By Eva Reinoso Tejada :::
Here comes the time of the year when, after all the excesses of the holidays, we come to our senses and make resolutions like: This year… I will lose 20 pounds, eat more vegetables, pay off my credit cards, fix my credit, call my mom more often, take that ever-postponed vacation, clean the junk in my garage, etc., etc. I am laughing at myself as I write these very common and cliché resolutions that I have made and broken so many times in the past, and I bet I am not alone. But, if you are a business owner or manage a business, there are some resolutions that you can also look into, that will pay off in big ways:
1. See where and how you can take advantage of technology. As an example, I will share that we upgraded our manual order-taking system to a multiuser accounting software that can be used simultaneously by customer service and accounting. This helped us reduce hours invested in duplicated data entry, minimized clerical and math errors on orders, and helped us improve our touchless and digital order taking process. Was it easy or cheap? No. It took a few months to learn the program, work out the kinks and code all the products electronically, but it is done now. We take orders faster, more accurate, and spend less time doing it.
2. Update your pricelist. It is not a secret that we are going thru inflation, and it is usual for businesses to update their prices at the beginning of the year. Well, this year it is a definite must, if you want to stay in business. Consider how much more you are paying your employees and how much your vendors have risen their prices on you. If you have inventory on hand that was purchased at a lower price, don’t get too comfortable, as that inventory will need to be replaced at the current prices. Keep it fair for you and for your customers, and more than ever, give them good service, which is always priceless.
3. Network more. This is a tough one, if you are not the social type. I usually prefer to be at my office doing what I do best, but sometimes getting out there to events where conversations and connections might happen, could bring big rewards. Be selective and appreciative of your time when you pick which events to go to. Time is gold, especially for a business owner.
4. Use social media more. Not only use it more, learn about it. Social media is powerful, and it can be an unbelievable business tool. Social media goes beyond your regular Facebook or Instagram profiles and learning how to use business tools on social platforms can reap big rewards.
5. Keep an eye on your business reviews. As an extension of number 4, you need to frequently check and see what customers are saying about your business. Unfortunately, an unhappy customer will be a lot more motivated to go and tell the world about their bad experience, than a happy one. You can always respond to reviews that are not stellar. You can suggest your happy customers to give you a review if they want, but don’t get pushy or bribe them into doing so.
6. Get a head start on your taxes. Organize your documents, receipts, bank statements as the year wraps up. Document important purchases and transactions you made in the year (if you haven’t done so). Make sure you have saved money to pay taxes, so when April hits you (or September, for filing), you will thank yourself. If you don't have one, start looking for a reputable tax preparer.
7. Don’t be afraid to outsource certain services. Some things are better left to the experts: Legal affairs, accounting and taxes, and your marketing and business image. You can try to do some of these things yourself, and it is a good idea to want to learn, but let the expert have the upper hand on guiding you, as mistakes can be costly.
8. Document your processes. This is super important. As a small business owner, it is easy to do things as you know how to do it, but if you want to grow, or if you happen to lose that very valuable employee and need to train a new person and you don’t have the processes in writing, that might create a big disruption in your business. An example of this would be writing recipes at a restaurant, documenting which vendors sell us what products, document how orders are taken and how work is assigned to different employees. Basically, put in writing all the know-how that you have about your business. You might want to sell your business one day, and this will be worth gold.
9. Answer your calls! I know this sounds obvious or maybe even ridiculous, but you would be surprised how many times I have called businesses, and no one answers their calls, or voicemails, or emails. Just out of ethics and decency it is important to answer calls, even if it is to say: “No, we can’t do that job when you need it.” Remember: The early bird and the one who answers the phone, gets the worm.
10. Last, but not least, get your corporate image (logos) in order. We constantly receive customers that want to print something, and they can’t find a good version of their logo of 20 years. Maybe because a previous printer never released it to them, or because it went out on an old computer, or maybe they have 4 or 5 different versions of their logo. Branding needs to be consistent, and you achieve that by hiring a designer to create a logo with a variety of products in mind. You will need uniforms, a sign, business cards, a website, and you don’t want your business to look different on each of those realms. Once you have your logo, save it in multiple places: a couple of different computers, the cloud, USB drives, etc. Have it always accessible.
At Image Impressions, we offer graphic design and copywriting services, and we design logos that are sharp, meaningful, and easy (as in affordable) to print or use in apparel decoration. We will guide you on what the best practices are for a strong branding that will project your business and take it to the next level. We are at your service, just a phone call away. 303-308-9444. Happy New Year!