04/04/2014

By Paul Lawton, Head of Small Business at O2,

April 6th marks the start of new tax year and is the perfect time for small business owners to get rid of bad habits and make some resolutions on how to improve their strategy for the rest of the year:

1. Start Flexing

With new legislation coming into effect on the 30th June this year, giving all UK workers the legal right to request to work flexibly, it’s important to have a structure in place to support this. Whilst the employer has the right to decline the request, flexible working is known to improve morale, loyalty, and productivity, and is important to maintaining a healthy work-life balance, benefitting your business in the long run. Make sure your team is equipped with the right tools to fit their work around their life; laptops equipped with Microsoft Office 365, the cloud based office system, mean your staff can work anywhere, and apps like Just Call Me mean they can dial into a conference call on the go.

2. Keep Up to Date

It’s easy to let your technology slip out of date over time, especially when those big investments feel like yesterday. To stay ahead of the game you need to make the most of the technology you have, but recognise when it’s outdated and affecting your company’s efficiency. Savvy small businesses are increasingly looking to offerings such as O2 Lease to rent their technology, easing cash flow and allowing them to keep abreast of new products that can improve their business.

3. Stream Line Your Business

It’s easy to lose track of things when they’re written on a Post-It note or a scrap of paper. This April streamline your business and get organised. There are a huge range of apps that can help organise your work space, so utilise ones like Evernote, keeping all those scribbles and light bulb moments in one place. Similarly, apps like HootSuite allow you to manage numerous social media platforms with ease and pre-plan your tweets and posts, so you can keep on top of your customer communications even when you’re under it.

4. Be More Sociable

It’s the customers that make your business, not just in terms of transactions but in terms of engagement. If you’re not reaching them on every platform available then you’re missing a trick. This tax year make sure you dedicate some time to your social media plan; create new customer access points by using platforms including Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterst and many others. With the proliferation of mobile technology it’s easy to keep in contact with current and potential customers, and keep them up to date with what’s happening in your business.

5. Network

Nobody knows more about running a small business than other small business owners. Whether you’re sussing out the competition or looking for a partner, networking is an important part of running an SMB. There are a plethora of conferences and networking events in the UK, and whilst you should always be selective, meeting likeminded people can broaden your business horizons and may bring up some interesting opportunities.