As we wind up the year and focus on 2018, I would like to share with you six areas that I feel you need to spend your time, energies and money on to grow your business.

The first is effective marketing. During hard times such as the one witnessed by most firms this year, the first culprit to suffer budget cuts is marketing.

Yet, it is effective marketing and promotions that will inform you what customers need and lift your sales. Get closer to your customer, understand them and get a chance to promote your goods.

Staff training and development is another area. In many businesses I have visited this year, I have witnessed poor product knowledge, apathy and lack of business ethics among most employees.

You shoot yourself in the foot when you do massive investment and fail to train your staff.

Third, technology. Technology is shaping the world more than all other forces combined. To stay in business and thrive, invest in the latest technology. The right investment in technology will give your business leverage and expand your market globally.

Product development is also key The shelf-life of a product has reduced rapidly and consumers are spoilt for choice. You cannot expect to sell the same products the same way yesterday, today and tomorrow.

You have to keep developing and repackaging your product to appeal to customer needs and preferences.

The fifth area is leadership skills. As John Maxwell said, everything rises and falls on leadership. Your ability to assemble and lead a team to move together in pursuit of a common vision is what will provide magic to your business.

You can improve your leadership and people skills by consciously learning.

You can learn online, read books, attend leadership seminars or hire a leadership couch. As a leader, look at the resources you have within your firm and organise them for optimal utilisation. Outsource the services or talents that are not available within to be competitive.

The fifth area worth your time and investment is customer service.

Due to lack of, or weakness in one or more of the factors we have discussed , that is marketing, staff training and development, use of technology, product development and effective leadership, most firms lack good customer service.

Take advantage of this gap in your industry to gain leverage. Let your customers get the best service and value for their money and they will feel at home doing business with you.

Happy customers are a priceless asset to the company and returns on investment in customer service are the highest in every business.