As we settle into the swing of 2016, this is the perfect time to reflect on how your business fared in 2015; and figure out the right track for business growth.

Plan, plan, plan!

It may sound obvious, but having a clear list of goals can make the difference between achieving them – and not. Be realistic and create a plan that you can immediately implement. What are your sales goals? Do you need to hire more workers? No step is too small or insignificant to include in your plan. You may think as a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), it’s all about being nimble; but planning helps give direction, ensuring you don’t miss out on opportunities.

Review your plan every few months. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments as and when necessary. If something is not working out, change it!.

Get organised

Like a lot of business owners, your desk is probably a graveyard of coffee cups and old files. Take the time to throw away anything you no longer need. This will not only make your workspace more efficient, but will also help to organise your head and get you in the right mind-set for achieving the goals in your plan.

Free up your time (and energy!) through automating your daily tasks. It’s now easier than ever to leverage technology into taking care of some of the more mundane tasks. These might include customer communications, social media updates or collections; try apps such as Slack, Hootsuite and Trello to help you.

Intelligent marketing

Start your marketing strategy by creating an intelligent budget and sticking to it. Use past experiences to figure out what worked and what didn’t.. Digital marketing is highly measurable so you can see which parts of your budget are working and which aren’t - and adjust your numbers accordingly.

Make use of social media. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have a huge influence and are excellent tools for creating and increasing brand awareness. You can also try YouTube, Pinterest or Tumblr; depending on your audience, they can really help broaden your brand engagement.

The first and most important step of developing a social media campaign is to identify a set of achievable goals. This might be how many new customers you’re hoping to take on or plans for expansion.

Identify your target market and competition in order connect your brand with your audience. Who is most likely to benefit from your product or service? Figure out what type of person this is and then tailor your campaign to appeal to them.

Once you’ve done this you can go about selecting the appropriate channels and tactics and develop a content strategy.

  • Facebook
Setting up a business page on Facebook is quick, simple and free. With just a few clicks of the mouse you can begin interacting with a new world of potential clients.

When setting up a business page on Facebook, you’ll have the option to choose a ‘business’ category for your page and you can then modify what you see and what you don’t.. The customisable nature of Facebook business pages allows you to fully express your brand image through pictures and descriptions, and can help to make your page look more professional.

  • Twitter
Twitter is a great tool for interacting with your audience. The profile photo, header bio and pinned Tweet can reflect the unique personality of your company.

Twitter is also a particularly useful site for PR and networking, allowing you to connect with other businesses and clients with common interests.

  • Paid options
Why not explore some of the paid options available to you on social media? For example, Facebook Ads can vastly increase your company’s social reach and can be adapted to most budgets.

SMEs can also pay for Promoted Tweets on Twitter which can be targeted to particular groups and geographical locations ‘e.g. women over 50 in Oxfordshire’

These promoted accounts help you reach influencers and advocates of your brand, and can help build mass awareness.

Keeping up to date with your network

Take the time to get back in touch with your customers and suppliers. Following up with your customers can improve your brand reputation thus turning existing clients into advocates... Why not invite old connections for a catch up coffee? Or hold a networking event and invite prospective clients and journalists? Maybe drop a supplier a tweet to let them know you were happy with their recent communications? The personal touch can make all the difference!

Following these simple steps will help your business to make the best possible start this year, and will set you on a good track for success well into 2017.

By Rose Legg-Tero, Writer, Opus Energy