I’ve eaten the turkey. (Well, prime rib because I don’t like turkey.)
I shopped until I dropped. (Hides Amazon boxes from hubby…)
We decorated and shared good cheer. (With a mask, and socially distanced.)
We wrapped and unwrapped. (Or used gift bags, because, hello… 2020!)
All I want now is bubbly in my glass while I watch a sparkly ball drop from the sky. (Except I’m never up until midnight; I’m old, leave me alone!)
I’ve had the time to do all this because my clients sort of snooze through the last few weeks of their year and don’t get back to business until at least January 2. This would be a great time to work on MY business… but what should I do?
I’m going to list 5 things you can (and probably should) do in this end-of-year lull to get ready for next year:
Take a moment to write down 5 things you learned this year.
Hand-write this with an actual pen and paper, or iPad and Pencil.
Did you learn to bake bread? How to trade stocks? Master a new software/platform? Did you learn how to scale your business? How to ration toilet paper (just kidding… sort of!)?
Taking the time to remember what you learned this year can help you reset and get clarity on what you’d like to do in the new year as you start planning your goals.
Clean your desk/office/work area.
Take everything — EVERY. THING. — off your desk. I use a folding table, but the floor works.
Get the Lysol (it’s 2020; I know you have some) or cleaner of your choice, and clean your desk. Once your desk is empty and clean, put back ONLY your computer and desk calendar/blotter.
Crazy idea, right?! Seriously, cleaning your desk will help you focus and order your thoughts so you can get rid of all the things you thought you needed that have become clutter that distracts you.
Get three boxes, or storage tubs, or a dumpster (whatever it takes), and label them, I label my boxes “Like It,” “Love It,” and “Makes Me Money.” But you might try “Keep,” “Trash,” and “Donate.”
Now use your boxes to sort that mountain of stuff you forgot you had, haven’t used, and don’t even remember what you thought when you bought it. I love office supplies, but I basically use Post-It’s, pens, and a notebook, so after I fill the Donate box (Like it) with all the stuff I got in the “gotcha” section at Target and back to school clearance at Walmart, it gets much easier to clearly define that I should Keep (Love It) my kids’ pictures, my checkbook, iPad stand, etc.
Now it’s getting lean, and I need to decide if what’s left is essential to my workday, or just taking up space. As I trash things, I make sure to shred any identifying or confidential documents (I pretend I’m Bernie Madoff and the jig is up!).
Document your processes and workflows. (Winging it won’t last forever)
Do you know the path your clients or potential clients take to work with you? Do you find yourself typing the same email over and over? Do you even know what your funnel looks like?
Take some time to outline your onboarding process from initial contact to your first 30 days with a new client. Make sure you know every step, from “hello” to your one month anniversary. Create onboarding documents/templates that help automate these processes you perform over and over again.
Get your billing, bookkeeping, and documentation organized so that you can spend less time doing admin in your own business.
Outline what systems you use to do each function, making sure there is no overlap or duplicated work. If you have specific things you do for clients, get those things documented. Create checklists to ensure every step is completed.
Develop your Strategic Plan.
You are a business owner. You can and must do this, as hard as it sounds. Focus on three key areas:
Budget/Finance. This is more than your bookkeeping system. Make sure you know your numbers. How much did you make in 2020? How much do you want to make in 2021? What will it take to reach your financial goals in 2021? How much do you spend to operate your business? Do you have business accounts with vendors? Do you have a nest egg, savings, or a credit line for your business? Have you purchased insurance? Are you working with your CPA to maximize your deductions?
Marketing. This can come in the form of building or revamping your website, developing your marketing calendar, cleaning up social media, and developing a strategy for using social media to grow your business.
Calendar/Time Management. Make sure you build a calendar that helps you work while you are working your business. Try to keep one day a week clear of appointments/meetings. Block time each week to work on your business, not just in it. Set working hours and communicate them to clients, family, and yourself. Determine how many hours you can work and how many clients you can handle. Set aside time for networking. Leave time for dance breaks, spouses, and cute crumb snatchers!
Set goals, and prepare to crush them.
Get clear on your goals and what it will take to get there. For example, if you want to bill/earn $100,000 dollars in 2021 (that’s $25,000 per quarter, $8,333.33 per month, or $1,923.08 per week), you may need to determine if you need to specialize, raise your rates, get more clients, or find a rich relative. No matter what your goal is, set it, and get clear on what it will take to get there.
Stay accountable to yourself and your goals. Things will change, life will happen (as we all learned in 2020), so give yourself room for goals to change, but stay the course. When you keep your goals written and plain, check them off, keep a list, and celebrate your wins!
Being in business for yourself can be lonely and overwhelming. But it can also be the most rewarding and empowering thing you can do for yourself and your family. There will be challenges and successes. You will learn more about yourself than you ever wanted to know, or anybody else wanted to know either. But always remember:
You are strong. You are smart. You can do this!
Dionne Thomas is IVAA’s Membership Director and Founder of The Zeva Group.
Learn more about Dionne at zevagroup.com