Make sure this last quarter doesn’t pass you by without getting stuff done…
Wow! This year has really flown by! I don’t know about you, but it seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the new year and getting our biz’s ready for awesome growth and productivity. Fourth Quarter is a wind-down quarter for a lot of us…a time to review how our business’s did over the past year and plan for the next. Even this quarter needs a game-plan, so I hope these tips get your business started on the right foot in this end-of-year home-stretch!
Tip #1: Get important dates in your calendar
Some of these might be standard across the board, while others might depend on your individual business. Here are a few dates you might need to think about and decide if you want/need to incorporate them or modify them for your biz:
- Tax due dates and forms. Did you get your 3rd quarter taxes paid and forms turned in on time? If not, go ahead and put it on your calendar for next year. While you’re at it – fourth quarter taxes and forms will be due in January (especially the annual forms), so get those in your calendar now while you’re thinking about it.
- Holiday specials. Is your business running any holiday specials around all the major holidays coming up? Make sure your employees, clients, VA’s, web-designers, etc. know about them so they can help promote. Also, you don’t want them caught “off-guard” if someone asks about it!
- Vacation time. There are two major holidays coming up, so make sure you have your vacation departure and arrival dates in the calendar so your co-workers/employees know when to expect you to be gone. Schedule reminders now for your clients to remind them that you will be out of the office or not easily accessible. Make sure your pets are going to be taken care of. Set up reminders to change your email and voicemail to “vacation responses”, if needed.
- Pre-planning for next year. Make sure you take some time to get things ready for next year so you can start the year off right!
Tip #2: Schedule your marketing
If you have holiday specials going on, make sure you schedule time to get all the prep-work done. You also want to get a marketing calendar out to all your employees, web-designer, Virtual Assistant, and whomever else needs it so you are all on the same page. Here are a few things you want to include:
- What the special is.
- How long you’re going to promote it.
- What needs to be created and implemented to get it ready for promotion (ebooks, Facebook Ads, blog posts, etc.).
- How customers or clients will need to access, download, or claim the special..
- Who qualifies for the special – is it for new customers only? Are you promoting it to repeat customers?
Schedule time in your calendar to get everything ready and due dates for things to get done. Break each piece into separate steps with due dates and assign to your team members. Use a collaboration tool like Asana, Slack, or Basecamp to keep an overall picture of progress.
Tip #3: Prep your biz for when you’re gone
If you are taking time off during the holidays, make sure you get everything prepped as best you can before you leave. This way, your biz can run on “auto-pilot” while you’re gone, and you can relax more. Of course, you can’t account for everything, but being as prepped as possible helps those “emergencies” seem more like “inconveniences”. You can try:
- Scheduling out your social media posts. Go as far in advance as possible. There are plenty of third-party apps that can help with this like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Edgar that have tons of options even for the budget-conscious.
- Scheduling your blog posts. If you take the time to get them written ahead of time, you don’t have to worry about getting them done on vacation. Or, utilize your evergreen posts (posts that have gotten a lot of engagement) to post while you’re away. Can’t get them done in time? See if your VA or another teammate can either write it for you, or you write and they edit/proofread it. Or get them to just do the images/graphics for you. Breaking it up into smaller tasks can help you put the puzzle together.
- Scheduling your advertising. If you are going to be running specials around the holidays, make sure those advertisements are ready to run before you head out.
- Get your lead magnets automated. If those specials have a lead magnets people sign up for, use an automation system like Infusionsoft, Mailchimp, or AWeber to send those leads their “giveaway” so you don’t have to do it manually. Don’t forget the follow-up emails! 😉
Tip #4: Relax and recharge on your vacation!
One of the main reasons you took time off was to get away and recharge. Whatever this means to you – do it! Your biz will do so much better if you come back refreshed afterwards. If you come back stressed because you did nothing but worry about your business, or worked too much, or fretted because you knew of all the tasks waiting for you when you got back, then your work, employees, clients, customers – everyone – will feel that. Come back with a fresh mind and insight and be ready to rock your biz!
Tip #5: Review your biz and plan for next year
I mentioned this a bit in Tip #1, but it bears repeating here. Physically schedule time to review your business and see what worked and what didn’t:
- Look at your P&L. Did you make a profit for the year? Was it as much as you wanted or more? If the answer is “no”, start brainstorming ideas on what marketing changes you need to make to bring in a better bottom line. Look at each quarter – was there one that did better or worse? Think about how you can utilize that to your advantage with marketing.
- Look at your ROI. Did your marketing outlets pay off? If you used social media for advertising (Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, Promoted Pins, etc.), which ones worked and which ones didn’t? What about hard advertisements like phone books, billboards, etc.? Soft advertising/marketing counts too – those networking events or handing out your business cards. Take inventory and see where you may need to tweak things for next year. Make a plan to stop using outlets that didn’t give you a good ROI, and move those efforts to the ones that did.
- Schedule time to plan for next year. Actually block it off in your calendar. Spread it out over several days if you need to, but make sure it gets done. Use what you learned in items 1 and 2 above to create a marketing plan for next year. When will you run specials, what will you need to draw new customers to those specials, and how will you advertise them? Get those planning dates in your calendar now so you’ll be ready each month to work on it!
- Go head and put in any time off that you know of in your calendar for next year. Plan your marketing and business items around it.
- Schedule time each month or quarter to review your business. It will help you see how your doing to get to your goals, and you can adjust as you need to with that information.
Your prep work this quarter can set you up for a great year in 2017!
Taking time to take care of yourself and your business this year can only help you prepare for next year. Here’s to a productive fourth quarter for your business!
I love helping small businesses grow! If you need help executing any of the above tips, hiring a Virtual Assistant might be a great option. Check out my services and ideal client pages to see if I would be a good fit for you and your biz!