9 Ways to Improve Your Business in 2018

9 Ways to Improve Your Business in 2018

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The end of the year is approaching. Regardless of whether you’re the type to make resolutions come Jan. 1, it’s a natural time of year to take stock and see how things are going. 

If you can’t think of anything you’d do differently for your business when looking back over 2017, either you had one fantastic year or you’re just not sure where to begin. Even if you did have a great year, there are always things you can improve. Maybe it’s getting more creative with your marketing strategy or doing a better job prepping for tax season. 

If you’re in the mood to make some business resolutions, here are nine ideas to think about implementing in 2018. 

Protect your business against cyber attacks
Within a targeted business, hackers will go after the email of employees with access to company finances. A malicious email opened by an employee who pays vendors or processes payroll, for example, could put financial information at risk, allowing hackers access to funds as well as personal employee, vendor and client information. Criminals can use hacked information to remove money from bank accounts through wire transfers, steal customers’ identity information, file for fraudulent tax refunds or commit health insurance fraud. Be smart about which employees, and how many, have access to passwords and important files. You may also want to look into cyber insurance. Learn more here.

Give customers free stuff
Promotional items certainly last longer than radio and TV advertising. Some businesses use branded items as a thank you to current or past customers. Others give them out to potential customers. Some companies give these items away like candy, just setting out a bowl of pens and letting anyone grab as many as they want, while others have employees use the items themselves and hand them out as part of the sales process. Step one is to determine the audience you are buying promotional items for, and why. The next step is deciding what to give away. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Dump your toxic customer
It sounds counterintuitive to fire a customer. After all, you’re trying to build up a customer base and maximize profit. If you’ve been around the block a few times, however, you realize there are clients who are simply more trouble than they are worth. Being comfortable telling an obnoxious customer where to go may be a sign that you’ve made it in the business world. Dumping a toxic customer can reduce stress, improve employee morale and, in the long run, make your business stronger. Here are five types of customers to consider firing.

Make Amazon your business model
Amazon has changed not only how America shops, but how business in general is conducted. It has revolutionized the customer experience. Ignore Amazon’s innovations and you risk being left behind. Even service businesses like portable restroom rental companies can benefit from being a little more like Amazon. Here are six ideas to steal from Amazon.

Prep for tax time early
Tax time is never fun, and it always seems to sneak up on you. But rather than not thinking about that dreaded annual task until March or April, when it can get stressful, there are small steps you can take to make that project go more smoothly. Do these now and you’ll breeze through 2017 taxes. Read eight ideas to tame tax tension.

Upgrade your office technology without creating downtime
Technology changes so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. And revamping your system — be it new software, computers, phones or all of the above — can derail your workflow for days if you tackle the job yourself with no prep work. These tips will help you get ready to make the changes and make sure work continues like normal. Take these steps to upgrade technology without upsetting your business.

Get your marketing plan up to date
Marketing isn’t as easy as placing a couple Yellow Pages ads anymore. If you’re feeling behind the times, or simply overwhelmed by all your current options, read up on five marketing trends to give your efforts a boost in 2018. Not every method works for every business, but if you’re still doing the same things you did 10 years ago, it might be time to implement some fresh ideas.

Educate yourself if you’re in need of a business loan
Lenders are usually upfront about interest rates and payment schedules, but a blanket lien hidden in the fine print of a loan agreement can sink a business. Liens affect other loans you may be applying for, and it’s important to know what’s in the fine print. If you’re not sure what a blanket lien is — and don’t know if one is included in your loan — do your research. Start here to learn about specific versus blanket liens and how to protect your business.

Find good help
If you tend to hire the first semiqualified person who walks through the door, your retention rate is probably not that great. It’s understandable: You need help and can’t spend weeks finding the perfect candidate. So, filling a sudden opening with the first applicant is tempting. That might have sufficed back when the only way to look for employees was a sign in the window or a paid ad in the local newspaper. Today, however, there are many effective, low-cost ways to find the best person for the job. Use all the tools available to you in order to find good employees and keep that retention rate high.


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