Here are 5 things you can put in place to make your business more streamlined, and ensure that you’re on target for a prosperous 2016.
Social Media isn’t just for ‘the kids’
You may think social media is just for the ‘X Factor generation’, or get annoyed by the apparently vacuous nature of many ‘posts’ and ‘mentions’, but your business could be missing out. Signing up to Twitter, Google+ and Facebook is completely free, and providing you’re willing to commit a small amount of time each week to engaging with your visitors (and potential customers), you could generate some new business with no cash outlay at all. The key is to actually engage, rather than post corporate sounding updates, or in-house news. Find out how to make your social media effective immediately.
Make your site mobile-friendly
The number of people who access the web via mobile devices is growing all the time. 28% of all Company Bug users accessed the site from mobiles or tablets last month, and the percentage is continuing to grow. Famously, a visitor using a mobile browser is only half as likely to make an online purchase as one using a traditional PC device, but this potential audience can’t be ignored. Make sure your business website is mobile-friendly – ideally by using a responsive design layout (which shrinks and grows according to the screen resolution of visitors’ devices). If you search Google via your mobile, you’ll now see that a ‘mobile friendly’ tag is attached to a select number of sites – is yours one of them?
Embrace collaborative tools
Use online apps to help keep in touch with your staff and customers, as well as synchronising data across all your devices. Google Apps are arguably the most important tools any small business could benefit from – providing online storage, email, calendars, chat – for free (in most cases). A recent report suggests that almost 60% of UK businesses now use Google Drive. To find out more, read 5 apps every business owners should own. You could also save a fortune on fixed costs by allowing your staff to work remotely – as traditional ways of working (‘presenteeism’) are rapidly giving way to more flexible working arrangements.
Revisit your business plan
Many business owners will only consider writing a business plan if they need to seek external funding (such as an overdraft, or a loan). However, there are other benefits as well. The actual process of drafting a business plan can highlight aspects of your business you may not have considered previously. It can generate new ideas, and highlight potential problems. Even if no-one else ever sees your business plan, a New Year review will help you look back at your achievements, and work out how you performed over the previous 12 months, compared to your forecasts.
Good organisation is key
Good organisation will ensure you meet all your statutory and financial deadlines (self-assessment, payroll, your company accounts, submitting your company annual return), and will allow you to spend more time on growing your business. You also have a legal obligation to keep your tax-related records – 6 years for incorporated businesses, and at least 5 years after 31st January of the relevant tax year for the self-employed. Consider using online accounting software – you will cut your admin time in half overnight, and feel secure that your tax records are safely stored in the cloud, rather than at the bottom of your filing cabinet.