January is approaching fast and so is 2022. This has been another challenging year in the small business world but as the year draws to a close, it is important to start planning for next year. Many of us make personal New Year’s resolutions whether it be going to the gym or working out, trying to eat healthier, or discovering a new hobby. But how many small business owners make New Year’s resolutions regarding their businesses?
December is a great time to reflect on your past year and get ready for the new one ahead. Evaluating your business over the past year will not only help you to see what worked and what didn’t but it will inform decisions you need to make for the upcoming year.
So here are some tips to get your small business ready for 2022:
Reflect on what worked and what didn’t work in 2021.
Features: are my specific products and services solving specific problems that my customers have?
Does my business have distinctive competencies over my competitors?
Marketing: which channels am I using to market my business (blog, email, social media, etc.)?
Which ones have I received the most ROI from or the most qualified leads?
Are there any channels that I should be adding this year?
Time management: What did my schedule look like this past year?
How can I create more time to focus on strategy for my company?
Are there ways that I can automate some of the day-to-day tasks that are necessary but time wasters?
Make sure that you are capturing your customers’ emails
Did you build up your email list over the course of the past year?
If not, how can you change that this year?
Make sure that you are capturing your customers’ emails by offering them something in return. This could be in the form of some tips, or a special offer.
Most small businesses are very busy over the holidays and it is important to capture those customers’ email so that you can re-engage them in your business’ down time. January is a perfect time to reach out to these clients. Consider using automated email or marketing to target them to return to your business.
Run your financial reports.
This is the ideal time to reflect and get a better understanding of how your business is performing financially.
Profit and loss statement - this is your income statement that details all of your business’ revenues, expenses and costs
Balance Sheet - this shows your business’ assets and liabilities, including any outstanding amounts owed to investors.
Cash flow statement - this shows how your business manages funds
If your business doesn’t have an accountant or someone that is in charge of your financial statements, think about investing in some accounting software.
Create your company goals.
Take a good look at your accomplishments this year. Did you meet your goals set last year?
Did your company reflect the mission statement or vision proposition that was set out last year?
This is the time to set some future goals. Set some objectives for your business. Then determine what strategies are going to help you achieve those goals. Lastly, make sure you determine the actions that will take you to your goals. It is a great idea to review these each quarter to make sure that you are on track.
Review your website and map out your content for the year.
First, review your website and make sure that it is user and mobile friendly. Make sure all of your information on your site is up to date.
Next, plan your upcoming online content goals for the next year. You do not need to map out each and every blog post, newsletter and social media post, however it is a good idea to consider your overall content strategy. If you are going to promote a particular product or service in the first quarter, brainstorm some ways to market to your target audience. Remember to consider times of year, seasons, holidays, etc. as these can all affect the way your content changes throughout the year.
Meet with your team.
Your small business is only as good as its employees. You should schedule time to speak with each team member one-on-one, and give them some feedback about their performance last year - what you liked best about working together this past 12 months; areas in need of improvement or change going forward?
As well, give them the opportunity to give their own feedback and ideas. This not only helps them feel heard but they may have many great ideas that you haven’t thought of.
It is also a great time to review and update your employee handbook and any standard operating procedures.
Think about new hires.
Once you have evaluated your business’ performance over the past year, you may come to realize that you need to hire new employees in the new year. Most small business owners state that hiring new employees is the most challenging task and can have the biggest impact.
Perhaps areas that aren’t performing well, need a new hire that can help or direct that area’s team?
If you are launching a new product or service you may need a new hire to head up that process.
The New Year is a great time to assess your staffing needs and plan out any new hirings. As it is challenging to find the right employees to fit your company’s needs and specific role, the importance of planning is paramount. It may take you some time to sift through resumes, conduct interviews until you find the right person. Some companies decided to outsource or automate some of the hiring process, but when it comes down to the actual hire, the small business owner needs to ensure that they are the right person for their company and specific role.
Take some time off.
As much as it is important and advantageous to get your company ready for the New Year, it is equally important for you as a business owner to take some time for yourself.
Taking the time to relax and recharge will allow you to reenter the workplace with a clearer head and renewed energy devoted to building your business in the New Year.