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Is your business ready for the New Year? These tips from our experts will help you get the most out of 2016.
You have big business dreams and the drive to pursue them, but you can’t do it alone. Our goal is to support you by equipping you with the tools and resources to help you at any stage of your business. As we gear up for 2016, our mission remains the same—to empower and support your business dreams with relevant, inspirational, and educational how-to content. You have our committed support as you start, grow, and expand your enterprise.
We’ve gathered experienced entrepreneurial experts to share their top advice and predictions. They’ll help you refocus, plan, and execute as you lead your enterprise in 2016.
Cheers to a prosperous and productive New Year!
1. Pre-educate your customers. “Gartner Research estimates that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationships without interacting with a human. What does that mean to business owners? If you’re not sharing your knowledge and expertise online with your potential customers, you’re going to be missing out on more and more opportunities.
Use your digital assets (website, social media, e-mail newsletters) to publicly share the answers to the questions you most often hear from your customers. Your potential customers will learn from you on their own time—without taking any of yours—and grow to know, like, and trust you before ever interacting with you or your staff. When that interaction does happen, you’ll get right to work fixing specific problems and the sales cycle will have shortened dramatically.”
—Spencer X. Smith, CEO, Spencer X. Smith Consulting
2. Gear up for change. “We are in a very fast paced environment these days. Innovation, creativity and technology are pushing the envelopes for all industries. No matter how small your business might be in the grand scheme of things, it is important to stay current. Now is the perfect time to intensify your attention to your own business details. You can extend the success of your business in a few simple steps. Review how you monitor the data from your own business, stay current on your own data and trends and look and examine with a critical eye.
Take particular notice to changes and shifts and innovations, specifically in the customer service area. The only thing we can be sure of in 2016 is change, it’s important to prepare for it!”
—E. Michael O’Malley, Business Mentor, Fairfield County SCORE
3. Create a Cybersecurity Plan. “Providing ongoing social engineering training—to protect against being manipulated into giving up confidential information or abandoning security protocols—along with creating a strong Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, are the two most cost-effective cybersecurity strategies business leaders can implement to defend against cybercrime and help make 2016 safe and profitable.”
—Terry M. Evans, President, CyberSecurity Biz, LLC
4. Be proactively positive! “Make 2016 the year you embrace a proactive approach to running your business. Instead of reacting to the marketplace, your competitors or challenges, tackle them head-on. Don’t complain about things you have no power to control, but rather take control. Update technology, expand to new markets, and create new products. The power is in your hands—use it!”
—Rieva Lesonsky, CEO & President, GrowBiz Media
5. Identify the need. “To make your message memorable and effective in 2016, always focus on your audience and their needs, whether you are giving a presentation, facilitating a meeting, or talking to your staff. Who are they, what are their needs, what’s their hotspot, what is their problem and how can you solve it?”
—Nancy Depcik, CEO, Unshakable Success
6. Reward referrals! “Build relationships with influencers in your space this year. Don’t treat referrals like a happy accident. Put a strong referral and influencer marketing system in place to develop, nurture, and reward those customers who are your biggest fans, who advocate and refer your business. Find those customers and people in your space who get the most value from your product or service, partner with them and they will spread the word and recommend your business.”
—Ivana S. Taylor, Small Business Influencer, DIYMarketers.com
7. Share the value. “Businesses leaders should try to shift mindsets away from pure profit and gain toward adding value and creating exponential success for their employees and customers. This requires a new operating system that includes thinking from a share framework. The way we see our businesses as they relate to the good of the entire system varies, and businesses that are focused on being change leaders in their industry are the ones that will find continued success.”
–Cheryl Cran, Author, The Art of Change Leadership
8. Enhance employee experience. “I think that leaders will embrace the idea that a company is really an extension of a family, and you will see more companies, large and small, embrace time-friendly, time-flexible tools that allow their employees to have great autonomy in the company, while helping them maintain time for their own families. The more companies act small and employee-oriented, the more younger employees will embrace working for that company and remaining with them.”
—Jon Schallert, President, The Schallert Group, Inc.
9. Predict customer behavior. “Today’s direct mailer and customer engagement platform of choice is the app. It’s cheaper, it’s more consistent, it’s always in your face, and it’s constantly collecting data—consumer behavior information, to be more specific. Data is the new salesman. It allows leadership to analyze conscience and subconscious consumer activity and use it to customize the customer’s experience with the brand, creating a more accurate customer purchasing profile. The more accurate customer buying behavior predictions are, the higher the conversion rate, and the greater the revenue.”
—Tretta Bush, President, Tretta Bush & Associates
10. Identify potential investors. “On Oct. 30th, the Security and Exchange Commission passed rules to implement Title III of the JOBS Act. With this new law passing, anyone can invest in startups and startups can raise money from anyone—not just accredited investors. My advice to small business owners is to learn how to navigate the investor landscape because this opens up a new pool of investors for fundraising.
Crowdfunding sites that offer equity like Wefunder, FundersClubFundersClub, and others will help businesses land quality ‘smart’ money for the company. Owners need to learn how to take advantage of these new laws and be ahead of the curve in their respective industries. Prepare now and use these new ways to raise money to your advantage. The sky is the limit.”
—Amish Shah, CEO & Founder, Millennium Search
With each New Year comes new opportunities for your business. Keep these tips in mind and take your company where you want it to go in 2016.
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