The top business improvements to make in the new year

Image by h kama from Pixabay

By Lexie Lu

Now is the time when business owners start planning what they want to achieve in the coming year and how they’ll go about succeeding with those aims. Here are eight ways to make your company better next year.

-Invest in software to track and manage leads

No matter what your business sells, it’s crucial to have a practical lead management system. It makes it easier to interact with customers and boost the chances of conversions. For example, if someone only signed up for your mailing list yesterday, it’s far too early to send them materials that assume they’re ready to buy something. Think about purchasing specialized lead management tools to assist with better decision-making.

Some products offer lead-scoring features that gauge how likely a person is to convert. You can also find cloud-based software that lets sales team members log in from anywhere and see up-to-date information. Such tools ensure sales representatives engage with current and potential customers in the most appropriate ways, which should help your profits and prove your relevance.

-Automate some of your repetitive tasks

All businesses have repetitive tasks that are necessary but take more time than they should. Look at which of them you might automate in the coming year. Keep in mind that automation does not mean taking humans out of the picture. However, it often opens their schedule for more rewarding duties. Additionally, it may mean that your company can scale up without immediately hiring more team members during growth periods.

For example, automated social media scheduling tools post new content on all platforms at once, precisely at your desired times. Products can also automatically distribute reminders about invoices that customers must pay soon or sort incoming messages into the correct folders so the right team members can handle them. Automation can improve the accuracy of business operations. That saves money and time and enhances growth potential.

-Increase the budget for employee training

As you invest in your team’s education, you’re naturally laying the foundation for a stronger business. Identify the weak points in your company and create training programs to address them. For example, maybe you recently allowed people to work from home, and most employees are now doing it for the first time. In that case, offering a course about staying productive and recognizing cybersecurity threats while working remotely could be a smart choice.

You can also ask employees directly what they’d like to learn about most and what would help them feel better-equipped in their work. Maybe some marketing department workers would love to learn about search engine optimization strategies for voice search. In contrast, people in the shipping department are curious about new technologies that help goods reach their destinations faster. When your workers have current and applicable knowledge, they’ll succeed in their roles and contribute even more to the business.

-Replace your signage

Your business sign provides the first impression for new customers. If the signage has been in place for several years, it may not support your company image. For example, sun exposure can fade the paint, and the natural breakdown of other materials can lead to an unkempt appearance. People may come to the wrong conclusion even before they walk in the door.

Effective signs should be an appropriate size and style to catch attention from passersby. Assess whether you typically get more foot or vehicle traffic, or both. Then, look at the surrounding signs and see what they offer compared to yours. People could easily miss a too-small sign, causing frustration when trying to find the establishment. Outdated business information is another valid reason to replace your signage. Maybe you’re no longer open on Saturdays, but the sign outside says otherwise.

-Improve your email marketing efforts

Email marketing can provide new chances to keep your business in a top-of-mind position with customers. Even if you’re already reaching people through email to some extent, there’s probably room for improvement. Assess how you could capitalize on more opportunities in the new year to raise more awareness of your business and stay in touch with clients. For example, tap into the marketable moments when you can help people find success with your products or services.

You might send an email to customers on their birthdays with a limited-time discount to celebrate. Alternatively, you could set up automated emails when people put things in their shopping carts and leave before completing the transactions. The email could remind them that they didn’t finish checking out and provide resources if they need help. Sending messages about sales on items that customers have shown interest in or previously purchased is another smart way to drive sales with email marketing.

-Identify ways to improve customer service

Satisfying your clients is a crucial part of keeping your business healthy and positioning it for growth. Examine what you’re doing now to maintain reliable customer service, and see how you could make it even better by catering to people’s needs. That might mean offering new ways to get in touch, such as a live-chat interface. You might also create a database of the most common questions people have and let them use it to get immediate answers.

If you’re not sure where to start with enhancing service, refer to some of the past communications and comments made by customers. What do they wish you offered? How could you make their lives easier while proving that your company stands out from the rest? Perhaps you could extend your customer service hours to better accommodate people who can’t get in touch at other times. Alternatively, you might implement a faster way for shoppers to check their order statuses.

-Consider outsourcing some of the most time-consuming duties

Do you notice that far too much of your available time goes toward tasks that others could complete faster because the responsibilities align with their skills? For example, some entrepreneurs start by handling all company operations independently, from managing payroll to hiring new employees. However, it typically becomes apparent that such an approach leaves a business owner with little time left for the things they do best that directly contribute to company success.

Learn about the possibilities for outsourcing some of your duties to create more flexibility in your schedule. That may mean hiring an accountant instead of trying to keep track of money-related statistics in specialized software you bought several years ago. It could also mean you partner with a packaging company rather than keeping that aspect of your business in-house. When deciding what to outsource, it’s generally best not to let anyone else assume responsibility for your core competencies.

-Make your website more user-friendly

Your website shapes how people perceive your business, similarly to how signs do for a brick-and-mortar establishment. Regardless of whether you sell things on your website, it is a representation of your organization. That’s why it’s essential to investigate how you could make it more valuable and pleasant to use. Website usability could also help your company rank higher in search results. Google will start evaluating the experience a website provides as soon as next year.

Factors to check include usability for mobile device users, the functionality of navigational menus and page loading times. Many websites include built-in intelligence that recognizes when users make mistakes. If someone goes to a pet e-commerce site and searches for “dgo food,” the system might ask, “Did you mean to search for dog food?”

Consider how to increase the time people spend on your site, too. You might create a video library or raise the blog-posting frequency.

Strengthen your business in the new year

If you’re ready to start strong in the new year and create momentum that builds for months afterward, the eight tips here will help. Some business owners feel discouraged when identifying the parts of their companies that need improvement. However, knowing about a shortcoming is the first step to solving it and making your operation more competitive next year.


Lexie Lu is a freelance designer and writer based in Williamsport, PA. She co-founded the blog, Design Roast, a resource for web designers and marketers, in 2015. She specializes in graphic design, web design, branding, UX design, and mobile app wireframes. She earned her BA from Lycoming College. While not working in her home office, she enjoys walking her goldendoodle, cooking for friends and family, and watching way too much HGTV. Lexie’s work and writing can be found on well-known sites such as, Website Magazine, Marketo, and Envato. Feel free to connect with her on Design Roast or via Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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