Wrapping up the year

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As the end of 2013 approaches, don’t get so caught up in the parties and wrapping paper that you forget to spend time on your business. Take a few moments to prepare for the New Year so that your business doesn’t suffer from a post-holiday hangover.

The end of 2013 is fast approaching and you may be feeling added pressure as we move towards the holiday season. The lead up to Christmas is a peak time for many businesses so the focus is on delivering great service on time and meeting the increased demand from customers. Others may experience a slowing down of trade, which brings pressure to bear on their cash flow. Most of us get caught up in the busyness of adding end-of-year celebrations to our already-tight schedule.

All of this can leave you feeling exhausted and the thought of forward-planning seems beyond you. You just want to stop, even for just a few days around Christmas and New Year. It is great to enjoy the festive season and you may tell yourself that you’ll get back into action once you’ve had a few days’ rest and relaxation. You deserve it. All that planning can wait!

However, once you’ve donned the holiday T’shirt and enjoyed putting your feet up for a while, the return to action can appear daunting. Even if you’re ready to go, a lot of your suppliers, associates or customers may still be on holiday. Your plans to get into action can be thwarted, leaving you frustrated. You run the risk of putting your planning aside with the promise to “get back to it” and begin another year using the “hit and miss” approach.

How good would it feel to know you are set up, ready to fly as soon as you return to your business? Take a look at what you can do in December so that your return is something to look forward to. Here are a few ideas you can easily implement:

Your Work Environment:

Make sure your equipment or machinery is ready when you are. Plan to undertake maintenance during the holiday down-time. Check out what your team is qualified to do and what you have to leave to specialists. Map this out and order in parts and supplies to ensure you have them on hand.

Come back to an organised office. Take the time to de-clutter your office and put things in order before heading off for your holiday. When you return to a clear, clean space, you’ll be able to work more productively. Returning to the same old clutter can slow you down before you start.

Your Head Space:

Get an objective view. Ask your customers and suppliers for some honest feedback on how things went this year. Ask for their suggestions for improvement. Make this part of your end-of-year communication and celebration with them. If you’re in business on your own, you’ll get valuable perspective on things you may not pick up yourself. If you have a team, ask for their input as well. Listen to their ideas for improvement and solutions.

Set the roadmap for the year ahead. Know where you’re heading before you start. Create some goals that you want to hit in the upcoming year. Make them interesting and exciting so you look forward to them. Make sure you put down the “Who, What, When and Where” so that reaching each goal is easier. Having this in place before the end of this year means you won’t have to find the energy and inspiration at the beginning of the next. You’ll be able to hit the ground running instead of stalling while you wait for ideas to develop.

Call on other’s expertise. For a truly objective view, book some time with one of the mentors from the Small Business Mentoring Service (SBMS). Draw on their expertise to assess your current situation and to map out ideas you can implement to grow your business. Log onto the TSBI website and check out how you can use services like Rent a Board to provide valuable feedback for your business. Put an appointment in place for 2014. This is an excellent resource and you’ll benefit from ideas coming out of multiple minds, not just your own.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Buy books to read over the holiday period by business professionals who have created success in your industry or who you admire. Learn from their mistakes and tune in to their insights to inspire you and to give you hints and tips that will help. Check out the SBMS website for free resources such as the Business Planning tools. Make the whole process easier on yourself.

Your money:

 

Take care of business. Attend to your financials and create a budget for the year ahead. Link this with the goals you’ve created. Your success in attaining your goals increases when you’ve managed your funds.

Make sure you reach your desired income. Set sales targets throughout the year and record them in a visual way to help you measure your progress. It’s a lot easier to aim for your targets on an ongoing basis once you have laid them out over the year.

Ask for help. Log onto the SBMS website and download the free Financial Tools. Use these to help you answer the hard questions and plan out your financial journey. There’s a variety of tools to choose from.

Develop your skills. Check out the TSBI site for events coming up in 2014 where you can gain confidence in your financial and business management skills. Plan to nurture yourself in the New Year by developing your abilities and knowledge.

Your message:

Plan to promote. Map out the number and timing for your key promotional activities and get this out onto your 2014 calendar so you have plenty of preparation time. Chart out when you will need to make bookings, have your promotional material printed and what you need to prepare to be ready for each event. Check out the website for your local council and Business Victoria to see what business expo’s and events are on offer throughout the year. Plan to be involved to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can.

Start being sociable. If you communicate with your target market through social media, put down some ideas for your blogs, posts and articles. This can save you scratching your head when you need to create them during the year. If you want to be really organised, you can write up a whole year’s worth of material during your holiday break. This will save you time and effort when your schedule gets busy. Having some ideas down on paper makes a great starting point. You’ll find also more information in Marketing & Sales Tools section of the SBMS site.

Create a team for your promotions. Think about who you would like to collaborate with over the year to make your promotional activities more interesting and varied. Don’t limit yourself to pumping out the same material. Create a plan with other business professionals and book in times to plan, prepare and implement your strategies for particular events or timeframes.

Plan a great year.

The lead up to Christmas provides a great opportunity for you to assess how you’ve gone this year and plan where you want to go in 2014. Don’t take your frustrations from 2013 into the coming year. Take stock of the resources and skills you will need to grow your business. Get in touch with SBMS and draw on their guidance and support. You don’t have to do everything on your own! The SBMS mentors and the TSBI office are available right throughout the year. The office will only be closed for two weeks over the holiday period so take advantage of the opportunity to be in contact.

Plan to have a great 2014. By being prepared, you’ll be able to relax during the holiday period and enjoy the time with your family and friends instead of worrying about what you need to do next year.

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