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The start of a new year often comes with a laundry list of goals and to-dos, which can quickly become overwhelming if you try to tackle too much, too soon. I’ve always approached resolutions by setting short and long-term goals for the whole year — after all, we have 12 months to reach our goals, and there’s a reason they aren’t called January resolutions.
Now is an important time for entrepreneurs to reflect and chart a course for the year ahead, but it’s easier than ever to worry about the challenges facing the economy.
I would encourage all small business owners to approach 2023 with a touch of empathy and realism. Don’t bury your head in the sand – be aware of the economic headwinds we are facing, but don’t let them monopolize your attention. Instead, spend your time and energy on the challenges and operations that are within your control.
Here are four trends shaping the small business landscape to be aware of — and take advantage of — as you implement your plans throughout the year:
Related: 4 Success Tips From Small Businesses That Do Well
1. The Big Picture: Entrepreneurs are prioritizing marketing and hiring over recession concerns
We performed one national survey among entrepreneurs at the end of last year, which showed that 78% expect a recession to impact their business initiatives. Despite this, business owners are actively investing in their businesses, prioritizing marketing and promotion, hiring and raising wages, and investing in new equipment and technologies.
The best defense against customers shrinking their wallets is a proactive offense. If your marketing efforts could use a refresh, consider these best practices:
Keep it simple: A streamlined strategy that aligns with your overall business goals will put you on the road to success.
Identify your target audience: Start with your end goal in mind. Who are you communicating with and what are you trying to tell them?
Choose the right platform: Once you know where to find your target audience, you’re ready to choose your preferred marketing channel(s). At the kick-off, I would recommend, at least in the beginning, to focus more strongly on one or two specific marketing channels.
Measure your success: In the age of social media, marketing is no longer a one-way street. A successful marketing campaign is now a multi-platform, multi-interaction way to connect with your customers. Set your goals and KPIs early and research and evaluate them often to see if your message resonates with your target audience.
2. Don’t get left behind with the latest business technology
In recent years, small businesses have widely adopted new technology to make their operations and customers’ lives easier. At this point, integrating the latest technology is no longer a nice thing to have – it’s vital to the future of your business. Even with a potential recession in mind, 68% of business owners plan to upgrade or incorporate new technology this year.
Deploying new technology and services can be confusing, if not downright intimidating, for many of us. If you want to integrate new technology but don’t know where to start, this year’s priority is:
Invest in an automated payroll or workforce (HR) platform to reduce complexity and streamline operational costs.
Accepting new forms of cashless or peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, such as Zelle, at your company’s point of sale.
Modernize your customer relationship management (CRM) system with enhanced omnichannel capabilities that can communicate with your customers regardless of the platform they are on.
Enhance your cybersecurity measures to protect yourself against hackers and the latest cyber threats. Alas, small businesses are becoming increasingly popular targets for hackers and scammers.
Related: 3 things to consider before investing in new technology for your small business
3. Entrepreneurs benefit from free learning resources
It’s never too late to learn. Free learning resources for business owners have greatly improved and proliferated in recent years, with many entrepreneurs (at various stages of their business journey) seeking them out. Last year, we learned that the majority of business owners wish they had more knowledge about corporate finance — including 75% of female entrepreneurs — so if you’re looking for tips, here are some resources to consider:
If you are interested in pursuing more formal education, organizations such as LinkedIn and the SBA have online learning platforms. Bank of America also offers a free online program for women to earn a certificate in business from Cornell.
Your local small business banker can also be a major asset to your success and make your life much easier.
4. Owning a business can be lonely – don’t go it alone
Starting the new year with the weight of running your business on your shoulders can be beyond stressful. If only one piece of advice from this article sticks with you, I hope it’s this: find someone to talk to who’s been there before.
Explore organizations such as the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Luminary, your local Small Business Chamber of Commerce, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Business Networking International, or similar groups. The return of in-person networking events has also created opportunities to meet other local entrepreneurs and collaborate with mentors who can support you on your journey as an independent australiabusinessblog.com. Less formal ways of networking, such as LinkedIn groups or coffee/drinks with like-minded individuals, can be equally helpful.
Prioritize building relationships with people and communities you trust, and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.
It can be daunting to achieve all the goals you dream of for the year, but adding the tips above to your game plan will actively position your business for continued success in 2023 and beyond.
Related: 7 networking groups every small business owner should join