December has always been a time for introspection, reflection and strategizing for me. I use December to plan for the year ahead rather than waiting until January. Taking this approach has always proven successful as it means in January when others are doing this work, I am a month ahead. It is something which I recommend all business owners do. By the time it gets to January, you are most likely doing to be totally out of sync after all of the Christmas and New year festivities and will need a little time to get back into the groove of things.
So, if you want 2022 to be better than 2021, why not follow my end of year process by completing the following before December 31st:
- Review your financial performance
So often we hide from finances because we don’t want to deal with the reality. However, sometimes the reality is much better than we thought. We won’t know unless we check. Take some time to review your projections and compare them to your actual performance. If you earnt less than you expected, you can start to consider the reasons why. If you overspent, you can start to consider how to cut back moving forward. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to business finances. The more you know about your financial performance, the more you can do to improve upon it in the year ahead.
- Set goals
As cliché as it sounds, goal setting for the new year is a great way of ensuring you have a productive year. How do you achieve success if you aren’t clear on the destination? Get clear by setting SMART goals that get you closer to your vision. I recommend 3 – 5 goals for the year, with quarterly or monthly KPI’s to help you track your performance towards the goal. You should always have financial/sales goals. Decide how much revenue you want to generate for the year and create a turnover goal. Being clear on what needs to be achieved for the year ahead, will help you identify opportunities to pursue and opportunities to decline.
- Create a financial plan
After you have reviewed your finances and set your financial goals, then you need to plan for your future finances. Cash flow forecasts, profit and loss and budgets should all be created to give you a clear picture of your financial year ahead. This is not guess work, it is manifestation work. Plan your finances according to the amount of revenue you are aiming to secure. Use these financial metrics to feed into strategies and activities which you pursue. A financial plan can help ensure you stay motivated and focused as you step into the year ahead.
- Review your systems & processes
Are the systems and processes in your business fit for purpose? Reviewing them during this quiet time could drastically improve internal performance and external quality. Identify software that could help your business perform better and automations which can boost efficiency. You should also spend some time mapping out your customer/client journey and identify areas where additional value can be added through amending a process or automating specific elements. If you are organised and structured at the start of the year, your business will run more more efficiently and most importantly, profitably, as less time will be wasted.
- Decide strategies
Review the strategies which you employed this year and how well they worked and decide the strategies which you will pursue this year in order to achieve your goals. Take into consideration internal strengths and external opportunities. I always find it useful to complete a SWOT analysis followed by a TOWS Matrix in order to generate new ideas for strategies to pursue. Think about how you can be more innovative in how you approach business growth in 2022. Generate new ideas for what you offer, how you offer it and how you can stand out in the marketplace. Be clear on the direction of travel for 2022 and you will waste less time jumping from one thing to the next.
- Identify & Plan for Risk
Failing to plan is planning to fail! Another cliché, but absolutely true. If you want 2022 to be a great year, then you need to consider all of the things which could impact your business. Think of every area of your business and identify key risks which could occur, plan for preventing them from occurring and plan for reducing the impact if they occur. Ensure that you regularly check in to see if any of the risks escalate and require further attention as the year progresses. Doing this could prevent you from being negatively impacted by something which you could have very easily planned for. Start the year with a clear understanding of what you need to watch out for.
- Thank your customers/clients & staff
Your business can only survive if people/businesses buy from you. If you have had consistent customers and clients during the year, make sure you let them know that they are valued and appreciated. Say thank you! Demonstrating appreciation could be the difference between them coming back next year and looking for an alternative. In addition to thanking them, ask them for feedback on how you can improve your products and services.
If you have staff, then they have played a pivotal part in getting your business through the year. IF you want them to stay motivated and committed, ensure that you thank them too. One of the key reasons staff stop performing is due to feeling unappreciated. Don’t let your staff feel that way.
- Treat yourself
You have made it to the end of another year and you are still in business. Treat yourself!! Even if you haven’t achieved everything you set out to. Even if you suffered setbacks and failures. Take the lessons and do better next year. But for now, celebrate yourself. Commit to doing something nice for yourself to tell yourself well done for making it. Without you there is no business, let your business treat you! If you end of the year with self gratitude, you can start the year with self motivation!
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