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How Small Businesses Can Better Compete with Big Businesses in 2018

As 2018 gets underway, retailers across the country have one thing on their mind: sales. Small business optimism has been on an upward swing with the majority of small business owners citing increased sales and improved business conditions throughout 2017, according to the latest Capital One Small Business Growth Index. And with 60 percent of small business owners feeling current business conditions are good or excellent, many retailers and small business owners wonder if this increase in positive sentiment will continue in 2018.

Typically, the holiday season provides a sales boost for the retail industry thanks to consumer spending sprees. However, after the holidays come to an end, many business owners find that sales have slowed. To beat the post-holiday slump, small business owners can take time to reflect on business progress and strategize their growth.

January is the perfect time for small business owners to make a few simple resolutions that could have a major impact on their businesses’ sales and growth, as well as their overall happiness and satisfaction. Here are three ways small business owners can have a more profitable 2018.

Get in the Game with Promotions:

Why should promotions and sales end with the holidays? Small businesses shouldn’t limit themselves to only seasonal sales and should take advantage of promotions year-round. Sales that speak to a specific customer need can be successful at any time of year and will help your business stand out from the competition. It can also help promote customer loyalty that leads to repeated full-price sales throughout the year. While it can be difficult for smaller businesses to slash prices like their big competitors, try to find a few ways to entice customers with deals.

2018 is the Season to be Social:

Social media is something that can help your business no matter the time of year, but the New Year is a particularly good time to engage. Nearly half (48 percent) of business owners surveyed for the Small Business Growth Index said they do not use social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) to grow their business. Those who do use social media, however, found it effective, with 55 percent noting they have seen an increase in sales since starting to engage socially.

In many cases, shoppers take to social media and customer review sites like Yelp when choosing where to take their business (and to check out who is offering deals). Small business owners should take time to review their social media presence, include any positive reviews or awards of their company, and formulate a strategy for monitoring social mentions so they can quickly react to any issues that may arise. Depending on your industry, you can also form a simple plan to highlight your goods and services.

If your business doesn’t already have a social presence, 2018 is the time to start something new.

Formulate Your Budget for the Year Ahead:

If January is typically slower, use this quiet time to reflect on your business, performance and plans for 2018. You may also want to use this time to set aside any extra funds for future use—whether it’s a financial cushion for your next slow season or to fund upcoming hiring during your busy season. By stashing away a few dollars now, you can set yourself up for future success.

Creating a budget for 2018 may not immediately impact your sales notably now but with smart planning, small business owners can boost marketing efforts throughout the rest of the year.

There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to having a successful year. However, with a combination of proactive steps and groundwork, small businesses owners can step into 2018 with ease. By utilizing these specific strategies small businesses owners can not only increase their income from proactive sales but can also set up their business for success in 2018 and beyond.

Johannes Endhardt is Capital One’s Vice President of Strategy, Marketing and Analytics for Spark Business Bank. In his role, Johannes oversees a 60-person team focused on driving strategy, positioning and marketing for all Spark Business Bank products, including both digital and in-branch offerings. He also manages the teams responsible for P&L management, customer experience and strategic partnerships for small business on behalf of the bank. Throughout his career, Johannes has worked at both regional and global financial services companies to help define their business, growth, and technology strategies, with a specific focus on how banks can digitally transform their offerings, customer experiences and delivery models.