Heading into the Christmas holiday, most B2Cs (and many B2Bs) businesses are rushed off their feet – finalising deals before the New Year and meeting an increased demand. The last thing on anyone’s fraught and stressed mind is preparing for the New Year. The focus is on meeting current deadlines, with tomorrow a long way off. However, our team appreciates the importance of proper planning and informed forecasts and believe great businesses are always prepared.
Creating financial plans, forecasts and budgets is a fantastic way to help support your business growth. Transitioning into 2016, plenty of independent bodies, such as the Office of National Statistics, will be releasing impartial data about the state of the UK economy as well as more specific statistics that could help inform your business projections. Take time out in December to read up on these and analyse your annual sales.
Take note in particular of your sales peaks and troughs, income and expenditure and analyse what went right and what just didn’t work. And then create a report in whatever format works for your business, with concrete ideas that can be implemented into your business for the New Year. It may be that you need to go with cheaper business solutions or respect that the months you excel are often followed by more difficult times. When it comes to your business, knowledge gives you far more power.
Every business has competitors, businesses who offer the same or similar service or product. Understanding their methodology can be of immense value to your business, offering some more insight into the industry and helping to strengthen your own service. Plenty of businesses will be sending out communications over the Christmas period; offering their customer base cards, merchandise and lots of emails to remind them of their presence moving forward into January. Use this to your advantage, sign up to your competitors’ lists and collect as much marketing information as possible. Then analyse. Make a note of their tone, style and what resonates the most with you.
Depending on your industry, do some further research and take a look at your competitors’ websites, branding material and if you are particularly inclined call them up and learn how they interact with their customers. If you are unsure where to start, a quick search on yell.com will give you a reasonable list of businesses as will any local networking groups such as BNI or Athena – who should list their members and provide you with a decent directory of local business.
Dates in the Diary
An important part of any business is keeping up to date with the latest legalisation, research and developments. Working in your industry, customers will expect you to be an expert in the field so it is important to keep updated. However, this is far easier said than done. Which is why we recommend (rather strongly) that you set aside dates. These can just be a morning or afternoon if you are extremely pressured for time. The assigned times should be used to read the latest literature and keep up to date on all those pesky newsletters that invade your email account on a daily basis. And, of course, for some more general business information you can always check out our Boost Capital blog which we work hard to maintain with helpful and informative articles.
And for those SMEs with employees, we recommend putting time aside for fun activities that will help keep your staff engaged and motivated. If it makes sense for your business, the holiday season may be an ideal time to switch off on Christmas and allow yourself and your employees to spend time with their families. Virgin mogul Richard Branson rather wisely noted the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your consumers. Not every day in business can be easy or pleasant, but every boss can work to ensure they have dedicated days that are staff centric and focused on boosting morale.