As 2019 comes to a close, many companies will think about their plans for 2020. These plans include new budgets, new marketing efforts, and new ways to keep your employees engaged. Try these tips to grow your small business in 2020.

Know Your Customers

Financial institutions must comply with “Know Your Customer,” or KYC regulations. Each country has its own variation of these rules; KYC requirements in India will be different than their equivalent in the United States. But one thing remains the same: these institutions are required to have a basic understanding of the identities of their customers. Unless you are engaged in a highly regulated industry, governments don’t generally require small businesses to know the identities of their customers. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t at minimum know the types of customers that are attracted to your products and services. Spend some time to profile your existing customers. How do you segment them by gender, income, location, and other attributes? How do these qualities correlate with their buying behaviors? On which customer segments should you focus your efforts? Figure these things out, and then create an action plan for 2020.

Nurture Your Customer Base

Identify your top customers and let them know that you have their interests in mind. Find out what value you can bring them in the coming year. You’d be surprised what you can learn from a quick phone call or email. Plus, word of mouth is the best form of advertising, and happy customers will refer their friends. Spend some time developing a customer-centric lead generation campaign for 2020.

Support Your Team

Remind your colleagues, direct reports, employees, and partners that they are important. Spend some time sitting down with each person on your extended team, in order to identify ways to bring each other value in 2020. Identify some of the top health and wellness trends for this coming year, and consider applying them to your small business culture. Think about how you can improve the overall well-being of the people who surround you and your business. You may not be able to compensate your staff in the same way as an international corporation. But, with the right culture, you can make every day that they come to work feel rewarding.

Attend Networking Events

Spend some time finding local networking events, and then go! Not only will you start to generate new leads at every event that you attend, but you’ll also learn new strategies from your connections. Go to these events with the needs of the other attendees in mind, and bring them as much value as you can. You’ll find that they reciprocate more often than not. Just keep in mind that you don’t need to attend every single event. It’s okay to be selective in your business development efforts. Remember the 80/20 rule and invest time where you expect the greatest returns.

Update Your Website

If you don’t have a current website, then spend some time building one. You can get good website hosting for as little as four bucks a month. WordPress is super-easy to work with, and with the variety of themes available, you can be up and running within an hour.

We’re getting very close now. To put things into perspective, we’re estimating just under 100 hours of development work to get the website ready for market.

Yesterday we more or less wrapped up some time and location functionality for the website. A user may enter their full address, or just a city and state as their homebase, and as the homebase of any groups he or she creates. At that point, the system queries the Google API to validate the information, and to set the timezone, geographic coordinates and other helpful data points. The most important piece of this is the timezone settings; it saves people from scrolling through a long list of zones to pick their own. This data is plugged into the events module that we’re in the process of building out, letting the user schedule video conferences and other events according to their local time zone. Other users can join those meetings from anywhere in the world, and it all works out, clean and simple.

After we’re in beta, we’ll begin use location information to build out a robust search application for Staunch that will enable people to network with others in their area based on distance and other factors. For now, people may either use the basic website search to find other members, or they may peruse our business networking directory.

Today we built out a social signup and login module to simplify the registration process for users. Rather than filling in the registration form, users may now just click to sign in through LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. We thought about adding other networks, but we wanted to keep things simple for now. We might add more later.

In addition to registration, the module will import some basic profile data from each of these respective users if it’s available. This will save people a lot of time in getting their profiles up and running, until they have time to begin optimizing their content. We’ve got a few bugs to work out, and we need to add a prompt that allows users to choose whether or not to import the data.

The biggest tasks that we’re working on at this point include tying the video conferencing application to the event scheduler, a bit more work on our members and groups search engine, some tools for group administrators to track attendance and engagement, and some bug fixes. Once we get these pieces rolled out, we’ll begin our “soft launch” to onboard a few preliminary users to test the platform while we use their input to improve our service. After that, we’ve got some really cool stuff on the horizon for post-beta. Stay tuned!

We’re close to completing development of the Staunch professional networking platform. My hope is that we’ll have a usable system in one to two months. At that point, we’ll accept a limited number of people into our free beta testing program. Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.

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