Entrepreneur Ideas: Four things a business owner must do before year end
There is something unique about finishing out the business year.
Whether it was good or bad…whether you’re sad it’s over or happy it’s behind you…or even if you’re just wondering where those 12 months went, the prospect of turning the calendar and starting fresh can be incentive to get your company primed and ready for better productivity.
So when it’s tough to get someone on the phone in December, use the slow time to address these four “must-dos,” which will help you hit the ground running in the new year. (You’ll thank us in January.)
Dust off Your Business Plan
You do have one, right? (If not, get busy.)
Remember, the business plan is a sort of map, detailing where you want your business to be in one, two, or even five years down the road. You might be amazed at how much your company and your industry have changed since you first produced your plan, and the end of the year is an appropriate time to see how your real world progress compares to your earlier vision.
- How are you doing relative to long-term goals and plans?
- Regarding marketing and sales strategies, what’s working and what’s not?
- Have new competitors impacted the industry?
- Is it time to perform a new SWOT Analysis? (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
You can use the plan to evaluate and fine tune your strategy for the coming year, or even the coming quarter, if the situation demands it. Of course, if changes in the marketplace have made your plan outdated or just not very useful, you should consider a major re-write.
And after thoroughly reviewing the plan, be sure to share your insights and observations with your staff. They will appreciate it.
Check Your Business Finances
Sit down with your accountant to discuss the financial condition of your company. Consider this an annual look at the big picture, or a financial check-up.
Examine your balance sheets and income statements and compare them to last year’s. Were there unexpected costs that need to be controlled? Are you holding debt down to a reasonable level?
Besides looking at the big picture, take time to consider specific circumstances you can work to your advantage. For example, are you on track to beat profit estimates for the year? Congratulations…and it might be a good time to apply part of the profitability toward major equipment purchases in order to start taking advantage of potential depreciation expenses before the year is out. Your accountant can crunch the numbers for you.
And when you’re preparing for the meeting, also start pulling your transaction records together so you can reconcile all your activities – in bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts, and credit card accounts – after January 1.
Review Your Website
It’s easy to take an auto-pilot approach when it comes to your company’s website. Other priorities and the day-to-day grind of running the business can relegate your web presence to a permanent back-burner status – and that’s never good.
The end of the year is a good time to kick the tires on your site to make sure it does what you need it to do. At a minimum, you should double-check the little things:
- Is contact information correct?
- Are personnel biographies accurate?
- Do the outbound links on your site work properly?
- Are product and service descriptions current, and do they include compelling calls to action?
Consider conducting a staff brainstorming session to discuss ways to make your site more effective. And be sure to include people from throughout the company, not just IT and sales.
If it’s time to update and improve your site’s look, get the work scheduled and try to have it rolling in early January.
Tip: A newly updated website gives you a perfect reason to contact inactive accounts or promising prospects with an email urging them to, “check out our new website, which launched January 3rd.” Be sure to point out case studies, testimonials and similar content that will be of particular interest to them.
Get in the holiday spirit and take time to thank the people who helped you make it through another year. That means customers, vendors and, especially, your employees.
Employee appreciation doesn’t have to mean giant cash bonuses (although probably no one would turn you down), but it does mean you should take the time to reflect on the year’s successes – big and small – and show your appreciation for those that helped make it all happen.
If a holiday party isn’t in the budget, consider having a staff lunch catered, or inserting coffee shop gift cards or movie passes into pay envelopes sometime in early December. Another very popular and appreciated option: close the office early on a Friday to let your employees catch up on holiday shopping and errands.
Is cash flow a constant problem for your company? MP Star Financial can help. Call for more information. (800) 833-3765, extension 150.