14 Ways to Improve Your Small Business in 2014

By Ryan Litwiller on January 16th, 2014 / Comments

Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.” – Tom Peters

The start of a new year is a great time to focus on certain areas in our businesses that offer opportunity for great improvement in the coming months.  Whether you are looking to make improvements to your bottom line, time efficiencies, or management of human capital, the following is a list of some simple yet highly effective ways to improve your small business this year.

Automate Processes

How much time would you save if you could automate certain processes that someone currently does manually?  Many business tasks can be animated with the right processes or software in place, including time consuming functions in human resources, accounting, and even marketing.  Think of all the manual tasks that your staff is doing and explore if there is any opportunity to automate; you’ll be glad you did once you see the time and cost efficiencies it soon creates.

Outsource Non Critical Tasks

Small businesses owners often wear a lot of hats, but there are some hats that shouldn’t be worn.  If you hate doing your own business taxes consider the opportunity cost of your time and the stress it brings, and you will quickly realize it will be better off in the long run by focusing your time on the core competencies of your business and letting someone else handle the rest.

Get Organized

Being unorganized is not only stressful but severely inefficient, causing you to spend additional time on even the most basic tasks.  Take a weekend and get all your ducks in a row and as long as you focus to keep them that way, you will not only work more efficiently but also be happier and less stressed.

Follow Up with Employees and Clients

Small business owners get pulled in many directions, and following up with people often gets pushed aside for more pressing tasks.  Unfortunately, business is lost and tasks don’t get completed without timely follow up, so take good notes and schedule critical follow up tasks in your calendar as a reminder to follow up on the most important activities to ensure things get done.

Be Consistent

How many times do you start doing something but don’t finish, or only do it for a few times before it fizzles out?  It is easy to get excited about something but even easier for the excitement to die off, so if we decide to do something we need to be committed to being consistent with it to see the best results over time.

Plan Ahead

Each day can quickly become a choose-your-own-adventure as we react to the things that come up in our day that we weren’t planning on.  The fires will still come, but being proactive and planning ahead in our daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly activities will ensure we aren’t getting off track of completing the most important activities that match our goals.

Take a Vacation

Working insanely long hours to see your business dreams come true is the dedication of every proprietor, but we can’t keep this up indefinitely without burning out or getting sick.  Planning at least one vacation away from everything this year will give you great family time and recharge your battery to be able to keep on dedicating yourself to your dream.

Find a Mentor

Having a mentor and someone to hold you accountable can make a huge impact on your business.  It could be as simple as having a monthly lunch with another business owner or paying a business coach in a more formal arrangement, but no matter the setup having counsel from someone who has previously been in your shoes will help you get to where you want to be faster.

Give Appreciation

We all want to be appreciated but ironically we often fail to give it to others.  Appreciation for a job well done encourages more of that same successful activity, in addition to more satisfied employees who feel they are making a difference.  A culture of appreciation goes a long way.

Hand Write a Thank You Letter

With the ease of emails and texting not many people take the time anymore to hand write a thank you note, making it that much more special when you take the time to do it.  Hand writing a note is a good gesture to let someone know you care and also helps you strengthen your relationships.

Send Deserving Employees to a Conference

A great way for deserving employees to broaden their horizons and get some pep back in their step is to send them to an awesome industry conference or event.  Networking with like-minded individuals and learning from expert speakers is sure to get your employees fired up and excited to take their work to the next level.

Create a Networking List on Twitter

Twitter is an awesome way to network with potential clients and industry leaders but can get quite overwhelming with hundreds or even thousands of people in your feed.  Take a few minutes and select a group of individuals that you would really like to network with this year, and add them to a private list so that you can better connect with these folks in a less crowded environment.

Use Google Analytics to Make Better Decisions

When used right data can be used to make better business decisions.  By reviewing your Google Analytics website data monthly or quarterly, the vast data points can be used to find opportunities for optimizing your website to better accomplish your goals, as well as offer insightful intelligence that will help you to better run your business.

Inspire Employees to Pick Themselves

Most employees don’t like to be micro managed but want to be trusted to do what they need to do to get the job done.  Giving them the permission to take full ownership to do what needs to be done will bring about renewed company loyalty and more productive, happier employees.

Which idea is the most important for you to focus on this year to improve your business?  Please share in the comments.

About the Author

Ryan Litwiller

Ryan Litwiller is a consultant, blogger, and speaker on digital and social marketing, focused on leveraging the internet for remarkable business and personal growth. Ryan writes at www.RyanLitwiller.com and can be found on Twitter at @RyanLitwiller.