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Small business owners have fared differently financially in 2013. But they share the same goal of being profitable in 2014. Here we look at effective strategies to accomplish precisely that.

Have a written business plan – Don’t try to keep everything about your business in the head. You are likely to forget many important details. A detailed and well thought out business plan gives you direction and momentum. Review it at least monthly to make course corrections.

Cut costs – Think before you spend. Ask yourself whether your business really needs the item you’re about to spend money on. Renting is sometimes better than outright purchasing. Another important question to ask is whether the investment will secure timely and substantial returns.

Invest more in marketing – Maybe your products and/or services are the best in the market. But if people don’t know about it, they definitely will not use it. A bit of extra investment will definitely swing things your way.

Retain outstanding employees – Your employees are the engine of your company. A successful firm rewards excellence and makes every effort to retain high performing employees. Make sure the company climate is conducive to productivity, receptive to constructive criticism and appreciative of hard work and innovative ideas.

Leverage your existing customers – Your existing customers share a comfort level with your organization. Reward their loyalty by offering discounts and providing more value for their money. Statistics demonstrate that you need to put in more effort to get business from new customers than existing ones.

Diversify – Don’t rely on few business segments for success. You should not put all your eggs in one basket. In fact, there are many unexplored avenues which provide exciting and big business opportunities. Maybe you are involved in a business area which is unrelated to your strengths and aspirations. It’s time to change courses and chase compatible goals.

Learn from previous mistakes – It is correctly said that experience is the best teacher. Many times you learn from trial and error whether a business idea works or not. Write down your mistakes on paper so you don’t repeat the error.

Learn from success stories – Read up on books, autobiographies and attend seminars of successful entrepreneurs. This way you can quickly latch on to what they did that made them so successful.

Try something different – If conventional strategies or old ideas didn’t work for you maybe you should try something different or unique. From premium products you can move to economical products. Target your products and/or to different geographical, age and social segments.

Outsource – This can be an effective way to save time, effort and money. You and your employees cannot and should not do everything that needs to be done. The company can focus on core business functions by outsourcing low priority work or work that requires different specializations.

Make strategic alliances – It is very difficult to succeed on your stream. A good idea is to pool resources with companies which complement your strengths and weaknesses. You can share the burden of investment as well as commensurate share in profits.

Brainstorm with stakeholders and employees – This is a way by which you will get different perspectives and new ideas. Many heads are usually better than one in all walks of business.

Do share your valuable tips on how to make 2014 a year where business reaches new heights.

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