If you’re a small business owner, you’re probably feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed out or a mix of all three now that the end of the year is closing in on us. It’s been an emotional whirlwind of a year, that’s for sure, with a global pandemic, tumultuous election season, wildfires and more. But one thing that has always helped me in my business, no matter what’s going on around me, is knowing what step to take next.
That’s why I’m sharing the 12 things I think every small business owner should do before clocking out for the holidays each and every year (and only a few of them are about digital marketing strategies, I just couldn’t resist!).
1. Perform a Computer Back Up
A computer back up is the least sexy task you’ll ever have to do as a business owner (well, maybe cleaning the bathroom wins out…), but it takes the top spot on this list for good reason. Because, if you’re anything like me, the only time you think about backing up your computer is right after it crashes.
After one too many rounds with technology mishaps, I started backing up my devices at least once a quarter–and always at the end of the year–so I know that I have important files, records and client information in a safe place should anything ever happen to my computer. You can do this by using an external hard drive or making sure files in whatever cloud-based storage service you use are up-to-date.
2. Doublecheck Client and Vendor Information
While you’re backing up your files, take time to verify the information you have on hand is accurate, especially your client, customer and vendor data. It’s easy to put this task off by telling yourself, “Of course, I know their information. I talk to them all of the time!” But people move, employees change roles within organizations, and vendors consolidate every single year.
I’ve found it’s better to keep an accurate record of information on hand to help my team out and free up a little space in my brain for more productive things, like thinking about strategies for digital marketing and sharing marketing facts and tips.
3. Use the Holidays as an Excuse to Check-In with Clients/Customers
One way to ensure you have accurate client data is to use the holidays as an excuse to check in with them! There are many ways to do this while making a meaningful connection along the way. Send a holiday treat basket to their main office for employees to enjoy or opt for a year-end thank you gift sent to their home. Or, if you prefer to run your business on the lean side, write out why you enjoy working with them, how your partnership improves your working life and mail it to them in a holiday card.
If you serve customers in a product-based business instead of clients in a service business, create a year-end survey and include it in every order or purchase that leaves your store. This is a great way to discover the overall perception of your store with your customers and learn how to serve them even better. Include a small percentage off or freebie for completing the survey to boost participation.
4. Take Stock of What’s In Your Supply Closet
Sure, sure, every list like this on the Internet will tell you to take inventory, and YES, that is an important thing to do, but that’s not what I’m talking about today. Instead, you need to check out what’s in your supply closet. Reams of copy paper. Pens and pencils. Ink cartridges and toner. Branded swag. You know, all of the “boring” stuff that helps make life in the office easier (and secretly, makes all of our little kid school supply shopping dreams come true!).
Tracking your supply inventory will let you know what you’re running low on so you can make any last minute business purchases before the end of the year for tax purposes. It will also save you from overspending on supplies you don’t need.
5. High Five Your Accountant or CFO
You wear a lot of hats as a small business owner, but one hat you hopefully have passed off is that of accountant or Chief Financial Officer. I passed ours off to a virtual CFO a few years ago, and it’s been life-changing!
Take a few minutes to send a note to them letting them know how much you appreciate their services. Before you sign off, ask them if they have a year-end checklist for you so you’ll be prepared for tax season when spring rolls around.
6. Set Revenue Goals for Next Year
When I sent a virtual high-five to our CFO, she reminded me to set annual, quarterly and monthly revenue goals for 2021. Setting revenue goals helps you focus your business efforts, but breaking them down into smaller chunks throughout the year gives you perspective about what needs to be done bit by bit to accomplish the larger goal.
7. Determine a Bonus for Your People
One last tip from Andrea and her team over at Cash Flow CFO: Look at your bottom line profit for 2020 and allocate a percentage of it to the people who helped you get there. This builds trust with your team and shows your appreciation for everything it took to get your company where it is today. If you can’t afford a year-end bonus, make a point to tell your people why they matter to you and your business.
8. Update End of Year Stats
While you’re in year-end mode, make sure you update whatever stats and metrics you track for your business online. This will be helpful when you make planning decisions for the coming year and evaluate service or product offerings. It will also provide a good baseline for any new initiatives you started.
At SizzleForce, we track website performance, social media followers, email analytics along with other key metrics for our business.
9. Note The Year’s Highest Performing Content in Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Updating our end-of-year stats helps us identify what performed well in our digital marketing strategy throughout the year, too. Even if you feel like marketing isn’t a strength, I recommend taking a look at what content was most popular with your customers in 2020. Once you know this information, you can begin planning next year’s digital marketing strategy by using what performed well as tentpole content. For example, if you started a “Favorite Things” series on your blog this year and those posts consistently netted the most shares of anything else you created, you can incorporate those posts into your editorial calendar for next year with a fresh spin.
10. Gather Inspiration for Your Digital Marketing Strategy
As you consider what went right for your business over the past year, begin to look for what went right for businesses you look up to as well as your competitors. This is a research task that will help you develop a better understanding of the marketplace and gather inspiration for new ideas you could make your own. The goal is not to rinse and repeat, but rather, spark your curiosity and give you a starting place. Because if there’s something we know all too well here at SizzleForce, it’s that there’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page.
11. Plan Content for January or Q1
Now, that you’re armed with shiny, new ideas, you can begin to plan content for January (or take on the whole first quarter if you’re feeling feisty!). Spending time before the year ends to plan and prepare things for the year ahead will make returning to work after the holidays a little easier. Or if you’re working straight-through, knowing what your next steps are will help you battle decision fatigue and narrow your focus in after the holiday rush.
12. Perform a Quick Website Audit
One final recommendation before you close down your computer for the year is to give your website a quick once-over (or an audit as we like to call it here in the marketing biz). With fresh eyes, scroll over to your website and read through everything. You’re looking for typos, outdated information, broken links and more in this phase. Then start exploring deeper into your subpages to see if things make sense from a user perspective. Take good notes while you do this, so you can put any glaring errors at the top of your marketing to do list once the New Year rolls around.
Have a marketing to do list that’s already a mile long and very little time to spare? My team and I can help! We launched our signature Get-It-Done Days this year to help small business owners like you make progress in your marketing initiatives. In one day, we can help you develop website copy that converts browsers into buyers, plan out what to post on social media and how to maintain your editorial calendar, create an email marketing funnel that nurtures leads and shows off your expertise, or you can design a day to meet your unique marketing situation. Make 2021 the year you show that marketing to do list who’s boss. Schedule a call with us to chat about your Get-It-Done Day!