Archive for December, 2014

Cleanup and Planning: Quarterly and Year-End Checklists

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It’s here — the end of the last quarter of the year! It’s time to do some “good housekeeping” in preparation for the year-end of your business.

At the end of the year, it’s important to both close-out the old year properly as well as plan for the new year. I recommend you start this process early so that there isn’t a last-minute rush to complete your year-end closing tasks. Even better, do this quarterly so that you remain caught-up with the tasks. Here are some ideas that you might want to add to your quarterly and annual checklists:

Year-End Cleanup and Closing Tasks (some of these can be done quarterly, too!)

  • Enter all revenue and expenses into your record keeping system.
  • Send final invoices for current year.
  • Reconcile your bank account records with bank statements.
  • Estimate your last tax payment for the current year (many self-employed people make quarterly estimated tax payments…the final payment is usually due on January 15)
  • Mail holiday cards and gifts to clients/customers
  • Make holiday offers to clients/customers
  • Clean out old files/emails
  • Create year-end accounting reports and compare to goals for year
  • Tally business-related mileage for quarter/year
  • Tally expenses by vendor and prepare 1099’s if needed
  • Contact your accountant and discuss year-end tax planning

Planning Tasks for the New Quarter/Year

  • Write a list of goals
  • Write a list of tasks that need to be accomplished in order to achieve those goals
  • Write a list of projects you’d like to start or complete
  • Create an updated marketing plan
  • Create an updated budget
  • List the topics you’d like to study, the classes you’d like to take, or the books you’d like to read, to keep you up-to-date with your industry and business skills
  • Schedule upcoming classes you’ll teach and distribute that Calendar of Events to clients and staff

Cleanup and planning tasks don’t just happen in December and January. If you review these tasks quarterly, they won’t sneak up on you on December 31.

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning

Forget New Year’s Resolutions: What Are You Most Proud Of?

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Here’s an amazing exercise for starting the New Year right. No — it’s NOT about writing New Year’s resolutions! It’s not about looking forward, but instead looking backwards.

What’s the point of looking backwards when a new year is on the horizon? Because what has happened, what you’ve accomplished is tangible proof of your effectiveness, creativity, determination, and success.

As the year draws to a close, it’s nice to look back and remind yourself what you’re most proud of accomplishing over the past 12 months.

  • Which projects did you complete?
  • Which skills and attitudes did you display?
  • Which relationships did you strengthen (and which did you get rid of)?
  • How much money did you make (and how much did you keep)?
  • What healthy habits did you embrace?
  • What did you do to alleviate stress?
  • What have you learned? What have you mastered?
  • Which events did you attend that brought results?
  • Which life and business development techniques worked for you?
  • What are you most proud of, from 2014?

Take time to write a complete list for the past year. You’ll be amazed at what you’ve accomplished and gain confidence that you can accomplish what you need to for 2015!

Here’s a worksheet (PDF) to help you with this exercise.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Pet Peeve: Marketing in Holiday Cards

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Call me anti-Grinch.

I love when I receive holiday cards from vendors, colleagues and other business contacts. What I hate, though, is never receiving any other communication from them all year, and then when they finally do send a holiday card, there’s a promotion for a sale or a discount coupon. Really people, get a clue!

I received a holiday card today (a “thank you for Thanksgiving” card) from a vendor that I haven’t heard from all year. Inside was a coupon for a discount on her service. So, she ignores me all year, doesn’t keep up with major changes in my business (like a new address), then tries to sell me something in her holiday card. Yuck.

The card went right into the trash.

Don’t these folks understand that sending the holiday card from the business, without any other marketing message, is a great way to market? It builds rapport and trust. It’s a subtle way to say:

“I believe in the power of abundance and relationships so much, that I don’t need to send you marketing messages at the end-of-year holiday season. Instead, I simply wish you joy, happiness and success in the New Year.”

Whatever happened to creating friendships with our clients, customers, vendors and other business colleagues? A holiday card is a chance to connnect, a chance to build rapport, and a chance to share warm wishes with another human being. Don’t smear it with crass commercialism. (Wait until AFTER New Years, then send them your offer!)

I’ll get off my soap box now.   🙂

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Category: Marketing