The start of a new year is an excellent time to reflect on how the past year has gone and prepare for the year ahead. Many people use this time to set goals and resolutions. It can be a time to make fresh starts in areas of our personal and professional lives. It's also a great time to make sure that your business is ready for the new year. Check that you've prepared these areas for success in 2019!
To help you reflect and prepare to get your business ready for the new year, I have identified the main areas you should check on and included some questions to think about to make sure your business is prepared to succeed.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert in all of these areas, so be sure to consult with authorities in the legal and financial fields for your business. Because various countries have different laws, please find experts in your specific country!
As the new year begins, it's important to check that your business is legally ready. Do you need to renew any licenses or certificates at the local, state, or federal level? Has the government implemented any new laws that affect your business? Do you have all the necessary insurance that you need? Are your disclosures up-to-date and legally correct?
The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a great deal of useful information for small-business owners within the U.S. (like me!). Here's the link to their website: U.S. Small Business Administration. There is information about the services they offer, courses to help you learn more on topics of interest for small-business owners, and contact information for federal and local offices.
You can usually find similar information at the state and local levels, so be sure to check that out for your area.
It's so important that you get your business ready for the new year financially! Are you ready to pay your taxes for the previous year? Have you consulted with a CPA about what information is needed and what forms you need to complete to take care of your taxes correctly? Do you have your bookkeeping set up with records of your expenses and profits? Do you have your automatic payments set up so you don't miss payments? Are your clients billed on time to pay on time?
Finances are an area that often requires outside help. If you're struggling to understand your small-business tax requirements, check out the IRS Small-Business and Self-Employed Tax Center. You might also want to consider hiring a bookkeeper or CPA who is familiar with small-business needs and your local, state, and federal laws.
Setting goals for the new year is a great practice for your business! When you're setting these goals, it's important to reflect on how things went in the previous year to decide what kind of goals you want for the upcoming year.
What went well that you want to continue? What areas will you focus on in the upcoming year? What do you need to rethink or restructure to help your business grow? What are your big goals that you want to achieve? What SMART goals will you use to reach those big goals? How will you go about achieving your SMART goals for your business in the new year?
If you need help setting goals, check out How to Set Goals That Won't Fail!
It is absolutely essential to have boundaries in place to succeed in running a small business. The new year is a great time to check that you have the boundaries that you need in place and that those boundaries are enforced and respected.
Have you specifically told people when you're available for business and when it's family time? Have you made those same time boundaries clear to your family? Are there boundaries that you need to enforce on yourself because YOU haven't been respecting them? Are there certain people that you need to remind about your boundaries because they aren't respecting them? Are there new boundaries that you need to put in place because your business has grown?
Related post - Five Reasons You Need Boundaries When You Work at Home
Having systems in place can save you crazy amounts of time in your business! Whether you use these processes in onboarding new clients, planning your day or month, or scheduling your content, you need systems.
Do you have templates in place for emails and graphics? Are there certain steps you go through every time you contact potential clients? Have you written out the process you go through when publishing new content?
If you need more help with systems, read Using Trello for My Small Business.
Email plays such an important part in most business models that it deserves its own yearly review! You should make sure the purpose of your email strategy is clear and reflect on whether your current email strategy is moving you towards that goal.
Are you using an email service provider that meets your needs and allows you to grow in the future? Do you have your templates in order? Are you sending email consistently enough so your customers feel they know you? Are your emails providing value to your subscribers? Do your automated sequences work? Are your opt-ins converting or do they need work? What could make your email strategy even more successful?
Your marketing strategy includes the methods that you use to attract your ideal audience, grow your following, and sell your products and services. The marketing strategies that businesses use can look very different because of each business' specific strengths and needs.
Do you use content marketing? Have you created your editorial calendar so you know what you will post to your blog, YouTube channel, or whatever medium you use to provide content to your audience? Do you have your brand identity developed so you're recognizable to your audience? What kind of advertisement or publicity do you plan to use in the coming year? Are your sales' funnels in place? Do you have your products and/or services available? How will you expand or diversify your income streams in the coming year?
For many business owners, social media is a necessary evil for their businesses. Plus it can easily take over every area of your business and doesn't always have the highest ROI for your efforts. Watch out for that!
To avoid this, it's important to have a strong social media strategy. What platforms do you plan to focus on in the upcoming year? Where do your ideal clients spend their time on social media? How do you plan to attract and engage these individuals for your business? What worked for your business in the past and is it still working? Algorithms change all of the time, so make sure you stay current with the trends on the platforms you use.
Do you know what content you plan to use and when you plan to use it? Have you implemented a plan that you can use consistently to grow your targeted following? What's not working that you can cut? What would you like to try in the future? Where will you get the graphics that you need for the various platforms? Do have the appropriate templates to simplify the social media design process? Keep it simple to make life easy!
While these are some of the main areas to get your business ready for the new year, there are others you might want to focus on, as well. What will you focus on learning in the coming year? How can you maintain a healthy work-life balance as you grow your business? Are there personal areas that you want to improve in the coming year? There's always room for growth and a great starting point as a new year begins. You know yourself and your business the best, so you know where you need to focus going forward. My goal is to help you grow your business and succeed in 2019 and beyond.
To encourage you to get your business ready for the coming year, I created the infographic at the end of the post for you to download and use to check the areas discussed. It's yours to use and/or share as you like, and you don't even have to subscribe to get it! (Of course, if you want to subscribe to the May Virtual Assists' email list, you can do so in the box at the top right of the page).
As you reflect on 2018 and figure out what you need for the coming year, you might realize that you're ready to grow your business with some outside help! I would love to talk with you about what you're looking for and see if we are a match. Check out the services I offer or sign up for a free consultation.
Now it's your turn - what areas of your business are you focusing on for 2019? Share them in the comments below!
Until next time,