Get your business ready for the new year
Whether you’re a small business just starting out or you’re thoroughly entrenched in your daily business routine, this time of year can be hectic. Many businesses are pushing through the crazy holiday season and free time is very hard to come by. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore what lies ahead in 2021. So we’ve put together six items small businesses should complete before the end of the year to set themselves up for a profitable new year.
1. Keep your employees motivated
Even though it’s the season of good cheer, as we head toward the holidays with Covid-19 threatening everything we hold dear, the social obligations, endless decorating, Christmas shopping and shorter workweeks can lead to a weary, inattentive staff. The last thing you want, whether you have one employee or 100, is tired, unfocused workers as you wrap up the year.
If you want your company organized and ready to take on the new year, you need a staff that’s motivated and wants to do a good job. And since this is the time of year for giving thanks and showing gratitude, it’s the perfect time to make sure the people that make your business possible get an extra big serving of appreciation.
Obviously, a Christmas bonus is what every employee wants. It can help buy Christmas gifts, pay off bills or pay for a much-needed vacation. But since many small businesses can’t afford a big bonus check, something as easy as flexible work hours to help staff get their holiday obligations completed can be all that’s needed. Or maybe an offsite event to keep spirits high. If you run a small two-or-three person show, lunch away from the office or even a gift card to a local spa or salon can be all the high-fives an employee needs to feel appreciated.
If finances are tight and spending extra money or letting employees off early during holidays isn’t possible for your business, something as simple as a handwritten note or card to show your appreciation can keep your team members feeling valuable. Take the time to personally tell them what they mean to you and why your business is a success because of them. Everyone needs a little “atta boy” every once in a while. So make this one of the first things your small business completes before year-end.
2. Set your business goals for the new year
Do you want your business to grow? Then setting goals is a priority item your small business should complete by the end of the year. You have to know where you want to go and plan how to get there.
If you set goals for this year, then review those first. Make notes of what you did or didn’t accomplish and why or why not. Then keep those notes handy while setting up next year’s goals.
An easy tool to help you is SMART goals. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
- Specific- Define clear-cut goals that leave no wiggle room. Example: I will sell my candles on Etsy.
- Measurable- Use specific criteria to measure your progress toward a goal. Example: I will be ready to take my first order by the end of the month and want to sell 5 candles a week.
- Achievable- Set goals that are within reach and attainable. Example: I will promote my business by networking, referrals and social media to help sell 5 candles a week.
- Relevant- Make sure the goals make sense for you. Example: Selling handmade candles allows me to benefit financially from my hobby.
- Timely- Set a deadline to meet your goals. Example: I will have a month’s worth of candle inventory and my shop open in four weeks.
3. Get your company finances in order
Get together with your accountant or bookkeeper to thoroughly go over your profits, losses, revenue, cash flow and taxes before year’s end. Obviously, if your fiscal year-end is at a different time of year, you may be able to put this off. But by doing this now, if your end-of-year projections don’t look great, you still might have some time to make up any financial gaps. It’s also a good time to find any errors that you can correct before tax time.
Since December can be a busy time, it’s good to make this appointment as early as possible so you can get everything in order for next year. Some things you should try to accomplish:
- Pay any contracts or vendors in full before the end of the year
- Start preparing records for local, state and federal taxes
- Add up your estimated quarterly tax payments
- Update your employee records and tax information
- Review licenses and renew or apply for new ones you need
4. Complete a thorough company inventory
Taking inventory of everything in your company at year’s end is an important item for your checklist. It can be tedious, but it’s extremely valuable for cost savings and your bottom line.
From raw materials and finished goods to equipment, employees and product packaging, everything should be inventoried before the year comes to a close. If you offer a service instead of actual products for sale, do an inventory of the services you offer and see which ones sold and which ones didn’t.
Once your product or services inventory is done, you might discover it’s time to discontinue a particular service or product or maybe it’s time to add something new that customers are clamoring for more. This is the perfect time to plan a strategy for the year ahead to focus on in-demand items or services and eliminate those that drain company revenue or resources.
Once you’ve taken your inventory, make note of what is running low. Do you need more shipping boxes or shipping labels? What about packing materials for your products or ink for the printer? Now is a great time to restock your shelves with the essentials you need to run your business. Nothing is more frustrating than reaching for something that’s run out and has to be reordered.
5. Update & refresh your website & social media accounts
If you have a website and use social media for your business now is a good time to take stock of your accounts. This can be a very simple thing to cross off your year-end checklist.
Update your main image on your Facebook homepage and make sure your contact information is up to date. Clean up your Pinterest boards and delete any old or inactive pins. Swap out your pinned tweet on Twitter with an updated on-trend tweet.
At the same time, while taking inventory of your social media accounts, work on your social media strategy for the new year. How do you plan to create, and share your content and engage with customers that might be interested in your business? See what your customers engaged with this year and work to apply some of those same techniques this year.
6. Organize your work and office space
The best way to kick off the new year is with a clean, organized office and workspace. After the holidays you want to be able to come in and hit the ground running.
Take the time to go through your desk and discard or donate unnecessary items. If you found yourself always looking for scissors or shipping tape on your workspace, then create an easily accessible place where you can always find necessary items within hands’ reach.
If you own a storefront business, do a thorough cleaning of display racks, shelves, and cabinets. Clean out storage rooms, closets and supply cabinets.
Do you label, package and ship your own products? Create a workspace that helps you get it done faster and more efficiently. Check out these inexpensive label storage hacks that can help keep you more organized. If you ship a large amount of merchandise, create a shipping station with all the things you need in one place that will help prevent order errors and breakage.
These six items will help you get prepared and ready to start the new year with a bang. Once you’ve completed the list, make sure to reward yourself with a break. An end-of-year vacation benefits everyone, employees and small business owners alike.
Need to stock up on your product labels or shipping labels for the new year? We have all the labels, cards and tags you need. Print them yourself or let us professionally print them for you to make the new year even easier for your small business.
Do you have any tips or ideas for our small business readers to help start the new year strong? Let us know in the comments below.
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