Now that December has arrived, it's time to make some smart moves to set up your company for an even better next year.
Here's my seven-point checklist for entrepreneurs at the year's end:
1. Set the stage for growth.
Can your company accommodate the growth forecast for next year? Review your projections for next year and be sure to plan appropriately in each area of the budget.
Do you have the sales staff to meet the revenue goals? Have you adequate office space to accommodate the hires? How will an increased number of clients strain customer service? Will an increased amount of traffic affect Internet costs?.
2. Get the books in order.
If you haven’t been doing your books monthly and paying taxes or setting aside money, you’re on the naughty list. Perhaps you haven’t spent enough time reviewing the numbers and the company's performance.
Be sure to examine the financial reports carefully and compare the changes from years past. Note if any results are off and make a plan to push the numbers in the right direction next year.
3. Gather with staff.
You might be thinking about your business all the time, but it’s easy to not communicate your thoughts with staff. You might have changed the company's direction or added services without bringing everyone to the table.
The end of the year is a great time to reflect on the company's performance, talk about challenges and accomplishments and plan for the year ahead. Have a meeting before your holiday party so that the festivities don’t have to involve talking business.
4. Seek out savings.
Big expenses that hold the promise of significant growth dominate your thoughts. Look at any big-ticket items for next year and figure out if you can pay them off for a guaranteed savings.
Monthly software services, for example, often grant 20 percent off to those who pay a year in advance. Likewise a landlord might offer a 10 percent discount if rent is furnished for the entire year. Spot these savings and make an investment now. You’ll save money over the long haul.
5. Evaluate the company's technology.
When you review the year, be aware of how staffers have used existing systems. Probably members of your team live and die by certain software programs but use others infrequently. Sometimes if employees aren't using a certain software program, a system or a piece of equipment, they don’t understand it.
Other times, the use case isn’t real and your team just doesn’t need the software. Consider eliminating any unused systems next year.
6. Set goals.
The best goals are framed to be actionable. But it's easy to forget this when setting longer-term objectives.
Well, it might be nice to say you've adopted a goal to increase sales 40 percent. But how? Know that adopting any goal requires a change in behavior. So what are you and your staff about to do differently? Are you shifting your approach to focus on products that sold well this year?
Will the company do more marketing? What will you and your staff do differently next year that will effect enough positive change to reach your goals? Create a specific action plan and arrive at a consensus and an understanding of the new behaviors required.
Arrange for charitable giving for the selfish reasons of a tax write-off or good publicity. Or do so unselfishly because you’re an awesome person. But take time to contribute something before the year's end.
Consider matching employee gifts to a charity that's engaged in a similar area as your company is. Making a donation of your time or money helps build a sense of purpose for your staff and your company.