Every year, as we throw out our old calendars, we get a rare opportunity for a fresh start. That’s why we’re such big fans of New Year’s Resolutions.
January 1 may be an arbitrary date on a calendar, but it’s as good an excuse as any to slow down, imagine a better future, and come up with a plan to get there.
1. Start a business.
The year 2021 has been a blockbuster year for new businesses. As many as 4.3 million businesses were opened last year in the US alone, which is a 24% increase from the year before.
If you’ve been on the fence about starting your own business for a while, 2022 is a great time to get started. Taking the first step is really important, regardless of whether you succeed or fail. Either way, you will learn something and be able to take those lessons with you in the future.
2. Turn holiday shoppers into repeat customers.
Every year, B2C businesses see a huge surge in sales in the fourth quarter. Between Black Friday and Christmas, in particular, many businesses are flooded with new customers.
Of course, at the tail end of December and into January of the following year, everything slows down. The holidays are great for acquiring new customers, sure, but retaining them takes effort. Effort well spent, mind you, as it costs 5 to 25 times as much to acquire a customer than to retain one.
If you want to turn some of your holiday shoppers into repeat customers next year, check out this guide.
3. Improve your email marketing.
Email marketing has been around for over 30 years, and that’s because it works really well. For every dollar spent on email marketing, you could make anywhere between $36 and $44 back, depending on who you ask. It’s a time-tested technology.
But growing your mailing list, improving open rates, and getting leads to take action without enormous manual effort takes time and clear-headed thinking. Check out our guide on how you can improve your email marketing, and see if you can use some of the tips next year.
4. Improve your unboxing experience.
As many as 1 in 5 consumers have searched for and watched a video entirely dedicated to the unboxing of some desired consumer product. Packaging isn’t just a way you draw people’s attention and make the sale. It’s also a way to retain customers, reinforce brand messages, and get some free word-of-mouth.
Putting additional effort into your product’s unboxing experience is a great way to increase its perceived value and improve your marketing overall. Check out our guide for tips on how to do that.
5. Learn how to book freight.
One of the biggest ongoing stories of 2021 has been, oddly enough, about the supply chain disruptions being caused by slowdowns in the freight system. Between backed-up ports and ships stuck in canals, many business owners have come to realize just how dependent they are on international shipping.
One way you can regain control of your business amid these crises is to learn to book freight. You don’t have to go through freight brokers anymore, as you are now able to book your own freight online. You can learn how to do that here.
6. Learn more about how your products are made.
Another way you can insulate your business from ongoing supply chain disruptions is deceptively simple: take the time to understand how your products are made. Oftentimes, it’s easy to hire a manufacturer to create products for you, leaving you free of worries about raw materials, specifics of the production process, and so on. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
But if you find yourself uneasy about the potential for business disruptions, learn more about how your products are made. This can help you find alternative manufacturers or substitute materials if something unexpected happens.
7. Improve your inventory management policies.
Inventory management may not be flashy, but it’s very important! Running out of stock is an easy way to lose a ton of revenue, and you certainly don’t want that to happen. Check out our two guides on inventory management and see if there is something you can do to mitigate the risk of that happening.
- Inventory Management 101: 9 Tips to Avoid Running out of Stock
- Inventory Optimization: 11 Tips to Stay Stocked & Profitable
8. Improve your customer’s shipping experience.
In 2019, customers’ expectations for rapid, problem-free delivery were continuing to skyrocket. People were beginning to feel like 3 days was a long time to wait to receive an online order!
These days, though, even giants like Amazon have been delivering products over the course of weeks instead of days. This is unavoidable. But still, you can take some simple steps to make sure your customers have a great shipping experience, even amid delays and disruptions.
9. Reduce your return rate.
For better or worse, returns are a part of life in eCommerce. As many as 20-30% of eCommerce orders are returned according to Shopify. That adds up quickly.
There are two common reasons for returns that are relatively easy to reduce. The first is customers expecting an item to be a certain way, and finding out that it is not what they expected. You can reduce the odds of this happening by creating pages with long, useful, descriptive product descriptions and high-quality photos.
The second is that items break in the mail and need to be replaced. You can reduce the odds of this happening by packing boxes tightly with plenty of cushioning material. It costs a bit more in supplies but saves a ton in the long run.
10. Find a way to reuse returns.
Of course, some level of returns is inevitable no matter how much you do to try to prevent them. For that reason, it might be smart to start up a refurbishment program. That way, you can still receive at least a discounted price for goods that are gently used or otherwise repairable.
11. Engage in influencer marketing.
Billions of people use social media every day, and the bulk of them come into contact with at least one influencer every time they use the system. Influencers can be anyone who has a large following online, and many of them use their status to drive sales to their sponsors through endorsements, ads, and affiliate links.
You can read our guide here for tips on how to get started.
12. Try your hand at eCommerce.
We’re borrowing this resolution from last year’s list.
We saw an unprecedented spike in eCommerce sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with multiple vaccines being distributed and social distancing measures hopefully soon becoming passe, eCommerce is likely here to stay for a long time. Why not commit to trying your hand at eCommerce for the first time?
13. Try your hand at crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is not just for independent creators launching products in their bedrooms like it was in 2008. It has become a veritable powerhouse for product launches and building a brand, making it attractive for new and established businesses alike. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun!
If you’re looking for a splashy way to introduce a new product to the market, consider running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo.
14. Improve your website’s SEO.
One of the best ways to pull in sales for your website is through organic search engine traffic. Odds are, if someone is going to the trouble of typing in the name of a product you sell in a search engine, then they probably want to buy it – either now or at some point in the near future. Make an effort to capture the demand that is already there!
15. Improve your website’s loading speed.
Slow websites cause people to click away and go to your competitors! So much so that every additional tenth of a second in loading time can drop conversion rates by 7%. Finding ways to speed up your website is an easy way to increase your sales.
If you run a Shopify store and you’re looking for tips on how to get started, check out this guide.
16. Improve your website’s user experience.
Consumers make decisions based on how products or services make them feel. That’s why it’s really important to make sure customers have a good user experience. Making sure your website loads quickly is part of the much bigger umbrella of user experience (UX).
This is a complex subject, and you can read more about it here. Suffice it to say, anything you can do to make your website more useful, useable, accessible, or credible is going to lead to more sales in the long run.
17. Learn more about the software you already use.
Odds are pretty good that you are using some software in your business whose features you haven’t tapped into fully yet. For example, most accounting and payroll software have robust reporting features that can help you get a better understanding of how your business makes money. Similarly, shopping sites can show you a world of complex information about your customers and their buying habits.
Make an effort this year to learn more about software you already use. It won’t cost a dime and you might be surprised at what information you have at your disposal that you were not previously aware of.
18. Quit doing something that’s wasting your time.
This is a dead-simple tip, but needs to be repeated sometimes. Time is your one truly nonrenewable resource. Don’t waste it doing stuff that’s just not helping your business.
19. Increase your cash on hand.
The initial punch of the COVID-19 pandemic was really hard on small businesses. As many as 25% of businesses don’t have enough cash to go 14 days without revenue. The median small business has only 27 days of cash on hand, which is not even a month of time.
If you want your business to be ready for shocks and crises in the future, aim to hold more cash on hand. Setting a goal of 60 or 90 days should protect your business from all but the very worst events.
20. Increase customer retention.
We talk about customer retention a lot on this blog. It’s easier to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one, so it makes sense to focus on keeping the customers you have.
For tips on how to do that, check out this guide.
21. Increase customer lifetime value.
If you have a good customer retention rate, then the next step up is to increase customer lifetime value. You can do this by upselling to your current client base. This is a lot easier than acquiring new customers and can be a great way to keep existing customers happy and make more money in the process.
22. Stop doing something you hate.
Every business comes with some task you don’t want to do. Maybe it’s accounting, maybe it’s taking sales calls.
A lot of entrepreneurs, especially early in the process, complain that they’re working in their business and not on their business. This is a very real problem!
If you’re working in a team, odds are, there’s something that’s draining you that you could delegate. Doing so could help you have more mental and even physical energy, and – if you’re really lucky – that task you hate might be energizing to someone else!
23. Outsource fulfillment.
Once you start shipping more than 100 orders per month, fulfilling them in-house becomes tedious and expensive. That’s why it makes sense to outsource to a third-party logistics company, such as our own.
Knowing when to make the decision can be tricky, but when the time is right, you’ll be glad you did. The video below explains how you can tell when it’s time to hire help.
You’ve done everything by the book. Your Kickstarter campaign is almost ready to launch.
You made a great product. Built an audience. Set up a campaign page.
But how do you ship it?
We put this checklist together to help you get started. It's free.