Business Owner’s Top Ten Tips When Planning for Growth in 2017

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Businesses don't grow themselves. In increasingly competitive markets, business owners who don't have clear-cut strategies in place find themselves stagnating.

Are you ready to make 2017 the best year ever for your company? Here are ten ideas to spark your creativity and prepare you for growth:

1. Fully optimize your website.

Your website is your most powerful marketing tool.

Since more than half of all internet searches are conducted on mobile devices, your site must be easy to find. It has to load quickly and be user-friendly. It should be fully optimized and have the capacity to engage potential customers on tablets or smartphones.

2. Enhance your website content.

Along the same lines, content must be top-notch these days in order for businesses to be highly ranked by search engines. Turn this job over to professional web designers, writers and graphic artists.

3. Be active on social media.

More than 1 billion people visit Facebook pages every month. That makes your social media footprint second in importance only to your website.

Identify your targets and reach out accordingly. Besides Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter are ideal platforms for keeping your name on consumers’ minds. You can hardly compete these days if you’re not social.

4. Upgrade to dedicated hosting.

Shared hosting is perfectly adequate for most small business. If your web traffic is steadily increasing, however, it makes good business sense to switch to a dedicated server.

You can customize its configuration according to changing needs and client preferences. Heavy traffic on neighboring sites won’t cause your page to load slowly or freeze up. You’ll also have enhanced security features that protect sensitive transactions.

5. Use imagery rather than text to get your message across.

Consumers have surprisingly short attention spans. They like to be shown rather than told.

Utilize quality graphics, pictures and videos that put your products and services in their best light.

6. Establish a local presence.

Heavy traffic on your website won't do you any good if your products aren’t relevant to visitors.

Search engine optimization should be locally focused. Make yourself easier to find by adding maps to your site and listing your service areas. Place ads on local online directories. Actively participate in your local business community.

7. Truly engage with customers.

Attracting customers is difficult, but retaining them is even tougher. The best way to expand your customer base is to form longtime, meaningful relationships.

Invite feedback, and take it seriously. Be smart when you personally target customers. Only pitch products that make sense in light of what they usually buy; don't try to sell them something they don't need. Reward loyalty with promotional discounts or preferred pricing.

8. Consider outsourcing non-core responsibilities.

Outsourcing duties like accounting, payroll and tech maintenance will save money and free up man-hours. You'll have more time to generate leads and focus on customers.

9. Don’t skimp on public relations.

Bill Gates once said that if he had $2 left to his name, he’d spend $1 on PR.

Maintain a steady stream of current press releases, blogs and informational articles. This will continually reinforce your brand and increase traffic on your website.

10. Regularly monitor your progress.

Sales and profits aren’t always reliable indicators of how a business is doing overall. 

Purchase software that analyzes all aspects of your company's performance. If a tactic is clearly working, devote more resources to it.

Continually reinvesting in your company pays off in the end. Applying for a business loan alternative may be the first step to growth in 2017.