7 elements of your business to examine before the end of the year


Amber Anderson

Amber is the co-founder of MORE and Kayson, a business strategy agency. She is also the proud momma of a special, and very active, little boy.

It’s December 1st, which means we’re exactly 31 days away from 2017. Juggling work and life is never easy, but it is especially hard at the end of the year as your personal and professional worlds begin to collide. Your business needs you. Your family needs you. And there’s only one you.

To get through it successfully you need to be laser-focused. So we had the team at Kayson give us a list of seven elements within your business that need your attention before the year ends. All you have to do is spend one hour (two max) a day for seven days on each topic and you’ll be on track to start 2017 off right.

The seven business elements

Here are the seven elements within your business that you should be addressing before the year ends.

1. Your Why.

Think about it. Confirm it’s still relevant. Write it down.

Your Why is the most important aspect of everything you do. It’s what wakes you up at night and keeps you going during long days. It’s also a great place to end and start a year. For me, I am in business for my family.

Being a business owner provides me with the flexibility that I need to be home with my son, spend more time with my husband and create a legacy (and financial stability) for my family. My family is my Why. What's yours?

Think about why you’re in business. Share your thoughts with your partner or spouse, and then write it down so you can come back to it later.

2. Your business goals.

Review, update or create five goals for the next year.

After reviewing why you’re in business, it’s time to evaluate your business goals. Set aside an hour (no more than two) to evaluate what you’ve done and set goals for the new year. If you did any planning last year you may have these goals written down. Pull them out and see how you did. For every goal you have listed ask yourself:

  1. Did we meet that goal? If so, what did we do well that helped us meet it. If not, why didn’t we meet the goal?

  2. What’s the next logical step that we need to take to move forward? What’s my biggest constraint?

  3. What do I need to do to meet that next step or remove our current barriers?

  4. When do I want/need to see these new steps/barriers met?

Now create five new (or updated goals) for the new year.

If you did not set any goals last year:

Now is the time to write your goals out. Goal setting doesn’t have to a be a lengthy process. The trick is to spend some time thinking about what it is that you want and what you don’t want out of your business. At Kayson we follow the SMART goals methodology.

3. Your market.

Research what policies, technology and industry changes are coming your way.

Things change, especially during an election season. December is the perfect time to get caught up on what’s going on in the market so you can make sure 1) your goals are set up to address any potential risks that may pop up and 2) you’re planning ahead.

A quick market review is an essential point for your business because it’s these outside influences that tend to be the hardest to recover from. Whether it’s potential policy changes, a technology shift or change happening within your industry, it’s important that your business stay ahead of the curve.

At Kayson we call it the three external touch points:  

  1. Policies. Policies are rules, regulations or laws that have a direct impact on your business. This year some of the overtime pay policy changes that were in queue had the potential to impact several small businesses.

  2. Technology. Technology includes any new technology that has entered the market, or is in beta, that can either help or hurt your business. For example, bots are a big thing in the technology space, along with other forms of artificial intelligence. If you’re in an industry that relies heavily on processes, there may be an opportunity for you to capitalize on the progression that is being made in the space, or the progression may be something you want to monitor to ensure it does not impact your business.

  3. Industry. Ask yourself what’s going on in your industry. Look for an industry conference or perform a quick search to see if there are any new developments hitting your space. Staying up to speed on what’s going on will not only help you do more for your customers but also ensure you and your team remain competitive.

If you don’t have the time, market research is an easy task to outsource. With some guidance, virtual or administrative assistants or a college intern can do some basic research for you. Or the Kayson team can provide in-depth analysis and context.

4. Your team.

Hold performance reviews. Say thank you. Solicit feedback. Create action plans.

Businesses aren’t run by robots; they’re run by people. And regardless of how big your company is, it takes a team to make your business successful. This month set aside a couple of hours to reach out to the people who keep your business running, including your spouse or partner, contractors (accountant, lawyer, writers, designers, etc.), employees, strategic partners and vendors.

For distant teams (such as contractors, etc.) you can connect with a simple email. For close teams (such as partners and staff), schedule a meeting and hold performance reviews. You can start both conversations by telling them that you recognize and are grateful for the contribution they made to your business this year, and then ask them for their feedback on how you can make things even better next year. Ask them:

  1. What they think the business is doing well.

  2. What suggestions they have for improvements.

  3. The one thing they would like to see different next year.

A great way to get your team engaged is to hold a team lunch or holiday party. The goal is to get people together, show them that you care and solicit feedback.

Once you’ve heard from everyone, summarize the feedback. And add the top two to your action plan for next year.

5. Your customers.

Confirm your current market is your target market. Say thank you to ideal customers. Identify entry points for difficult customers. 

Every customer is not created equal. Before the year ends, take a moment and evaluate the types of customers you have today. Group them into three categories: ideal, average and difficult.

For your ideal customers, jot down what makes them great and how you found them. Then make it a point to reach out to them (via email is fine) and thank them. Tell them you’re grateful for their support.

For the difficult customers do some digging into how you brought them onboard. Was it through a certain marketing channel (i.e., a particular platform, coupon, etc.)? Usually you’ll find that there’s some common denominator. Find that common denominator and then create an action item for yourself to address it at the beginning of the year.

6: Your legal contracts.

Familiarize yourself with your obligations. Determine which contracts you want to renew, terminate and renegotiate.

Contracts expire. Contracts auto-renew. And some contracts you’ll want to cancel or renegotiate. Now is the time to revisit your contracts with customers, employees, contractors and vendors. Read through them and make note of the terms and dates. The contracts you’re good with can be stored away. If there are contracts that you want changed, schedule a time to reach out to the other party to do so. Then, by date, group each contract by quarter (Q1, Q2, Q3 or Q4) and set a reminder on your calendar to revisit it again next year.

Before you begin, ping your lawyer to see if they can send you a list of the contracts that are up for review. Tell them that you’ll be performing contract reviews quarterly.

7: Your brand.

Verify materials are up to date and consistent. Make easy changes like updating your headshot and add your accomplishments to social sites and your About page.

Last, but certainly not least, revisit your online presence. Take a look at all of your marketing materials, websites, social media sites and print materials to make sure they’re up to date. Here are the top three areas you should update before January 1.

  1. Contact info. Is your business contact info (email address, phone numbers and website addresses, etc.) up to date? Check your website, business cards, social media sites and print materials. If the info is wrong, make a note to have it changed.

  2. Your website. Make sure your website is up to date. Confirm all of the links and buttons work, that your messaging is on point and your About Us page is up to date. Add new hire pictures and remove employees that are no longer with the company. People love photos. Take advantage of holiday deals by having a professional photographer take your team’s headshots.

  3. Social media sites (personal & company). Make sure your social sites, both personal and professional, are up to date. Update your job description on LinkedIn, add accomplishments and upload a new photo. Making these changes is a great way to show you’re active and highlight your accomplishments. It also will, in most systems, pushes a notification to your network, which in turn will bring traffic to your page.

All right, that’s it. One hour a day for one week and you can rest assured that your business is ready for the new year.

Happy Holidays!