2022 is upon us and everyone is creating personal resolutions. But what about your business? The start of the year is a great time to review day-to-day operations and tackle problems you want to solve. It’s easy to get consumed by the excitement of a fresh, new year and to think “big changes”. But focusing on what works and doesn’t in a realistic, practical way, can prove even more beneficial.

Reflect on what did and did not work for you and your staff over the last year and make incremental changes in the coming year.

These ideas should help jumpstart your thinking and resolve to do better in 2022.

  1. Work on your business more and work in your business less. Work with your team to delegate smaller or time-consuming tasks so you can focus on the big ideas. Get out of the office and meet peers and potential customers. Consider outsourcing in areas where you struggle with the most – creative assignments, administrative tasks, financial management, customer communications. Your time as a business owner is valuable, so consider hiring some extra help or investing in digital tools to free up your schedule.
  2. Update your business plan. You probably have an old business plan from back when you got started, but it isn’t meant to be a static document. Now is a great time to revisit it and update your plan with the latest financials, goals, competitor research, marketing ideas, and more so your business will continue to grow in 2022. 
  3. Refresh your marketing plan. What worked well for your business last year? What didn’t? Where did your marketing budget stretch the furthest? What channels worked best for you? Your new plan should cut out strategies and prioritize what is working best. Don’t waste your time. If you aren’t already asking customers how they found out about you, start! 
  4. Find new revenue sources AND control your expenses. If you have a restaurant, for example, can you generate more revenue – and deal with staff shortages – by focusing on take-out and delivery rather than dine-in services? Can you generate more revenue by driving more lunch traffic with daily specials? Can you lower expenses by reducing menu items and thus inventory costs? Resolve to look for new revenue opportunities and review every penny you spend to find ways to save.
  5. Commit to customer service. When it comes to customer service, people remember (and share) the really bad experiences as often as the really good ones. Identify what your biggest missteps were in 2021 and communicate how you and your employees can avoid them in the future. At the same time, highlight what went well and how you can build on those experiences in the new year. 
  6. Prioritize company culture. If your small business relies on the work of your employees, then focusing on building a good company culture is a fantastic resolution for 2022. Employees that feel engaged and inspired at work are more productive and loyal. With worker shortages happening across the country, focusing on what works best for your business AND your staff can prove very beneficial.
  7. Get even better at technology. If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that every business depends on technology. Retailers: if you don’t have a website and are not engaged in e-commerce, now is the time to consider it. Office managers: don’t turn your nose up at remote work, instead embrace the idea of lowering overhead costs by having a team that works from home where possible.
  8. Beat burnout. It’s no secret that many small business owners work themselves to the bone. Burnout is not good for you, your business, or your personal life. Set clear boundaries to manage the stress. Establish when you are and are not working and make sure everyone at the office and at home understands your limits. 
  9. Prepare for emergencies. Weather-related emergencies are a constant for South Louisiana businesses, but COVID-19 has taught us that a random emergency can arise at any time, too. Prepare your business to be able to operate in most any emergency by using cloud-based applications, backing up data, and having disaster plans. Keep good financial records in 2022. If new state or federal programs emerge, you’ll need them to apply. 
  10. Ask for help! The team at Vermilion Economic Development Alliance is interested and able to assist you in reaching your goals. Set up a business visit that helps us assess your status and explore opportunities for growth using state programs and incentives, available training dollars, and new tools.

We look forward to working with you and the entire business community to #DevelopVermilion in 2022.

By Anne T. Falgout, VEDA’s Executive Director, 12/29/21