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By Bill Brunelle, Co-founder of Independent We Stand

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for getting in shape and saving your pennies. This year, resolve to grow and strengthen your small business. When you commit yourself to bettering your business, you make a promise to your employees, your customers and your local community. That’s because when small businesses thrive, their communities thrive. Let that relationship guide your resolution and motivate you to stick with it past February.

Go with the Local Flow

Your fellow Main Street businesses are calling — and this year, you’re going to answer. Main Street organizations, like Local First Colorado or Keep Saint Petersburg Local, rely on passionate and involved small business owners in helping Main Street thrive. These groups organize seasonal events such as holiday parades, festive bar crawls and lively street fairs that bring the community downtown. With each event or campaign they produce, Main Street groups get local residents excited about supporting small businesses, but they can’t do it without the hard work of small business owners.

In 2018, commit yourself to Main Street. When your local Main Street organization comes calling, hang that flier in your window or sponsor that charity bake-off. If you’ve never gotten involved before, start small and resolve to play a role in at least one event. If you’re a veteran Main Street supporter, think bigger by brainstorming new ideas or leading your own committee.

Be Social Savvy

To some small business owners, this resolution will seem more difficult than it actually is. Social media is an ever-changing beast, but it’s not going anywhere. In 2018, up your social game in a way that is realistic for your business: If you’re already posting regularly from your business’s social media pages, consider diversifying the content. Research shows that consumers prefer video to written content and video was estimated to represent as much as 74 percent of internet traffic in 2017. Take customers on a behind-the-scenes tour of your business, introduce them to your employees or unbox the newest products on Facebook Live.

If you’re still treading lightly in the digital world, set a goal that’s easy to accomplish. Commit yourself to posting three times per week from your business’s social media accounts. A regular stream of content will let social media algorithms know that you’re serious about social, and over time, your visibility across social media will expand. Need ideas for content? Make posting easy by sharing relevant articles, infographics and photos from pages like Independent We Stand and SmallBizDaily.

Remember What Matters Most

There will always be a new marketing platform to leverage or a new product to offer customers — but don’t let your other New Year’s resolutions spread your business too thin. Customers enjoy shopping small for the unique benefits they receive, including stellar customer service and unmatched expertise. Chances are, you or your family founded your business on those principles. Whether you’re a first-generation entrepreneur or a fifth, customer service and expertise still matter most today.

If you’re feeling pulled in too many directions, resolve to get back to the basics in 2018. Give your team a refresher on customer service and take time to educate new employees on the products and services you sell. Most importantly, lead by example. Small businesses can continue to thrive in the new year thanks to Main Street organizations and cost-effective social media strategies, but there’s no substitute for a top-notch in-store experience fueled by customer service and superior knowledge.

Bill Brunelle is co-founder of Independent We Stand, a cause-marketing campaign sponsored by STIHL, which is dedicated to educating communities about the importance and strong economic benefits of supporting locally owned businesses. Independent We Stand inspires small business owners across the country to celebrate their locally owned status and help consumers understand the importance of supporting them. For more information, visit @IndWeStand