We have two weeks left in 2016. I don’t know about you, but this year has flown by. Now is the time to start building momentum for 2017. Before the holidays really take hold, I am looking over what all has happened over the last 12 months, and I want to give you some tips on how you as a small business owner can evaluate and improve your practical processes for the new year.
1. Analyze your day-to-day operations and procedures manual - Though surprises always reveal themselves in sometimes inconvenient ways, your business maintains a level of routine. If you run a small business, you may have an easier time adjusting this routine than a larger corporation. If you have hourly team members, evaluate your scheduling practices to see if you utilize their abilities efficiently (i.e. seeing if a shift requires two people or four people for optimal customer service). If you have more of an office environment, look at how you can improve your task management system or if you can implement a regular meeting format. Keep a monthly journal of how each change provides or detracts value, so you can have something to review at the end of next year.
2. Get all your financial statements prepared for tax season - The first of the year can be incredibly hectic and stressful as you try to navigate new procedures, new hires or new clients. In addition, you need to take care of your employees and provide them their tax documents by the end of the month. Instead of letting everything build up, why not start taking care of those responsibilities now? Enlist the help of your in-house accountant to verify everything is correct. If that option is not available, plenty of outside resources exist specifically for this purpose.
3. Know how you will expand your brand and profit in the next year - Hopefully, you set some marketing and sales objectives at the beginning of this year. If so, use these last few days to truthfully evaluate your successes and failures. Even if you missed some opportunities, include them in next year's list. Plan out your marketing budget and include a portion for digital strategy, website development, email marketing and social media. Develop a content calendar and stick to it. Set up quarterly meetings to check on the analytics and progress of these initiatives. If you have a customer or client mailing or email list, send them a Christmas card and include an end-of-the-year survey that asks for feedback on how to provide better service in 2017.
4. Discover more about your team - Your team is the heartbeat of your company, so decide on ways to help them feel valued on a daily basis. Engage them with a year-end review, help them find and schedule professional development training or conferences for the new year, throw a Christmas or New Year's Eve party and if you can afford it, a Christmas bonus. January 1st marks a fresh start and you want to have everyone on the same page and buzzing with excitement.