As the year draws to a close, business owners and staff alike become more fond of their calendars. They anticipate a winding down of operations, or at least a thinning of work volumes, and the chance to relax for an extended period.
It’s perfectly fine to want a break from the long business year; after all, the rest should help rejuvenate your mind and body ahead of the next working period. But it’s also a bad idea to simply ditch business when it’s a couple of weeks into December and just pick up from where you left off when the new year comes around. That’s a potentially disastrous way to run an enterprise.
The year end gives you a chance to examine your business’s position, and chart a path forward for it. Taking a fraction of this period to properly evaluate your wins, losses, challenges and opportunities to scale won’t do you any harm in the long term. It’ll probably be the thing that gets you to fire up your business’s growth engines.
It’s also worth mentioning that you could do some not-too-serious things this period which to set your business up for success in the next twelve months. The enterprise building process doesn’t have to be all tough reviews and strategy plotting (although you could certainly do with those). You’ll find out as we go on in this article.
Things to Do At Year End
- Take a Look At Your Books
This should go without saying, but we’ll put it out here anyways: your financial records are a better indicator of your business’s state than almost any other thing (your staff’s default facial expression at work might be another, but it’s not always reliable).
When you go through them, you should look out for the key points: performing and non-performing products or assets, leakages, debts, and (of course) profits or loses. Unless you’re knowledgeable enough to pore over your records with real understanding (and maintain the books in the first place), you could get this done by your in-house accountant or a professional hired from without.
The point of deciphering these things from your financial records would be to take action that further strengthen the performing sections of the business, and fix the weak points (or cut them out if they can’t be maintained).
You would also do well to have this review documented, so you can refer to it at a future date if the need arises.
- Evaluate Your Performance On the Job
Whatever low points you observe in your books or from written assessments of staff performance over the year, they all come down to the failure of human factors. You probably won’t be able to control a human deficiency that’s hurting your business from the outside (you may be able to avoid it though). But when the failure has happened in-house, you can and should sought it out.
If you’re running a business on your own, you may want to know whether you’ve worked efficiently enough through the year, i.e. achieved the maximal level of productivity possible given the resources at your disposal and the prevailing environmental factors. It could also be that you’ll see a need to acquire a new skill or improve one that you already have, in order to raise you performance on the job.
This applies to teams at companies as well. Staff evaluations typically follow a structured format, but the details may differ with each employer. When you’re weighing your workers’ contributions to the business, you should have set criteria against which they’re measured. For example, you’ll be looking at output quality and volume, punctuality, skill levels demonstrated, fit with your organization’s culture, etc.
- Appreciate Your Employees
This could take any one of several forms, from verbal or written commendation, to gifts and company sponsored staff outings.
We’re not asking you to pamper your employees with costly cozy treats at the end of a loss making year. It’s wise to trim one’s coat to his or her shape. Even if you can’t afford dropping loaded hampers with every one of them, you could at least send them notes expressing your appreciation for the effort they’ve put into making the company better; this could go with a souvenir, or some other kind of token. What matters is that you’re able to show that you’re pleased with their work.
- Say “Thank You” to Your Customers
This may be the difference between going into the new year with firmly loyal customers, and clients peeling off from you in the near future. Your products and services may be excellent, and you could be thinking that this should suffice. But remember that customers want to be recognized as unique individuals with a life, and not merely as buyers. Let them know you get this.
Ideas for sharing that little extra happiness with your customers may include Christmas greetings, sent as physically or digital cards, or just the plain email; giving out souvenirs; and (if you have the means) inviting them to a thank-you event.
- Plan for the New Year
When you’ve gotten a good view of your business’s present state, the next step to take would be to make it work better in the coming year. So you’ll be plugging the holes you’ve discovered, and making your strong points even sharper.
You might be planning to do any or some of these things:
- Replenish inventory
- Hire and/or let go of personnel
- Restructure the organization
- Upgrade equipment or replace old or malfunctioning ones
- Get your employees trained
- Run marketing campaigns
- Exhibit at trade shows
These actions will be taken with the aim of boosting output volumes and quality, increasing patronage, and raising revenues and profit levels.
Featured Image Source: Guy Church