As we near the end of the year, it’s important to tie up all the loose ends of your business so it can start rocking and rolling when the New Year arrives. Here are six things to add to your year-end checklist.
A Year-End Checklist Can Prepare Your Small Business for a Fast Start in the New Year
How you choose to close out the current year may determine how fast your small business grows in the New Year. Make sure these six tasks are part of your year-end checklist to ensure your company is ready to hit the ground running next year.
1. Revisit your goals from this year
In order to make progress as a small business owner, it’s critical to review your progress on the goals you set for this year as part of your year-end checklist. Not only will you see the progress you’ve made, you’ll discover valuable insights that will benefit goal-setting for the coming year.
Say one of your goals was to increase your customer service satisfaction rating by 5 percent year over year by observing/coaching/documenting employees weekly to see if they greeted each customer on arrival to begin the customer experience and ended each customer experience with a specific procedure, such as:
- walking the customer to the door
- promoting add-on sales at the point-of-sale
- offering guarantee or warranty services
- signing the customer up for your store’s loyalty and rewards program
- and so on.
Assuming you kept weekly documentation of these actions, it will be straightforward to see the customer service review trend year over year. Build a chart, if you don’t already have a system in place, and evaluate your weekly/monthly/yearly trends.
Where your team failed to hit your customer service rating goals, find out what happened during a given time period that might have caused your customer service rating to drop. Was it an isolated occurrence? Does the dip continue to occur throughout the month? Review customer comments and be sure to identify the reason for the lower customer service rating and create a specific plan to improve in that area over the next year. Revisiting specific goals will take some time but it’s extremely important to understand where your business is in order to move forward from there.
2. Assess the books
Bookkeeping is one of the most important preventative measures you can take as a small business. It’s a good best practice to keep all documents in hard and soft copy form. This way you have a backup in case of emergency. Keeping financial forms is also very important as you prepare for tax season. 40 percent of small business owners hate tax season, are you among them? If you are, it may be a smart move to outsource to a tax professional, so you can spend your time in other areas and still be confident that the monetary section of your small business is under control.
3. Backup all digital files
Backing up your files is time well spent. If your phone, cash register, POS equipment or computer got stolen today, what important documents would be lost? You would not only be losing your documents and folders, but also your business contacts. As a small business owner you rely heavily on your portable devices, so do yourself a favor and prevent yourself from wondering “what would happen if my things were stolen.” Make sure you are backing all of your important data up on a regular basis so that you can quickly get back to business in the event that any of your equipment is stolen, lost or damaged.
4. Audit your website
While you should be doing this on a regular basis, the end of year is a good time to make sure all website links work, phone numbers are accurate, hours of operation are up to date and that your website looks New Year ready. With percentage of time on mobile (51 percent) surpassing the time on desktop (42 percent) it’s crucial that your website is mobile friendly and your site is aesthetically pleasing (both on desktop and mobile). Cleaning up your website may take some time if it’s not regularly monitored, but having a strong website will drive more customers to your business.
If your business is thriving and booming, let your team know! Schedule a team meeting where you can call out accomplishments for this year as well as discuss the goals set for next year. It takes a team to run a successful operation and they will appreciate you taking time to thank them for their contributions. You may also have a few goals that they can help add measures to track those goals. This boosts the team moral and generates a positive progress note going into the new year.
6. Set goals for the New Year
Let’s say you want to make a goal to sell more of a specific item, such as appetizers or cocktails (for a restaurant) or service agreements or accessories or something else this year. It’s hard to measure if you’re making progress if you don’t explain how you are going to reach this goal, when you’re tracking this goal, or what accessories you’re even talking about. Consider using the SMART goals format.
- S – Is your goal specific? What kind of accessory would you like to sell more of?
- M – Is your goal measurable? How will you measure if you are selling these accessories?
- A – Is your goal agreed upon? Are all stake holders in your business ok with this goal?
- R – Is your goal realistic? Set the bar too low and it’s meaningless, set it too high and it’s outrageous. In either case, it can lead to your team not taking your future goals seriously.
- T – What is the timeline? When do you plan to achieve your accessory goal?
After inputting SMART format into your original accessory goal it turns into “sell # more a month until December of next year by observing/coaching/documenting our employees weekly to see if they promote the item appropriately to customers.” Ensuring your goals are specific and reachable will help you track your business progress.
Incorporating these six tasks into your company’s year-end checklist will help you move faster than your competitors going into the new year.
Not every year is going to be the best year for your business, so even more reason to make sure you identify and understand areas which need improvement. A year-end checklist can be invaluable in helping you see what needs to change next year. Maintaining organization and keeping your eye on the prize will help you reach your yearly goals, and ultimately reach your business goals.