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Looking Ahead: Small Business Tips for 2016

new yearIt is that time of year—top ten lists, countdowns, and trends to watch for in the coming year.


While a crystal ball is always handy, business success is really no mystery. In the current economy, it takes more than hard work to succeed. By succeed, I mean earning enough revenue to really thrive, not just survive.


To me, putting my clients on the road to becoming millionaires is my definition of success. It isn’t luck—it is having the smarts and experience to take advantage of opportunities, and efficiencies that could be right in front of you.


Here are my top six picks to boost your success in the 2016.


  1. Climate change: To support economic recovery, interest rates have been rock bottom for some time. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates—soon. Take time now to assess how a small increase in interest rates will impact your price of doing business. If your business is reliant on credit, the cost of borrowing will increase.


Depending on your product or service, sales could go up or down. The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) predicts mild economic improvement in the next few months, and into 2016. At present, employment rates are expected to continue to improve through the end of next year. Even without robust growth, this improving economic picture bodes well for small business owners.


  1. Business tech: Fast, seemingly inexpensive delivery, like Amazon Prime, changed the look of customer service. This is going to continue to have a big impact in 2016. A November article in The New York Times states, “Growth in Prime subscriptions matters because Prime alters the psychology of shopping. Once you’ve prepaid for shipping, you tend to start more of your shopping excursions at Amazon.” By the end of 2016, Amazon Prime membership is estimated to be around 50 million, up from 30 million at the beginning of the year.


Notes one analyst, “So what’s the differentiator at this point? It’s selection. It’s service. It’s convenience. It’s how easy it is to use their interface. And Amazon’s got all this stuff already. How do you compete with that?” Your differentiator drives your business—know what makes your product, or your service, worth buying. Plus, tech—like your ordering interface, marketing automation, and CRM—is going to improve and make your life easier if you know how to exploit the capabilities. Use marketing automation tech to target and personalize—a practice I think is going to get even bigger in 2016.


  1. Service! You know I talk about this all the time. Offer better service, drive a fair bargain for a premium product and make the money you want. You need a great business model, sure, but sales and marketing are all about perception and customer satisfaction. Meet a need and take care of your client—it never goes out of style. So you should expect to work harder at one-on-one lead nurturing and customer service in 2016.


  1. Social media just keeps on going: Look for social channels to expand search capabilities and other services in the next year. Why leave it to Google? Small business owners need social media both for local interest and national profile. Find and work your channels—LinkedIn for networking and guest blogging, Pinterest for products, Twitter for profile—and shorten the distance between you and a new customer. Engage your employees through internal social media and let them be brand representatives on your company blog or their Facebook page. Spread the word in 2016!


  1. Mobile: Everyone agrees that digital marketing is only going to get more important. Be sure the content on your website is high quality, and fresh. Pay attention to SEO and be sure to push content to social channels as soon as it is published. Make sure your website design is responsive, use big buy buttons, and make your interface or app easy to use—and easy to shop.


  1. Cybersecurity: With new hacks reported in the news on a weekly basis, cyber intrusion cannot be ignored by small business owners. Whether you are hacked directly, or your business is compromised by a vendor partner, take a strong look at your data and online security. Employ IT security specialists to help you build a secure system, keep it up to date, create a password policy, and use good online hygiene. Everyone, either directly, or on the periphery, is a cyber target. It is going to be more important than ever in 2016 to be sure your data, brand, and reputation are safe.


Resolve to earn the revenue you really want in 2016. When you have questions about how you can earn more for doing what you do best—call me at 585-633-7563.

Yours in profit,

Bob Britton


About the Author Bob Britton