In many businesses, the end of December and first week in January can be a slow time of year. It’s a great time to slow down a bit and recharge your creative energy but if you are like many entrepreneurs, your mind will still be buzzing with business ideas.
When I was in the home furnishings business, I spent the last two weeks of December in Hawaii with my husband and son. The holiday season was a quiet time in that industry, but because I am an idea generator, I couldn’t tune business out all together. If you are a creative entrepreneur, chances are your mind works the same way.
Rather than stress over the lack of revenue this time of year, there are some things you can do now, even if you are on vacation, to make sure 2013 is your most prosperous year yet.
1. Do a review of 2012.
First, Congratulate yourself on what you did right. What was your most profitable product or service? What project was the most fun? Ask yourself how you can expand on those areas of your business that brought in the most revenue and brought you joy. What products or services can you add related to those successful ones? Are there things you can do that compliment them that would appeal to the same customer? For example, you make canine themed jewelry for humans? Would the same customers who buy your breed specific charms buy custom jewelry (tags and charms) for their dogs? (If you need ideas on that one, I am full of them.) Or, you write a blog on nutrition for vegan expectant mothers. Could you also add a product that those mother’s will purchase after their babies are born? ex: a booklet or e-course titled “How to make sure your vegan toddler gets enough protein.”? And maybe sell someone else’s hand-made, leather-free (vegan) apparel?
Now look at what mistakes you may have made or where you see holes in your business. Remember, only do this after you’ve spent time on your successes. What areas of your business took more work or cost than they were worth? Is there a way you can make them profitable and enjoyable? If not, are you willing to let go of the parts of your business that don’t have a sufficient monetary return? Can you outsource the aspects that lack a joy factor? Will changing the process or materials you use make the product or service more profitable or more fun? (yes, “joy” and “fun” must be part of the year-end review. After all, isn’t that why you are in business for yourself?) If there are areas in your personal life that you’ve neglected while launching your business this past year, make sure and list those in this section. What do you need to do to take care of “the boss”?
2. Outline solutions and goals.
Now that you have identified the specific areas of your business that work and those that are in need of attention, make a list of what steps you will need to take to attain those goals over the next 12 months. I find it’s most helpful to break these down into monthly projects and then break those into weekly tasks. You can even start each week by making a list of daily baby-steps.
Include any personal care in this section. (If you’ve been seriously neglecting yourself, I would avoid things like “lose 20 lbs” or “run a triathlon” and instead set goals like “eat a nutritious meal 5 nights a week” or “walk 3 times a week at lunch time”.) You can then break these down into baby steps if you need to.
3. Line up your support network for the year. Do you have a mentor or coach who will help you find solutions and hurdle the speed bumps? Will you be part of a mastermind? Particularly if the first two steps felt overwhelming or you know you will get distracted and off track, it’s time to invest in yourself and your business by hiring a guide and joining an accountability group.
You can find info here on how to find a mentor and where to find your entrepreneurial tribe. http://ht.ly/go9K6