Top business tips for 2017

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By CraigNewby

With 2017 now five days old, any business leader worth his or her salt has got their plans in place for the next 12 months.

Be it a strategy to boost sales, a schedule to expand into new territories, or a way to deal with problems, this is the time of year to look ahead.

Here, some of the best business leaders profiled in 2016 for the BBC’s The Boss slot share their plans or thoughts on running a business in 2017.

Charlotte Roach, boss of fitness firm Rabble

It shouldn’t be forgotten that your employees are your most important asset, and wellness at work – ensuring that your workforce is well looked after – has become a hot topic.

Include a regular slot in the working day or week for staff to work out together or alone, followed by a healthy communal lunch. This is a great way of bringing staff together socially, whilst improving their physical and mental health. This leads to a happier, more productive and collaborative workforce.

Maximo Cavazzani, founder of quiz app Trivia Crack

The best advice I have for someone running a business is listen to the winds of change.

Every industry is being transformed directly or indirectly by technology, and the rate of change will increase in the next few years.

So think not about what your business is doing now, but how it can be positioned in order to be a part of that technological transformation.

Then, as always – work hard, learn from mistakes and keep evolving.

Cassandra Stavrou, co-founder of popcorn business Propercorn

Stay curious and hunt for inspiration in unexpected places. We always try to look beyond the shop shelf, and I’d encourage all businesses to do the same.

Define your purpose. Major global events of 2016 mean that having clear direction, beyond your annual targets, is more important than ever before.

In the digital age of everything, keep it simple. Without bottomless pockets, you need to prioritise and have the discipline to focus on the real strengths of your team.

But also remember to keep things light and have fun. We make popcorn, we’re not saving lives, but it’s easy to lose sight of that sometimes.

Gerry Cottle Jr, founder of Rooftop Film Club

Don’t forget to spend time and effort making sure people know what you have to offer. I see so many people who have great shows, great products and great ideas but decide to cut the marketing budget, or just think that it will work because it’s clever.

I always say you could invent a kettle that boiled in a second, but if people don’t know about it then it doesn’t matter. Get people excited.

Think of interesting and amazing ways to get people involved and get your message out there. Create a community and harness the power of social media.

Be brave and try new things. Become an expert in your field. Above all, have fun and people will soon be shouting it from the rooftops.

Sarah Wood, chief executive of video ad tech firm Unruly

These are uncertain, challenging times, so businesses need to be brave and not be paralysed by fear of the unknown. At Unruly, for example, we haven’t let Brexit brouhaha put the brakes on our growth – on the contrary, our foot is flat on the pedal, and we’ve accelerated international expansion into India.

It’s also important that you nurture the wellbeing of the team. Make sure your team understands the value they bring to your organisation, and mentor them so they are prepared for the challenges ahead.

Over the long term, the only strategy for an uncertain future is to keep and feed an open mind.

Keep listening, keep learning, keep reading, keep evolving, keep experimenting, keep questioning, keep agile. Only then can you can keep on being at the cutting edge of trends that are reshaping the world we live in.

I’m an optimist at heart and believe that if we build purposeful businesses with collaborative cultures, then rather than worrying about the future, we can help to shape it.

Ryan Longmuir, founder of catering firm Regis Banqueting

I have four “Ps” as my guide. Firstly, passion – you must be totally passionate about what you do, because customers and employees will only be as passionate about your product or service as you are.

Secondly – people. It is important that you employ great people. This will allow you to build a sustainable business with amazing customer loyalty and retention.

Thirdly – product. Make sure that you give a quality product that will allow you to build a business that customers and potential staff will want to be aligned to.

Finally – profit. It is vital that you understand your numbers and know what is gross and net profit, and work hard to protect your margins.

Business is like life – you get out of it what you put in. For me it is all about hard work, persevering and not giving up.

Pip Black, co-founder of fitness firm Frame

Success in business is about finding the right balance between pushing yourself to your limits, and knowing when to take time out to re-energise, regroup, and to take a moment to plan your next big push.

Many of us are great at the pushing bit, but forget about the importance of the other side, which can lead to burnout or perhaps a growing underlying resentment of the dream you’re following.

In order to allow you the time to do this, it’s essential that you build a strong team around you, who all share the same values.

Empower them, give them space to grow, and reward them in the way that pushes them forwards individually – what motivates your team will vary drastically between individuals.

Mauricio de Sousa, Brazilian cartoonist

Here in Brazil there is an economic crisis that can’t be ignored, but it is important for any company to spend more energy finding new ways to make things work out rather than cursing the current situation.

Ted Nash, founder of phone app technology firm Tapdaq

We’re not letting geography determine who we hire – we want to find the perfect person for the role. They could be based in London, the Czech Republic, the US or Canada. All that matters is that they elevate the team and help us achieve our goals.

I think this approach will slowly become the norm, and we’ll see more big businesses adopt this way of doing things.

Technology is making the world a lot smaller, and communication has never been easier, which means you can always be in touch no matter where you are in the world.

Obviously there are processes you need to put in place to make sure everyone’s doing the job that’s being asked of them and to maintain a strong company culture, but once this has been ironed out the benefits are undeniable.

Lee Biggins, founder of jobseekers website CV Library

Build a team you can rely on. Over the last couple of years I’ve built up a strong senior management team who I am heavily reliant on for the day-to-day running of the business.

This has helped to give me space to breathe and focus on taking my business to new heights.

Also, take time off occasionally. I think it’s extremely important to completely switch off from work every now and again.

I spent Christmas in Sri Lanka, turned off my emails and focused on me. It means that I come back to work in January – one of the busiest months in our industry – refreshed, focused and ready to tackle the year ahead.