Throughout 2013, consumers increasingly used new technology and social media channels to find information and purchase products. Adapting to changes in the business world is never easy, especially in today’s fast-paced digital age; however, in order to stay ahead of the competition and remain stable, refocusing your business plan is crucial.

Throughout 2014, your emphasis should be geared towards mobile technology. With more people accessing the Internet though smartphones and tablets every day, there’s never been a better time to turn digital. If you are serious about growing your business, these ten tips will help you progress in the right direction.

1. Use Social Media

Consumers spend a huge amount of time on social media websites. Facebook and Twitter provide very powerful platforms for reaching customers with sales and promotions. They are also great places for engaging in one-on-one conversations regarding questions and complaints. Social networking platforms that are specifically designed for businesses – such as Linkedin – can also be the perfect place to network with other people within your field.

2. Work Remotely

Many of the world’s largest and most successful businesses – such as Virgin and Google – favour remote working. With today’s technology it’s no longer necessary to rent an office space, especially if your business primarily operates online. Renting a virtual office can provide many of the same benefits. You’ll be able to register your business in a prestigious working address and have a professional phone number, but without the physical space. This allows you to enhance your corporate identity and save excessive costs on rental fees by working at home. See this guide for a full explanation into the benefits of a virtual office.

3. Utilise Cloud Services

When conducting front-office management you can find yourself spending too much time trolling through files, spreadsheets and calendars just to stay organised. Cloud services can alleviate these problems. There are plenty of cloud-based mobile tools that are specifically designed for front-office management such as customer signups, billing and time tracking. This not only helps you stay organised, but will also reduce your carbon footprint.

4. Mobile-Optimise Your Website

According to Digital Buzz, 50% of smartphone owners use their mobile as their primary Internet source. More and more people are accessing the Internet through their smartphones and tablets every day and responsive website design allows your site to be coherent across any medium. With a significant growth in online transactions, it’s an important time to ensure your business is fully optimised for mobile devices.

5. Maintain An Active Blog

Blogging is one of the most important elements of establishing your business as a go-to resource. Regularly providing high-quality content will encourage readers to subscribe to your social networks and could convert them into clients. In addition, maintaining a blog will provide fresh content for your website, which will help it rank highly in the search engines.

6. Manage Negative Online Reviews

Consumers will often check the web for information about your business before they buy your products or services. In a recent study, 71% of customers stated that they trust online reviews. This makes it the third most trusted form of advertising. While the focus should always remain on providing a good quality service and attempting to prevent poor reviews, if you get negative feedback, you should always respond publically, professionally and promptly. Also try to contact the reviewer and remedy the problem directly.

7. Rent A Serviced Office

Unlike a traditional office space, serviced offices provide short-term lease agreements which allow you to hire a fully functional office space in a prestigious location for as little as one month. If your business is expanding, this allows you to bypass long-term commitments. In addition, they will also provide other facilities and services on a pay-as-you-use basis, such as equipment and meeting rooms. This can save you significant overheads. For more information on how they could help your business visit Skyline Offices’ Definitive Guide.

8. Hire Flexible Staff

Temp work and zero hour contracts can provide you with staff, but without long-term working agreements. This means you can use them as and when you require, rather than having them on the payroll when it’s not financially viable. If you are planning on hiring staff full time in the future, temp workers can also be a great way to test their abilities to see if they’ll be worth signing on when you’re ready to move forward. Implementing a decent flexible working strategy can also significantly increase morale as it can add more diversity to the working environment and give employees a better work/life balance.

9. Outsource Key Tasks

Outsourcing tasks such as payroll and HR may cost money; however, you’ll be able to save significant costs in other departments. For example, if you conduct all of your payroll and HR in-house, you’ll have to spend time and money on training and labour, which could be better spent on revenue generating activities. Outsourcing can seem costly, but if you ever become overburdened, it could save your business.

10. Use Automated E-Commerce Tools

Websites such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy provide automated e-commerce solutions that will allow consumers to easily purchase your products through their pre-built system. If you are yet to focus your efforts online and want an easy-to-use platform for selling without having to invest in your own website, they can provide excellent starting points. In addition, WordPress and other web development tools have free plugins that can be incorporated into your existing website, even if you don’t have any knowledge of coding. Automating your business can save you a huge amount of time and energy.

While incorporating changes into your business may seem expensive, many of these strategies are completely free, costing nothing more than labour and general upkeep. If you are serious about growing your business in 2014, following these tips can provide the extra marketing, sales and resources you need to successfully expand.