Your Business

How to Plan for the Year Ahead—During the Holidays

By Robyn Parets

If you operate a service business, the holiday season can be the slowest time of the entire year—which is the best time to plan for the year ahead!

One of the biggest reasons for this business slowdown has nothing to do with your work ethic but everything to do with this simple explanation: ‘Tis the season for vacations. Not only are your clients on vacation but so are many of your own employees.

What can you do with this forced quiet time? You have a couple of choices: You can take a well-earned vacation yourself or you can use your slower days to effectively prepare for the year ahead.

If you’re planning to do some work over the holiday period, check out these three high-impact ways to help you set business goals for 2019.

Refine or rethink your marketing plan

During Christmas week, our email inboxes and phones tend to calm down, meaning you have a little time on your hands to step back and think. With some of that down time, you can take a hard look at your advertising and marketing results in 2018.

This includes your social media engagement. What worked? What didn’t? Why? Did any of your paid marketing endeavors lead to new clients? For example, if you use social media channels—like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—to promote deals and sales, how much time did you spend on social media marketing and has this effort paid off?

If you are actively engaging with your customers, your time on social media may be well worth it.

On the other hand, if you’re paying for views and likes, running costly promotions through Facebook Ads or Google AdWords, or sponsoring other types of social media posts, it’s worth it to take a couple of hours to evaluate what value you’ve been getting in return. You can use analytics to determine whether these paid promos have resulted in any paying clients or purchases.

After a thorough evaluation, you can then decide whether you need to tweak your marketing plans and budget for the coming year.

Catch up on research projects

When you’re busy running your day-to-day business, it can be difficult to move your company in a new direction, introduce a new service or even plan for your eventual expansion. Big decisions tend to require some focus and research, and during the year, it can be tough to dedicate the time.

Now that you have some quiet time, you can take a hard look at what you’d like to accomplish in the coming year. With 2019 right around the corner, this is a great time to research new bookkeeping options or think about hiring a new accountant.

If you’re a freelancer, you can also use this time to determine whether you should incorporate your business in in 2019. Perhaps most importantly, the end of the year is an opportune time to organize your taxes, and outline your goals for Q1.

Evaluate your financing needs

When looking back over the past year, did you ever find yourself in a cash flow crunch? Or were there opportunities you wish you could have jumped on, but just didn’t have the funds to spare at the time?

Tomorrow is a new day. Now’s your chance to plan ahead so that next time these situations arise, you’re well-prepared.

You may need financing to support your plans, so start thinking about how to set it up in advance, so it’s there when you need it. Depending on factors like the size and revenue of your business, and how much funding you think you might need, there are many options to research, including SBA loans, microloans, crowdfunding, and lines of credit.

Holiday down time could be the right time to review your budget from the past year, think about when you might need extra funds next year and how much, and then look at which funding options might work best for you. To help you get started, check out our guide to business funding.

Happy (and productive) holidays!

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