10 Resolutions to Make for Your Business Forget dieting--our experts' advice will help you fatten up your bottom line.
Scott Steinberg: Shiny Objects
Above all else, a small-business owner's top 2010 resolution should be to invest in continued education, and making a point of setting aside the needed time to research and better take advantage of available resources. At the pace the commercial world moves in 2010, and given the flurry of information startups are now hit with 24/7, it's easy to get overwhelmed in day-to-day dealings and not see the forest for the trees. But fail to periodically pause, take a step back and look at how to best take advantage of all the resources available to you and optimize processes around them, and you're ultimately costing yourself more in the end.
Allen Moon: E-Business
Test more. If you do only one thing to improve your internet business in the coming year, that's it. How else would you find out, for instance, that by double-spacing the bullet points on a landing page you'd increase your response rate by 30 percent? That's a typically unexpected result from one of our clients. The internet is changing explosively, with new platforms, new hardware, and new ways of communicating. Free tools like Google Website Optimizer, for testing, and Google Analytics, for tracking, give you the insights you need to stay responsive to your restless market.
Lena West: Seriously Social
Become more comfortable with social media and social networking. Commit to improving your use and knowledge of social media by 5 percent each month. Sign up for a free webinar, take a class, hire someone to coach you. If you do this each month, at the end of the year, you'll know 60 percent more than you did at the beginning of the year.
Jeff Elgin: Buying a Franchise
Monitor and guard the cash position of your business like it was your first-born son. Question all expenditures by using the golden rule--are you absolutely certain that this expense will produce more gold--but when you're certain, pounce on opportunities neglected by your more timid competitors. Live your life in a spirit of gratitude for all the blessings that come to you as the owner of a business in America.
Michael Port: Sales Talk
Resolve to make 2010 a year of full self-expression, and take a series of actions that will increase your likeability factor. The one-way sales pitch is long gone. Corporate speak will only isolate you. People do business with people they like. And, when people like the source of a message, they tend to trust the message or, at least, try to find a way to believe it. Thus, your likeability and full self-expression has an enormous impact on your bottom line. Strive to be your best, most authentic and likeable self and you will be well on your way to becoming the obvious choice for your potential clients.
Mikal Belicove: Build a Website
Entrepreneurs and start-ups designing a website for the first time, or those who are revamping an existing site, should resolve to build their site to nearly the lowest common denominator. Just because your office has a dedicated T1 line, which makes surfing the Web and loading your graphically intense website a snap, doesn't mean your customers can do the same. Know your audience well enough to know if Flash and video get in the way of your pages loading in an acceptable amount of time, and be reasonable enough to know if anyone but you really cares about slick presentation. While you're at it, resolve to never allow video on your website to play without someone first clicking the play button!
Rachel Meranus: Public Relations
2010 is the year for small business owners and entrepreneurs to be even more out-front and vocal. The time for simply marketing a product to an audience has passed. The rise of social media and alternative forms of communication has empowered small-business owners with a plethora of opportunities to truly connect with one's customers and create interest and excitement that in the past would have required a huge budget and teams of specialists. 2010 is the time to be engaging, be responsive, and set the tone for who you and your company are.
Mark Stevens: The Heat-Seeking Sales Machine
Resolve to break every "rule" in the marketing playbook. They don't work in the real world. If your marketing initiatives don't produce ROI, drop them in favor of others that do. Start with a blank page, experiment and keep only the winners.
Gail Goodman: E-Mail Marketing
Combine your e-mail marketing with your social media marketing efforts. Tweet about your e-mail newsletter, linking to a webpage that has a sample issue and a sign-up box. Invite your Facebook fans, LinkedIn connections, and blog readers to sign up, too. In addition, use social media to spot customer trends, mine ideas for future newsletter articles, respond to customer concerns, and find new mailing list subscribers.
Burton Goldfield: Human Resource Strategies
Small and medium-sized businesses should resolve to be educated and prepared for adjustments in laws taking effect in 2010 so there are no financial surprises when the bills are due. For example, state unemployment insurance will increase for a significant number of small businesses. Find out if you're projected to face anywhere between a 2.5 to 600 percent increase in payments. Entrepreneurs already face a variety of regulatory and legislative hurdles when it comes to doing business, and rising state unemployment insurance and the recently signed COBRA extension will both be significant HR issues that will affect businesses.