When you own a business, there’s always work to be done. Here’s a quick look at some strategies to take your company to the next level in 2018, while maintaining the level of quality and service that got you this far in the first place.

Help them help you

Potential new clients want to see proof that you do good business. And by proof, we mean positive reviews from satisfied customers. Make it easy and enticing for clients to write a review for you on Yelp, Google, or other platforms that drive business your way.

1. Send a “Thank You” email to a satisfied customer. Express your appreciation for their business, and let them know how much their opinion matters. Include a link to Yelp or Google so all they have to do is click and start typing.

2. Incentivize your employees to encourage clients to give reviews. Offer a prize or a cash bonus to the staffer who garners the most good reviews of your business in a month. 

3. Become a Yelp ninja with the Yelp for Business Owners app and this intel on how to get the most out of Yelp reviews for your business.

Delegate effectively

No one is ever going to do things exactly like you. Well, maybe when the world is run by robots.  But until you can clone yourself or invest in some serious AI, delegating like a boss will help you get more done – and use your time more efficiently – than trying to do it all yourself.

Put a system in place for assigning tasks and projects, and tracking progress and results. We like Asana because it’s collaborative and a breeze to use. It eliminates the time suck of sorting through long text and email chains, and empowers you and your team to see what needs doing/is being done/has been accomplished in real time.

Follow up

Follow up is critical to generating new leads, closing deals, maintaining good client relations and keeping your community engaged with your business. It’s also essential if you want to get paid what you’re owed. But it can be challenging to keep up with the follow up when you’re caught up in the moment-to-moment needs of your business.

Dedicate time – once a day, or a specific day & time every week – to strategic follow up:

1. New Prospects: Follow up with a call/text/email thanking them for their interest, give them any info they requested, and include a call to action that moves things forward. 

2. Overdue Client & Vendor Payments: Reach out with a pleasant but firm reminder that payment is past due. Put a reminder on YOUR calendar to follow up again if payment isn’t received by X date. 

3. Social Media: Check the comments on your business posts/tweets. Respond to people who have taken the time to positively engage with your social channels. Investigate legitimate complaints and (you guessed it) follow up with those customers. Even if the comments are negative, take the high road. (Ignore ‘em or respond with a cheerful “Thank you for your input!”)

Get it in writing

Like email and text messaging, voicemail is a necessary communication tool for your business – but interrupting your workflow to listen to voice messages and make note of pertinent info can slow your roll.

PhoneTag converts voice messages to text, so you can quickly review incoming messages and prioritize your responses. Bonus: transcribed voicemails are easily searchable data when you need to follow up or double-check the details. 

Put more flow in your cash flow

Most small business owners struggle at some point with cash flow. To avoid surprises, it’s essential to keep track of the money coming in and out of your business. But don’t worry if accounting isn’t your jam. You don’t have to love spreadsheets to keep your cash flowing in a positive direction.

Cash flow management apps like Float and Pulse simplify the numbers-crunching for you, and answer critical questions at a glance, like:

What is your cash balance right now? What’s your revenue forecast for the next four quarters? 

How does your most recent forecast compare to your actual results?

Specifically designed for small businesses, Float connects securely to your accounting software and automatically keeps your cash flow projections up to date, so you don’t have to keep it all in your head, or spend valuable time updating spreadsheets.

Similarly, Pulse creates easy-to-grasp visuals of how much cash is flowing in and out of your business, and specifically when it’s ebbing and flowing, so you can plan accordingly. 

Bonus: both apps offer free trials, so you can test drive them to get a better handle on your cash before laying any out.

The bottom line

It can be daunting to carve out time from the daily grind of working “in” your business to work “on” it, but remember: like compound interest, consistent efforts—even 10 or 20 minutes at a time—really adds up. Now go get ‘em, Boss.