As the calendar turns to another year, it’s the perfect time to take stock of your business and make some important changes for an even better year ahead.
Here are five simple things you can do to start the year off right:
1. Retool Your Pricing and Packages
The ideal time to re-evaluate your current pricing and packages is the New Year.
If you’re a solo professional or small business owner, you have undoubtedly realized that no one is responsible for giving yourself a raise but you. Too often, self-employed individuals end up working for the same rate year after year because they’re too busy to evaluate just how much their time is worth.
Why not enact a rate increase effective January 2013 for all new clients?
To give enough notice for your existing clients, it may be wise to offer them a special deal or incentive to continue working with you. For example when I raised my rates a couple years back, I immediately applied it to new clients but let existing clients continue working with me at my old rate for 3 months longer.
To stand out from similar businesses in 2013, you may also want to consider creating packages instead of just charging by the hour. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you could create a “New Year, New Website” package that allows people to purchase multiple website-related graphics they need in a single transaction.
If you already have packages, give them a second look to determine which ones may need updating, upgrading or even retiring.
2. Revive Your Workspace
If you can’t get to your desk without knocking over a pile of papers, your workspace could use some sprucing up
Start fresh in 2013 by creating a more attractive and useful working environment. Spend a day organizing, filing, and/or recycling all the paper you’ve accumulated in the last year. You may also consider making things more comfortable by upgrading to an ergonomic chair. Finally, try sprucing things up visually by adding artwork, color and greenery so you’ll want to keep things organized and beautiful.
If you work from home, you may want to consider a change of scenery by trying out a shared office space this year. Check out a website like LiquidSpace.com. Working in a shared office environment one day per week can help you beat the isolation and distractions of working from home.
3. Get Your Books in Order
Very few small business owners go into business because they love handling the administrative tasks, yet things like cash flow and Profit & Loss statements can make or break your business:
- Are you still managing your finances on a combination of paper scraps and Excel files?
- Do you know when a client is late on their payment?
- Do you scramble each year at tax time to track down your expenses and receipts?
Think about which aspects of your financial books caused you the biggest headache last year, and get a new tool to solve it. The right tool will free up your time and benefit your business’ financial health.
4. Set Trackable Goals
Come January 1, 2013, everyone is keen to set a goal or two. Unfortunately, by the time February rolls around, these goals are long forgotten.
This year try setting two types of goals for your business:
- Define one or two aspirations or goals, representing where you’d like your business to be in the coming years.
- Define smaller, bite-sized goals that can be tracked on a quarterly basis. Examples might include revamping your website home page, increasing Facebook fans by 20%, rolling out new services, etc.
It’s important that the smaller goals feed into your aspirational goals to ensure your day-to-day activities work toward the master plan you’re envisioning for your business.
5. Focus on Your Customers and Clients
Regardless of industry or annual revenues, a successful business hinges on happy customers. Therefore, the most important step toward a successful 2013 is to continue putting your customer’s needs at the forefront of everything you do.
With every decision you make, think about how it will impact your customers. If you’re not sure what your customers need from you this coming year, just ask them. Even in the age of social media, a simple phone-call or in-person meeting is the best way to take the pulse of your customers. A quick conversation will reveal invaluable insights about your customers and what they need to be successful.
Are you a solo professional or small business owner? Tell us what steps you’re taking to get your business in shape for 2013!
Woman working out in a gym Photo via Shutterstock
Editor’s Note: edited to remove reference to a now-closed site.
Great post, Justine. It’s important that you set solid measurable goals for the new year. I’ve taken the time to map out a clear blueprint to every single goal I want to accomplish in the new year and I’m totally secure in my game plan. Thanks for reminding us all to prepare for success!
Great advice, but I would add a sixth point to plan out your 2013 marketing plan and budget for it as well.
I’m with Ti – written, measurable goals are so important! And they need to be manageable. I’m actually working on a blog post regarding this right now. 🙂
Another point that I would make is while you’re checking prices and sprucing things up, see if there are any business practices you’re using that aren’t getting you results. Example: if you’re spending a lot of time on a social media site and not getting many visitors, or spending money on advertising that isn’t converting, the new year is the best time to cull those wasteful business expenditures and find new ones to try or focus on the ones you know work.
I love these simple, practical and I believe powerful suggestions, every entrepreneur should read this!
Great advice. For setting and getting goals, you may want to check out a goal setting app called http://GoalsOnTrack.com, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate.
2013 is a great year to make these changes into small businesses. Thank you for sharing. This will be really helpful when I set up my business.
I just went to the loosecubes.com website and they are closed. The website is shut down.