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Small Business Owner’s “To-Do” List for the Last Week of the Year

As the Holiday parties begin and thoughts of accounting year-end fill the air, the last week of the year gives small business owners a unique time to get some important tasks completed.


(1) Business Year in Review

This is an exercise in honesty and transparency. Start by reviewing the information with yourself. How did you really do this year? What went well? Where did you drop the ball? These are some of the questions that should be addressed. Don’t spin the results. This is not the time to sugar-coat what happened. Prepare a simple and easy to understand one- page summary of how you did last year. Now comes the tough part: Share the information with your stakeholders. That means employees, investors, and even suppliers. Let them see for themselves how you did during the year. Transparency is vital to maintain the trust of your stakeholders.

(2) Update Your Business Plan

Writing a business plan is like flossing: you hate to do it, but you have to do it or it will cost you in the end. Dig it up, dust it off and update it – keep it current. Remember, your business plan is only a tool only if you use it as one. Using it as a door stop or paper weight doesn’t count.

(3) Set Strategic Goals

Notice that I said “Strategic”. Now is the time to review your business, marketing, & Social Media strategy. Do it, and do it on paper. This exercise keeps you accountable. Make sure to include budget in your planning. It amazes me how many entrepreneurs have New Year’s resolutions, but set no strategic business goals. The time you invest to set your strategic goals for the New Year will pay increased dividends in the future.

(4) Get rid of the Clutter

It is time to clean the office. Let go of all the things you were holding on to. Clean out your storage room and get rid of old equipment. Every business has an outdated computer that just gathers dust. Throw it away, give it to one of your employees, or donate it! You will feel better having removed this piece of unfinished business from your life. Go through that stack of paper you were dreading. Move some furniture. Start the New Year unfettered.

(5) Connect with your Clients

Personal phone calls work best. Call them just to wish them a happy holiday. Make sure that the phone call is not a sales call. You are calling because of the human interaction. Connect and listen to your clients. Show your clients that you care. You can send letters, email, or use social media. This time of year, visits and calls are the most appreciated.

(6) Celebrate with your Team

Make sure that the people who supported you this year in your business are aware of how much you appreciate them and their willingness to walk this path with you. Have a party, even if you’re nearly broke. Take the time to celebrate the small stuff. The last few years have been difficult for small business owners. Celebrate the fact that you are still in business! In Frank Capra’s holiday classic: It’s a wonderful life, in the scene after the run on the bank; they have 2 dollars left in the vault. George Baily says “A toast! A toast to Papa Dollar and to Mama Dollar, and if you want the old Building and Loan to stay in business, you better have a family real quick.”

May the New Year Bring Health, Wealth, and less Standing Inventory on the Shelf!

Building a Business Is Like Creating a Great Piece of Art

Building a business takes time and when it is successful it is a work of art. Look at your business as a work of art, pick a subject and sketch out your ideas. Create the composition using the endless limits of the medium you wish to work with. Now start to build your piece of art work. The time it takes to develop your business depends on how well you know your craft and if you are able to teach it to others. You can go from making nothing to hundreds. It becomes the picture of a vision you have of your business.

Know there are some artists that hop from project to project not mastering the medium that they have picked. Create a style that people recognize as your work of art (your brand). A finished master piece takes time. Your business will take time just like a painting you will have to develop your skills. First pick a niche that you love and when you have mastered the techniques you plan on using. Pick the products you think are going to complement your work (business), apply the color (products) and watch how your subject starts to appear on the canvas. Pay attention to every detail so that you can portray a piece of work that is beyond your expectations and is a master piece of art. The artist who hops from project to project may never be an accomplished artist who can successfully create a piece of art. Taking time to build your business is worth so much to the people you do business with that they look at it as a treasure. They can’t image losing it.

Art is personal creation that stirs up emotions that will reach out and grab your heart. This is the way you should feel about the business you are creating. Marketing techniques may take some time if you are starting from the ground up. Don’t settle until you are pleased with the finished piece of work. It requires dedication and practice before you are comfortable in your new role. Take the time to learn the products and services that you market. When you have a good fit you will know it. Create a business that is like no other, attracting people who share your passion will inspire them to develop a painting of their own. You have learned the art of marketing and can teach your skill to others. Only a true artist is able to teach the skills they have acquired. Masters in the art world are building a name based on their style and people who truly love art want it around them. The people who want to become a master will copy the skills of the person that they truly respect and are willing to take the time to teach what they know to anyone who will listen.

When you are confidante people will take notice. When you know the skills and share your business with others is working for you. Marketing is an art and I am confident that out of the millions of people who start only a select few finish what they start. When you master your approach your confidence will show and you will not worry about how long it is going to take to build your business (art) because you know it is working and you are having a great time.