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New Year Resolutions for Your Small Business 

It’s that time of year again. The start of a new quarter and a new fiscal year for most companies. There is no time like now to sit down and assess what went right in 2019 and how you can improve in 2020.

Here are some common New Year’s resolutions that business owners like you can make in the coming year.

Operations

As 2020 gets underway, you should also take a closer look at your operations. Efficiency is a cost saver. Something as simple as entering receipts may be better left to your accountant or a bookkeeper. Similarly, look at what you could delegate to workers with less responsibilities. For example, you might want to leave responding to social media for your receptionist while you focus on money-making activities.

Cut Costs

Likewise, look at other ways to reduce your costs. This could involve paying down debt, an overstaffing correction, choosing a different supplier, offering your customers a discount when they pick up their orders instead of choosing free delivery or transferring certain actions to other people. Pay attention to how long each task takes and how much you are paying your staff to complete those actions. You may find that it is actually cheaper to outsource certain activities.

Marketing

Thanks to technology, the way companies market their products and services is changing. Even if your business is largely local, having a strong social media presence will help you capture and keep the attention of your customers. You may even attract new business. Look at what worked about your social media strategy in 2019 and what didn’t, as well as popular trends, such as shopping via Instagram.

Customer Service

If providing top-notch customer service has not been at the forefront of your business strategy, 2020 is the year to change that. Modern consumers expect to receive support 24 hours a day. They expect access to someone who can help at all times. Chatbots can help you provide answers or escalate issues when the office is closed, but don’t leave those tools to your website alone. Social media chatbots are just as necessary.

Focus on Retention

According to the Harvard Business Review, it costs as much as 25 times as much to attract a new customer as it does to wow existing clients into coming back. In fact, simply improving your rate of customer retention by 5 percent could increase your profitability by up to 95 percent. Start by tracking your customer churn rate so you can see how well you are doing, but remember that figure has a lag time of six to eight months.

Security

New year, new security issues. Take the time to make sure that your company, its computer systems, its customer information and its data systems are protected. Best practices are a good start. Back up your data regularly and change passwords frequently. You might also want to use data encryption, install security software or install a firewall — but these are really just scratching the surface. Adding a digital IP business security solution with features like 4K Ultra HD Resolution, Color Night Vision, PTZ dome cameras and vandal-proof cameras will help you keep eyes on your company and your property so you can prevent theft.

Small Business Resolutions for 2020

Make 2020 your company’s most successful year yet. Take the time to look at your operations and identify ways to cut costs. You may be able to increase your margins by reducing your expenses. Take a look at your marketing efforts as well. Make sure that you reach your customers where they are. Customer service and retention are important, too. Finally, take time to prevent security issues with best practices, the right software and security camera solutions. Your business will thank you.

US Businesses Allowing Remote Working

The rise of cloud computing and teleconferencing represent both the biggest opportunity for growth as well as the most significant organizational challenge to companies around the world, according to new research from Condeco’s new research paper, The Modern Workplace 2019: People, places & technology, involving 750 corporate leaders. The full report can be downloaded here. Among the countries in the survey, remote working is particularly prevalent in Australia (45 per cent) with the US tied for being the country with the second most amount of companies allowing remote work (43 percent) and least widespread is Germany (35 per cent). However, US businesses were least likely to offer flextime (49 percent), while those in Singapore were most likely (66 percent). In addition, 43 percent of US business forecast that they will allow more remote working in the next year while only 9 percent have indicated that they will offer less remote working, a clear indicator that remote working is a major trend in America. 54 percent of US companies have said that they offer remote working to increase employee retention, which showcases employees increasing demands to work from home.

While recognizing digital transformation as crucial to their future success, 60 percent of those who participated express concern over the speed with which new technologies are reshaping their businesses. They are increasingly preoccupied with issues related to cloud computing, the internet of things, and big data.These technology challenges are contributing significantly to the changing nature of the corporate environment, the report finds. Cloud computing in particular has made it possible for increasing numbers of employees to work remotely and flexibly meaning that the central company workspace is rapidly becoming an administrative hub, rather than a traditional central focus where everyone gathers during set hours. The demands of regulation and compliance are also adding to the burden felt by businesses as they face the future. Condeco’s report is based on an in-depth survey of business leaders in six countries, including the United States, backed by qualitative interviews. Respondents overall say the biggest challenges facing their organizations in the next 12 months are digital transformation (37 percent) and the adoption of new technology (35 percent).

Across all countries surveyed, access to talent supply (26 per cent) and regulation and compliance (24 per cent) are considered greater organizational challenges than business uncertainty (22 per cent). Welcome to the flexible working revolution. Almost half of global businesses surveyed (41 percent) say they already offer some degree of remote working, while three-fifths (60 percent) provide flextime opportunities, allowing employees to choose when to start and end their workday. “The research clearly shows that businesses are in the process of transforming their workplaces digitally, which enables them to transform the way that they are used physically,” said Paul Statham, CEO of Condeco.”Today’s technology allows for space to be used more flexibly and for employees to work remotely. This benefits businesses by maximizing office space, reducing costs and by keeping employees engaged and productive.”

The end of meeting-room culture? When employees do go into the office, it is most often for meetings with colleagues and customers. Yet the researchers discovered that finding, booking and using meeting rooms is a consistent point of organizational tension, even as more people are working remotely. Fewer than a quarter of those surveyed (23 percent) say that their employees have access to meeting rooms whenever they need them; however, the US leads the world with 31 percent, compared to just 9 percent in Singapore. Only a third of respondents (31 percent) currently use specialist meeting-room scheduling software to help make efficient use of their available space. Some of those surveyed believed that there was an opportunity to use artificial intelligence to book and use meeting rooms more effectively.

“AI can release individuals from routine, repetitive tasks at work and free them up for more value-adding and enriching activities. That’s why it is likely to play an important role in meeting room booking software,” said Peter Otto, Chief Product Officer at Condeco. Businesses are only just beginning to realize the extent to which the need for co-workers to meet in person is a thing of the past, as new conferencing systems enable teams to maintain real-time collaboration and conversation across vast distances and multiple time zones.“Ultimately new technology will enable businesses to allocate their resources and time more effectively,” said Otto.“There is also a role it can play in gathering data, but companies need to be aware of the ethical and privacy aspects of using it in this way and be prepared to be fully transparent in communicating what they are doing to their employees.”

US leaders prepare for the future While a fifth of business leaders worldwide (22 per cent) said that uncertainty was a concern for them, less than one fifth of American business leaders (16 percent) echoed this. The most-common concern for US respondents is technology adoption (45 percent) and talent supply (30 percent), suggesting that businesses are expecting these to be major issues over the next year. Only 11 percent of US business cited access to capital as their top organizational concern.