You have to have a clear and concise plan and be ready to take action on the first day of the new year.

While your competitors drop tools over the Christmas/New Year period, determined to steer clear of absolutely ANYTHING work related, it's a great opportunity to get a head start by making plans for the year ahead.

As opposed to 'business as usual', however, this time could be spent in more of a contemplative mode – by taking a step back from normal operations and casting your eye over the 'wider picture'.

You may spend your time, for example, setting out some short or medium-term goals, looking into new areas of business, carrying out research on your opposition, or performing an honest appraisal of your recent marketing activities.

While North Carolina business development agency owner Mike Simmons encourages small business owners to “enjoy the holidays and indulge in the parties, family time, and especially great food and drinks”, he agrees they should also “simultaneously begin planning for next year as well, both personally and professionally”.

“Otherwise January 1st is going to smack you in the face with the inevitable onset of panic and regret,” he writes in his blog.

Simmons says the obvious place to start is cost reduction, “while improving efficiency and productivity, which in turn will increase revenue and profit margins”.

“You may think you’re already operating on a bare bones budget, and perhaps you are,” he says. “But there are always areas to cut back on...”

“There obviously isn’t one perfect way to go about this but it certainly worth thinking about objectively.”

Writer and entrepreneur Steven Teo recommends digging in to the “analytics” you've collected throughout 2015, in order to “reveal all you need to know in order to grow in the new year”.

“Crunch the numbers you’ve collected throughout the year such as conversion rate, traffic generation, social sharing, marketing expenses, promotional costs, feedback, and any other data points that give you a scientific look at how well your business performed in 2015,” he says.

“The big data points, in the easiest sense of doing this task, should be the number of customers you’ve brought in (and retained), how much you earn on each sale, how much you’re spending to operate, and what you can do to cut costs while keeping quality and satisfaction.”

As Portland-based small business coach Sherry B. Jordan summarises – “Success does not happen by accident. If you want to reach your full potential you can't just wing it."

“You have to have a clear and concise plan and be ready to take action on the first day of the new year,” she also suggests in an article on the Franchise website. “Anything less and you have missed an opportunity to be all you can be, have all you can have, and accomplish all that is possible for you and your business.”

Be very clear with your intentions,” she says. “Include every detail. Write it down. Make it a document that can travel with you through the year and mark your calendar to review it monthly.”




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