Every small business has its periods of growth and slowdowns. If you are interested in promoting growth and expanding your business this year, don’t let your business stagnate. Following are several proactive tactical strategies that you can employ right now to energize your business this year.

Engage Your Customers — This is a broad term covering providing good customer service, rewarding loyalty, inspiring trust, and asking for feedback. If you want to learn more about what your customers want, ask them. Developing a great relationship with your customers and building a loyal following has many benefits. You need to create a unique shopping experience for your customers where they can find what they are looking for, have access to interesting products to purchase, and know how to get in touch with you if problems arise. Ask for referrals. Most happy customers are willing to provide testimonials and refer friends. An unhappy customer, on average, will tell 16 other colleagues.

Don’t Do Everything Yourself — Determine what are the most important hands on tasks that you need to do such as focusing on making key business decisions and managing employees, and delegate the simpler tasks. This will help you maintain focus and quality.

Utilize Technology to Full Potential — Have a strong website with key business information posted and utilize meaningful social media platforms to extend your marketing and networking. Consider the time saving benefits of a tailored point of sales system for inventory control.

Set Yourself Apart from your Competitors — Identify your businesses defining features that will help you stand out and make customers remember you. This is a key component in sparking growth for your business. You can focus on unique local products, or a creative differentiation strategy.

Grow Strategically — Don’t focus all your energy on jumping at the opportunity to expand your business. Create a strategic plan with goals that can be interwoven into daily business operations. This will ensure consistency in your quality of service and enable you to scale your growth based on what you can realistically handle.

Engage Your Employees — Research demonstrates that organizations full of highly engaged team members are 21 percent more productive that disengaged employees. Give employees time to innovate with some unstructured time each week to explore out-of-the-box ideas. When team members care about the success of your business, everything from customer service to sales thrive.

Conduct Market Research — Doing your research is important to identifying current/future industry opportunities/changes, nailing down your ideal customer profile, and to ensuring that your business fulfills market needs proactively; not reactively. Consider your marketing plan as a fluid document and update regularly. Stay up-to-date and current in your industry through your industry associations.

Join the Chambers of Commerce/Downtown Associations — If you are not a member of the chambers of commerce, downtown associations, or visitors associations, check out their meetings or other hosted events to see the importance of membership and networking.

Pay It Forward — take an active role in your community by volunteering on boards and committees.

These are just a few purposeful ways you can strengthen you and your business and ensure forward momentum this year. Good luck and have the best 2018 ever!

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