Prepare for 2023

Hard to believe but there is a whole new year ahead. Hopefully everyone has had a nice Christmas but now it’s time to get ready for the coming year. Here are (in no particular orders) some tips about what to think about to make your business prosper and dangers you need to think about.

Get a website

The internet is the new yellow pages. People find you by Googling for what it is they want to buy. Even if they have found you by word of mouth – they are still going to check you out so they can make a judgement about your business, your products and what you can do for them as opposed to all of your competitors.

There are many “do it yourself” solutions. But I would advice getting help and finding a good web designer. Look at it like this. You could do your business cards and brochures yourself. But if you have ever actually tried this you will have noticed how totally crappy your efforts looked compared to getting a graphic designer to do it for you.

Use social media

You might sell wool for handcrafts, financial services or pet walking. Social media is how a lot of people find out about products and services they are interested in. Because it’s a great way for them to see what other people think about you and gauge your reputation. You can also use it to build a community around you and spread the word. If your best mate, or dad or work colleague posts on Facebook, Instagram or whatever about this great new pet walking service they found. Or money their new financial adviser made them. Or this lovely jumper they knitted with the help of the really helpful yarn store they found…. That is the best kind of advertising you can have.

Use videos

Videos are becoming a powerful to tool for sales and service industries. Study after study has found that even a short video about a product is far more persuasive than a static page in selling stuff. Not just physical goods. If you are a motor mechanic, a hair dresser or an accountant – even a short video about who you are and the services you offer is far more powerful than a couple of stock photos and a blurb.

Remember, most people will find you or check you out on a mobile phone. And video will win hands down in getting you that sale, work or whatever.

Also remember that people will check out multiple websites before spending cash. Ask yourself, which is more memorable and persuasive – 500 words and a photo or a video?

Anyone with a mobile phone can film a video and there are plenty of free apps for editing. A mechanics filming themselves on the job, an accountant explaining tax legislation, a pet store showing adorable puppies. Anyone can do it and everyone should.

Use modern payment methods

There will always be some cash transactions but more and more people expect an easy and seamless payment experience using online methods, a phone or a smartwatch. If you don’t offer that – they will go elsewhere.

Hook that up with modern, cloud based, accounting solutions. This will enormously simplify how you run the business and the time you spend on doing it.

Harness technology

Every day in every industry there are new innovations that are ready right now or soon will be. We all hate change but you have to keep on top of what is happening in your industry. This might be a machine, software, a trend, a world event or something that only applies to your particular industry.

There are new things that will make you money or save you money. It might be something positive – or negative. A war happens in Europe and every transport company in Australia has it costs double So some of those companies are jumping into electric or hydrogen. During COVID, some car making companies realised there would be computer chips shortages and locked in supply contracts. They made a lot of money – unlike those that did not think ahead.

Some restaurants thought creatively and quickly about what lock downs would mean. But then used what they had learnt and consumer trends to mitigate current crippling staff shortages.

What does your customer think?

The upshot of all of the above is to make things easy and seamless for your customers. Many studies have shown that people are willing to pay a little bit extra (and will spend more) if their customer experience was pleasant and easy. We have all been on the phone or on a website or in front of a counter with a business that made everything so hair pulling that we just gave up (or vowed never to use that business again and told all our friends not to either).

Whether you are selling swimming pools, 2 litres of milk or bricklaying. There are ways you can make your business a better experience than your competitors. That means retaining your customer base, positive word of mouth and new customers who have heard how great you are on Facebook, their mum or a friend.

Customer loyalty programmes, “mates rates”, give aways, seamless payment gateways, value “add ons”, a great website, a great Facebook page, terrific staff. Think of every way you interact with an actual or potential customer and think of ways to make that a better experience.

Does this apply to me?

You might be a small factory supplying nails – doing things exactly the same way for the past twenty years. Or a sole trader that paints houses. Or a greengrocer with three staff. But all of this applies to you. You have competitors who are always trying to steal your customers. They will use all of the things discussed here and more, to deliver a better service or product, with lower overheads at a cheaper price.

Business conditions are pretty good now. But every upturn is followed by a downturn. That’s when some businesses sink. Make sure yours floats.

Have a great New Year!