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It is the start of a new year, so this is a time to take a good look at your business. Consider what you want to achieve. Here are 10 things you can do to start the year off on the right foot.

1.     Review last year’s results

Review your last year’s results. Do you know what your revenue was for the last year? How much profit did you make? What about your website traffic? What was the most shared content and your top performing keywords? Do you have the best people in the right positions?

Put together a list of all these questions and more to get a snapshot of the previous year’s results across your business. This will show you what worked and how you need to do better.

2.     Has your market changed?

Look at your business plan to see if it is still relevant to your market today. Understanding where you fit into the market is critical for continuing growth.

Research your market and competitors, if you want to stay relevant. Talk to customers and other businesses. Have them complete surveys to find out their needs and how they think. Ask what you do well as well areas of improvement. Check government statistics and trade magazines for the latest figures and industry trends. This will go a long way to helping you understand your customers so you better target how you market the business and customise customer service.

3.     Revise your business plan

While you have your business plan out, revise it. Consider whether it still meets your vision and your changing market. Re-evaluate your business vision and revise your goals for the new year. This will help you start off the year with confidence. Business planning can be time consuming but it is worth investing your time an energy in. It gives you direction, defines your goals and strategies, and helps you through any challenges you meet.

4.     Get your books in order

Do you have a stack of accounts and receipts piling up around you? Do you look at them and think you will deal with it all later? Really, this is not good for your business. How do you know the financial health of your business if your books are a mess?

Set-up a Book-keeping and accounting system to:

  • manage the business cash flow
  • track the financial state of the business
  • keep records for your tax return
  • produce proof of your financial position for lenders and in other institutions.

5.     Make innovative changes

The new year is ideal to review and renew your business processes, practices, products and services. Go through your operations and see if there is room for improvement. Are there areas that could be more efficient? Are your customer service processes and procedures producing the best results?

Being innovative is finding new ways to do things to save you time and money, and produce better results. This can mean creating new products and services, improving customer service, or creating a new financial record system.

Innovation is also being flexible enough to implement new ideas to grow and adapt with your marketplace. Innovative thinking should be part of your culture to help you and your team achieve creative problem solving.

6.     Audit your skillsets

Do you have the skills to create success in your business? Audit your skills and those of your team. Does the business have the skills and knowledge it needs to implement your business strategy with success? If the answer is no, then assess where you fall short and come up with strategies to cover any shortfalls in vital skills.

7.     Website updating

How long is it since you updated your website? This is your main sales tool and face of the business online. It should be kept updated all the time. Keep in mind how your customers view your website. Many use mobile devices for searching. Ensure it is simple and works well on these devices.

Consider these things. How long does it take your website to load for consumers? Is navigating the website simple? Does the text inspire consumers to contact you? Think what more you can do to improve your online identity.

8.     Engage your customers

Engage your customers more this year. Magic happens when you build relationships with your customers. Reach out to new and old customers. Engage them in your business and what your plans are for the year. Use social media to get opinions, and to gauge reactions to new products and changes. This is a great way to build a following of people who love what you do.

9.     What social media strategy?

Take a look at your social media strategy. Are you using this to work for your business? What? You do not have a social media strategy? Well make this the year to create your social media strategy. Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular social media platforms. It is a great way to engage with your customers whether you have products or services to sell, or just want to share information.

10.  Create a calendar of promotional events

Map out your promotions for the year ahead and then create a calendar of promotional events. Do your promotions tie in with national holidays like St Patrick’s Day? When you have your promotions planned well ahead, you and your team are well prepared. It also gives you plenty of time to create excitement and get the word out onto the street.


Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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