As a small business owner myself, I’ve personally decided to make the most of December by implementing 12 housecleaning tips for the holidays, so here’s to my version of the “12 Days of Christmas for Your Small Business.”
On the first day of Christmas
Set Goals: One of the most important mechanisms in business is establishing where you intend to go and how to get there. Establishing goals help improve your overall effectiveness as a company. Sometimes it’s easy for business owners to lose focus of true business goals and priorities because we’re often engrossed with the urgency of day-to-day activities. Define your goals carefully to achieve what you desire to accomplish first and foremost. Your company’s plan for 2016 should also include reconnecting with your personal ambitions and aspirations. As the last month of year comes to a close, take precedence and reassess where your business is now, how far it has come and where you want it to go. The next step is to create a detailed 2016 fulfillment plan that includes weekly, monthly, and quarterly checkpoints. This will help establish quarterly goals to further achieve annual goals, which forward you onto long-term goals.
On the second day of Christmas
Create a budget: An annual review of your finances can help you detect minor problems before they become enlarged. Review financial statements to determine how much money you made and how you made it.This is why it’s so important to make you’re your personal banking is separated from your business. Establish what’s really driving profit for your business and generate a clearer understanding of your financial situation. Forecast any growth—which basically means understanding how much money you need for the next phase of your endeavor. One crucial step in planning ahead for next year is making assumptions based on prior performance.
On the third day of Christmas
Invest: Remember the old adage “in order to make money, you have to spend money”? Whether it’s marketing and advertisement, travel, education, association, or donation, you will ultimately need to make a few too many purchases in order to get your business started. Don’t be afraid to give away some products or offer your services at a reduced or preferred rate. There will be times when new business is acquired over a cup of coffee or one-hour away into the next town. Other times you’ll need to make the decision whether to be sitting on the edge of your seat in a coliseum as multiple millionaires share their story so you can begin yours. Keep all of your receipts -- the long-term gain is well worth the out-of-pocket expense.
On the fourth day of Christmas
Find yourself a business coach: This strongly coincides with learning. It’s important to listen to other successful business owners who will provide you with the benefit of their experience. With so many challenges and quirks in starting and maintaining a small business, it’s so important to associate with positive people who will lend support and encouragement. Make sure your coach understands your purpose, goals, and objectives from both a personal and business perspective so that you have proper identifiable mentorship. Attain a network that’s designed to motivate and nurture your goals and dreams.
On the fifth day of Christmas
Promote: A successful new year begins with understanding the personality of your business. Consider what makes your venture unique, dependable and esteemed to help define and more accurately direct your brand to a target audience. Once you’ve given some measured thought on your brand, design a strategy to stay the course such as developing a technological or social media presence. Give your business a name that will embody both your values and your company's distinguishing characteristics. Showcasing your products through a personal retail site or online social networking service will enhance your profile. Remember to treat your business as a business and not a hobby.
On the sixth day of Christmas
Get creative: There are copious ways to develop your business into a profitable bundle of success. Who says it can’t be fun making money? Generate a marketing campaign, host a theme-inspired party, collaborate with a fundraiser, become a vendor at an industry event—the sky’s the limit. Take your business to the next level by sharing your skills, knowledge and experiences by offering your own mini training sessions, tutorials, displays or demonstrations. Remember that holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or any celebratory occasion is a great time to endorse your products and services.
On the seventh day of Christmas
Evaluate your ownership structure: Have you recently explored the differences in a business legal structure? Have you determined which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation? Of course, which of these is right for your business will depend on the type of business you run, how many owners it has, and its financial situation. Asides from the obvious enhanced credibility and brand protection or tax benefits and deductible expenses, establishing a legal structure has both its advantages and disadvantages. There is no one choice that suits every business and owners should pick the structure that best meets their needs.
On the eighth day of Christmas
Change your scenery: Do you find yourself juggling the many distractions of a home office? Interruptions from your neighbors, kids or other family members are constant. Not to mention running errands at home such as laundry, washing the dishes, or organizing the living room. Sometimes a quiet corner in a coffee shop or a study room in a library or even underneath a shaded tree at a park can be the most ideal environment to maximize your productivity. Resist that temptation to engage in household matters and set up shop at the zoo, over breakfast, at a picnic site, or on someone’s patio. Another option if your budget allows is a virtual office wherein you can get the look and feel of a professional business atmosphere on an hourly, daily, or month-to-month basis – talk about flexibility. One of the greatest advantages of working your small business from home is you can interchange your environment as often as you like, having the freedom to choose your surroundings.
On the ninth day of Christmas
Keep learning: Your education doesn’t stop just because you have a diploma. Continue to read books and commended literature that promote success and a positive mental attitude. Listen to the pioneers that have paved a way for others to build a prosperous enterprise. Associate yourself with affluence and achievement as a constant reminder of who you want to become and how to make it happen. Make it a priority to attend industry trainings, seminars, and conferences so that you’re able to acquire the tools and necessary resources to develop a profitable business.
On the tenth day of Christmas
Set aside family time: With an ongoing list of tasks to accomplish each day, it’s easy to let time with your partner and/or children slip down your list of priorities. Whether it’s pulling out the board games once a week or having in-depth conversations around the dinner table or enjoying a sport together, it’s essential that you make it a priority for yourself, your relationship and your family. As business owners, that also means sometimes not reading the newspaper, answering the phone or checking emails. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t involve your children and partner with certain aspects of the business. Sometimes including them in events, activities, and learning opportunities is advantageous. Not to mention, business trips can turn into a mini vacay! From moms and dads to siblings and relatives, the relationships you build are merely a starting point for all of the other interactions you will have with the world, and the people that are in it.
On the eleventh day of Christmas
Communicate: Are your clients happy? One sure way to find out is to survey your clients or customers. Like every small business, we pride ourselves on having that personal touch which basically means our mission revolves around serving the client. What better way to determine just how well you’re doing than by asking? The holidays are a great time of year to send a survey because let’s face it, most businesses [and people] slow down around this season. During the month of December, clients and customers generally have time to reflect and provide genuine and helpful feedback. Make it fun with a product giveaway or holiday treat. When in doubt, go high touch rather than high tech and just pick up the phone. Here’s the catch: once your clients offer their opinions, make it a point to start implementing them in your business accordingly.
On the twelfth day of Christmas
Host a party
: Always remember friendship first. Show your appreciation to clients and customers by hosting a cozy get together. Be sure to include an intimate display of your products and/or services for them to touch, taste, and feel. There’s nothing more important to a patron than being able to actually see the quality of your offerings. You can even up your game and include goodie bags with samples, gift certificates, or information pamphlets tied with yummy treats. You’ve worked hard this year so cheers to all so you can enjoy the year’s successes together.