Business Planning for a Successful Year
It has been an unprecedented time for many small business owners to say the least. But, the year ahead comes with new possibilities and opportunities. Here are five ways to re-invent or re-visit your strategy that may help you over the next 12 months.
Imagine yourself as a new start-up
No one knows your business better than you. What if you could go back and tell yourself what you know now, and start again? What parts of your business would you change? What would it take to build a stronger business?
You may consider:
- deleting unprofitable product or service lines, or introducing new products or services
- closing down parts of the business that are no longer profitable
- changing the expertise mix of your staff
- investing in new research and development
Investigate if you can expand your products or services by adding something new or different. Or, try a new approach to sell to customers with ideas such as: a trial offer, a free sample, a special price or extra service. If you find an idea that appeals to you, consider if you could incorporate it in the year ahead.
Think about alternative marketing techniques
Consider the way you promote your business and research alternative ways to get your business in front of customers. You could work back through your past promotional tactics and identify which worked the best and look at what they cost. You may find that some of these methods that cost very little work well for your business, such as:
- contacting likely customers directly - a quick call and a friendly voice can sometimes go a long way
- expand your presence on social media
- email campaigns to your existing contact list
- building word-of-mouth by asking customers to refer
You may find that some of the best small business marketing ideas take time rather than money. Consider investing the time to refresh the way you are promoting your business.
Get smarter about how you sell to existing customers
It may be easier to sell to your existing customers, as you should already know them and have a relationship. Ask if there is anything they need and think about offering them an incentive (i.e. discounts, pre-payment deals, or even advance notice of new releases).
Other tactics to sell more to existing customers include:
- identifying and contacting customers you haven't seen in a while
- analyzing customer buying behavior to offer complementary products and services
- run product demos (if applicable)
Double check costs and pricing to ensure you are making money from each sale. Extra revenue to existing customers that has low margin, cost overruns, extra waste or product returns probably isn’t going to help your business succeed in the long term.
Find new customers
Another option is to focus on adding new customers. You could consider:
- selling online by adding an online store to your website
- using third party marketplaces like Amazon or specialist industry sites
- promoting on social media to attract buyers (click here to learn more about getting new customers using social media)
- forming strategic alliances with complementary businesses
- prospecting in the next street, town, or city
Chances are new customers will look a lot like your existing customers. Profile who your ideal prospects are (for example, customers who order in volume or repeat orders) and then research where they are and the best methods to get in front of them.
If you think you need to make a change to make the next year a stronger one than the last, consider adjusting your business model to uncover new opportunities.
Find new business models
If you think you need to make a change to make the next year a stronger one than the last, consider adjusting your business model to uncover new opportunities. You should consider if any of these ideas work for your business:
- sell online if you don’t already (click here to learn more about selling online)
- research high-growth industries and consider expanding into those areas
- if you have helpful or interesting content, you could potentially make money with services like Google AdSense
- sub-contract to other businesses for short-term contracts
- sell your expertise by the hour online
Make sure any major changes to your business model is a collaborative effort with your staff and advisors to get feedback and develop your plan of action, and seek professional advice as needed.
In the next twelve months, it's likely that much will change. Be as proactive as you can by taking time to decide where best to place your time and money, then implement your customer, product, service or business model to find out what works and what doesn’t.
If you want to talk about your business banking needs, feel free to contact your TD Account Manager or find an account manager near you.
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Focus on your best customers, develop a growth marketing plan, find new ways to sell, and manage cashflow to maximize sales.
Connect with your customers through social media to build trust and brand loyalty.
Manage your pricing and costing strategies by learning about margins and the pitfalls of discounts to maximize profit.