IAN FERGUSON: Strengthening business resolve in the New Year


Ian Ferguson

The year 2023 is now officially history. We have walked into a brand new year - for some, a new fiscal year - where trying to find a proper footing and bearings is not the best position to be in. Good track and field athletes know their success often depends on how they start the race.

This week, then, we focus attention on five tips for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to strengthen their business resolve this year.

Improve your digital brand

You have heard this point made so many times before, but digital marketing becomes more relevant each year. Your business should have a digital presence, whether that looks like a website, an online store or social media. A strong digital infrastructure will allow you to connect with your customers in multiple ways. Use what you know about your target audience to determine where to grow your digital presence.

Build a social media strategy for the upcoming year, including determining how much time and resources to allocate towards this marketing. Your overall digital strategy might change throughout the year, but having a direction will help you to start off strong in your efforts. If your website has not been updated in a while, it is a good idea to evaluate its user-friendliness and effectiveness.

Invest in technology

When you are caught up in day-to-day operations, it is easy to overlook the state of your technology. Before jumping into the fast pace of a new year, run thorough equipment and hardware checks to make sure everything is working in top condition. If the wear and tear of the past year has left vital equipment running behind quota, it might be time for maintenance or replacements. Old technology can slow down business growth, so it is beneficial to research new tools and software. Update your computer software and get the latest installations to make sure your programs are compatible with your devices, and are free of bugs and glitches. Identify areas of improvement in your operations and consider whether investing in new technology can boost your business.

Reassess your financial goals

The beginning of a New Year is a good time to look back on the previous one and see how you either met or fell short of your financial goals. If certain ventures did not work out like you expected, sometimes it is better for business to cut your losses. Focus on the strengths of your business and turn your resources towards growing in those areas. Depending on how your year went, you might be feeling confident to take more risks in the New Year. Reviewing your budget and identifying where you can cut back on expenses can free up resources to put towards new ventures.

Review vendors and services

A business should review their vendors and services periodically. This is a good thing to do while you are already reviewing your budget. Weigh the value of these contracts against the cost, and decide if it would be beneficial to continue using that vendor or service for another year. Start researching alternatives and requesting quotes now. Determine if there are services you are using that you are better off handling in-house. Or, vice versa, consider which internal processes can be outsourced to help boost efficiency.

Thank your employees

Whether you have a few employees or 100 people on your payroll, showing your appreciation for their hard work is a great way to keep morale high heading into a new year. If an employee did outstanding work or made the workplace better for others, do not make the mistake of beginning the New Year without giving them recognition. Ask for your employees’ input when setting goals for the next year. Regardless of the size of the company, involving your people in choosing the direction of the business will give them a sense of ownership in their work, and you will see higher employee engagement as a result.

• NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organisations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@ coralwave.com.


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