New Year Goals: Tips to launch & grow your small business this year

Whether you're just starting out in business, have been running your side hustle for a while or just have a spark of an idea, it's never too early to begin thinking about ways that you can build your independent business to achieve your goals.

I’ve run a couple of businesses in my time – including a costume-making shop that eventually led me to create the My Thrifty Life website – and each of those endeavours took a good amount of effort to get started. But the thing with running your own business is that it doesn’t really feel like work.

No matter how many hours you put into building your business, or how long it takes to achieve your goals, it’s always an enjoyable and rewarding process. After all, you’re investing your time and money in yourself and that’s never a wasted effort! Because eventually, you’ll get to where you want to be and will be able to reap the rewards.

I’ve recently shared a checklist of things to consider when starting a small independent business – including plenty of paperwork tasks you’ll have to do (sorry!) but today’s blog post is more about you rather than the technical aspects of the business. You just have to stick with it, keep a clear goal in sight and actually do it.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Make a plan and be accountable

Rather than just launching into a business, it’s a good idea to have a plan – what do you want to do, where do you want the business to go, and what are your goals? You’re going to have to get out a notebook and mind-map your way through all the possibilities, the opportunities, and the potential problems. This will help you to get clear on your goals (whether you’ve been in business for a while or are just starting out), which is always the ideal starting point.

Then, when you’ve decided what you want to achieve, it’s a good idea to enlist someone else to help you do that. I’m not saying to allocate tasks to family members or friends (although that can help) – what I’m saying is tell someone your plan and let them hold you accountable.

Knowing that someone will be checking in on your progress at regular intervals will give you the motivation to get things done, to move your business forward. After all, you’ll want to be able to share good news with your accountability buddy rather than excuses. It can be a mentor, a business coach, one of your close friends or even a parent or sibling.

Whoever you choose, ask them to check in with you often so you can update them with progress – and they can celebrate your little wins (publishing your website, getting your first sale, getting your press release in the local paper) with you, as it’s always lovely to have someone come along with you for the ride – high five!

Build a website and get it live

I’m aware that many successful small businesses are run solely through social media accounts BUT trouble and strife always come when the platforms unexpectedly go down or change their processes. If you have your own website, you’re in complete control and won’t be affected by a new algorithm or the introduction of fees etc.

It’s one thing to build a website – there are plenty of templates and drag-and-drop building services available to make the process as easy as possible – but it’s quite another thing to press ‘LIVE’ and actually put your business out there. However, having something, anything online is better than nothing so don’t wait until your website is perfect before you go live.

After all, you’re already paying for the hosting and the domain, so why not use it? Even if the website is simply one page that directs your potential customers to your social accounts or Etsy shop – at least you’ve got an online presence. It doesn’t have to be a complete website with full stock inventory and plenty of SEO content. If you wait until you get to that point, you’ll never get your website published!

Also, I know it’s harsh to say, but no one will probably notice whether your website is live. There are not going to be hoards of people checking your site each day and thinking it’s not finished or not good enough. The only thing that’ll notice your website is Google – and that’s only if you submit your URL to be listed. But that’s the main point, once you’ve got Google looking at your website, your search rankings will improve with each piece of content you add and as your domain grows in age, so the best time to get started on improving your search visibility is now.

I started my website more than 12 years ago and I’d say that I’m still working on it. That’s the thing with websites – you can change and update them whenever you like, and as often as needed. If you want to make big changes to the design, you can do that in a ‘test’ mode before you make the new design live, so don’t be put off by not having everything perfect before you start, as it can develop over time.

Tell people about your business

And just after being harsh that no one is going to know whether you’ve launched a website or not, I’m going to encourage you to start telling people about your business so that someone will see your website.

I’ve previously blogged some ideas to promote your business without taking up all your spare time, because it’s important to have some downtime as a small business owner. After all, if you feel overworked and stressed, there’s no one else who’ll be able to run your business for you, so be sure to take breaks and rest so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

And social media can be a very overwhelming place to be! But, if you set boundaries and make it part of your working day (maybe half an hour in the morning and again before the end of the day) you should be able to use it in a healthy way. This allows you to shout about your products or service as well as interact with your potential customers.

But social media isn’t the only way to promote a business. Remember pre-200 before Facebook? Business owners would go on local radio shows, or email local newspapers for a bit of editorial coverage. If you write a press release and send it out to magazines, writers, bloggers, newspapers and local media, you might get some free coverage and generate word-of-mouth interest in your business, which is so much more valuable than paying for adverts.

I hope this blog post will help you get your business off to a great start this new year. I’ve got a few more blog posts that you might find helpful in my Side Hustle Business category so be sure to check that out too. Best of luck and let me know how you get on – I love to shout about independent businesses – go for it!

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Cassie Fairy
Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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