by Martha Spelman
Business owners are always trying to see into the future. What’s the economy going to do? How can I grow my business? What new technology should I know about…and use? How do I keep customers satisfied and employees happy? What moves should my business make to remain relevant, profitable and visible? When I began my business, I knew there would be a lot for me to look into, which is why I was recommended by a friend of mine to look into getting public liability insurance from tradesmansaver. Following this, I had to make sure I got all the financial and more important aspects of running a business out of the way. For anyone who owns a business, it can be very stressful, but once everything is set up, it will definitely be worth it. You’ll find that in the world we live in today, the use of technology has become even more apparent to businesses than it has before. With the many tools we have within our reach, there is nothing that you cannot use in whatever industry you work within to make your business run a little easier. Within any business, you’ll always need to find a solution to any problem, even sometimes before it even occurs. Marketing tools come in handy when wanting to grow a business. For example, if you are looking to attract new customers within a law firm, one way you could do this is by looking into something like Attorney Marketing. This way, you’ll receive better leads and more reliable growth. There is nothing that can’t be done through the use of technology.
To get some perspective on this, I surveyed 16 small business owners and others that work with or consult to small- and mid-size companies. I wanted to get their take on what the future of business looks like to them, their customers and what each plans to do about it. While there are some recurrent themes (focus, sales, revenue and the concept of resource planning); as a whole, there’s real food for thought on where small business is heading. The input reveals why these people own and understand the challenges of running a small business and the plans they are pursuing.
I asked each interviewee to “fill in the blank” for two statements:
1) For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of _____________________.
2) In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to ___________________________.
For each response, I’ve included the respondent’s name, title and web address, where applicable. Once you’ve perused their answers, I’d love to hear yours. Please add them in the comments section below the blog on the website.
Paul Pruneau, Creative Director, Teamworks Communications, Brand Strategy, Integrated Media teamworkscom.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of focusing on what delivers increased revenue results.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to get more consistent, recurring revenue from existing customers.
Jeff Korhan, Marketing Speaker & Trainer; Small Business Marketing Coach jeffkorhan.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year when businesses get serious about building an integrated, omnichannel marketing strategy. Blog readership is down and it’s getting increasingly challenging to use social media to drive traffic to them. This is true regardless of the social media ad spend.
The solution will be stealing the audience from the larger social media networks and communities. This could include posting on LinkedIn Publisher or Facebook Notes, publishing on communities like Medium, and taking advantage of guest blogging and syndication.
Additionally, the use of podcasting and live-streaming will grow to serve the segment of audiences that prefer to consume content in that way.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be consistently delivering content, down to the minute, to keep my audience engaged. They may not always show up, but I have to be there when they do to grow my audience, or risk losing them forever.
Clark Vautier, Strategy Consultant, clarkvautier.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of adaptation and refinement, as social media and online marketing tools and techniques continue to evolve, in order to stay competitive.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to simplify and focus!
Barbara Dalmau, Marin Regional Manager, Bank of Marin bankofmarin.com
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to start early(and get everyone on my team to do likewise).
In Banking, we all have production goals. The days of “smile, be friendly and provide great service,” with the hopes that that alone will bring in business are gone. Just about every business now, no matter what the industry, needs to sell. So, looking at the 2015 results from my team I saw that those who jumped right on their production goals early in the year did the best. Did I encourage everyone to work on their goals early last year? Yes. But I also “allowed” a few to get their staffing needs sorted out first, to get some clean up from last year out of the way, to address some training issues . . . before holding them accountable for production. Soon, half of the year was gone and staffing, clean up and training were still pending, as were the goals. So this year, I know that the success of my team will depend on me and how well I help them to start on their most important priorities early.
Amir Ghorbani, Founder, Swoop App: Luxury transportation app launching 2017
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of growth through adaption of business technology. For example: companies will need to integrate different web-based accounting, finance and marketing functions to help organize their data and streamline processes. Some may turn to companies like Heap Analytics to handle a sizable part of this, whilst others will work in house.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to grow. My small business will need to learn to utilize the technology in the market such as WaveApps, and driver apps for our drivers to help expand and grow our customer database.
Laverne Caceres, Director, The Professional Voice Presentation Training, Shortlist Coaching professionalvoice.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of more face-to-face contact with clients, prospects and business friends. Even with all the social media tools, let’s not lose the art and value of being there in person. Since I do a lot of speaking, I will still look for new opportunities and new audiences!
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to enhance my dexterity with social media and become a stronger presence on-line. We are already revamping our website for a fresher, updated look!
Ann Banning-Wright, Founding Partner, Bright Operations brightoperations.com
2016 will be the year of focus — there is more opportunity — how do you choose the ones best for you and your firm and morph to your greatest potential instead of taking everything and not making your name because you had so much to do you didn’t show the value you know you could have.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to be clear on choosing the assignments that make the biggest difference to clients!! Exciting!!
Pamela Boboc, Lunada Vista Design lunadavistadesign.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of extending the business through the internet: eCommerce, on-line courses and programs.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to do less myself. I will build my team and delegate more.
David Cocke, President & Principal, Structural Focus Engineering Services structuralfocus.com and safeqinstitute.com
2016 will be the year of “making hay while the sun shines,” and preparing for what seems to an inevitable downturn.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to expand my business by diversifying our client list and type of projects, and building up our “passive income” business (SAFEq).
Patty Schmucker. Co-Founder, AmericanMadeBeauty.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of growth for companies who are organized and have a clear goal and plan to make those goals a reality.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to use digital tools to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction.
Jeremy M. Eskenazi, Managing Principal, Riviera Advisors, Inc., Specialized HR Consulting rivieraadvisors.com
2016 will be the year of delegating, outsourcing, and getting it done with less. (For 15 years owning a small business, I have struggled doing so much of the non-core work myself instead of paying someone or a company do this work so we can focus on what really matters: business development and execution).
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to be disciplined on the financials. (As a small business owner, being disciplined on the financials is often hard… not always focusing on looking at profitability of projects, not always focusing on reviewing financial performance and health on a monthly basis because of other responsibilities is not acceptable.)
Mike Gallagher, PE, Western Allied Corporation, Mechanical Services wasocal.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of managing growth.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to not get buried in the office.
Barbara A. Mather, Ph.D., President, Management Consultant matherconsulting.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of prioritizing my work to be secondary versus primary.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to seek more speaking opportunities, conduct relevant research, and publish.
Stacy Waite. Chief Success Officer, PositiveReturn.com Personalized business skills development
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of aligning the needs of the organization and the desires of individuals to achieve shared goals.
Ken Keller, Chief Facilitator, Strategic Advisory Boards and brainfoodforbusinessowners.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of GROWTH and EXPANSION.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to gain new clients in a new niche.
Will Sherwood, The Sherwood Group, Advertising, Marketing & Design thesherwoodgroup.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of getting back to basics, like making sales calls on potential new prospects.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to be productive in my business development, instead of being merely social.
And, of course, I’ve added my two cents:
Martha Spelman, Branding & Marketing Consultant , www.marthaspelman.com
For small- to medium-size businesses, 2016 will be the year of brand definition; homing in on the value proposition and what differentiates the brand from its competition. And then? Effectively spreading the word about that brand to a defined audience.
In 2016, my #1 business resolution will be to find new ways to help clients implement effective yet cost-efficient ways to promote their businesses.
Many thanks to those who contributed. Again, I would love to hear your 2016 inspirations and aspirations! Please comment below.
Want to talk about what your business can do in 2016? Click to Contact Martha. Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based branding, marketing and social media expert. Using traditional and online marketing to start, grow and sell businesses, she works with startups, entrepreneurs and small- to medium-size companies. Martha is the author of the content marketing ebook: The Cure for Blogophobia: How to Easily Create, Publish & Promote Your Business Blog.