The Holiday Hangover
Are you suffering from the holiday hangover? I am not talking about a hangover from too much eggnog or the bottle of Apple Cinnamon Moonshine that I left at the family party. Christmas is over, New Year's is coming, and we're looking forward to 2017. Of course, we all have huge goals and things that we want to accomplish in the new year. Today, I want to talk to you about five things that I like to do that really help me prepare and be more successful, not only at the beginning of the year, but throughout the year.
Finish Your Books
The first thing that I want to talk about is your books. Okay, this is your accounting system. I'm anal about using QuickBooks, so I set aside every Saturday morning to make sure that my books are done and that I'm balancing everything. I balance my credit cards, my PayPal account, my checking accounts, and my invoices. If somebody hasn't paid, I send reminders. I have scheduled time in my calendar to make sure that I'm staying on top of it. Nothing is worse than getting to the end of the year and realizing that you haven't touched your books for three months, six months, or the entire year. Right? I've seen people try to run their businesses out of shoe boxes, which is not a great idea.
If you don't do your own accounting, then make sure you set an appointment with your accountant, because inside of your books are a whole bunch of golden nuggets. Those golden nuggets will tell you how your business did during the year. Where were you making more money? Where weren't you making money? Where were you spending too much? What things in your business are working? Are there things in your business that you think are like cornerstones but maybe they aren't? Where can you start to look forward and plan ahead, so you can make a difference in the coming year?
File Your Files
The second thing is to get organized. What I mean by get organized is we probably all have papers in multiple places. I don't know about you, but I still get mostly paper bills and I file everything. During the week between Christmas and New Year's, I go to Office Depot, OfficeMax, or Staples, and I stock up on banker's boxes, files and file tabs to create a filing system for the new year.
I make sure that I pull all of the old accounts out and put them into a banker's box. They'll sit in my office, and if anything new comes in I just file it away. I take the old, old, stuff and take it down to the basement and put it on a shelf. I keep the newer files at my fingertips, so that if I need to look at what happened last year, I've got it just in case.
I tend to organize all of my stuff ahead of time, so I can hit the ground running the first of the year. I have all clean files and the stuff from last year is sitting ready for me to start digging into. Doing it this way means I'm fully organized and not spinning my wheels trying to get myself organized as I start to get busy. Starting the first week of January, I've got speeches, client meetings, networking and all the of the things that I don't have this week. I want to make sure that I use this downtime to maximize not only finishing up projects, but also finishing up organizing and getting myself prepped for the next year.
Quarter Things Up
Number three is I like to set goals. We all like to set goals for the next year. What I do, instead of setting annual goals, is I set up quarterly goals. I set quarterly goals because they're much more measurable, and achievable and can be done with a lot more vim and vigor. So, my first quarterly goal is April 1st, meaning what I am doing between January and March. What do I want to achieve this quarter? What's going to happen?
Let's face it, every quarter is different. The beginning of the year you probably won't be as busy as you will be in March, since people need to get into their flow. Then when you get into the summer time, say July, August, September, it's vastly different than November and December. When you set quarterly goals, you can say, “Okay, here's the goal for the quarter, then I can break it down for each month. Here's what I'm going to do in January, in February and in March.” Be realistic.
When I talk about numbers, I go back every single year and look at the flow of how my business has done. How did I do in January? How did I do in December? I like to measure where I was the last two or three years and use that as a benchmark to say, “Hey, you know, I think I can achieve this. I can overachieve this. I can, maybe, make it up here in certain services that I provide. Maybe I need to stop some services. Maybe I need to stop providing particular things that I'm doing, because it's just wasting time and not making money.” Setting quarterly goals really sets you up in smaller chunks that are going to help you become much more successful over the course of that time.
Go To Market (Planning)
Number four is planning your marketing. It's the same thing as the quarterly goals, but I like to say, “What are people thinking about at the beginning of the year?” They want to start out strong, maybe lose weight and they want to make New Year's resolutions. I mean, it's vastly different than where they are in April. What I tend to do is look at is how my business is different and how I can use a marketing calendar to lay out the kind of things that I'm going to do. Who do I need to interview for this podcast? If you have some ideas, let me know. I'd love to hear them. What do you want to hear about? Ask for some feedback. Figure out the things that people want to learn or the things that people need. Market to that at least a month ahead of time, because it's going to take a month to three months before people will act on a lot of the marketing that you do.
When I start marketing in January, I'm really looking at that quarterly goal and saying, “Okay, how can I prep people towards March where I think I can make the biggest difference?” Start laying out the topics. Start laying out the techniques. Start laying out tactics that you can use to grow your business over that first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, etc. You want to make sure that you're really thinking about your marketing plan, just like you would be thinking about your financial plan. Lay it out, act on it, and make sure that you're measuring the results of what is happening.
Go Shake Some Hands
Finally, make relationships a priority. This year, even if you didn't do it last year, get out there and network, meet people face-to-face, pick up the phone, have a coffee, go join some new networking groups, and just meet people. I don't care how engaged you are online, which I am, (I'm on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat), since your online presence does not replace face-to-face marketing. It enhances face-to-face marketing.
In my book, It's Not About You, It's About Bacon, I constantly talk about relationship marketing. Relationship marketing is getting out there. Most business starts with a smile and a handshake. Does it mean that maybe later on you can send a message via Facebook, via email, or whatever it is that's going to generate some business? Yes. But it really does start with getting people to know, like, and trust you. Invest time in people. Schedule some coffees. Schedule some time to go out and meet with people and find out what their needs are, because you'll really start to hear the pulse of where people are at. We're about to start a completely new year that is going to change the way that we do business, whether we like it or not. It's up to you to go out and really get to know people and feel the pulse.
Those are the five things that I want you to take a look at. Number one, finish your books. Keep your books in order and make sure that you're staying on top of it throughout the year. Number two, file your papers. Get organized and ready for the upcoming year, so that you can hit the ground running. Number three, set quarterly goals. You can set all four quarters, but every single quarter, review the previous quarter and start over again. Number four, plan your marketing. Know what you're going to do. Number five, get out there and invest in relationships by meeting people and shaking hands.
I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year. I would love to hear your thoughts, tips and things you do each year to make your next year the best one ever!