Christmas is a bittersweet time of year for business owners. On the one hand, you get a few days off; eating, drinking and catching up with mates, but on the other hand, your business came to a standstill and will take the best part of January to recover. As clients and employees clocked out for the year, the bills continued to roll in and now you’re left with a tight cash flow and 360 days until your next holiday. For us, January is the quietest time at the agency, but it’s also the only time of year where I get to spend a few days, interruption-free, to strategise and plan for the year ahead. Here are my tips to make the most of this downtime.
Prepare for tight cash flow
For most small business owners, cash flow tightens with the trousers over the January period. As income drops off a little, the bills still keep coming in, and by February, things get a little uneasy if you haven’t prepared for the slump.
Get the feelers out there
You’re very fortunate if this statement doesn’t apply to you: business doesn’t come to you so go out and find it. The quiet time is the best time to find new business. Throughout January you should be putting the feelers out there, getting leads and chasing them up.
Hopefully, you would have sent out the gratitude to clients before the Christmas break, now it’s time to follow up. Let them know you’re back in action for the year and what you can offer them in 2018. Chances are, they’re looking for a new service or product to help them grow, and you could be it. An eDM is a cost-effective way to send out mass communication while still offering a personal touch.
Review your infrastructure
Now is a good time to review the infrastructure of your business and implement new systems to fix where 2017 failed. Where did the processes fall through the gaps? Will the transition to cloud increase efficiencies? When you find effective operational alternatives, you will have more time to focus on strategising for growth. If you spent 2017 running with a skeleton crew, now may also be the time to think about planning your hiring strategy.
Catch up with your employees
Hopefully, the team will be revived after a few weeks off and keen as a bean to pick up new projects. Have a casual one on one with all your employees to find out what direction they want to be heading in. Encourage them to start 2018 with their own set of goals and provide the resources to get them there. Any upskilling you can offer will pay dividends in the long term.
Analyse the previous year
For a business to improve and grow, you need a full understanding of what ticked the boxes last year; what worked and what didn’t. One thing I’ve learned is you can’t hold onto ideas or processes just because you want them to work. There’s no room for that in business. It’s trial and error and once you’ve found the right way, continue to improve it. I’m not saying change your entire idea if it failed in 2017, just understand why it failed and be prepared to make changes to succeed.
Review your goals and strategies
Honestly, how often do you review your goals? They seem to be the elusive idea of where we want our business to be, but we spend very little time reflecting on and adapting them to make them achievable. After a thorough analysis of 2017, review your business plan and align it with a realistic goal direction in 2018.
Start as you mean to go on
Set some business and personal resolutions to get back into the swing of things and keep you focused throughout the year. Whether it’s hitting the gym, taking on more clients or spending more time with the family, a good routine from day dot will encourage you to see it through to the end year.