From managing your staff and keeping on top of your finances to learning new skills and developing systems, it’s never too early to prep for the new year. Whether you’re working solo, with a team, or in a larger company, having actionable items in place will save you time and money and, most importantly, improve your business results.
This article has compiled a list of helpful to-do’s that help improve how things play out for your business. Hopefully, these tips will make things less stressful for you as a business owner and improve your company’s results over the year.
1. Audit your results from last year.
Many businesses need to set goals based on the right expectations. You’ll have an objective starting point to build upon by analyzing last year’s results. This will reveal your business strengths and weaknesses and allow you to determine what needs improvement. You’ll see if you need to take another look at your marketing strategy, develop new skills, or improve your current processes and procedures.
Use the last year as a baseline to measure progress over time. It’s common to get caught up in the day-to-day minutia and forget to look back at the big picture, but this exercise forces us to do just that.
If you want to know what’s working (and what’s not), take stock of what happened last year and figure out what you want to change about your business to keep it moving forward.
2. Correct course if necessary.
For many entrepreneurs, setting goals is a hassle. First, you need to figure out what you want. You’re afraid of failure. It’s overwhelming. But when you start to define goals, you can put yourself in a position to achieve them. You can also help to set realistic and specific objectives to measure your progress. For example, it’s not necessarily a failure if you still need to complete a business goal. You’ve often gained valuable data to improve business for the upcoming year. Success and failure sometimes depend on your perspective, but it is essential to learn from your mistakes and correct them.
An easy way to test your marketing strategy is to measure and quantify results. If a campaign isn’t producing results, it’s likely time to reevaluate the marketing approach and consider options to correct problems.
One way to generally improve your campaign success is to get rid of campaigns that aren’t working. Campaigns should be targeted and appropriate to your core customers. Audit each part of the process and look at your strategies to ensure they’re generating leads and sales. If they aren’t, change them. Prolonging poor execution drains your company’s budget.
3. Get rid of online services and subscriptions that drain the budget.
Subscriptions are a prevalent business model in the U.S. Unfortunately; these subscription services multiply quickly in your monthly expense sheet. They can be challenging to keep up with. They sometimes pay off. However, they often cost your business more than they’re worth.
For example, one common type of subscription is a data storage or cloud service. Data storage is convenient but often forces businesses to tie up money that could be allocated elsewhere. A great tip is to do a quick audit of services that aren’t being used or services that overlap to see if there are ways to save some money. It’s also good to review current online services to see if money can be saved by changing a plan or billing tier.
4. Revise your marketing budget, but continue marketing.
Review the existing marketing plan and determine which areas to scale back on or eliminate in the new year. This will help you allocate your resources effectively or free up money for the things that will impact your business the most.
However, the one thing you should never do is stop marketing and advertising. Halting all marketing efforts can kill your business growth. Instead, what you need is to spend your money intelligently. If campaigns aren’t working with customers, it’s time to reevaluate how your marketing is focused.
5. Get your tax paperwork in order and look for tax benefits.
An essential step in new year preparation is your tax paperwork. If you’re a business in the U. S., the last thing you want to do in January is a scramble for paperwork. So get your tax paperwork, including your 1099s, filed to avoid the penalties and fees. Once your paperwork is prepared, you can focus on the year ahead.
Independent contractors should already have their business tax forms for filing. If necessary, go to your accountant’s office and request your own. For employers who pay their employees in cash or who are self-employed, there are tax advantages that can help offset some of their taxes. If your business is seasonal, check out deductions for “seasonal workers” (like gardeners or landscapers) working for multiple firms during the same tax year.
6. Clean and organize your physical office space.
A clean, organized office can make a big difference in the quality of work you produce and boost your productivity.
- Clear off shared desktops, bookshelves, and other obstructions that add to clutter or distract from productivity.
- Organize office supplies using a storage system or whatever makes sense to your workflow. The key is usability and simplicity.
- Remove unneeded furniture, file cabinets, or outdated technology.
- Consider using a cleaning service to do a thorough cleaning of the space.
- Clear any paperwork that is optional or needs to be updated.
Use this time to reevaluate what you need in your office and make any necessary changes to maximize productivity. Of course, purging and cleaning will vary depending on your office type. Still, your end goal is to remove anything unneeded and create a clean, healthy environment conducive to productivity.
7. Remove problem employees.
Sometimes an employee needs to be a better fit for your business. While dismissals are always tricky, retaining a bad employee isn’t the answer. It drains company resources and prevents employees from finding jobs more suited to their skill set.
8. Update your business website.
The beginning of the year is a strategic time to update the company website. Most businesses are just beginning plans to use online marketing to grow their business. So it makes sense to coordinate these efforts with a website update. You’re also likely to have a clearer picture of what you want your business to look like after the new year. This means you can optimize your planning and incorporate messages into your website that connect with your customers and enhance your marketing efforts.
9. Plan your social media and blog content for the next 6 months.
Jumpstart your content calendar by planning your social media and blog content for the next six months. Every business is subject to change, whether you’re a small business or a large corporation. With the advent of new technology and the growing popularity of social media and blogging, companies must constantly evolve to stay relevant to their customers and stay in business.
A content plan ensures that you provide regular, helpful content to your website’s blog and viewers. It also keeps a steady flow of updates on social media to stay in the customer’s mindset and remain relevant.
10. Plan for wellness, downtime, vacations, and mental health.
Many of us look forward to the beginning of the year. However, some people feel anxious and stressed over all the upcoming changes, including those that come in January. If you’re among the many who dread the coming of a new year, you may be surprised to discover that there are some simple actions you can take now to avoid getting overwhelmed in the new year. Everyone needs a break, and it’s a good idea to plan for it. By planning for wellness, mental breaks, and time away from work, you and your staff will benefit physically, emotionally, and mentally. Your business will benefit from it also.
11. Seek marketing help when necessary.
If you’re starting with marketing, it’s typical for a small business to struggle with the basics. You may be wasting money on poor results if you don’t know what you should be doing or how to do it. Marketing is about reaching people using the best method at an optimal time so that you can connect with them. There’s a lot to be learned.
Even if you’re confident about all your marketing plans and strategies, don’t hesitate to seek outside help to ensure you hit the ground running. Your company’s marketing plan is only as effective as its implementation. So consider hiring a marketing agency to help you with this process. Whether you hire for a full-service agency, or a smaller firm, having the support of a third party can be invaluable.
The common mistake people make in the new year is putting too much pressure on themselves to produce more profits, improve their work, or make more money. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for business success. Everyone has a different approach. One size does not fit all. But, if you approach the year with realistic goals, good planning, and the mindset to succeed, the new year will be more than worth it.
If you need help organizing and planning the new marketing year, contact a representative at Cooperata for more information on managing your business and campaigns.