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Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

Prepare Your SMB for the Best Year Yet

2018 is nearly upon us. Many of us have been busy, preparing for the holidays and looking forward to spending time with family and friends. So busy, in fact, that we haven’t given a thought to next year.

If this sounds familiar—and you’re a small- or medium-sized business (SMB) owner—put down the wrapping paper. You should be using the remainder of 2017 to prepare your business for the coming year, if you haven’t already done so. If you’re not sure where to start, we can help.

To get insight on how owners and executives can use the remainder of 2017 to prepare their SMBs for the best year yet, Oracle SMB asked the Twitter community to weigh in during a recent Tweetchat. Continue reading to see the answers we received.

How should SMBs use the remainder of 2017 to prepare for 2018?

SMBs should take a look at what was successful and what wasn’t so much in ’17 to examine their plan for 2018. It is critical that all companies have a strong plan to begin 2018. Not just a budget, but a plan for all areas of their business. What is their marketing plan? Social media plan, etc.? Planning is a critical first step.
– Tamara McCleary (@TamaraMcCleary), CEO of Thulium

I would say see how your industry is using mobile, analytics, cloud and make sure you plan to get ahead of these trends.
– Chris Germann (@Chris_Germann), Vice President of Cloud Application Strategy at Oracle

1) Look for last-minute tax breaks to take advantage of 2) Upgrade tech (great time to buy hardware) 3) Create plan for 2018. What are your 2018 growth plans? Will you need to hire? Open new locations? Go global?
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com

There’s so much to learn and do before the end of the year! Start with measuring your 2018 performance toward goals. Once you have that, use it as a foundation for your 2018 plan. Many companies look at operational and revenue goals. But what are thing that help you get there—marketing is a huge one often overlooked. Dig into the ways that you can stand out from the competition that they’re not able to copy. Brand promise? Customer experience? Where do you have opportunities to expand (geography or product/service) or refocus that underscores your brand promise?
– Carla Johnson (@CarlaJohnson), CEO of Type A Communications and Author of Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing

SMBs should be crafting their 2018 strategies and putting a readiness plan in place so they are ready to go on Jan 2. SMBs may also want to make technology purchases now for the New Year.
– Carrie Maslen (@CarrieMaslen), Experienced leader in the tech industry

Join our next Twitter Tweetchat, Delivering a Better Customer Experience, on Tuesday, January 9th at 3:00 p.m. ET. Follow the conversation at #SMBExperts.

 

What steps should business owners and leaders take to review their 2017 wins and losses?

You have to look at everything. If you have staff, ask them what they think the highs and lows of the year were. Ask your staff what they think they need to surpass what they did this year. Look at your customer list. Any chance to upsell them for 2018? Get referrals from them?
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com

In terms of digital business—ask “what could I have done faster?” will lead you to some great ideas.
– Chris Germann (@Chris_Germann), Vice President of Cloud Application Strategy at Oracle

SMBs need to actually make time to do a real review. Set aside at least a day and get all the key players in a room and review 2017. So often, an organizational leader will take a few minutes to review the past year in their head and not even write down their thoughts. The process has to be far more than that. A year in review needs to be a real process with real goals and outcomes.
– Tamara McCleary (@TamaraMcCleary), CEO of Thulium

Look at 2017 goals and objectives. The numbers and what contributed to them. Also, are you measuring the right things? Look at the level of continuity that’s created in the customer experience. Gaps = opportunities.
– Carla Johnson (@CarlaJohnson), CEO of Type A Communications and Author of Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing

Business owners should understand profitability of customers and/or customer segments.
– Carrie Maslen (@CarrieMaslen), Experienced leader in the tech industry

How can SMBs make sure they have the right people in the right positions to maximize output next year?

They have to know specifics about the customers they serve and how. That lays out the talent needs. This is why employee reviews are important as a strategic investment. Grow your people along with company needs.
– Carla Johnson (@CarlaJohnson), CEO of Type A Communications and Author of Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing

Just like organizational review, SMBs need to review their people regularly as well. Not just in a formal review manner, but for fit as well. An employee may be a great employee but a bad fit in a particular area. Consider being more fluid in work assignments.
– Tamara McCleary (@TamaraMcCleary), CEO of Thulium

It’s not just about attracting the right employees, it’s about keeping them. Harder for SMBs. Look at the benefits you offer. The more you work WITH your staff, the more loyal they’ll be.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com

Focus on small number of priorities—then it’s easier to hire the right people who have multiple skills or train your loyal and hardworking employees that want to learn a new skill.
– Chris Germann (@Chris_Germann), Vice President of Cloud Application Strategy at Oracle

People decisions are tough as sometimes those that got you from point A to point B are not the same ones to take you to point C.
– Carrie Maslen (@CarrieMaslen), Experienced leader in the tech industry

Are there new ways for SMBs to address the changing needs of customers and prospects?

SO MUCH technology. Use tech that connects you to your customers. That helps you know more about them.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com

Adjusting to the changing needs of customers means staying ahead of those changes and positioning the brand to be the resource that customers go to, ensuring they stay ahead of the game. Also, SMBs need to mimic what enterprise is doing with supporting customers through dynamic ecosystems via strategic partnerships with other SMBs, to provide a broader range of products and services to their customers.
– Tamara McCleary (@TamaraMcCleary), CEO of Thulium

There are unique ways. How a brand responds is how it will—or won’t—stand out. @HolidayWorld gives out free sunscreen.
– Carla Johnson (@CarlaJohnson), CEO of Type A Communications and Author of Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing

SMBs can address changing needs of customers in a few ways: Use predictive analytics, be proactive vs. reactive, and ask for their input.
– Carrie Maslen (@CarrieMaslen), Experienced leader in the tech industry

Increasing customer service metrics will definitely buy you time to enhance products or services.
– Chris Germann (@Chris_Germann), Vice President of Cloud Application Strategy at Oracle

Want more insights on how to improve all areas of your SMB? Join our next Twitter Tweetchat, Delivering a Better Customer Experience, on Tuesday, January 9th at 3:00 p.m. ET. Follow the conversation at #SMBExperts.

 

 

 

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