Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare your small business for 2019!
The end of the year is a busy time. Small businesses especially need to have a plan for growth in place well before the New Year. Taking detailed stock of your operations helps uncover improvement opportunities and provides ideas. Our “5 Tasks to Tackle” will help rocket your business forward.
Assess Your Business
Properly preparing for 2019 involves taking a step back and looking at the big picture to determine if any operational changes are needed. If you’ve never performed a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) on your business, now would be a great time to do so! This strategic process illuminates avenues where your business can expand, highlights areas previously neglected, and reveals what your clients are demanding. Whole-business reviews shed light on issues pushed to the backburner.
Audit Your Hardware and Software
2019 is the last hurrah for popular older applications and operating systems. Microsoft’s extended support for Windows 7 stops on January 14, 2020. Adobe Flash reaches end-of-life on December 31, 2020. If you’ve been holding out on upgrading, act now before you’re forced to scramble.
Hardware always breaks down on its own schedule, and it never happens at a convenient time. Keeping your hardware monitored and upgraded prevents unexpected crashes. We recommend replacing your hardware every 5 years at a minimum to keep pace with newer technology and reduce the risk of unexpected hardware failures.
Are you using updated versions of important software? Are there other programs that could do the same work more efficiently or save you money on licenses? Take stock of your needs and plan for the necessary budget to replace equipment in an organized fashion.
If your business would benefit from hardware or software upgrades, the end of the year is a great time to take advantage of an IRS Section 179 tax deduction (consult your tax advisor for applicability). Splitting the hardware and labor costs between fiscal years may also be a beneficial consideration.
What about storage? Are your computers’ hard drives cramped? Are physical records filling your office space? Move towards a paperless office and further protect that digital storage by implementing cloud services.
Improve Your Web Presence
When is the last time you took a good, long look at your website? These days, if your website isn’t built on a framework that supports mobile devices or if you don’t update it regularly, your search result rankings suffer for it. A neglected website may also inadvertently send the wrong message to potential clients.
How does your site perform in search results? If search ranking is lacking, it may be time to look into SEO (search engine optimization) best practices. Google now flags websites without a properly installed SSL security certificate as unsecure; this affects page rank and traffic in search results. Partnering with a development team helps ensure your web presence reflects the true excellence of your business.
On March 25, 2018, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation, passed in the European Union) went into effect. If your site receives visitors from the EU, you are held to this standard and expected to comply with changes. GDPR centers on protection of user information. For most sites, compliance is relatively simple, and a knowledgeable GDPR compliance developer can perform a quick audit to identify the updates needed to bring your site up to par.
Audit Your Backup and Security Policies
Have you audited your backups this year by performing a test restore to confirm everything is functioning accordingly? In case of a ransomware attack, do you have hourly on-demand backups in place? Disaster recovery protocols need management and oversight, but it’s easy to forget them because they tend to be out of sight and out of mind – until something bad happens.
Passwords should be updated regularly. Do you have a policy in place for changing passwords on a cycle appropriate for your industry (especially if your business needs to comply with HIPAA regulations)? The importance of updating passwords cannot be stressed enough. Recently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology released new Digital Identity Guidelines that drastically altered what constitutes a strong password. While we’re waiting for internet protocols to catch up, password managers can help keep track of complex passwords across various websites.
Did you know 1 out of 9 employees (and 1 out of 4 nonprofit workers) spend time working from home or on the go? Is your business prepared and secure enough for this expanding number of teleworkers?
When was the last time you took a close look at your office security policy? What about communications? Take this time to assess your technology policies and ensure your business is ready to start the new year capable of handling any opportunities that come your way.
Review Your Social Media Strategy
Social media may seem daunting at first – but start small, and it will become a natural part of your marketing routine. Ask yourself some questions before you begin: What platforms make the most sense for your business? How can you represent your organization in a fun and engaging way? Does a blog seem like a good way to reach out to potential clients while simultaneously increasing your site’s search engine optimization ranking?
As our world becomes increasingly internet-based, your business needs to make a strong digital first impression. Maintaining a social media presence on the web, even if it’s on a single work-focused site like LinkedIn, provides an opportunity to tell potential clients who you are. Perform a search for your business online and take control of its narrative. Encourage current happy customers to post a review on Google or write a testimonial for your website.
Don’t feel compelled to implement a massive new strategy that involves updating five or six different social platforms every day. Do what makes sense for you and balance your time, but don’t neglect this powerful tool to reach out to those who would benefit from your products and services.
Don’t wait for 2019 to prepare your business for growth in the New Year! These five tasks will take your business a long way. Build your own successful strategy and allow our team to assist you. Anderson Technologies performs an infrastructure audit annually for its managed services clients. Our team of experts can take a fresh look at your business and make sure you have the right technical solutions in place to support your company’s goals for the coming year.