3 thoughts for the week of December 27, 2010 (getting ready for the new year)

It’s the Holiday Season, and we are in the last week of the year smack dab in between Christmas and New Year’s Day. If you are one of the lucky businesses, you have this week off. But if you are like us, and many other small businesses, you are working. This is an odd time to be working. It’s true that many people are taking time off, and many others have adopted that whole “we’ll deal with it after the new year” attitude. This can make it difficult to feel like you can get anything accomplished.

However, this is a great week to get yourself all ready for 2011. With things a little quieter, it’s easier to focus on the business of your business and set things up for a running start in January. So, here are some thoughts on how to make the most of this very special week.

  1. Clean Out.

    Forget spring cleaning. Clean up all your clutter so everything is fresh and organized on the 1st.

    • Purge Your Email Inbox – Most of us have 100s if not 1000s of messages getting buried in our Inboxes and most of those messages no longer have any value. And even those that do aren’t really serving their purpose if they are lost in the shuffle. Make note of action items you are going to follow up on and file key emails in appropriately. And delete what will never be of use.
    • Catalog Your Business Cards – Go through all those cards that have been sitting in piles after you carefully collected them from every networking event you went to over the past year. Check against your exiting contacts list, enter anyone worth keeping in your database, and recycle the rest.
    • Actually file all those papers in the To-File box – You know you have one. Suck it up.
  2. Take Stock.

    You have full year’s worth of data to take a look at. By fully understanding where you’ve been, you can get a much better idea of where you want to go.

    • Update all the books – Get all those expenses and bills and receipts properly entered and filed. Only then will you have accurate totals for all your money in and out.
    • Pull some basic marketing reports – Who were your biggest customers in the past year? What service line brought in the most? What promotion garnered the biggest response? What efforts were the least fruitful. Get a good overview of what’s working and what’s not. Use that info to formulate your marketing plan for 2011.
    • Back up your data – Now of course you’ve been running regular back-ups through out the year, BUT if you got a little busy and that didn’t really work out the way you planned, run one now. Get a complete copy of all your business files from 2010 onto a hard drive that you will now store is a safe location.
  3. Keep Updated.

    Time marches on, and the calendar pages turn, and although the clock on our computers automatically know it’s a new year, the content on our websites does not.

    • Update date references in company history and bio documents – Did that staff member “recently join” the company 5 years ago? Does your 25 year old company have “over a decade” of experience? Apart from actual year references, it is important to check for other time verbiage that may no longer be accurate and change it so it is relevant to those reading today.
    • Change copyright notices to 2011 – This is a basic, and often forgotten, update that lets users know your site is up-to-date. A stale copyright means stale information and makes you less desirable.
    • Audit your website – Is it still an accurate reflection of the products and services you offer? Is the messaging still in line with your company’s goals and brand personality? Is it still on par with the technologies and features of your competitors websites? If your answer is “not so much,” you might want to make an appointment with your web developer to review changes that should be implemented in Q1.

Well, those are just a few of our thoughts. What else do you do to get ready for the new year? Let us know. And we hope you have a wonderful kick off to 2011.

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