We are going through the top 10 things that any small business should do at year-end so you can end this year well and launch into the next year with positive momentum.
Last time we discussed 5 of them. Check out this article for part 1.
Below are the final 5.
5. Create a Business Development and Marketing Plan
Have you noticed how easy It is to get trapped into putting out fires and spending all your time on urgent and important tasks? What about those things that are important but not urgent yet? As we enter a new year, it is important to put together a business development and marketing strategy and tactics. What are you going to do each week to grow your business? We should have a growth mindset and continue to look for ways to grow. Here are some ideas.
- Reach out to a certain number of contacts or prospects each week.
- Put out content on a regular basis via a newsletter or email and post on social media. Top of mind awareness is important.
- Come up with a list of networking events you want to attend.
- Set up speaking opportunities so you are an authority on a topic.
- Put together an event or lunch and learn.
Get this on the calendar in Q1 so you will remember to do them. Write down these goals or schedule them on a project management tool like Asana. What gets scheduled gets done or at least has a much higher chance.
4. Accounts Receivable Collections
I have a client that used to have messy Accounts Receivable (AR) with invoices over 60 and 90 days past due. In the last year, we worked on a bi-weekly process to send out the aging reports to key Directors with commentary and action items. We made an effort to reach out via email much more regularly. The AR is so much cleaner now. If you consistently follow up with clients on past due invoices, it will get much cleaner. If you email invoices, you might find that a new person should be receiving the invoice or it got lost in email. It is much easier to collect an invoice that is new than very old invoices. Stay as current as possible, and your cash flow will improve.
In today’s busy world, it is easy to just not take the time to reflect on how things are going. In Michael Hyatt’s course “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever“, he has you review your successes and setbacks in the last year. We all know that it is difficult to hit every goal, but also you will find that you did have some wins that should be celebrated.
I have heard that having a regular cadence with your team asking the following questions can be helpful:
- What is working right now?
- What is something that is broken? A process, system, report, team etc.?
- What is something we missed? Revenue, expenses, opportunities?
- What is something we are confused about?
I used to have a rose bush that seemed to be growing out of control. I had to prune it or it just didn’t look good. If I did a good pruning each year, there would be more roses and it looked great in the Spring. The same concept works for a business. Sometimes we have to go through our meetings, processes, and expenses and do a good pruning.
We know that expenses have a tendency to increase. There seems to always be the need to hire more people. Even recurring expenses like software, subscriptions, and other technologies never go away. They just keep increasing. We should regularly ask ourselves the following questions regarding expenses:
- Am I using this software, and is it worth the cost?
- Are all my employees providing the value that I am paying? If not, is it training, or are they the right fit for the position?
- Have I reviewed my insurance, credit card fees, travel expenses?
- How are my expenses as compared to last year or even 2 years ago?
My favorite thing to do especially at this time of year is to put together a forecast for the next 12 months. If you have current financials, you can use this to develop a revenue, expense, and cash flow forecast over the next 12 months. I wrote about this recently in my article called “The Best Way to Increase Clarity over the next 12 Months“. Here is what a good forecast tells you:
- When your business could be in a cash crunch.
- How profitable the next year could be based on current revenue and expense trends.
- Different scenarios based on assumptions so you can quickly make adjustments.
- How much new business does your business need to be profitable?
- When you can or should hire or expand?
A New Year is Time for a Fresh Start
I like the beginning of a new year because it is a new slate of opportunities, goals, and growth. We can set new habits and new goals, and this can be exciting. We know we have to work hard and be strategic, but we can also experience the fruits of that labor. I get a weekly email from James Clear and he said something which I find encouraging…
Hard work is not always something you can see. It is not always physical effort. In fact, the most powerful form of hard work is thinking clearly. Designing a winning strategy may not look very active, but make no mistake: it is very hard work. Strategy often beats sweat.
Be strategic and take action next year.