By now many of you carved the turkey and enjoyed the last slice of pumpkin pie. In the United States, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a string of holidays, festivities, parties, celebrations and more! It is tempting to float through the end of the year putting things off until January, but this will virtually guarantee loss of income and productivity.
Follow these 10 Steps NOW before cashing it in and calling it a year!
1. Create a Budget for 2014: Create an accurate projection your income and expenses to the best of your ability. Get clear on what you know you can do and define your stretch goals for profitability. Ensure you account for all the money coming in and all the money going out that you possibly can.
2. Review and Evaluate All of the Expenses Your Business Accrued this Year: Notice any surprise expenses that popped up. Where did you spend more than you expected and where did you save? Make sure you plan for the unexpected and give yourself breathing room. It's also important to plan for investments that will allow your business to grow like finding a mentor, paying for advertising and marketing, and covering fees for membership in professional associations and attending conferences.
3. Plan Your Vacation Time and Get Away's: That's right! Why did you get into business in the first place? For more Freedom, right? Make sure you hold true to your big WHY and build in the time and a budget for fun, adventure, romance, or whatever makes your World go round.
4. Roll Out Your Price Increase: As a Business owner your expenses will go up every year, it's inevitable. If you don't consistently increase your prices your income will actually go down every year even if you maintain the same volume of business. Scary right? Now go take action!
5. Cut the Fat: Uncover any of the hidden fees or services you are paying for but aren't really using or have not been receiving a positive return on your investment. Change vendors or services if you aren't seeing the value in what you are paying for or if the delivery just isn't up to par.
6. Re-Evaluate and Review all Employees and Contractors: Evaluate performance vs. goals and the agreed upon deliverables. If someone is delivering significantly beyond expectation increase their salary or rate as appropriate. In cases of under performance, discuss corrective action; re-establish goals, performance metrics and expectations. Determine if your employees or contractors need additional training. Identify the changes needed by them, you or both parties to get back on track as soon as possible. This is typically your biggest expense! It is worth the extra time, evaluation and effort to make sure the return on investment is right.
7. Get Your Sales Process Locked and Loaded: Clients are the heartbeat of your business. From your lead generation system, to your pipeline, to client retention and everything in between make sure you have documented, automated (where possible) processes in place. Make sure all the dots are connected. Address your plan for new client generation, re-activation of former clients and retention and appreciation of the current ones. Make sure your team has an exact and precise road map to follow that delivers the results you want consistently not sporadically. If you are not an expert in this area get help! It's too important not to get it right.
8. Get your accounting 100% clean and up to date: Ensure that you capitalize on the maximum number of deductions available to you for tax purposes. Ask your bookkeeper to send you p&l's and reports to review for income, expenses, categories of expenses etc.
9. Determine how you will invest in your development as a Business Owner and Leader: You can pretty much assume that when you stop growing, so will your business. Decide how you want to grow over the next 12 months and begin researching the resources, organizations and individuals that can help you develop as a person and as a business leader.
10. Thank your clients: At the end of the day they keep the lights on and the heat running. They allow you to achieve your dreams. A simple thank you note speaks volumes!
The list could go on, but these are my top strategic focus areas. These top ten have allowed me to come out of the gate strong and keep the momentum going throughout the entire year!