To be successful in any business you need to be constantly evolving. Whether we’re talking about marketing, innovation, social media or research and development standing still will actually result in your business going backwards.

Because, while you are carrying on doing the same old tricks, however successful they were in 2018, your competitors are innovating, investing and continually looking at ways to improve and get one over you!

Be not afraid of going slowly. Be afraid only of standing still

– Chinese proverb

We’re not saying that whatever worked for you in 2018 won’t still work for you this year but we’re also not saying that you can rely on those processes, policies and strategies to bring the same levels of success over the next 12 months.

Algorithms change, production methods move on and new ideas and solutions come to the market so it’s up to you to stay on top of every single way your business could get a potential advantage over your competitors.

Competition

We talk a lot on this blog about the importance of knowing your competitors and this is essential if you want to be successful in 2019. If you are already ahead of your competition then remember that they will be putting all of their time and effort into getting at least one advantage over you – so you need to keep doing your research so you know what that is.

If you aspire to be as good as your competition then what are they doing that’s better than you? Why are they more successful than you? And what can you do to close the gap?

Take time every week/month (whichever you see fit) to do your research on opposition.

Check any coverage they’ve secured, their social media accounts, website updates and if they are a bricks and mortar business you can visit,  then make sure you do. Or if you’re known to your competitors then send in someone else to do the spying for you.

Do your homework

Another topic we covered a lot here are trends – whether we’re talking about web design, social media or customer demands things change so you need to be on top of what’s going on in each area.

When it comes to social media trends as well as the obvious annual predictions, things are always changing so it’s up to you to know what to expect, so you can change your strategy accordingly.

There are a range of blogs worth keeping an eye on including:

Social Media Today

Sprout Social

Social Media Examiner

Buffer

Regular market research is also key to any success. Customer expectations and demand can change quickly, due to a variety of reasons, some of which you have no control over, such as economic concerns including the value of currency, import and export markets and political factors.

That’s why though, it’s more important than ever to make sure you are aware of and in control of the factors you can control.

Regular satisfaction surveys, beta testing of new products and focus groups, as well as taking all feedback seriously is the key to keeping your business on track.

Consider a new look

Nothing generates a buzz, or even a new lease of life, more than a new look. It’s a great way to get people talking, attract media coverage and provides an excuse to changes those things you don’t like or you’ve outgrown.

Whether it’s simple change to your signage, a lick of paint in your store or a whole new rebrand, a fresh look can catch the eye of customers old and new and give staff a new spring in their step.

If you are considering a change though make sure you plan properly and don’t rush into anything on a whim. A bad decision can prove costly, just ask Gap, their new logo lasted just six days before the company reverted back to their original artwork, at a cost of $100m!!

Click here to read our blog on branding

Assess your market

While recurring customers are vital to the success of any business but it’s also essential to keep on growing your customer base, to give you more of a chance to grow.

Selling to new markets will not only give you an increased target audience, it also helps you spread your risk and grow your brand.

Whether that means branching out to an overseas market or just targeting a different audience with your market there are huge opportunities out there. The growth of technology and the 24-hour approach to business means that the world now seems to be a far smaller place and there are far less barriers to entry.

Expanding your product/service range is another to consider for 2019. Think of what else your current customers might want or need and how you can help them.

Sometimes a new offering is obvious, especially if you sell actual physical products but other options to consider are diversifying into other areas or collaborating with others to offer something different with less of a risk.

Conclusion

Now everything has calmed down after a busy Christmas spell and an even busier year end, now is the time to reflect on what worked well in 2018, how you can improve in 2019 and what you want to achieve in the next 12 months.

So, first things first it’s about understanding your own business inside and out. Then you need to take a closer look at your rivals and be willing to learn from them and change your plans if necessary.

There are many ways of going forward but only one way of standing still

– Franklin D Roosevelt