- The end of the year is an excellent time to take stock, clean up, and plan out your business’s growth.
- Be sure that you finalize all financial statements and HR documents so that you can meet important deadlines.
- There’s always a chance to revise your current approach and set new goals.
2020 was a rough year for many businesses. You may still be reeling from lockdowns, COVID safety procedures, and new remote work arrangements, and other curveballs, but as the New Year quickly approaches, it’s time to wrap up some core business tasks. Follow this easy checklist, and you’ll be in great shape to start a (hopefully better) year growing your business!
Streamline Your Systems
If this year taught us anything, it’s how much time we spent on frivolous activities. How many low impact activities are sucking up your team’s time? The end of the year is a great time to rethink your current systems. Perhaps your CRM isn’t very efficient. Perhaps you’ve realized you need a better email marketing provider. Now is your opportunity to trim the fat and make your business more productive.
Make a list of the pros and cons of each tool you use. Note the amount you spend on each SaaS solution, software subscription, etc. Are you spending a lot of money every month on programs you don’t use? Is there something that could improve productivity in 2021? Look for ways that you can automate repetitive tasks to save time.
Check in with your team, too. Do they find that your project management system helped them stay organized in 2020? Do they want easier ways to communicate or collaborate? The end of the year is ideal for archiving previous systems and developing new, more efficient ones.
Make Your SMART Goals
Any plans you made for 2020 may have been thrown off track, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set new goals for 2021. The end of the year should be a time when you take stock of what you achieved. What went well? What didn’t? How will you move forward in the COVID era?
If you haven’t yet made the SMART framework part of your strategic planning, now is the perfect time to start. In this methodology, you make every goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound. This way, you can clearly map out and track your business’s growth throughout the year.
Look for ways that you can build Key Performance Indicators for the New Year. Did you end up shifting to online sales due to COVID? Have you been prioritizing digital marketing over print and radio methods? Assess your performance for 2020, then set new benchmarks for 2021.
Clean Up Your Books
You may not get audited, but it’s always a good idea to have your books in order. In 2020, you may have had a financially confusing year. Between fluctuating income and shifts in payroll or hiring, it might be difficult to prepare your end of year statements. It’s even more of a challenge if you accepted government relief or hired independent contractors. (If you did, be sure to get W9s from everyone.)
Be patient with yourself as you review all sources of income and expenditures. Make sure to check any personal cards where business purchases may have been made. You likely worked from home at least part of the year, so log those expenses as well. Categorize all transactions appropriately in your accounting solution.
Then, take note of any government assistance or business loans you received, as well as any new equipment or services you purchased to deal with COVID. For example, you may have beefed up your web presence to make more online sales. Document everything so that your accountant can help you file taxes.
Finally, review your current assets and liabilities. Did you acquire or sell equipment or vehicles? Did you take a loan to cover lockdown costs? Work with your account to update your balance sheet, determine your annual profits, and project your 2021 costs and revenue.
Rethink Your Marketing Strategy
Marketing platforms change, and with them, your results. Perhaps you started 2020 with a heavy emphasis on PPC ads to drive customers to your store, only to end up pumping out tons of social content during lockdown. Take some time to review your marketing strategy and look for opportunities.
Did you spend a lot on direct mailers with a low ROI? Could 2021 be the year that you start Snapchat marketing? Although we don’t yet know what’s in store for 2021, we do see a continuing trend in video marketing and voice searches. It would probably be a good idea to optimize your website for smart speaker inquiries and local SEO.
You may also want to close down or deprioritize channels that aren’t delivering results. The end of the year is a good time to audit your content and remove any irrelevant blogs or outdated web copy.
Don’t be afraid to adjust your marketing approach. Just be sure that you clearly identify your goals, budget, and any staff or freelancers you’ll need to bring on to get it done.
Implement Cybersecurity Measures
The end of the year is as good a time as any to run some IT security tasks. Change all the passwords to your various portals and accounts, and require your employees to do so as well. Be sure to revoke access for anyone who’s left your company.
Then, work with your IT team to boost your cybersecurity for 2021. Many businesses had to convert to remote work in a hurry and didn’t take time to set up VPNs or develop new security protocols. Review your current vulnerabilities and make a plan of action. Now is an ideal time to implement multifactor authentication, firewalls, mail shields, and other protective measures.
2020 is soon to be behind us. Follow this checklist and get ready to start 2021 with confidence and clarity for your business.