Posted on Jan 4, 2016

10 New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Your Business

When people consider picking a New Year’s resolution, they typically consider a list of things that revolve around bettering themselves or their actions in the coming year. And whether they commit to losing a few pounds or being more on time for appointments, those who stick with their resolutions tend to agree that it can be a powerful thing.

So as we dive into 2016, we’re challenging small business owners and entrepreneurs (like you!) to forget the numbers on the scale this year and put a new spin on the tradition – by applying it to your work. And in an effort to help, we’ve gathered our top recommendations of realistic resolutions for business owners – plus some great tips to make them happen. But before we get to them…

What about our 2016 resolution? Well, our resolution is to be better at helping you accomplish yours. So, whatever your goal you choose for the upcoming year, give our experts a call. We’re standing by and ready to help you put together a 2016 action plan that’s bound to take your business to the next level: 855-732-8209

1. Get serious about your mobile website

An effective way to take your business to new heights is by connecting with a new audience. And with 2016 upon us, the most important market to be connected and engaged with is the one that’s gone mobile.

According to PwC, more than two-thirds of shoppers are “omnichannel,” meaning that they’re using a combination of online devices and physical stores to research products and services to ultimately make a purchase. So with the rapid expansion of smartphones and tablets, the need for your site to be mobile-friendly is nearly a no-brainer, regardless of whether you run a brick and mortar or online store.

So, how do you make this happen? Start by checking out our latest tool, Impress.ly, which gathers all your website content and automatically creates an app-like mobile version of it that will look great on smart phones and tablets alike. It’s quick and easy to use. Plus you can try it for free!

2. Get real about your social media presence

As if it wasn’t already huge, social media seemed to explode in 2015, confirming the theory that in order to succeed and be profitable in business, you’ve got to have a social media presence. But for a lot of small business owners, this is easier said than done. Social media is changing and evolving at a rapid pace, and the reality is, it will take time to make your mark and keep it there.

Need a few practical tips in this area? Do some research to determine the top two social channels your target audience frequents most and then focus on those first. An example: While Facebook and Twitter continue to be the most popular channels, if your business is image-heavy (such a photography studio), you might want to consider concentrating your efforts in places like Instagram and Pinterest. Keep in mind that developing a strong and active presence on a couple of social sites is more advantageous than scattering your efforts across every platform available.

Once you’re up and running on social media, be responsive to every point of customer contact – whether it is a ‘like’, a follow, a comment or a share. Also consider scheduling your posts in advance so you can limit the actual time and frequency of which you spend on each site. You can do this by using tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, or TweetDeck.

3. Get extra security for your online transactions

We’ve all heard the headlines about hackers, leaked information and identity theft. Instead of fearing these dangers, make this 2016 the year you take business security – both online and in-store – seriously. It may seem like a burden and a hefty cost to do so now, but trust us, recovering from data theft or a DDoS attack can be far worse (and even more costly). So now is the time to make an investment in both security software and hardware.

 For your online needs, your top two priorities should be to invest in up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware protection, as well as an effective online backup service in case of an event of data loss. Regarding your account with us, we highly recommend getting set up with a SiteLock security plan and Site Backups and Restore.

As always, be sure to use complex passwords that you change every few months. This will keep your Wi-Fi network secure and account information safe. If you’ve got an online store and deal with payments over the internet, be sure to protect those transactions by getting an SSL certificate. An SSL is crucial because it increases customer trust in your business and helps with your Google rankings, too! It’s really a win-win-win.

4. Get ranked higher in search engines

“SEO” is a term used so often that it almost sounds like a fleeting buzzword. But don’t be mistaken. In today’s world, search engines like Google and Bing are the foundation of the internet and the first sites people visit to gather information, particularly about products and businesses they’re interested in.

Still, just because business owners understand the importance of SEO doesn’t always mean they’ve developed a strategy around it – sometimes because it feels too complicated or overwhelming. If you can relate with this feeling, this resolution might be the perfect one for you – especially if your site isn’t driving much traffic to it yet.

 You see, implementing an effective strategy and boosting your SEO is something you can achieve. And we’ve got a team of SEO professionals specifically trained to help you make that happen. Get started by brushing up on SEO basics and best practices, and then begin thinking about what how you might improve your site content.

When you’re ready, set up some time with our SEO experts and kick off 2016 with your highest search engine rankings yet. Learn more about our marketing services here: www.ipage.com/product/MarketingServices or call 855-732-8209.

5. Get smarter and commit to learning one new skill

A common mistake small business owners make is thinking that the only way to invest in their business is to pour more money into it. There are a handful of affordable alternatives, like expanding your skillsets and professional knowledge in order to improve your abilities as a business owner.

How? It can be as easy as a Google search. Simply enter your location along with your business type, industry, or desired new skill, and add to it keywords like “workshops, conferences, online tutorials, etc.” You’ll be surprised at the options available right in your own backyard. Interested in a conference? Here’s a list of the top conferences planned for entrepreneurs for 2016 and how you can make the most out of a networking event.

An added bonus to this resolution: Depending on how and what you choose to learn, you’re bound to meet an array of new people. And they could become customers, colleagues, business partners or even friends. So don’t forget to swap business cards with whomever you meet!

6. Get a business loan and scale up

Getting your business off the ground might seem like the hardest part of being an entrepreneur. But sometimes it’s the next step of the process that can feel even more paralyzing. So if you feel like you might be on the brink of that next step in your business, this resolution may just be the one for you…

The reality is that the majority of small businesses don’t become popular household names overnight. When it happens, it typically occurs in multiple phases of growth and spending. So one of the best things you can do for your business in 2016 is recognize when it’s time to and scale up. And for many of you, this will mean making sure your company is loan-ready – because to make it big in the business world, you may need financing. How will you know when you’re ready for this step? Check out these tell-tale signs that it’s the right time.

Should you decide that your New Year’s resolution is to seek out a business loan, check out Kabbage – the industry leader in providing working capital for small businesses like yours. Not only is iPage a proud Kabbage partner, but Forbes recently named them one of the “Top 100 Most Promising Companies of 2015.” So they’re definitely worth a look.

7. Get more help

Lots of small businesses begin as a one-man (or woman!) show. Maybe for you it all started in an Etsy shop or as an entrepreneur working alone out of your home. But now you’re finding that your schedule is overbooked or you’ve got more product orders than you can keep up with on your own. Sound familiar? If so, 2016 might be the year you should take the next big step in expanding your business – and hire some help.

This resolution, like all goals, comes with its own challenges. Many business owners build their companies from the ground up – dedicating countless hours, blood, sweat, tears toward their work. That can make it difficult to relinquish control or entrust any piece of their work to someone new. Plus, bringing on someone new can mean a financial step back at first, and that can make it feel like an even riskier move.

But if you’re ready, adding to your team is a great way to increase productivity and create more time for high level strategy and planning. By delegating existing work to your new hire/s, you’ll be better able to execute upon new ideas – and those are the catalyst for business growth and brand awareness. So as you leap into a new year, take a good look at your business and decide whether you’re ready to expand your team and take your business to the next level in 2016!

8. Get up to speed with modern technology

When you’re running your own business, there are few things that frustrate clients and customers more than slow internet speeds and a glitchy user experience. Plus, outdated technology and slow operating systems make it longer to get daily tasks done. This means you’re wasting valuable time that could be spent making sales or growing the business.

So if you’re stuck behind the times and not yet using the most up-to-date technology tools at your disposal, then we highly recommend prioritizing this and making it a resolution for your business this year. This should include all aspects of your company’s technology, from your computers and mobile devices to high-speed internet packages, software applications and more. For example, if your website has expanded and become more advanced, you might want to consider a more robust hosting package, such as a VPS or dedicated server plan.

And don’t forget about APPS! There are so many available for small business owners to take advantage of – many of which help increase efficiency, simplify communications, and help to get your work done faster. For example, we’ve partnered with Google and are now offering Google Apps for Work exclusively to our customers. We definitely recommend checking them out! No matter which area of technology you choose to improve, make it your resolution to get up to speed this year.

9. Get a blog and make it great

Simply put, every business website should have a blog. While it might seem like an added workload at first to launch, it’s important to recognize that the benefits of a blog far will eventually outweigh the stress, particularly if it’s done well. And the reasons for that are too many to count. That’s what makes this is one of the easiest recommendations we can make.

See, blogging is the easiest way to add fresh content related to your business online without going through the trouble of changing your professional site. Plus, by peppering your posts with SEO-friendly keywords, you can boost your search engine rankings as well. Finally, a blog encourages back-and-forth engagement and communication with site visitors and potential customers. This is a great opportunity for small business owners to take advantage of that isn’t typically availablie through their website alone.

 In terms of logistics, there are multiple ways to go about adding a blog to your website. Here at iPage, we make it easy by offering tools such as WordPress plugins and other blogging software. Need help getting started? Give us a call and we’ll get you set up: 855-732-8209

10. Get a plane ticket and take time off

Attention: If you saw this title and instantly wrote it off as a light-hearted finale, please keep reading. This resolution has your name written all over it…

We get it. If you’re trying to make a name for your young business, taking time off is the last thing you might ever think to do. But let us assure you, it is perhaps the most important resolution on our list – particularly for you entrepreneurs who consider 4 hours to be a full night’s sleep and 15 minutes to be a lengthy lunch break.

Despite a work-centric culture that idealizes cutthroat competition and burning the midnight oil, the truth is that a healthy work-life balance is the key to success. Seriously! Studies actually prove that rest increases productivity. And in order to maximize your creativity, innovation, and efficiency at work, you must find time to recharge and refresh your internal batteries. Don’t believe us? Get this:

A recent study found that “if employees would take just one additional day of earned leave each year, the result would mean $73 billion in output for the U.S. economy and positive impacts for both employees and businesses.”

Even amidst all the evidence supporting R&R, we realize you might feel like you don’t have the time or the resources to make it happen. Don’t worry – we’re one step ahead of you. Here are 5 practical tips to help you make this relaxing resolution a reality. Check them out and then book your vacation! You, your family, and your business will undoubtedly reap the rewards.

January is a time for reflecting on the year past, building upon lessons learned, and looking forward to new possibilities for greatness. And this year, we invite you to join us in this mindset and get excited about all you can and will accomplish. We hope our resolution ideas have given you some ideas to work toward. And as always, we are eager and excited to help you along the way. So choose your New Year’s resolution and give us a call: 855-732-8209. We’ll help you make 2016 great!

Good tidings to you and happy New Year!

 

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