6 new year’s resolutions for a smarter start-up

Xero's Gary Turner outlines top resolutions that businesses should adopt if they want to thrive in 2017.

The infamous year 2016 is now behind us and we all have a fresh start moving into the new year – one which could perhaps be one of the most unpredictable since the market crash in 2008. Low confidence and an anxious approach to ambition could stunt the growth of startups, so here are my key resolutions that small enterprises should adopt if they want to thrive in 2017.

Smarter marketing, not larger

It’s good business sense to always look after the pennies, but with unknown economic territories ahead of us, it’s important for start-ups to tighten up the side of the business where thousands could be wasted when hundreds could take you further = marketing. Social media and SEO will be the most cost-effective ways to drive brand awareness, so invest in consultants and training sessions to help you cover the basics that will ensure your business is heard in a world full of competitors. What’s most important for you to take note of in these workshops is the efficiency of micro-targeting – put spend purely into targeting where your audience digests content and news. Don’t look to reach large numbers, look to reach relevant numbers.

Inspiration comes from the workplace

It might sound simple, it might sound unimportant – but neither is true. Your working environment plays a huge role on your energy, motivation and inspiration – three characteristics you’ll need in bundles to take a start-up off the ground. Walk into offices up and down the country and they can be flooded with unnecessary paper, overcrowded desks, folders upon folders and general mess. Take action and declutter your office by taking more of your work online – with the rise of cloud-based services such as Google Docs, sharing working documents has never been easier. What’s more, the cloud has been utilised across industries, and some services even allow you to take your accounting spreadsheets and numbers purely within the cloud. This takes me nicely onto…

Re-evaluate your business tools

The beginning of the year is an opportune time to calculate all tools your business subscribes to, and analyse what’s working and what’s not. It could be that you’re paying for three different tools that can all be done by one, this will drive costs way down. For instance, Xero is a tool that allows you to take control of payroll, pay bills, send invoices, creating POs and more – it’s time to research what tools out there will optimise your business.

2017 will be the year of networking

Business owners will need to keep their finger on the pulse of trends that result from Article 50 being triggered. You can make predictions based on what you’ve read online and how your business has been performing, but to get a deeper understand and grasp on where trends will head, you will need to discuss the industry with your peers. Like Open Data, everyone will benefit from each other’s learnings and can adapt accordingly. SMBs are the backboneof the UK  economy, and a united effort to thrive this year will help us prosper as we leave Europe.

Prioritise your employees’ happiness

Hard workers are hard to come by. You’ll remember sitting in your office interviewing countless candidates who simply weren’t right for your company, so use that experience to treasure what you have now. Research what the larger organisations are doing and you’ll see a host of perk packages, health schemes and away days. While this is great and a real morale booster, employees really respond to one-on-one time with their boss. Simply showing your appreciation of their work and reassurance of their career path will give them the confidence to work for you, and the ambition to achieve for you.

Protect yourself against security threats

Hackers and cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated by the day, and the threat of a data breach is more likely than ever before. It’s vital that businesses of all sizes who use online and financial services ensure they have strong security practices. Using the most up to date virus protection and firewalls is a given, but extra layers of security such as multi-factor authentication (requiring a username and password as well as a piece of information that only the user knows) can help your accounts from being compromised by phishing and malware.

Gary Turner is co-founder and managing director at Xero.

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