Define Your Business Goals in the New Year
By Vanessa Salvia
The online marketplace changes rapidly, and one measure of a business’ strength lies in how quickly it can adjust to changes. When a new year is approaching, there is no better time to look back on the past year and evaluate your business plan. We have come up with a few questions to ask yourself. Be honest! This exercise shouldn’t take very long, but is important to do every now and then to keep you on track and focused.
1. What were my successes over the past year? Think of a business decision that went well, first of all, and congratulate yourself for it. Now, can you make any related decisions to build on that success?
2. What didn’t work? There is bound to be something that wasn’t as successful as you expected it to be. Evaluate, and find some way you can learn from this to regroup in the coming year and make a more positive impact next time you’re faced with a similar decision.
3. What were my missed opportunities? You may have overlooked an opportunity to send out a press release, attend a conference, advertise in a new way, or make some new business connections. Vow to act differently when the opportunity presents itself in the next year.
4. How have my competitors changed? It’s natural that your focus should be on your own business, but not taking stock of your competitors from time to time can leave you vulnerable. Your own marketing strategy should encompass not only offensive self-promotion but also defensive self-promotion. You need to be able to react flexibly to whatever your competition is doing, not to copy them, but to keep an equal standing. For instance, has your competition started a blog or introduced a forum? Think about doing the same. Have new competitors entered the market? Have competitors left the market? If you can’t answer these questions, it’s time to do some research! Evaluate your competitors’ strengths just as you would your own, and determine where you can improve.
5. Has my target market changed? Take a good long look at your site's analytics. Make sure you know where your visitors are coming from, what they’re searching for, and how they’re finding you. Don’t assume that what you’ve always thought is still true. The whims of the online customer changes almost as often as they change their socks, so make sure your assumptions are based on current information. Are you targeting the right buyers for long-term success?
6. When was the last time I updated my website? If you can’t remember, it’s time to do it now. Search engines love fresh content. Write new product descriptions. Spiff up your home page with some new lines of text. Rotate your featured products more often. Upload new images. Add five new questions to your FAQ page. Update your About page.
7. Follow up on leads. Have you gotten anyone’s card and failed to email them? Take the time now to follow through with people you met over the past year. Sending a “Happy Holidays” email is a great excuse to re-connect with business acquaintances. The whole point of this exercise is to recognize that the business and networking landscape changes rapidly, so a lead that seemed like a dim prospect in April may be ripe for you now.
8. Look at how well, or not well, your website is working for you. If you’ve had your website up and running for more than a few months, you may have noticed that there are some limitations that you’ve bumped up against. Perhaps your business has grown, and you need a better way to display your products on your website. Perhaps you have noticed that everything is working pretty well, but one or two small changes to customize your website would make things easier for you and provide a better experience for your customers. Consumers are using their smartphones and tablets in increasing numbers, both to shop and make purchases. If you find that your customers are using mobile devices, consider discussing mobile website development with HEROweb. There is no obligation to talk with us about what we can do for you. After thinking about these things and addressing anything that arises through this thought exercise, you should feel confident that your business is ready for continuing success. Contact HEROweb if there is any way that you think having a discussion about your website might help you clarify your goals.