Will Your Small Business Finish the Year On a High Note? Erin Posey Before you fast forward to a New Year’s resolutions, take a step back and answer these questions. Are you looking to finish the year strong? Or are you just waiting for it be over hoping to get a fresh new start in January? Are you busier and more productive than ever? Or are you just coasting through the final days of 2016? Regardless of how your year is going, you can (and should) finish it on a high note. Not only that, but during the next month, you can build momentum and lay the groundwork for a successful start to 2017. You just might be surprised what you can get done in a short amount of time if you set goals, focus on them and eliminate distractions. But First: A Spring Cleaning In December? So expect to have a successful conclusion to 2016. But before you proceed with the rest of the year, take a breather. If need be, and if possible, take a little time away from work to recharge and recuperate this weekend. Then decide what you want to accomplish during the remainder of this year and figure out a game plan for getting there. Look for things that are holding you back, and eliminate them. Do you need to declutter your office? Do it. Do you need to drop some commitments that are taking too much of your time and energy while delivering minimal value? Do it. Over the next several weeks, you are going to be busy. So you’ll need to free up some time. How? Look for sneaky time thieves that cause your productivity to plummet – like surfing the web for holiday gifts or checking your email 30 times a day. Or worse, going through your day reactively instead of proactively. Until the end of the year (and to build momentum for next year), work in a productive fashion, uninterrupted by meaningless, low-value minutia. Focus on the most profitable, high-impact activities you can to make sure your business is in a sweet spot for 2017. Is there a high-value task you’ve been putting off that could have a positive impact on your business now and next year? Maybe it’s a website upgrade. Maybe it’s implementing a new, more powerful CRM system. Whatever it is, get it done. Housekeeping Tips to Prepare for 2017 Make Sure Your Team is On The Same Page With 2017 Goals Have you noticed your employees lagging (like your customer engagement) during the holiday slump? Schedule a group lunch or team building activity to informally discuss business goals and aspirations for the new year. Take a step back to make sure everyone understands their purpose on the team and in your business and collectively agree on where you want the business to go over the next 12 months. Allowing team members to discuss personal and professional aspirations as a group will help your team feel unified in their motivations and ready to tackle 2017 together. Make Sure Your Customers Know How Much You Appreciate Their Support Just like your employees might need a morale boost at the end of the work year, make sure your customers know how important they are to the livelihood of your small business. Shoot them a quick email, send a sweet treat or even better, write a thoughtful, handwritten note. It’ll go a long way to make them feel special and will get your team in the holiday spirit. Make Sure Your CRM Is In Tip-Top Shape There is nothing worse than coming home to a messy house after a long workday. How do you think you’ll feel coming back to your sloppy CRM in the new year? Spend a few hours alongside your team cleaning up your contact records, following up on any forgotten leads and making sure that you tools are in order before shutting down for the holiday season. It’ll be worth the frustration and wasted time in 2017 to tackle the mess while it’s still fresh in your mind. Make Sure You’ve Got Your Q1 Marketing and Sales Strategy Set We mentioned the annual sales and marketing checkup earlier this week, but we’ll say it again. There’s almost nothing more important to your business than checking in on the health of your sales and marketing strategy. Check in to see what’s fallen through the cracks, what needs to be reworked in Q1 and where you’re excelling. A fresh start for the new year will make coming back to work more enjoyable and make your team more effective to set you on a path for your best year yet.