Whether you’re in retail and are recovering from the holiday rush, or you have had the luxury of a Christmas shutdown and are coming into the New Year feeling fresh and full of optimism, 2016 is well and truly here. You might be in the process of tying up loose ends or be full steam ahead, but either way, it’s worth taking the time to look at your past year’s achievements and set some business resolutions for the coming year.

Unlike the new fad diet/exercise/meditation routine that everyone is trying, business resolutions are something that you can make stick well past the end of January.

To help get you started here are five ideas for resolutions to kick start your 2016.

1. Explore new opportunities in digital and social media

We all know that social media use is growing—in Australia there are more than 14,000,000 users on Facebook, 13,900,000 on YouTube and 5,000,000 on Instagram. But are you getting the most out of your social channels? Why not make a business resolution to trial a new emerging digital or social media channel, or, if you haven’t yet gone social—embrace it.

If your business is already in the digital and social media space the following emerging channels may be the next step you’re looking for:

  • SlideShare is perfect if you want to share expert knowledge. As the name suggests the presentation slides can be shared across a number of already existing digital platforms, which in turn can help increase your search engine optimisation, and boost your overall content marketing strategy.
  • Vine allows you to create six second videos, which can be great for businesses that are sales and events oriented. A short vine could promote your event, encourage people to enter a competition, or introduce audiences to a new product.
  • Periscope is a live video streaming channel that can give your customers a moment behind the scenes. It can also provide your business with an easy way to do a product or service demonstration.

If you’re not currently embracing digital and social media, developing a digital and social media marketing strategy can benefit your business by increasing brand recognition with new and existing target audiences, which can lead to a larger customer base.

Before you get started some key things to consider are:

  • Do you have the staff resourcing to keep up with the 24 hour cycle of social media? Who will post content and reply to comments?
  • Can your business generate enough new content itself? If not, where will you find ready-to-use content? Sharing content from other influencers is a good place to start.
  • Is your website mobile friendly? Smartphones are now the leading device in Australia for viewing content and in September 2015, close to 8 million Australians who were 18 years and older were recorded to be using their smartphone for their banking needs.

2. Set new goals, or at least reassess your old ones

Whether you are in a new business or a business that has been operating in an industry for over 20 years, it is essential to continuously update your business plan and set new goals and measurable objectives every year. Even if your business planning cycle doesn’t follow the calendar year, it’s handy to reassess where you’re up to and whether your goals still reflect your financial and operational objectives—have they changed or have they remained the same?

Regardless of the answer, one easy tool to help get you started and plan new businesses goals or reassess last year’s is to use the SMART goal setting theory and make them:

  • Specific—think about what needs to be achieved
  • Measurable—how will you compare your results each quarter?
  • Achievable—are your goals reachable?
  • Realistic—are your objectives attainable?
  • Timely—set timeframes and stick to them—having small milestones to reach along the way can help you do this.

Once you’ve gone through this process it’s important to continually reassess your business and the environment that it operates in. Some useful tips to keep you on track as things change are:

  • continuously monitor all your business investments—adjusting little things as you go can take less time in the long run
  • listen to your clients and customer feedback—their concerns and ideas can lead to new innovations
  • follow your instincts – sometimes there is no clear direction, make a call.

3. Make your record keeping easier

Not many of us have a passion for record keeping—but it’s also an essential part to running any business. With the end of the Financial Year approaching, it may be useful to pay some attention to your business current record keeping. You may of course be asking yourself ‘where do I begin’?

To help you out, the Australian Taxation Office has developed a Record-keeping for small business guide and a Record-Keeping Evaluation Tool.

The Record-keeping for small business guide leads you through what records you need to keep as a business owner and tips to help keep your record up-to-date.

The Record-Keeping Evaluation Tool will then help you to evaluate how well your current record keeping practices are and make suggestions for improvement.

Additionally if your business hasn’t already, make the move to paperless files. Going paperless and adopting management and accounting software can help to have everything organised and at your fingertips within minutes.

So, make the next few months of record keeping easier and check out these tools to ensure you have the best systems in place.

4. Rethink your recruitment methods to find the right people

Having the ability to spend less time on recruitment and still find the right person would be a dream come true for many employers.

We know that most of the time when a business is looking for someone it’s not because they have created a position, but because they’re looking to replace someone. Rather than be on the back foot when this happens, why not think ahead and work out your preferred recruitment method now.

We recently shared the most popular recruitment methods in Australia, so that you can see what other employers are doing.

One way to save time is to tap into already existing employment service providers like jobactive—a local jobactive provider can screen and shortlist candidates on your behalf, at no cost to your business. Employment service providers like jobactive are a fantastic resource if you don’t have time to recruit yourself.

Other benefits of an employment service provider are their ability to work with you to get an understanding of your business and what you’re looking for. They may be able to recommend wage subsidies, training programmes or incentives that are available to help you source the right people.

If you are interested in using jobactive to find staff for your business, get in touch with your local jobactive provider.

5. Expand your business network

If you’re a small or medium business owner you already know how important it is to continue to expand your business network. However depending on your industry, networking is one of those things that can be easily pushed back or completely missed because of other priorities.

This year why not make it your resolution to attend that conference, breakfast function or industry event that you never got around to last year. If you’re feeling ambitious you could even pencil in a few events over the course of the year—not all of them cost a lot of money to attend.

To help get your networking started some tips include:

  • look at your peak industry association to see if they have events in your state—such as the Council of Small Business Australia
  • develop a ten to twenty second elevator pitch
  • ask questions, listen to answers, take down people’s details and make it your priority to follow up
  • make connecting part of your day to day routine—you never know who you will meet along the way.

If you’re feeling creative some less traditional methods of networking could include attending or offering your services to cultural events happening in your local community, joining a community group that you have common interests in or volunteering at the next charity event, whether it be a fun run or community fair. The National Calendar can give you some ideas of community events happening across Australia all year round.

Broadening your network can give you and your team the opportunity to expand your knowledge of new innovations within your industry and even meet potential clients.

Depending on the nature of your business, you might find these five resolutions useful or it may just be a starting point to set your own. Either way, here’s hoping for a great business year in 2016.