Confession: I’m writing this blog post while curled up on the couch with some hot chocolate and watching Christmas with the Kranks. If you’re anything like me, the last couple of weeks of the year can be full of fun distractions and some well-deserved downtime. Clients are usually a little bit quieter. Projects are finishing up. Business slows down until the first of the year.
But before you jump headfirst into the holidays, run through this business checklist to make sure you’re set up for success in the new year.
(And if you’re looking to launch your business in the new year, get started with this business planning guide.)
Start by taking some time to reflect on this year. What were your biggest successes? Stumbling blocks? What did you learn from your experiences? If you set yearly goals at the beginning of last year, consider which of those you achieved and where you needed to adjust.
Dedicated time for reflection allows you to have a deeper understanding of your business which leads to more strategic decision making in the future.
However, don’t focus solely on the business aspects of your life. Think about your lifestyle, stress levels, what clients you loved working with and those you didn’t. Remember why you started your business. If there are key things that you’d like to change based on your experiences over the last 12 months, now is the time!
Everyone loves talking about New Year’s Resolutions in January, but get a jump on the new year by planning ahead during the last few weeks of December. This means you’ll be able to hit the ground running after the holidays while everyone else is just entering “planning mode”.
When it comes to business planning, I think in terms of two categories: Goals and Actions. Goals are the overarching outcomes that I want to achieve by a particular deadline. For example, in 2017, my goal is to enroll 10 students per month in my Side Hustle Starter Kit. I also want to read 50 books over the course of the year. What outcomes will be most meaningful to you? Once I outline my goals, I list the actions that will be needed to achieve them.
Breaking recurring actions down into Daily, Weekly, and Monthly tasks will help you stay on top of your progress. Do you want to write a blog post every week? Review your goals and finances each month? These longer-term commitments should be smaller tasks and easier to achieve but also directly impact your goals so that everything is moving in the right direction.
This blog post gives you more insight on my goal planning and tracking system to help make sure that your New Year’s Resolutions aren’t a distant memory by February.
The holidays are the perfect time of year to remember and reconnect with your clients. Consider sending Christmas cards or offering a holiday special that is available just for your clients. This will help build a loyal following for your business and also encourage repeat and referral business over the (traditionally slow) first part of the year.
Take time to rest and recharge over the slower holiday season. Do it. As entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and side hustlers, we tend to put ourselves last. Businesses, jobs, and families come first and most of the time, that’s perfectly fine. But take one of my favorite reminders to heart this holiday season…
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Meditate. Get a massage. Go on vacation. Sleep. Turn off your computer. Whatever you need to do to make sure that you’re rested and ready to go after the first of the year. Because what you do is important, but it doesn’t work without you.
Second confession of this blog post: I’m a complete organizational nerd. I love this stuff and will take any opportunity to clean, purge, and reorganize. But in truth, the beginning of the year is the perfect time to make sure your business, workspace, and computer is in order.
Start with your business as a whole. What processes can you improve? Do you have a client management system that is working for you? How are you tracking your finances? Speaking of finances, now is the perfect time to make sure that you have all of your revenue and expenses for the year recorded and organized so that you’re ready to go when tax season comes around.
Then, move on to your computer. If you’re like me, by the end of the year you end up with a million files on your desktop that haven’t made it to their permanent home yet. File your important documents in appropriate folders, backup client work to a hard drive, and then purge the rest from your computer. The same goes for your email (gasp!). Find a folder system that works for you and stick with it in the new year.
Finally, refresh and organize your workspace. Get rid of unnecessary documents on your desk, non-work related things that have found their way to your office, and that stack of coffee cups that’s been collecting since July. Starting the year with a fresh and inspiring space will help make the goals you set for the next 12 months that much more achievable.
Do yourself a favor over the last couple of weeks of the year and check these things off your list in between Christmas movies, holiday parties, and time with family. When the ball drops on the new year and life starts returning to normal, you’ll be feeling confident, refreshed, motivated and ready to take on the world in your newly organized workspace (hopefully with a few clients in the works).
Best of luck in the new year! Now, I’m off to watch Home Alone.