Reassess the past year
The quieter days between Christmas and New Year are a perfect time to look back over the past year. What worked and what didn’t? Which things brought in the most money and which didn’t? Now’s the time to study the order book, to assess if any focus or even a change of direction should be made to streamline your business.
Look over your pricing strategy
If you are offering a service, such as public relations or copywriting, the start of the year is the perfect time to let customers know about revised rates. Do they need to be raised for some services? Did you spend too much time on one project or client, which on reflection didn’t pay? Or maybe to give business a boost rates can be cut or you can offer some on a special New Year discounted rate. Would life improve if you farmed out some admin work of if you employ staff, consider your expectations of them and how you can encourage them to achieve more.
Set some goals
What do you hope to achieve in the coming year? What do you aspire to? Perhaps you’ve been meaning to set up a new website for ages. If so, now is the time to put the plan into action. It can be a good idea to write those goals down – and include a realistic wish list to work towards – then revisit them during the year to see if you are on track. Incidentally studies show people who write detailed business plans with specific goals are much more likely to achieve them.
Launch a service
If you are considering setting up a sideline to your regular business, the start of a new year can be a natural time to launch it. Another plan is to set a goal to find a new client every month for the next year. So, if you are a freelance journalist, you approach one or two new editors every month to introduce yourself. And if you are a novelist, you approach one or two new agent of publishers every month.
Advertising, marketing and promotion is often something business owners let slide, especially if they are busy. But any business should always be looking to attract new clients and grow. Now’s the perfect time to research the various ways you might promote yourself or your service and work out a cost effective plan. A good way to make this work is to make a month-by-month plan of milestones to stick to. For example, January might be to get listed on three websites to boost yours, February might be to concentrate on your Facebook page, March to concentrate on Twitter, April to take out some paid advertising and see how that goes, May make this the month to write more blogs … Or you could create specific aims – gain 100 more Twitter followers by a certain date, 100 Facebook likes by another – or plan to blog more than your usual once or twice a week…
Organise your office
Aim to start the New Year with a clear desk. Finish the year’s filing, sort the invoices and check over your basic furniture. The days after Christmas and before New Year are perfect for repainting your office and the Sales make it a prime time to buy a new work station, lights, or computing equipment. Sort your invoices. Do some financial housekeeping – could you cut back on outgoings, would changing your telephone provider save some valuable cash? Do the research you don’t usually have time to do.
Tidy up your website
Ensure it is updated and looking forward. Now’s the time to start up the blog you’ve been planning for months, optimise your pages for Google or add new content.
Study your competitors
Are new competitors coming through or have some fallen by the wayside? How have old ones who remain changed over the past year? Is there anything they are doing that you should be doing too?
Sometimes we get so busy we fail to see what others are up to.
Don’t forget personal resolutions.
Maybe your own working habits need to be looked at? Have you fallen into bad habits of working at weekends to catch up and not giving yourself enough free time with your family? If so, look for ways you can increase spare time. Perhaps you can work late one evening a week to free up the weekend or maybe you need to hire in some more help. Be honest with yourself – if you spend too much time procrastinating when you should be writing and this is why you end up working Sundays – endeavour to change the way you work and break those habits that make you ineffective.
Finally, research shows only around 12% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve their goals. But some 22% of men are likely to achieve them if they write them down while 10% of women are more likely to stick to their goals if they share resolutions with others.