Kick-start your business in 2014

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For businesses 2013 was a year marred by continued economic unrest, but also one that brought with it a renewed optimism as signs in the UK economy mean things are looking up.

The CBI has just issued its outlook for the year ahead, and on the whole it’s a positive one. Its figures show that economic recovery is broad-based and continues to gather pace – great news for UK business owners. However, it also preaches caution; well-balanced growth is vital so with that the economy moves away from its reliance on the consumer and government debt.

So as we bring in the New Year, what should businesses be doing to ensure they stay on the road to success in 2014? Here are some of the New Year’s resolutions we think every business should make.

Make it personal – Marketing Week has included ‘me-tail’ as one of its trends to watch in 2014. The shift towards a personalised experience for customers has been gathering momentum for some time now, but 2014 is expected to be the year when this trend really comes into its own. Now is the time to re-evaluate product and service offerings, segment your audience and ensure you are delivering exactly what the customer wants and when they want it. If you don’t, you risk being left behind.

Revamp social media strategy – chances are your business is on Twitter, has Facebook and LinkedIn pages and possibly a YouTube account. Some of you might dabble with Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Things move very fast on the internet and what you were doing at the start of 2013 may no longer be the best way to reach your customers in 2014. Review your current activity and take a look at some of the newer sites to make sure you’re still getting the most out of social media.

Operate with integrity – 2013 was year that demonstrated just how much a company’s moral compass can affect its reputation – Amazon, Starbucks, Google take note. Whatever the size of your business, it’s wise to avoid reputation damage by operating with integrity. We all have a responsibility to our stakeholders but we must remember that investors are not the only stakeholders – your employees, industry influencers and the local community have a stake in your business too and if you don’t take them into account you could be putting your whole business on the line.

Be flexible – in a world that’s ‘always on’, flexibility is core to business success. Whether that means offering flexible working hours to staff or longer opening hours for customers, being able to adapt your business can result in higher productivity and increased sales. That doesn’t mean bending over backwards, it just means bearing in mind that the traditional 9-5 probably isn’t working anymore. 

Achieve the perfect work / life balance – ok this one will probably be the first to go out of the window with many of us still catching up on all those things that didn’t quite get done before the Christmas holidays, while also trying to get ahead for January. In a survey we published towards the end of last year we found that as many as one in five employees take work home more than once a week. The New Year is the perfect time to re-evaluate the way you work and make changes so that you’re working smarter not longer. If you’re a business owner, or manage your own team, take a look at your staff’s workload and see if there’s a way to shake things up so people are being productive rather than overwhelmed.

Of course, these resolutions don’t cover the obvious holy grails – maximise profit, minimise costs, grow sales etc. Each business is unique too

Posted by the Secret Businessman