5 Areas That Can Make Or Break Your Business In 2014

by Brian Moran, Founder and CEO of Brian Moran & Associates, @brianmoran

Business is moving faster than ever these days. There are more ways to connect with customers small business ownerthan ever before. Technology updates are now daily instead of annual or semi-annual and an expanded, remote and mobile workforce is fundamentally changing corporate culture. How can CEOs and owners of growing, entrepreneurial companies keep up and compete successfully with their larger counterparts?

In addition to watching sales, expenses and cash flow, small and medium enterprise (SME) business owners should also keep their eyes on five key areas that will have an impact on their companies in 2014:

  1. Social media: Social media is a catalyst in the changing way that the world communicates. It’s now just as easy to talk to someone in India as it is in Indiana. From a business perspective, new markets are opening up and barriers to entry are coming down. Companies considered to be category leaders must embrace social media, with all of its challenges, if they want to maintain their leadership position. Through social media, SME companies can extend their reach far beyond their traditional boundaries.
  1. Collaborative technology: Today’s technology allows employees, customers, vendors and partners to work together in real time. There are numerous opportunities to save time and money while providing better products and services. Collaborative technology is also changing the culture inside America’s companies. Larger enterprises have been slower to respond to the culture change as many departments view the new technology as a forced marriage. This gives entrepreneurial businesses a distinct advantage to level the playing field with their larger competitors. Finding a single platform vendor that can deliver solutions across multiple business areas (I.E. SAP) will simplify this approach while reducing costs as well.
  1. Corporate culture: Speaking of culture, Peter Drucker once eloquently stated “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” If companies want to climb to the next rung on the ladder of business success, they must believe they can make it to the top. The right corporate culture plays an integral role in keeping businesses from falling apart in tough times and allows them to move forward faster when opportunities arise. Everyone needs to row in the same direction which can be difficult with more remote and mobile workers today. A smart leader will keep his/her finger on the pulse of their company’s culture to watch for any changes in morale.
  1. Contingency planning: One of the biggest mistakes growing companies make is not having a proper contingency plan in place. It’s not enough to have a well thought-out plan to run a business. The leadership team, as well as employees, needs to know what to do when crisis strikes. Too many times, a bad situation is made exponentially worse because decisions are made under duress. Stress test your business plan with team leaders, outside partners and advisors to make sure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency. You may also take advantage of new technology solutions that automate this process and ensure regulatory compliance as well.
  1. Goal setting: A successful, growing business only has 2-3 strategic goals in a given year. Everything else they do is a means to those ends. Don’t let outside forces take your eyes off the prize. New Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions are proven to deliver fast return on investment while earning positive response from the employee base.

Set up time this month to take a 360-degree view of your company. Where are the weak links? Cracks in your foundation? Missed opportunities? Once you’ve finished the tour, set an agenda to fix the problems and confirm your goals for 2014. Don’t let anything keep you from achieving what you set out to do this year.

Brian Moran (@brianmoran), is the Founder & CEO of Brian Moran & Associates. He is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs run better businesses. Brian is leveraging his 20+ years of experience in publishing magazines for business owners (The Wall Street Journal, Inc. magazine, Entrepreneur magazine) to assist entrepreneurs with everything from social media to accessing growth capital to expanding into the global marketplace. In 2012 and 2013 Brian was named one of the top 100 SMB Influencers in the country by Small Business Trends & Small Biz Technology.