There is something magical about new beginnings. For example, the start of a new year ignites the desire to start afresh or do things differently in most people. Business owners too often look ahead to a new year to strengthen and grow their operations.
Since the Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in 2020, businesses, especially small businesses, have been fighting to stay afloat.
They have faced challenges ranging from low sales, disruptions in supply chains, increased cost of doing business, loss of capital, low employee motivation or sickness. However, most business owners who adjusted and reinvented themselves and their companies have been able to pull through.
Below are some realistic resolutions that small business owners can set to ensure success in 2022.
- Move your business online:
The Covid-19 pandemic with its resultant lockdowns and travel restrictions created opportunities to rely more on digital tools to guarantee business continuity. Since 2020, more businesses have been harnessing the power of online presence to create awareness, acquire more customers, and sell products. If you are a small business owner still relying on brick-and-mortar presence to run your business, then 2022 is the year you invest in digital capabilities. You can start by having an attractive and easy-to-navigate website and advertising on your social media platforms. Consider also investing in ways to receive payments digitally. You could also begin recruiting and training reliable and trustworthy delivery persons to ensure your customers get your goods and services.
- Take care of your employees:
There is probably nothing worse for a business than a disengaged employee. As a business owner, you must be aware that if you don’t mind the welfare of your workforce, your business will more often than not suffer. The “seismic” Covid-19 pandemic has been particularly tough for all.
Keeping staff engaged, assured, and motivated has been the difference between successful and unsuccessful businesses. As Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is famously quoted as saying, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. In most of his interviews, he almost always credits the success of his companies to the spirit and resilience of his workforce. While small businesses may not have the financial muscle to take care of their employees as Branson would, there are simple things one can adopt. Incorporate practices like flexible working plans phased part-time and work-from-home options.
- Formalise your business:
A formalised business is one that is registered and one that is governed by explicit rules and regulations. However, let us be realistic. The time and cost of formalising a business in many African countries including Kenya can be tedious. I dare say it may put off anyone eager to do so because of the back and forth involved and the cost in terms of money and time it takes. However, the payoff is excellent. It is much easier for a registered business that has its financial books in order and is tax compliant to access finance, business development services, networking opportunities and avoid government fines.
To this end, the government should endeavour to simplify the business registration process and make it free to encourage micro and small enterprises to formalise. “This will enable these businesses to create jobs, increase profits, contribute to economic growth and thereby reduce poverty in the country.
- Start networking:
Business networking has been around for a long time. No, networking is not a preserve for the high-ranking business moguls who meet regularly in country clubs or exchange business ideas during a round of golf. But generally, the idea is the same. A business owner can gain much when in the company of people in the same profession or industry. One gets to meet potential clients or customers too.
You can network through business conventions, join professional bodies that organise events, or have social clubs for like-minded business owners.
The benefits of networking are immense. Networking can help entrepreneurs build awareness of their brand, increase business efficiency and boost sales. Other intangible benefits include increased confidence, learning about new trends, and making new connections.
According to an article published by thebalance.com – an online resource for small business owners – networking assists you in identifying opportunities for partnerships, joint ventures, or new areas of expansion for your business. The article adds that you should attend the meetings of your networking group regularly and go prepared to offer valuable lessons to the group.
Thanks to the reach and penetration of internet services and smartphones, one does not have to attend these meetings in person. It is now much easier to access such meetings through email, video calls, and even social media. The different Chambers of Commerce websites would be a good starting point for anyone desirous of making networking a priority in 2022.
As we begin the year, the list of changes and improvements that an entrepreneur can make are many. But as we can all agree, change is not always easy. However, the above four resolutions can set your business apart, especially if you start working on them now.
Have a fruitful 2022.