What are your plans for 2018? The end of the year is near, and the task of developing new strategies can be nerve wrecking. Though only a mere five and a half weeks remain, you have time to create a roadmap to improve processes throughout multiple areas of your business.
Depending on your business needs, your list can include retaining top talent, improving HR strategies or upgrading technology. In most cases, organizations plan for the following year 12 months in advance. As new information is discovered, action plans can be changed throughout the year.
In your first meeting with executives and management, use these helpful tips as a reference for your discussion.
1. Adopt new equipment or technology
The idea of holding onto old technology or equipment might save you money, but it can end up costing you more money in the long-run. If your employees are wasting time trying to fix issues with an outdated printer or using old software that doesn’t match up to your current business needs, it is time to upgrade.
Do you lack resources? Speak with a lender or your local bank about competitive rates for a small business loan or a line of credit. Here is a list of equipment and technology to consider:
- Business signs
- Computer software
- Printers, scanners, and laptops
2. Reaching new target audiences
The age of consumers in the United States is rapidly changing. One way for your products and services to get into the hands of new audiences is through effective research.
According to a DQYDJ, the workforce in 2015 was between the ages of 25 and 44. If you do not have a research and development team, hire a consultant to find out the income, race, age, and target audience. It will help your marketing, product development, and sales team to create messaging, branding, and improved products that your new audience will be impelled to buy.
3. A new location or new markets
Technology is a helpful resource for reaching out to new markets. An example is an online resource for setting up a landing page that captures leads from website visitors to help with email marketing campaigns. You may not have a research and development team to do the manual work, but technology can work for you while your employees focus on other responsibilities.
Another option is to think about where you are located and if customers can easily find you on Google Maps. Your store might on a busy street downtown with no parking. If you are in a busy shopping mall in the middle of the mall that is difficult to find, think of a convenient location to open a new store.
4. An improvement of employee benefits
The human resource team is your key asset to discuss plans on how to retain top talent. Here is a list of benefits to include to put a smile on your employee's faces:
- Telecommute or at home work opportunities
- Career development training
- Flexible schedule options
- Relaxation room to help decrease stress
- Increase healthcare benefits
5. Develop a long-term business plan
Did you know a five-year plan can support a one-year plan? Your team can make mistakes if a blueprint for the future does not exist. As you plan, set the timeline for three and five years when reviewing ideas for 2018.
The way to perceive this idea is you currently have small pieces of a puzzle with larger pieces that need to illustrate how the future of your company will appear. We highly recommend that on your process board, add growth, service, products, social, and profit to each category. Here is a list of benefits for you and the team to focus on:
- A customer service retention plan
- How to improve public relations through community involvement
- Strategies to increase revenue
- Improve relations with employees, target audience, size of your organization, etc.
Once you set the tone internally that creativity is welcomed among employees, you will be surprised in finding out more about ways to improve other areas of the business. Your employees speak with customers every day and know your products inside and out. The idea is to think like an employee, stakeholder and customer to begin creating the change in 2018 you want to see.
6. Take advantage of small business loans
Your local and state government offers grants and financial assistance for entrepreneurs. USA.gov offers a search for opportunities by city, county, and state. The Small Business Administration has STEP grants that can help you improve your marketing and sales efforts.
7. Improve business finances
Once you start paying attention to all business expenses, you can separate your personal and business purchases in different accounts. Take the time to review expenses in the last three months to figure out a tight budget for the New Year. Start to establish a budget to find out which expenses are bringing your business account in the red. If you are a solopreneur, educate yourself on your annual tax responsibilities.
8. Hire a consultant for process improvement
A third-party consultant can bring more creative and innovative ideas to the table than an employee that works in your company. A consultant will be unbiased with a wealth of experience working with companies like yours. It can help you to realize inefficiencies in the way you pay your taxes, or a provide a way to improve employee engagement.
Remember to use these action steps before your first meeting to open the floor for an open conversation. Good luck!
Makeda Waterman is a freelance business writer with writing clips from Huffington Post, Glassdoor.com, Elite Daily, and Startingbusiness.com, among others. She has an education in Journalism and owns a writing business with a passion for helping companies grow.