Smart Resolutions for Small Businesses in 2017
We’re now well into the New Year, and that means it's time to reaffirm 2017 resolutions that'll help drive your business’ success. Of course, there're the obvious resolutions: keep good records, review last year's results, create a business plan for 2017, set achievable goals and actionable tactics. Here, though, we gathered a few resolutions that may be less obvious—sourced from a few successful entrepreneurs and PayPal-Powered small businesses including Nick Alexander, CEO of aromatherapy company Frankie & Myrrh; and Dan Corcoran, CEO of Forward Printing, a company specializing in custom-printed shirts.
 
Sharpen your business skills
Dan recommends spending time to learn basic business principals. "Many entrepreneurs are very skilled tradesman, but get blindsided when they realize that most of their time will be spent generating sales, managing others, dealing with taxes and regulations, and above all else: managing cash flow." A good place to start: look for online courses, social media groups, or local Meet Ups where you can learn from the experience of other small business owners.
 
Explore new channels
Social media marketing is hotter than ever, letting you tell your story, build a following, and sell your products. Just remember that when it comes to paid advertising on social, not all platforms are perfect for your business.
 
For Frankie & Myrrh, Facebook is where they see most of their advertising success, so Nick plans to spend the majority of their marketing dollars there. Dan at Forward Printing plans to do more paid advertising on Instagram, as they have familiarity with the platform, and other platforms don't resonate as much for his company right now. "We'll likely start working in those domains carefully and selectively to make sure we have the manpower to stay interactive on each channel."
 
As Dan points out, the key to social marketing is to carefully test into the platforms you think make the most sense for your business, and then iterate from there.
 
Mix in traditional tools
As far as resolutions for driving sales, Nick has some original advice: "Just be open to everything. Try a new marketing tactic every month until you find a mix that works for your business." While social media marketing is hot right now, don't count out the old workhorses of direct marketing. Nick's plan for 2017? In part: go old school.
  • Craft fairs and other in-person events. "They can be effective for acquisition."
  • Direct mail. "It’s effective if you keep it small (and targeted)."
  • Print advertising with local publications and in tourist guides (if you have a storefront).
Manage your capital wisely
Most small businesses have a Plan B in place, in case their business doesn't take off the way they'd hoped. A wise business person also anticipates for growth. Planning for success means managing capital needs wisely, which is a never-ending challenge for many. "We've tackled it in a number of ways: cutting costs, managing payroll carefully and relying on credit here and there," says Dan Corcoran. Above all, he says "it's easiest when there is a healthy balance in the account to develop on top of."
 
Know when to say no
With all of the challenges that small businesses face, owners have the tendency to go after any work that presents itself, regardless of how difficult it might be—or how marginal the return it might provide. Dan suggests, instead of continuously trying to push round pegs through square holes, spend your time finding solutions and improvements that fits well within your business's ecosystem. “We plan to get even better at saying no to projects that are outside of our wheelhouse."
 
Figure out what brings you the best return and/or is the most compatible with the vision you have for your company—and say no to (or reprioritize) the rest.
 
And finally…
A parting thought worth keeping in the back of your mind, from Dan: "Focus on running an ethical operation and maintaining a life/work balance are high on my list of recommendations."
 
Here's to a profitable 2017!

Chase Jones, North American Small Business

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