As the fourth quarter fast approaches, time is running out to meet your 2013 goals. It’s not too late to get back on track. Here are a few tips to jump-start your efforts.
Take a look at the goals you set back in January. Which ones are already accomplished or near completion? Which ones need some serious attention? “We are [almost] in the last quarter, push to make it to the finish line,” says Dawn Gluskin, CEO of SolTec Electronics.
More generally, determine what your business’s strengths and weaknesses are. Use them to systematize your operations for the year to come, advises Brian Miller, chief operating officer of AdviCoach.
Develop an Action Plan
Based on what’s unfinished and how much time is left on the calendar, put together a daily action plan that will help you meet your goals by year’s end.
For example, let’s say you need to bring in another $250,000 to meet your annual revenue goal of $1 million. Divide those remaining sales by the number of selling days left in the year to get your daily revenue goal, Gluskin explains.
“Now come up with a list of daily actions that are going to inch you toward making the goal.” Hire help, if needed.
Organize Your Finances
Once your daily action plan is underway, turn your focus to finances and tax preparation. “You don’t want April smacking you in the face an monopolizing your time. Get your finances in order — this includes business insurance, taxes, business purchases, your retirement plans, balance sheets, and your banking,” says Phrantceena Halres, CEO of Total Protection Services Global, a security services company.
Do not, however, spend money simply to reduce your taxes. “A common mistake that small-business owners make is trying to avoid taxes by purchasing excess equipment or unduly pulling ahead future-year expenses,” says Rick Crossland, a business coach for ActionCoach. “Doing so depletes your cash position. You need your cash to grow your business.”
Calculate Your ROI
Your year-end prep should also include analysis of whether you’re getting the results you expect in the areas where you’re investing money.
For example: Are you getting the most for your marketing dollars? Diligently track the sources of leads for all sales. Note which marketing channels consistently produce new and repeat customers. Calculate your return on investment for each one and reallocate your resources accordingly, Crossland suggests.
Don’t overlook the need to plan marketing and PR strategies for the coming year. “[Small-business owners] often commit what I call ‘random acts of marketing.’ This can lead to an inefficient use of time and money, both of which are scarce,” says Kevin Aschenbrenner, a senior vice president for Jaffe PR.
Focus on People
Your employees have a direct impact on your business’s success or failure. Think about who’s been a superstar this year — and who hasn’t.
“It’s time to stop tolerating your underperforming employees. The C players are costing you a tremendous amount of lost business and angst. You can replace C players with A players for similar money,” Crossland notes.
Meanwhile, thank everyone who’s made a positive impact — employees, partners, vendors, and advisers — and ask them what they think you could do better going forward.
“Make sure they know this year how much you recognize the role they’ve played in the company’s success,” Halres says. “This will promote a strong opening and good morale for the new business year.”