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New Year resolutions for small businesses

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Choose one business book to read

There are hundreds of great books out there that are full of useful tips, ideas and practical advice put one of them on your Christmas list, and make sure you read it! The book Ill be reading is The undercover Economist strikes back by Tim Harford, mainly to try and get to grips with how Economists make decisions that impact our lives and businesses.

Audit your staff

You should regularly be taking a look at how your employees are performing and identify any gaps in their training and professional development. If they are not contributing to the business and to your profits, it’s time to shake things up. Think about each member of staff, and how your business would suffer if each took a month-long holiday could you cope If the answer is yes , for any of them, why is that Do they need more training Is the role now redundant, or is it that the person in the role is not performing.

Or, maybe you just need more staff. Are your employees swamped or do you have a high turnover of staff The New Year is a great time for new recruitment, so chances are, youll find some great candidates if you do have to let someone go.

Learn a new skill

Think about how your business is developing, and how you can best support that development. Are you lacking in knowledge or understanding of any aspects of your business Its important to take the lead, and if that means learning a new skill, then do it. It could be something basic like becoming more social media-savvy, an accountancy course, or developing your pitching skills, but it could make a big difference to your bottom line.

Recognise customer loyalty

Have a look at all your customers in 2014, and consider rewarding any repeat customers or big spenders in 2015, to ensure you keep their custom. It doesnt have to be a huge reward, but as a small business, chances are you can personalise it to suit their needs and buying power.

Meet with your accountant

Your accountant is your best friend in business take them out for a coffee or lunch, get to know them, and ask them to go through all the mistakes and loopholes you missed out in the last year. Far too often, accountants will just do the basics, but if you make friends with them, and keep regular contact with them, they should offer you the best advice to ensure you are maximising profits and reducing your tax bill.

Make it fun

Business doesnt have to always be formal, for you, your staff, partners, suppliers or customers. Think about how you can inject a little bit of fun and creativity into different elements of your company. It can help make you much more memorable to customers, and makes it a much more appealing place to work.

Whatever stage your business is at, the New Year should give you great impetus to look forward and make good progress. Of course, there are hundreds of ways to do this, and plenty of resources to help you along the way. Securing a place on the New Entrepreneurs Foundation programme is a great start applications for the 2015 programme open on 1st December 2014.

Neeta Patel is CEO of New Entrepreneurs Foundation.

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