of the social sphere. Attempting to dominate each channel would result in a total burnout; instead, pick the channels that best suit your business and audience.
Don't spread yourself or your business too thin, and certainly don't do so due to poor decision making.
Lead by Example
This year, do what you can do become a leader rather than a follower. Buyers and users are drawn to experts and those whose opinions they value the most. If your business comes out looking like the top dog, the followers won't be far behind.
Don't be afraid to be assertive and confident in your business' approach this year. Being perceived as an expert in your industry isn't something that happens overnight. On the contrary; it takes time. Over the course of the year, however, you may build up your business' prestige through some killer content
creation, promotion and persistence. Set goals to help establish your company as an expert and let the world know that you mean business.
Pay More Attention
It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of being a modern business owner. That said, it really does pay to, well, pay attention.
Pay attention to what
The competition, for starters. Do you know what your competition is up to? What sort of offers and deals are they rolling out for the New Year? Are you caught up on current events? Do you know what's going on in Washington? Are you aware of the issues impacting small businesses? Legislation? New means of getting your business' name out in the open?
These questions should cross your mind more often than not, and hopefully you can find the time to answer some of them on a regular basis. While many of the aforementioned issues are out of your control, being aware and informed keeps your business better prepared for the future. Don't let your business get pushed aside or swept under the rug because you weren't paying attention; by keeping an eye on your surroundings, you'll always be better equipped to deal with conflict as it arises.
The Bottom Line
Small businesses certainly have a lot on their plate this year, but there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic. By getting your business off on the right foot, you can look forward to positive returns in 2013. What resolutions do you have for your small business this year?