— December 12, 2018
The end of the year can be an extremely busy time for businesses. While you may be scrambling to hit deadlines, market holiday sales, and fulfill orders, you also may want to reflect on your business’ goals and progress over the past year.
While all of this is important, you should also take a few minutes to organize your business before January 1st hits. January signals a fresh start for most people and it can be a very crucial time for you to take action when it comes to making improvements and working toward your new and improved goals.
If you leave your business as a disorganized hot mess at the end of the year, you’ll likely spend a significant amount of time in 2019 trying to get back on track. Here are a few easy things you can to get organized in your business for the new year.
Create a Document Management System
How are you managing important incoming documents? When you sign new contracts, where do you put them? It’s important to have a clear and easy-to-follow document management system so you don’t lose important paperwork. This is especially true with the tax season coming up.
You’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress by organizing your documents before you actually need to use them again. Invest in some handy office supplies like a file folder or file cabinet. Secure documents that contain personal information and don’t forget about online storage.
If you are storing documents on your computer in various different folders, make sure you’ve backed them up in the cloud and secured your device.
Get to Inbox Zero
Don’t leave your email inbox a mess. Odds are, when you come back to work after the holidays, you won’t have a clue as to who you need to contact or follow up with if you leave a ton of unread emails.
Generally, you’ll want to get into the habit of reaching inbox zero throughout the year, but it’s understandable that things can start to build up easily.
Spend a few minutes to an hour one afternoon getting up-to-date with emails and organizing your inbox with several different folders. Since I have quite a few clients, I assign each client a respective folder and file away any communication, payment notifications, etc. in that folder. As a result, I have an easier time recovering specific messages when I need them.
You can also unsubscribe from email lists that no longer serve you to clear your inbox and set up an autoresponder or include a few helpful links in your email signature to eliminate more back and forth with people who contact you.
There’s nothing worse than clearing your inbox one day and having it fill right back up as people continue responding to your emails. Get to an end result by either setting up a call/meeting or settling the subject early on.
Get Your Profit-Loss Statement Up-to-date
Tracking your income throughout the year is the wisest way to keep your profit loss statement updated. If you fall behind, it’s best to catch up before the end of the year so you can focus on filing taxes in the next few months.
Even if you have everything updated, it doesn’t hurt to review it. Calculating the data for your profit loss statement and reviewing it cannot only clarify how much you made for the year but also how profitable your business is.
Profitability should always be one of your top goals because being profitable will keep your business grounded and growing. If you haven’t reconciled income and expenses for the year, it’s going to be pretty difficult to move into the new year and start tracking your new cash flow.
Organize a Productive Meeting
If you have a team, you may want to call a brief end-of-year meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page. This can be a great way to catch up, tie up any loos ends, and develop a strategy for new goals.
You’d probably want to schedule your meeting sooner rather than later since most people tend to travel around the holidays. Be sure to outline a clear agenda for your meeting to make it efficient and let attendees know what they can do/bring in advance to be prepared.
You should audit your expenses at least every quarter to make sure you’re not spending too little or too much on your business. Over time, your business needs will change so your expenses should reflect that.
You also might want to consider changing your pricing for your products or services to ensure you’re making a profit. Pricing for profit is so important because it pretty much ensures you’ll have enough to actually grow your business and spend on necessary expenses.
In the popular book, Profit First, the author actually recommends setting up a separate account specifically for your profit. You can use this account to cover various different business and personal expenses. For example, if there is an end-of-year discount for a monthly business expense you can take advantage of it if you have some profit set aside.
I use a monthly email marketing service and they offer a huge sale every year around the holidays. The only thing is that you have to pay for your subscription upfront in one lump sum. Auditing your expenses and setting aside some profit can help ensure you’re only paying for expenses that benefit your business and you’re getting the most bang for your buck
Check to make sure any important programs you use are updated before the new year. You can even update your computer and make sure your anti-virus software is renewed if need be.
Dealing with technical issues in the new year when you’re trying to be productive is a hassle you don’t want to deal with.
If you have a website or blog, you can make sure all your plugins are updated and that you have your programmer or developer fix any issues you come across or just check to make sure everything is in good shape.
Finally, you can start working ahead in your business. Start scheduling things, automating, doing outreach, and completing client work. There’s nothing wrong with taking time off during the holidays to relax and reboot. In fact, you should.
Once you get organized in your business, make sure you set aside time for self-care. You can make this goal easier to accomplish by working ahead. That way, you won’t feel overwhelmed when you get back to work.
You also might want to consider raising your rates and prices in the new year. Entrepreneurs often have to set the tone of their own raises as opposed to waiting around for someone else to give them.
By taking the steps mentioned above to get your business organized for the new year, you’ll eliminate stress, overwhelm and feel more productive when January rolls around.
What do you need to do to get your business organized for the new year?