As the new year gets underway, your thoughts may be tuned in to how you can grow your business. According to a November 2018 Bill.com survey, 83% of small and mid-size businesses think now is a good time to invest in expansion.
Leveling up your business begins with an actionable plan and clearly defined objectives. If you’re ready to grow this year (with minimal growing pains), consider tackling these 5 goals during the 1st quarter.
1. Improve Your Credit Score
A large part of your business’s financial health hinges on your business credit scores. These scores give lenders, vendors, insurance companies, and other entities that may use your credit history for borrowing or financial purposes an idea of how responsibly you use credit.
Strong credit scores matter if your growth plans require taking on a loan or line of credit. The better your score, the better your chances of qualifying for financing and landing the best rates. These tips can help raise your scores in the first quarter and beyond:
- Pay your business and personal bills on time each month.
- Reduce the balances owed on loans and credit cards.
- Check your credit reports for errors and dispute any you find.
2. Downsize Business Spending
The 1st quarter is an excellent time to conduct a budget review for your business. Go over the prior year’s spending month-by-month and pinpoint those areas where you can reduce expenses. That process could involve small steps, such as switching to electronic bank statements each month to avoid a paper statement fee. Or it might entail something bigger, like trimming down your staff. The key is to make your business as lean as possible financially in Q1 so you have more cash flow to funnel toward growth the rest of the year.
3. Revamp Your Marketing Strategy
Marketing is an important growth driver in any business, and if your marketing tactics seem to come up short, it might be time to rethink your plan. Similar to how you approached your budget review, look back at the previous year to determine what worked and what didn’t with your marketing strategy. Then, use that to inform your marketing plans going forward.
Break this goal down further into mini-goals you want to achieve Q1. For example, that might include:
- Increasing your social media following by 500 people
- Adding 100 new subscribers to your email list
- Placing print ads in two new locations
- Updating your business cards
The trick is to choose specific goals you can realistically accomplish in the 1st quarter. Remember also to select goals that are measurable, so that once the quarter ends, you can decide whether to build on them or move in a different direction with marketing.
4. Streamline Processes to Increase Efficiency
Part of effectively growing your business means using your time wisely and being as productive as possible with the time you have. When time-wasters are clogging up the pipeline, it becomes harder to direct your focus toward growth activities.
Spend some time in Q1 identifying things that might be slowing you down. For example, are your accounting processes outdated? Do team projects take forever to complete because there’s no centralized line of communication?
Once you identify efficiency trouble spots, you can move on to implementing solutions. Switching to a cloud-based accounting system, for instance, could make handling the financial side of the business less of a hassle. Using a web-based project management app can make collaborations for team projects faster and easier. These types of changes may require an initial investment, but they could yield a sizable return if they help encourage growth.
5. Increase Your Online Presence
The internet is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal to grow your business. If you’re not leveraging it in the new year — through social media, an e-commerce site, a blog, app, or digital ads — you could be missing out on valuable growth opportunities.
Take stock of your digital footprint and assess your business’s online visibility. Ideally, your business should have a clear presence in those places where your target customers are spending their time.
If you’re not sure where that is, ask. If you have an email list for your business, ask your subscribers to complete a quick survey about their online habits. Or conduct a poll via social media. And check your traffic stats for your website to see where visitors come from online most often.
Those avenues can lead to an information goldmine. Use Q1 to carve out a more solid niche for your business through the online channels that hold the best potential for lead generation. That, along with the other 4 goals outlined here, can set the tone for positive growth in the year ahead.