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Time to reflect and a time to plan

As we begin a new year, it is a good time to not only reflect on successes of 2023 but set strategic goals, dust off business plans and update as needed. As small-business owners, we are presented with unique challenges and opportunities. To navigate the ever-changing landscape here are some items to consider:

  • Check in with your core advisers. If you don’t already have a relationship with a group of advisers, establish them in 2024. It’s good to have relationships before you need them. These include: a banker, an accountant, an attorney, insurance provider, a marketing specialist and an IT specialist, just to name a few. Also, your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, Business Improvement District, Region 9 and the Economic Alliance can be great resources, and we all provide services within our “swim lanes.”
  • Building customer relationships. Having strong customer relationships is key to a successful small business. Examine your customers’ lifetime commitment to doing business with you. Know their likes and dislikes, offer loyalty programs, personalize communications, ask for their feedback. A repeat customer can be a wonderful ambassador to help promote your business.
  • Employee development. Prioritize employee training and development in 2024. The Durango Chamber offers a variety of professional development opportunities throughout the year. From Lunch and Learns, Human Resource courses, Coffee Connection to our Eggs and Issues forums, all are designed for professional enhancement and growth. Ask your employees about their personal goals and help achieve them. A satisfied and engaged workforce contributes to increased productivity and business success.
  • Local community engagement. Small businesses are the backbone of our community, and consumers gravitate toward those that actively give back and support others. Strong ties to various nonprofits not only can enhance a business’ reputation, they also provide a positive work environment.
  • Increasing digital presence. Review your website with a fresh set of eyes. Optimize your website for mobile users, leverage social media platforms, maximize e-commerce opportunities. Having an online presence not only increases your local visibility, it expands your customer base to a broader audience.
  • Diversity and Inclusion. Building a diverse and inclusive workplace will foster creativity, increase productivity, attract a variety of talent and promote equal opportunities. Having a varied workforce can include employees of different ages, gender, diversified backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and disabilities are just some examples of how to diversify your workforce. Involving everyone and engaging input can spark new ideas and programs often leading to increased business.
  • Developing an exit strategy. At some point in the maturing process of owning a business, you might want to sell, retire, change direction or close the business altogether. Whatever the situation entails, having an exit strategy before you need it can relieve much of the anxiety, emotional stress and offer clarity. Knowing what you ultimately want out of your business before a “must do” situation occurs can be a lifesaver. Having an exit strategy can give you peace of mind when a transitional opportunity presents itself.

Embrace the new year, consider some of these goals and continue to be involved. The Durango Chamber is here as a resource, a promoter, an advocate and partner to help grow your business. Our staff is here for you, our business is to help grow your business.

Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at jack@durangobusiness.org.