The new year is a chance for a clean slate and new ideas, but it’s also a time of change and development. Small business owners require a new set of skills to stay competitive, and you need to decide where to invest your time and money to get ahead.
People are spending more time online and consuming increasing amounts of digital content. Accordingly, digital marketing is fast becoming every business’s most important promotion tool and could already be more valuable than traditional marketing channels in some industries, such as technology and financial services.
Marketing online has several benefits – including fast consumer connection, versatility, practical pricing and streamlined processes – when compared to traditional mediums. Further, small businesses that can’t afford the large cash splash required for an above-the-line ad campaign can deploy digital marketing and still see fantastic results.
Learning digital marketing is vital for small business owners in 2016. However, online marketing involves several components, such as social media and search engine optimisation, marketing automation, content creation and analytics. Understanding how each cog plays its part is crucial to deploying an effective digital marketing strategy.
Consider taking a course at General Assembly. It offers a wide range of full-time, part-time and short courses that cover the basics of digital marketing, with guest teachers working in those industries. There are a range of free workshops and classes on offer too, so you don’t have to break the bank to boost your skill set.
With so much data flooding databases around the world, you need to understand how that data can be used to your advantage. If your business can effectively utilise the huge swathes of your own or your clients’ data then you’re giving yourself a competitive edge. A good place to start is with Google Analytics training, which is free and offers accreditation if you pass the assessment. Many other digital platforms, such as Hootsuite University, offer courses that you can use to build your knowledge.
Further, one study found the vast majority (88%) of spreadsheets – the most common analytics platform – contain errors. At the same time, many businesses are addicted to vanity metrics, such as Facebook likes and Twitter followers. Focusing on more substantive metrics allows you to get more from platforms like Google Analytics and Hootsuite and provide your business and clients with better insight on how to increase revenue and engage customers. Whichever way you decide to cut it, becoming an analytics master in 2016 is a move you won’t regret.
Learning accounting basics, as well as how accounting software works, is invaluable to any business owner. It’ll save you a lot of time and money in the long term. Learning how to conduct proper bookkeeping, for example, is a great way to stave off unnecessary headaches, such as overdrafts and late fees. On the flip side, poor paperwork and late submissions can attract the attention of the ATO – and you don’t want them breathing down your neck.
Further, basic accounting lets you keep the books while profits grow enough to afford a professional, and you can effectively review a third party’s work on your books if you decide to use one.
Read more about accountants and bookkeepers: Bookkeeper, Accountant or Both?
You’ll likely be handling the HR side of your business in its early days because resources are tight and it’s difficult to justify the cost of HR professionals. Brushing up on employment law is vital – failure in that field can cost you not only money, but your reputation. FairWork have a Small Business Helpline that you can call and ask any pressing questions. Make sure you are compliant and stay on top of all your responsibilities. The last thing you need in 2016 is a lawsuit from a disgruntled ex-employee.
The new year is an opportunity to take your business to the next level, and you need the skills to match, so make learning a priority – permanently.