7 ways to wind down your year as an entrepreneur

December already! It’s a time to think of slowing down and taking stock. Whether or not your small business has a December 31 year-end, these 7 ways to wind down your year are useful for every entrepreneur.

Ways to wind down your year as an entrepreneur

  1. Review your 2023 business goals. What worked well and what didn’t? In 2024, do more of what worked in 2023, and evaluate the things that didn’t.
  2. Develop a strategic plan. A roadmap for getting from point A to point B can help your business immensely. If you don’t have a strategic plan, we’ve got a free one-page business plan template you can download at our website.
  3. Review your marketing, human resources management, financing and operations. Is there anything you could do better? Get working on some ideas to become more effective.
  4. Discover new ways to reach your audience. Social media and marketing are always evolving, so it’s a good idea to make sure what you’re doing still works for you and your business. As a starting point, check out our tips for generating brand awareness on a small budget!
  5. Clean up your contact information. Remove old contacts and duplicate records, and update current contacts in your professional networks.
  6. Update your productivity and technology tools. Download updates and templates and make sure your current apps are still benefiting your business.
  7. Tidy up your data. Delete old files. Get rid of spam emails. Back up your business records or hire a company to do it for you on a regular basis. Set up a good online file folder system so you don’t have to scroll through three months of emails to find something your accountant wants.

This time of the year can be a weird mix of relaxing and busy, but these seven things are worth doing. It’s valuable to take time to look back at your year in small business, and get yourself prepared to hit the ground running next year.

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Personal productivity tips for the entrepreneur

If your small business is like many others, you’re the sole employee. You’re the one responsible for every aspect of operations management – from answering phones, taking and returning messages, giving estimates, following-up with customers, selling the product or service, and managing customer satisfaction. And that’s only the operations of your small business. Don’t forget managing accounting, marketing, innovation, and competition!

Over half of Canada’s small businesses have fewer than five employees. Resources are tight, and time is precious. As the owner or manager of a small business, your own personal productivity is very important to the success and longevity of the business. Out of the small businesses that close every year, one-third of them do so because of the owner’s personal reasons for the closure. Being able to juggle several tasks for many hours a day requires a commitment by youto invest in products and systems that will enhance their own productivity.

Some tools to enhance your small business’ productivity

  • If you don’t have one already, consider an office-on-the-go phone such as a Blackberry™ so you can send and receive email, view websites, calendar schedule activities and keep track of customer information wherever you are.
  • Investigate collaborative technology that lets you work seamlessly with clients or other service providers in a virtual environment, sharing content and ideas in real-time, like Google Docs or Microsoft SharePoint.
  • For personal productivity, there are many products and services available that claim to make our lives easier and more efficient, such as Skype, FreshBooks and Microsoft OneNote. Do some research to decide what’s right for you and your business.

Also consider investing in the following:

  • Proper office furniture with file drawers to accommodate well-organized and labelled information
  • A separate business telephone line for your office if you work from home
  • A good everyday document scanner
  • A printer and fax machine (yes, people still use fax machines!)
  • A label maker printer and document shredder

If you’re the chief cook and bottle washer of your business (so to speak) make sure your work environment is set up in a way that maximizes your personal productivity. Your goal is to never, ever lose a customer’s name or contact information and to never miss an appointment. Never, ever. Promise? Good.

For more reading on managing productivity in a small business, check out these past blog posts:

 

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Understanding your prime time for small business productivity

What’s your prime time?

No, I don’t mean your favourite TV show – I mean the time of day when you’re most productive and effective in your small business.

We all have a prime time. For some of us, it’s early morning. We can’t wait to get up and get started. By the time late afternoon rolls around, our brains have had enough and we don’t function nearly as well. Other people seem to kick in after lunch and make great strides by suppertime. And we all know at least one night owl – someone who thrives after dark and is alert and hard at it when the rest of us have turned out the lights.

It’s important to recognize when you’re the most productive and use that knowledge to your advantage as an entrepreneur. Are you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 5 am? Then get up and tackle the most pressing item on your to-do list then (one that doesn’t involve a phone call, of course). If you’re a slow riser, work at secondary tasks in the morning and save the big jobs for mid-afternoon. The same goes for scheduling appointments and making important decisions. Unless it’s life or death, whenever possible, postpone signing important deals or talking to decision-makers until your prime time. You’ll feel fully alert and more in charge.

This isn’t always possible, especially when other people are involved. If a client can’t meet you any later than 7 am – when you’re usually brewing your first coffee – so be it. Meet, do more listening than talking and say you need to consider the important points they’ve raised. Promise to be get in touch later that day.

When you do call your client back, use this simple trick to maximize your effectiveness: stand up when you talk to people by phone. Let’s say you’re responding to a request for a quote and have just dialed the customer (during your prime time, of course). Stand up – don’t sit at your desk. Your blood flows better, your breathing isn’t obstructed, your voice will project and you’ll feel much more in control. Try it and see.

When is your prime time? Do you notice when you’re more productive and efficient in your small business? What about your team members? Let us know!

 

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