Businesses in Scotland: how to thrive in 2021

Bit late on the resolutions? Whether you make them in November, December or January, sticking to them remains the hard part.

A healthy set of starting points will help you achieve your overarching goals
A healthy set of starting points will help you achieve your overarching goals

Every year, we make New Year’s resolutions to help us get fitter, healthier, stronger or smarter over the next 12 months. So why not make similar resolutions for your business?

A healthy set of starting points will help you achieve the overarching goals of creating customers, leads and sales. Here are four New Year’s resolutions you might want to settle upon for your company, with some advice on how to get them on the road.

1. “I’ll sort out my website”

Streamlining your operations will help you focus your attention on your bigger business goals

According to a 2019 study by B2B research firm, 64% of small businesses have a website! Whether you sell online or not, a website is essential for communicating to customers that you’re a trustworthy, reliable business.

Your business’s site doesn’t have to be all-singing and all-dancing, but it should be clear, intuitive and regularly updated with all the information a visitor would need.

Today more than three billion people worldwide use a smartphone, so the lion’s share of your customers will visit your site on their mobiles. In this light, a mobile-responsive website is essential.

2. “I’ll get the right funding”

Dreams of opening a new branch, expanding your business or hiring a new team member are all worth thinking about while sprawled on the sofa in a Boxing Day haze – but without action, they’re still just dreams.

There are a host of funding opportunities available to local businesses to make those dreams happen. Although they take time to apply for, the benefits are definitely worth it.

National and Local Government bodies offer a variety of schemes that can help you – give your local Chamber of Commerce a call to discover more about them. If you’re keen to take on new team members, consider an apprenticeship (which can be subsidised by the government) or developing a graduate scheme with a local college or university.

If you’ve got an idea for a new product or service that you think might make a really exciting addition to your business, you could road test it with your customers through crowd-funding platforms like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter. This is where people directly invest in your product, service or business and receive an early release of the product or a gift in return.

3. “I’ll market my business properly”

From email newsletters to adverts in the local paper, local businesses have a bounty of marketing opportunities at their fingertips. With the start of a new decade, it's the perfect time to take a step back. Before spending money on anything new, consider what you’ve poured money into in the past, and whether you saw a return on your investment.

With the explosion of new digital channels and platforms, the marketplace has become a noisy and crowded space. This has made it harder for businesses to genuinely connect with customers, and made brand awareness more important than ever.

Customers aren't going to buy from, or interact with, a business they don't know exists. Make sure all your marketing is directed at putting you on the map. Consider your branding and how you look. Does your logo and strapline convey who you are and what you do?

Read JPIMedia Local's handy explainer on branding for some inspiration.

Don’t forget to properly monitor your marketing as well - this guide to the 5 most essential metrics in measuring your success should get you started.

4. “I’ll streamline my operations”

As every overworked entrepreneur can testify, there are more than just a few time-consuming activities that can burden local businesses. Anything from admin, day-to-day customer service and creating and sharing marketing materials can be a real drain on time that could be better spent selling products.

Streamlining your operations will help you focus your attention on your bigger business goals for next year. That might mean using automation tools to manage your social media, finding a good computer program for project management, or outsourcing more menial tasks so you can concentrate on running your business.

Plenty of start-ups specialise in administrative and project management services (search online for “virtual PA” or “virtual assistant”) while others, like ourselves, offer a full marketing service, both online and off. Invest in these services and you’ll have more time to focus on achieving your big dreams rather than worrying about day-to-day difficulties.

What will your New Year’s Resolution for your business be? Think clearly how you want the year to play out, setting realistic deadlines and forecasting the year's peaks as well as its slumps.

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