New Year’s resolutions are all about habits: breaking some bad ones (smoking, drinking excessively, binging on fast food) and starting new ones (working out, eating more Brussels sprouts).
Businesses, like individuals, develop bad habits that need correction over time, while success in business over the long run usually means adopting good management habits and sticking with them year after year.
Here are BLAC’s recommended New Year’s resolutions for business owners in 2023.
1Do your annual legal review.
It isn’t enough to hire a good lawyer and pray you don’t get sued. Every business has laws and regulations you need to know about, and it’s your responsibility to learn them so you can prevent lawsuits before they happen. Take your lawyer to lunch sometime in January, tell him or her everything your business did last year and what you’re planning to do this year, and find out what laws have changed since last year.
2Update your web presence.
Look at your business website and make, at least, five changes that will make it more attractive and engaging to prospective customers/members or partners. Post more content-rich articles answering commonly asked questions about what you do. Add videos (and post those same videos to YouTube) demonstrating in an entertaining way how to do what you do (or how not to do it). If you haven’t already, start a blog, podcast or discussion group where your customers can talk to one another about your professional service, with yourself as the all-knowing moderator. Most importantly, hire a search engine optimization (SEO) consultant and learn what you can do to boost your website higher in the Google search rankings.
Don’t have a business website? Start one! People expect you to have one. Make sure your web address appears in the signature line on your email and in all offline marketing materials (evenin the stenciling on your van or poster at the pop-up).
3Sign ’em up, nail ’em down.
You’ve got a part-time salesperson or administrative assistant working in your business one or two days a week. While they’re there, you tell them what to do, when to do it and how to do it. You believe this person is an independent contractor, so you don’t withhold money from their paycheck each week. Bad idea! The IRS is very likely to look at this person as a part-time employee, and they will come down on you like Thor’s hammer if they find out about this work relationship. Now’s the time to have this person sign a one-page employment agreement, effective Jan. 1, 2023 (your attorney can draft this for a couple hundred dollars), and add them to your payroll.
What should the agreement state? At the very least, it should clearly explain that the employee serves at-will and can be terminated at any time, with or without a reason.
4Become a local “celebrity.”
As a famous Hollywood actress once said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” Do anything and everything you can to generate positive local press and PR for your business. Volunteer to speak at local business luncheon meetings. Sponsor a charity event at your business location. If you run a butcher shop, call your local cable TV news show and volunteer to do a segment on “how to carve your holiday turkey.” The public loves that stuff and news reporters love it when you make their lives easier by suggesting story ideas.
However you do it, get out in front of your marketplace and let them see you. If you aren’t visible to your customers, you are invisible.
5Market your business on social media.
If you do not have a presence on social media you are not reaching baby booomers, millennial or Generation Z customers. Make 2023 the year you learn which social media platforms (the very basics are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram) are right for your business, and take at least one course on how to market effectively using those platforms. Commit to building a fan base or following of at least 1,000 people by the end of this year.