For many businesses, January can be a deadbeat month—the January blues. With the holiday sales and celebrations over and talk of penny-pinching, diets, and cold weather in the air, coming back after the break can be hard. Employee morale can also take a dip which, in turn, lowers productivity.
But small business owners can’t afford to get the January blues. Try to look as this time as an opportunity to be optimistic, invigorate your team, and shape the year ahead.
5 Ways to Beat the January Blues
1. Ask Your Customers to Shape Your 2017 Resolutions
Feedback is essential to growth. Use the lull from January blues to find out what your customers are up to, what their pain points or challenges are this year, and what they want from the products and services you offer. Is there anything you could do better, keep doing well, or change?
A simple poll or survey is often all it takes. You could also hold a small focus group featuring select, yet varied clients.
Use the feedback to shape your 2017 resolutions and look forward to seeing your customers flock to you when they realize that you’ve listened!
2. Trim the Fat
As credit card bills start to roll in, it’s hard to avoid cash flow woes in January. From a business perspective, this is a great time to trim the excess fat on your monthly expenses. Review all your existing service contracts and see if there are opportunities to reassess your suppliers and vendors.
January is a great month for deals. Consider competitively bidding everything from your software licenses (think moving to the cloud), business insurance, commercial lease, shipping, and any other essential services. If anything is up for renewal, see if you can negotiate a discount for renewing for a multi-year term now. Here are some more smart ways to cut costs at your small business.
3. Do What You’ve Been Putting Off—Talk to Your Accountant!
Nothing kickstarts a business into action like a meeting with your accountant. From a tax standpoint, your account can help you understand any new tax laws that may impact your business this year, help you ensure your estimated quarterly tax payments are correct, and ensure that you’ve documented the right tax deductions.
If you’ve planned any big investments for the year, you accountant can also help you understand the best time to make those purchases. Got any organization changes planned such as new employees or restructuring? These can have tax implications that you need to be aware of.
Last, but by no means least. How is your cash flow planning? Were your forecasts for 2016 accurate? Did you hit unexpected pitfalls? Have an earnest conversation with your accountant about how you can improve the accuracy of your cash flow forecast for the year ahead.
4. Work on Employee Morale Off the Bat
January is an important time to rally your employees. Sit down with them to review their workload, upcoming projects, and look for ways to help ease their minds with a prioritization exercise. Don’t forget to share your plans for 2017 and where they fit into these.
And, just as you’ve surveyed your customers, listen to your employees too. What can you do to improve their opportunities, work environment, and well-being this year? Then be sure to follow through.
Here are some more tips for keeping your employees happy and ways to formalize employee perks that aren’t frivolous but rather reflect the kind of business you want to run.
5. Learn and Network
Being a small business owner is often a lonely endeavor. Working hard on your business is a full-time occupation, but January is a great time to step away from the busyness of business and attend networking and training events. Many organizations offer free in-person small business events on topics such as revamping your website, improving your accounting skills, managing teams, and more.
SCORE is just one. Your local Small Business Development Center or Chamber of Commerce are worth checking out too. Don’t forget to look online. SCORE, for example, offers webinars and online support from experienced business mentors, for free. The SBA also offers an online learning center of on-demand small business courses.
How will you kick the January blues? Leave a comment below.