The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time for individuals to set resolutions for the year ahead, and there's no reason that can't apply to your business, as well. In fact, with the end of this year fast approaching, it may be a great opportunity to reflect on what went well -- and what fell short of expectations -- over the past 12 months.
Below, six entrepreneurs share their top tips on how to make the most of the turning of the calendar to ensure you're optimizing your business in the year to come.
Align with your customers' goals.
"Many of your customers are pursuing their own transformations through New Year's resolutions, whether they intend to get in better shape or make more of their time," says Ali Mahvan, CEO and co-founder of mobile shopping app Sharebert. To make sure your company is staying top of mind, think about aligning your marketing efforts with the goals your customers are pursuing.
"Try to align with your customers' goals and aspirations rather than your own. Be the coach that helps them run that extra quarter mile or free up extra family time each week. Be a branded go-to part of their goals," suggests Mahvan.
Analyze your vision statement.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to make sure your company is still working toward a vision that makes sense for where you are now. After all, a lot may have changed in the past 12 months.
"A vision statement is a rudder that holds the business on course. As we react to new situations, we can drift from that course," says Vik Patel, CEO of VPS hosting service Future Hosting. "I like to reimagine the vision statement each year: Should it be changed in light of new realities? Were the decisions made in the last year in line with our greater goals? Taking the time to think about where we've been and where we want to go is hugely valuable."
Update your visual presentation.
A new year could be the perfect time to introduce a new look to your branding. "As our business and clients evolve, so does our visual brand identity," notes Kristin Marquet, founder and creative director of PR firm Creative Development Agency, LLC.
"We strive to update our brand colors, website, logo, voice and messaging across all client touch points every November and December," she says. "If my team and I don't update our visual presentation during the fourth quarter, then it's safe to say it won't get done at all, and the visual aesthetic will become outdated."
Refresh your content marketing strategy.
Visuals might not be the only part of your strategy in need of a change. Syed Balkhi, founder of conversion optimization software OptinMonster, suggests using this time to consider whether you're getting the most out of your content.
"The new year is a great time to take a look at your current content strategy and find opportunities for improvement," Balkhi says. "Perhaps there are new keywords you'd like to rank for, or you want to increase your guest post contributions. Figure out which parts of your strategy produced the highest ROI the previous year and expand on those."
Launch a contest.
The holidays are a great time to use promotions to get your customers excited about your brand, but the fun doesn't have to end as soon as the gifts are unwrapped. "Before New Year's hits, we launch a contest that lets our users vote on spaces found on our website," says Jayna Cooke, CEO and partner at venue showcasing platform EVENTup.
"It's a great way to get people to interact with our brand, and it gets our customers excited about potentially being named one of our top venues. We love this tradition because it's beneficial to all parties and a fun way to kick off the year," adds Cooke.
Make internal New Year's resolutions.
You may be spending plenty of time revamping your company's strategy for the year ahead, but don't forget about the needs and goals of your individual employees.
"We do a huge annual meeting to discuss the previous year. Toward the end, we have everyone set three resolutions for themselves related to how they can be happier and do better work," says Karl Kangur, founder and CEO of content marketing solution MRR Media. "We do a check-in in June and then analyze them a week before Christmas to see how everyone did. Fun, personalized prizes await the successful members."