I have often stated that even solopreneurs need help in navigating the vast array of business minefields that exist in today’s market. And even if you can do it all, you shouldn’t have to.
Personally, I regularly invest in advice from all sorts of industries to keep me on task and on target. And there is no time that I think about this more than in the last quarter. Oh, Q4, I love to hate you.
But even though Q4 has its own set of unique challenges, I always look forward to the systematic “closing of the books” and “closing of the year.” It gives me a time to regroup and reassess not only the current year, but also where and how I want to see my business improve for the following years.
With that in mind, I enlisted some of my favorite experts to go over their top tips for finishing the business year strong in your business. Here’s what they had to say:
Do not underestimate the last few months of the business year. It’s time to shift your mindset and get focused to end this year strong! This is the season that we start making excuses about why we can’t make things happen… “People are busy with the holidays,” or “Everyone is broke during Christmas.”
The reality is, there are thousands if not millions of ambitious entrepreneurs and individuals who see this time of year as the time to make things happen to set up the next year for success! Not only that but there are often budgets that need to be spent before the end of the year.
So do these three things to make things happen, fast:
- Set a solid revenue goal for the last few months of the year.
- Block off the time you want to take off and build it into your deliverables.
- Commit 30 minutes to an hour each day to accomplishing this goal.
Follow these steps, and you can’t help but have an amazing rest of your year!
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One of the best ways to finish the business year strong and set yourself up for success next year is to review your analytics.
Look at your website analytics and identify:
- Where does your website traffic come from? Organic, direct, search, social, referral, and email are the top 5 most common.
- Of social media, which platforms have brought the most traffic? How much time do these visitors spend on your site?
- What pages do visitors most commonly land on? Which goes do they exit on?
Prioritize marketing efforts on channels that are working. Use 80% of your marketing time/budget on scaling what’s working and 20% on testing new strategies.
Look at your social media insights and answer these questions:
- Which posts so far this year have produced the highest reach? The most followers? The most engagement?
- What do these posts look like? Do they tag anyone? Which hashtags did you use?
When choosing a content strategy, use these insights to focus your efforts on posts that matter. Opt for fewer posts that are higher quality over sticking to a strict schedule.
Social Media Marketer/Founder
Miller Media Management
“Maui’s top-rated social media marketing company”
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The pandemic forced all businesses to operate more efficiently. Whether that meant adopting a work-from-home policy or operating on a leaner workforce, all businesses had to adapt to become more agile. Going forward during the last half of 2021, this business practice will need to remain paramount. In order to maintain profitability and sustainability, maintaining and looking into improving efficiency (e.g. process automation, technology enhancements) will separate the more successful operations from the pack. Focusing on business efficiency is key during the latter half of 2021.
Finally, get financial documents (e.g. profit & loss statements, balance sheets, accounts receivable/payable report) organized and accurate. If your business is being financed or you are looking for financial assistance from a conventional lender, these documents need to be provided. Work with your accountant, controller and bookkeeper to ensure that they are up-to-date and correct. These documents are used by lenders to prepare a company’s cash flow analysis which illustrates the financial well-being of a company and is ultimately what lenders rely on to make a financing determination. It is highly recommended that companies make a concerted effort to keep their financial documents in order and readily available.
Central Pacific Bank
AVP & Senior Commercial Banking Officer
If you’re a business owner, you’ve got a lot on your mind – cash flow, competition, marketing, and so on. However, you may also want to think about tomorrow – if you don’t already have one, you might want to consider establishing a retirement plan.
Beyond helping you and your employees build assets, a retirement plan is a good way to attract those employees in the first place – and to keep them.
- SIMPLE IRA – A SIMPLE IRA, as its name suggests, is easy to set up and maintain, and it can be a good plan if your business has fewer than 10 employees. For 2021, your annual contributions are generally limited to $13,500, or $16,500 if you’re 50 or older. You must match contributions made by your employees or make contributions to all eligible employees.
- Safe Harbor 401(k) – A Safe Harbor 401(k) plan allows you to defer the annual maximum of $19,500 for yourself (or $26,000 if you’re 50 or older). You must match employee contributions up to certain limits. You also can reward yourself and your employees with profit-sharing contributions up to the individual maximum of $58,000, or $64,500 for those 50 or older. This type of plan comes with administrative obligations and costs. A third-party administrator (TPA) can assist you with meeting these obligations and will charge a separate fee.
- Owner-only 401(k) – This plan, sometimes called a “Solo 401(k)” or “Individual 401(k),” is similar in terms of contribution limits to the Safe Harbor 401(k). The features of an Owner-only 401(k) plan are designed for self-employed individuals and business owners with no eligible employees other than themselves and their spouses.
- SEP IRA – If you have just a few employees or are self-employed with no employees, you may want to consider a SEP IRA. You must cover yourself and all eligible employees, but contributions are discretionary and can vary from year to year. Contribution limits are the same as those of a 401(k) plan.
Contributions to all these plans are tax deductible, and tax credits for establishing them are available. Once in place, your retirement plan can help brighten your financial future and that of your employees.
You remember that phrase: Stop. Drop. & Roll?!?! Well, my (quick) advice for finishing out the business year strong is a little like that… First (Stop): take a look around, behind you, buried under your desk. What do you see? What needs to go? What is still important? I call this my Audit, where am I? How far have I come? What have I accomplished? and most importantly the process in which I made that shit happen.
Next (Drop) Assess: Simply ask yourself: “what is truly important these last few months for the bigger picture” “Am I doing things on a daily basis to get me to that end result?” “Is this in alignment with my values, my bigger picture, my purpose?”
Lastly (Roll) Adjust: This is where you make the small adjustments to roll with the momentum you have started already. Like starting to leverage a relationship you have been nurturing all year to get you into that huge potential client of yours. It typically is in the small adjustments on a daily basis that get us where we want to go. Make conscious adjustments, plan it out, and put that shit into your daily calendar. Before you know it, your goals are being surpassed left and right.
A few other quick things: Start saying NO, if it does not align with the bigger picture. Stop with all the busy work, keep a time tracker for two weeks writing everything down that you do, and I mean everything, after two weeks sit down and evaluate your time, works best if you have someone helping you with this, and look how you can make it smoother, more efficient etc. I know this might seem cliche but act and speak as if “it” has already happened, go on and manifest that shit! And lastly, do not forget to “stop and smell the roses”, no really take a breather, walk away, clear your head, 10 minutes, 10 hours, 10 days, it does not matter as long as you are walking away, depositing back into yourself and then coming back at “it” with fresh eyes and recharged energy… Now go on with your bad self and get some shit done!
Coach/consultant to the Coaches
Closing your year right takes planning and proactive accountability on all sides of your business. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all alone. Enlist trusted advisors to help you identify your business’ unique challenges and help you plan for your future. Your advisory team could include a business attorney, CPA or tax expert, an insurance professional, an investment professional or financial advisor, marketing specialist, brand manager, public relations consultant, and even a business broker or realtor. Don’t be afraid to reach out to experts the way you want people to reach out to you.
My most important strategy for the end of the year is always the systems and operations audit. How can you possibly know where you are going if you don’t know where you are and where you have been? I always take the last quarter to evaluate what’s working and what’s not, to review contracts for liabilities, as well as performance and payment, all in conjunction with finance and sales. It’s a hefty overhaul, but always worth it!
Ultimately, you will have to make all the decisions for your business, but isn’t it nice knowing you have expertise on your side? Now go out there and CRUSH Q4!
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