The New Year is almost upon us! And what a year it has been. 2020 was a year that turned pretty much everything on its head. Despite the challenges, we’ve been impressed by the turnaround we’ve seen across the country. People and businesses, especially small businesses, adjusted to restrictions and overcame hardships in a truly impressive way. For those people that think 2021 is going to just be “more of the same,” we would like to be more optimistic. And why shouldn’t the New Year be better? To help make that happen, we’ve compiled a list of some ways you can start making that happen.
Now is the time to start prepping for a new year and a new quarter, both of which are daunting tasks during a “normal” year. But don’t lose your head just because things are different. Approach adversity calmly and with a plan. If your business is one that slows down during the holidays, take advantage of that extra time. See the lull in business as an opportunity. Review what happened over the last year and start to plan for the next. This could mean organizing your finances, setting new goals, going over web and print content, communicating with your team, or something totally different.
What can you do?
1. Run reports
Some parts of running a business are just plain boring—but necessary. One of these is financial reporting which, unless you’re a regular accountant, is downright unappealing. Still, it is important to complete your financial reports at year’s ends, not just for tax and accounting purposes, but for business reasons as well. Critical reports include an income statement, a balance sheet, and statement of cash flows. Get these done during the lull in business, either with your accounting team, your financial manager(s), your outsourced team, your partner(s), or just yourself in a closed office with a cup of coffee. For those of us who don’t excel at this type of work, there is software that can help. QuickBooks is one of the most popular and well-known of these tools, and it makes running reports and managing the number-crunching parts of your business easier.
2. Plan strategically
Now that you’ve reviewed your own past performance, it is time to look forward. This is where setting goals becomes important. No doubt, your business already has certain core objectives that drive it. While these are often considered “set in stone,” it does not hurt to review top objectives before working your way down to smaller concerns. Do your business objectives still align with what you and your team are working towards? Are they still possible? The answers could surprise you if it’s been a long time since reviewing your mission statement. Covid-19 has also brought sudden, dramatic change to the social and economic landscape, so there is that to consider as well.
When it comes time to review other goals for your company, think about what you could be doing better, what you want to change about your business, and what you want to keep doing. If you did not meet your goals for the current year, then you will want to adjust your expectations for the coming year if necessary, forecast how changes made now will affect your ability to hit those goals, and put those new expectations down in writing, communicating them to all employees.
If it has been a long time since you performed a SWOT analysis of your business, this can be another consideration during your goal setting. If you are unfamiliar, SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.” This analysis helps business leaders identify what their company excels at, what they could do better, how they can grow, and which competitors and negative externals forces make them vulnerable.
3. Review your website
Next, it is good practice to review your website. For one thing, if your business engages in ecommerce, then you want to be prepared for a boost in traffic (assuming you’re selling something that is more popular during the holidays). Is your website able to sustain two or three times the volume of traffic it normally does without slowing down and hurting the customer’s experience? If not, that could be a problem. Another thing that could harm a customer’s experience is a poorly designed or maintained user interface. Is your site simple to navigate? Can a customer quickly find the information he or she is looking for? What about ordering the items they want? Does everything on your site work? If you have not reviewed your site for some time (or you aren’t paying anyone to actively review it for you), then you might be surprised by the answer.
Similarly, the content on your website should be up-to-date and reflect any changes that have been made. Your website is the front page of your business, and it is often where people go first. As they say, you only have one chance to make a great first impression. You want to be clean, precise, and professional; you also don’t want to have any mistakes, errors, or broken elements, all of which could be detrimental to a person’s first impression. There’s a reason that car dealerships usually have such nice showrooms; you may not be buying the showroom, but when the place is upscale, clean, and modern, you have a better shopping experience, making you more inclined to leave with a new car.
4. Communicate with your team
At this point, it is a good idea to schedule times to sit down with your employees and let them know how they are doing. This time can be used to encourage employees to keep up the great work they have been doing; it is also an opportunity to bring to their attention some areas that could use improvement for a more successful year ahead. During these sit-downs, you should also be open to feedback from your team, as well. Ask them what they need to be their best. Ask them what is and isn’t working. You should even be willing to hear what you could be doing better from their perspective. While not all employees will take you up on this offer and list things they don’t like, most should still appreciate the gesture—especially when it’s more than a gesture. Taking action on what you learn from these meetings is a powerful way to earn your employees’ respect and keep them around for the long term.
This is also the time that you can publish those shiny new business goals you have. Ideally, you would have gotten input before setting more objectives, but for those who weren’t involved, here’s a great chance to share! Remember, the whole company should know at least the overarching goals of the company. This way, there’s never a “what are we doing?” moment. You may discover during your evaluations that you need to hire new staff to grow your business. Don’t forget that those new employees need to be onboarded; part of that transition is sharing your key goals.
5. Take a break
Once all is said and done, you should—and we mean this—take a break! You’ve earned it. Seriously. There wasn’t much time to get everything done during this stressful time of the year, but you found a way to make it happen. If you have them, use those remaining vacation, holiday, or sick days to extend the holidays just a little further. Nothing will be more detrimental to your business and your personal life than letting yourself get burnt out. Take this time to rest, relax, and recharge your batteries before the New Year gets underway. Remember, you have all these new, awesome goals to hit! It’s going to be a lot of work. With a rested body and mind, however, you’ll feel ready to get back to it. Now go make the New Year the best ever in your company’s history!
Ring in the New Year!
Now that you’ve run your financial reports, strategically planned, reviewed your website, communicated with your team, and—of course—taken a much deserved break, you can feel confident that your 2021 is going to be the best year on record. And once it starts being the best ever, let us know! We can’t wait to hear all of your great success stories. Drop us a comment or tweet us @MachadoConsultg and let us know!