Year End Tips for Small Business Owners

The holidays are almost over and you’re looking forward to the new year.  You may have taken some time off in December to spend with family and friends and your business has taken a back seat.  In a day or two it’s time to get back into the swing of things.  For the new year, what should you do with your business?

Make sure you’ve attended to all your corporate formalities – holding an annual meeting and putting your minutes in your corporate book, assembling all your receipts and records for your accountant, and making any last-minute charitable contributions.  But what about the bigger picture?

First, take a few minutes to clear your head of any negative thoughts about the previous year.  We all make mistakes and it’s important to learn from them and move on rather than dwell on them and torture ourselves.  If you’re obsessing over a screwup, write it down on a sheet of paper and under that write some instructions on how you’d avoid that screwup in the future.  Stare at it for no more than five minutes.  Then shred it.  Let it go.  Deep breaths.  In…2…3…4…Out…2…3…4.  All clear?  Good. 

Next, dig out your business plan.  If you don’t have one, that’s your assignment for January.  Having a business plan – written down, not just in your head – is crucial to maintaining your focus and keeping your business on track.  If you have a business plan, read through it.  Don’t just scan it, but really read it.  Have you met any of the objectives?  Is it time to raise the bar?  Have you fallen short?  Why are your numbers not where they should be?

Next, step away from your business, physically and mentally, and try to look at it from the perspective of your clients and potential clients.  This is often the most difficult task facing any business owner, which is why business coaches are so valuable.  You can find fault in anyone else’s operations but try to look at your own and it’s as if you’re standing in a fog.  If you’re having a really hard time, contact some of your clients and ask them some questions – how was their experience, what would they improve, what do your competitors offer that you don’t?  Ask your employees the same questions.  And really listen.

It’s important that you take the information you receive from this analysis to heart.  It’s easy to continue doing the same things over and over again, even if they’re not working, because it’s comfortable.  It isn’t easy to take a risk and switch things up.  But, as my favorite internet consultant constantly tells me, “it’s not a tattoo.”  You can certainly go back to the way things were if the new approach doesn’t work.  But if you’re falling short of your projections it may be worth shaking up the snowglobe.

We all make New Year’s resolutions, right?  Mostly about losing weight, exercising, maybe quitting smoking.  When you’re making your list this year, don’t forget your business.  Here are some examples from my list:

1.  Attend a brand new networking event every month.

2.  Follow up on every new contact I make at each networking event.  

3.  Review my business plan every quarter.  

4.  Network with others in my field, even competitors.

5.  Learn more about how to use social media in my marketing efforts.

These examples aren’t unique to the legal profession.  Anyone in business can use them.  I’d encourage you to make your own list and post it in the comments section of this article so others can benefit.  

I wish you happiness and prosperity in the new year!