New Year's resolutions for your business
With 2015 now firmly in the past, the world is looking ahead to this year with fresh optimism. This is true not only for individuals hoping to get healthy, wealthy and tobacco-free, but also for businesses. Oddly enough, these companies will also be looking to get healthier, wealthier and...well... paper-free at least.
So what would you like to achieve with your business in the coming 12 months? The most likely answers are growth and more profit, but to achieve these, you'll need to look some smaller pieces of the puzzle.
Below, we've put together a few ideas of how you can improve your business in 2016 - the little things that can make a massive difference.
Give your website some love
Most businesses have websites these days; you probably have too. Just having a website is no longer enough, though - it needs to be working for you, and that requires constant development and maintenance.
If you've been neglecting your online presence recently, just taking it for granted that people are finding you and getting the information they need, you'll probably be falling behind your web-savvy competitors. It's time, then, to pull up your digital socks.
Start by adding some fresh content on your latest products, as well as the recent goings-on in your industry; show that you're still ahead of the game, or at least up-to-date. Then speak to some experts about search engine optimisation - things have changed here too, so you might need to make a few changes to ensure you're still showing up in Google's results pages.
Be more social
There's a reason social media is such a big thing for businesses these days. It gives you a chance to build valuable relationships with your audience; a chance to talk to them, and listen to what they have to say. It's an invaluable platform for learning how your customers' needs evolve over time.
The phenomenon of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and every other platform you can think of is only growing as we move forward, so if you've only dipped a tentative toe up to this point, now is the time to jump in the deep end.
Interact with people and find out more about what they want from your business - only then will you be able to provide it. Oh, and there's no harm in going viral if you do have a spare minute to think of something amazing.
Earth is a beautiful place full of stunning landscapes and natural wonders. It also provides more than seven billion of us with somewhere to live, so the least we could do is look after it, right? By going paperless - or at least reducing the amount of paper you use every day - you'll be doing wonders for the environment.
It's not just about saving the trees either. Paper costs money; as do office space and professional shredding services. Stop using it and you won't have to pay for it - it's that simple.
So where do you start? Well, nobody expects you to burn all of your important documents, but start archiving them online using a decent cloud service, or at least on physical hard drives. From this day forward, keep only digital copies of documents and watch as the printing costs drop.
Once you're in the habit of storing everything online and on computers, it's worth changing the default settings on your printer to the lowest possible quality levels; when you do have to print something, it'll use less ink and, therefore, cost less.
Think more about money
There's no point in doing everything as cheaply as possible - it'll only start to show in the services you provide. It is, however, worth thinking very carefully about your regular outgoings. Aside from printing, there are plenty of services on which you might be able to spend a little less.
Shop around for your energy, for example. With more technology being used around the workplace, you'll probably be consuming more electricity, so it makes sense to be on the best possible tariff. Going back to sustainability, there may even be some value in the idea of using alternative power sources, like solar.
If you find yourself constantly sending large parcels and packages out to customers, it may be possible to cut your delivery costs by shopping around here too. Of course, the cheapest courier won't necessarily be the best, but you should be able to find a decent balance between value and quality.
A time for change
OK, so not everyone is convinced by the concept of New Year's resolutions. It is an odd thing if you think about it: picking a certain moment in the calendar to make changes and better yourself. For businesses, though, it does make some sense.
Christmas can be a manic time for companies of all kinds, and with getting it out of the way comes a huge sense of relief. Once the dust settles, you do have a little time to plan and implement changes like those listed above. Make them one by one and you'll soon notice the improvements.
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