At this time of year many business people are winding down and the focus can be more on pleasure than planning.  However, if you own a business and you’re responsible for its ongoing success, the end of a year is often an opportunity for reflection and planning.

Here are a few things to think about:

The financial picture

It may seem obvious, but when your bottom line is healthy, it’s much easier to grow and develop the business.  My accountant tells me that having his numbers in line has been the defining factor of the success of his business. 

Being an accountant you would expect him to say that, but he’s more of an entrepreneur than an accountant that only works with what’s gone.  His advice is to know exactly what each month’s, quarter’s, year’s outgoings will be and look at the projected income.  If these two numbers are very close, it will only take one customer leaving to cause catastrophe (as I know only too well). 

And don’t forget to factor in tax – it still has to be paid.

The marketing landscape

Keeping business flowing in starts with marketing.  Very few people enjoy the hard sales process, so marketing is essential to keep the ‘sausage machine’ stuffed with warm leads.

This means getting the mix of social media, PR, online marketing, advertising, promotional activity and direct sales right.  Every business is different and the best place to start is with your ideal client profiles, understanding them thoroughly so your targeting is accurate and your marketing appears where they’re looking.

Hot tip:  Check out where most of your clients come from and do more of that!

The people package

Unless you’re a very small business and can do it all yourself, at some point you’re going to need help.  That might be staff, but could also be contractors, outsourced services or a combination of all these.

It’s never wise to try and do everything yourself.  Quite apart from the fact that you’re not an expert in everything, your stress levels will rocket as you work many more hours than you need to. 

Decide what you WANT to do and work out how much more you could earn doing what you enjoy, than it will cost to get someone else to do it.  If the idea of being an employer isn’t filling you with joy – book a chat with an HR advisor so you understand what you’ll need to do as an employer and ensure that you’re properly protected.

Hot tip:  Read Michael Gerber’s The emyth revisited.

Put the plan on paper

This might be digital paper, but I’m a big fan of having something on the wall to remind you what you’re aiming at.  At the least you should have a chart of target income per month and the monthly outgoings, so you can see your profit line.  However, the marketing plan showing activities to be carried out in view will ensure things get done rather than forgotten.

Your people plan will show at what point you’ll need another pair of hands so that recruitment – whether of a member of staff or an outsourced service – can be done in plenty of time.

Good luck!