Businesses around the UK have had to quickly adjust to operating in a fast-changing environment. While many of these new ways of working haven’t always been optimal, many small businesses have found there are plenty of new ways to go about approaching existing issues.
So, with flexible working set to stay for the foreseeable future, here are some new year’s resolutions that your business needs to be making a priority.
By no means solely the fault of the pandemic, a cashless society appears closer than ever. From the rise of new and digital banks to concerns over the hygiene of coins and cash, digital payments are the way forward for 2022.
Data collected by a leading financial bank shows that in the first months of 2020 searches for contactless payments soared by as much as 300%, with applications for contactless payment methods by small and medium sized businesses increasing by 70%.
Whether it’s for the hygiene and wellbeing of your customers, or simply the additional security that comes with not keeping cash on-site, it’s time to offer cashless ways to pay in 2022.
It’s an unfortunate reality that financial crime, fraud and scams have increased dramatically since the onset of the pandemic.
Taking advantage of the uncertainty and behavioural changes that everybody had to go through, the already booming financial and cybercrime industry grew by a third in 2020 alone.
Around £52 billion is lost annually to financial crime and scammers, so in an already complex business environment, making sure that your business is properly protected needs to be an absolute priority for the new year.
First steps you should take to improve your protection should include taking out cyber insurance, investing in the right IT business protections, educating your employees and taking on the advice of security and cybercrime experts.
With inflation reaching a historic peak at the end of December, the Bank of England has now decided to raise interest rates to counteract these peaking prices.
This may have an impact on your business’ debt, savings and growth ambitions. Depending on how the rate of inflation fares over the coming months, more interest rate changes may be on their way, so it’s important to start planning now to get ahead of any future issues.
If your business has a financial adviser, speak to them about how best you can go about protecting your business from both inflation and unpredictable rate changes.
Partly exacerbated by supply chain disruption and lack of available labour, automation is fast becoming one of the go-to solutions for many businesses looking to keep themselves operational.
It’s also a wise move for businesses that want to improve efficiency wherever they can. While at least 40% of larger businesses have automated at least some part of their business operations, only 25% of smaller businesses have done the same, making it a priority for the coming year.
The specific amount of automation available to business owners will vary, but some of the following suggestions are good examples:
Automated email responses
Customer support and chatbots
Data and KPI monitoring
Businesses have had ample time to get used to working virtually, but as restrictions were lifted, many employees and smaller businesses decided to return to offices. While remote working has proven to be a boon for some businesses and employees, the preference among many appears to be a hybrid solution – a mixture of virtual and in-person working.
The vast majority of UK employees – around 77% – admitted to preferring a mixed model of both remote and in-person working, so it’s time to take steps to optimise your small business for this reality.
This could involve using satellite offices, co-working spaces, home offices or something else altogether.
Whatever hybrid working means to your business, it’s important to carry out an audit to ensure that all members of staff, regardless of age, seniority and confidence in digital technology, are comfortable working in this way.
Small businesses are only as healthy as their employees, so if employees are struggling with the current situations, your business will likely feel the repercussions.
With the pandemic continuing to evolve quickly, cases of post-lockdown anxiety and mental health concerns have risen dramatically, so ensure you’re there for your employees as best as you can be.
Small and medium-sized businesses may lack some of the financial resources that larger organisations have, but being smaller does mean you may be able to implement sustainability changes more quickly.
When done strategically, making your operations more sustainable can result in fewer costs and better profitability. So, continuing to develop your sustainable credentials makes competitive sense, as well as environmental sense.
There are always new ways to go about boosting your search engine optimisation, so resting on your laurels is rarely a good idea.
The pandemic necessitated a mass shift to online shopping and services, and although some of this has since tapered off, the ongoing health situation means that the only way is online for lots of businesses.
The key resolution here is to find a way to stand out from your competitor businesses on search engines and on social media, where much online shopping is done.
Your social media can be an excellent lead generator for your business, so consider how to harness it to set your company apart.
Today’s online and socially concerned customers aren’t just looking for businesses to buy from; they want authentic companies to share their interests and beliefs and to contribute towards causes they care about.
Having a social purpose is a good way to show that your business doesn’t just exist in your local community, it actively plays a role within it.
Consider whether your business could donate towards causes that resonate with your customers, from research into illness to cleaning up the oceans.
Or, you might prefer to contribute to the community itself by supporting local clubs or helping to combat issues like loneliness or homelessness in your area.
The best way to keep your business on target for its financial goals is to retain your existing customers. Loyal customers will spend more and will keep coming back to your business, in a way that some new customers might not. Stay in touch with your existing customers with email chains or social media posts to keep them coming back.
There are lots of ways for your business to develop in the new year, but for long-term, dedicated growth you can count on, find the right support on Unbiased.