16 Things to Do in Your Business Before 2016
It’s December, the holidays are here, and quite often that means “vacation mode” until the new year. But if you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, we think this is actually the BEST time to get business done! While everyone else is mentally away from the office, you can use the downtime to your advantage – take time to set the groundwork for what’s going to happen in your small business next year. Here are 16 things you should do for your business before 2016.
1. Update your Social Media Strategy
It’s easy to get into the habit of posting on one social platform, but it could be time to add something new. Choose one new social media platform to add to your daily mix of marketing activities (live video streaming is really hot right now). Try to use new social media platforms to create buzz about your business and drive traffic into your store or website – you never know who you could be engaging that have never heard of your brand before.
2. Update Your Business Website
In this day and age, your website is your primary sales tool. Take a look at your website and give it a facelift! You don’t need to do a complete overhaul, just freshen it up a bit for the new year. If you can’t decide what to change, look at your analytics to see what your most popular content is, and then add more of that.
3. Engage Your Customers
Check in on your current customers. Make sure that you are in the loop as far as which of your contacts have moved on to other companies, which companies have changed budget cycles, and any other changes important to your business relationship.
4. Create a Client Outreach program
It can be a tall order to reach out to every single customer that you have, so carve out a weekly time slot when you can reach out to current and former customers. Make a list of current/former clients that you can start calling and find out what you could be doing to make their experience more enjoyable, and thereby retain (or regain) their business.
5. Develop New Products
Everyone loves new stuff! Take a look at what’s working with your products/services and look for areas that you can improve upon or expand. What was your top seller this year? Creating a bundle deal with your most popular product could significantly improve sales of your other products/services.
6. Develop New Offers/Events
Is there an opportunity to expand your products or services into an online course or live event? If you own a pet grooming salon, you could start a weekly doggy playdate (and hand out coupons). Or if you provide web design services, why not offer a basic SEO class for clients in 2016?
7. Make a Marketing Calendar
Look at your company’s up and down times by quarter to get a jump-start on the year. Map out a marketing calendar detailing what holidays are big selling times for your products/services. Start planning your special promotions now, and in 2016 you won’t feel taken off guard when getting ready for seasonal promotions.
8. Consider Email Marketing
One of easiest (and cheapest) ways to maintain relationships with existing customers is to use an email marketing platform. Think about sending out a monthly newsletter or set up a series of auto responder emails that follow up with customers who purchase products. MailChimp, Infusionsoft, and Aweber are all great, cost-effective software programs that could help you develop an email marketing campaign for the new year.
9. Do Direct Mail
Targeted direct mail campaigns are still effective with some customer demographics. Think about sending out a double-sided postcard – one side could be informational, with a coupon on the other side to bring in more business.
10. Set Up a PPC Campaign
In the game of SEO, organic search is a marathon, while paid search is a sprint. You can experiment with a cheap campaign at the end of 2015 in order to quickly find new buyers or re-engage current customers next year.
11. Think About Outsourcing in 2016
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you probably try to do as much by yourself as possible. But if you can pay someone less to do something than you pay yourself (which you definitely should be doing), then do it! Things to consider outsourcing in 2016 include administrative duties, social media management, and website maintenance.
12. Determine your Sales Cycle
If your small business has busy and slow sales periods during the year, you'll need to account for your sales and marketing activities during those times. Try putting away some extra money during your busy times, and use your slower sales periods to creatively market to your customers and drive more sales.
13. Develop Your 2016 Sales Strategy
Sales are essential to your business, but as a busy entrepreneur you probably spend more time putting out fires than developing a sales strategy. Take some time now, to develop a sales strategy for your business in 2016. If you don’t do anything else, focus on a sales plan that will help you plan for the peak times of next year. Your future self will thank you!
14. Tackle Your Taxes
Taxes can be a slippery slope. If you think your taxes may go up in 2016, you may want to try to accelerate earnings and delay expenses for 2016. If you want to take the hit but make things easier on your employees, consider paying bonuses now instead of next year to avoid gambling with changing tax rates for your workers. Whatever you do, make sure to consult with your accountant first about all tax moves.
15. Reassess Your Budget
As a small business owner, you probably already know that your budget is a constantly evolving number. By devising a monthly and annual budget for next year, you can obtain a clear idea of your business finances and be able to make better financial decisions in 2016.
16. Conduct a Year-End Review
Last, but not least, put together a list of wins and losses for 2015. How many pitches went out and what was your close ratio? Do you need to hire new employees or realign your team? A year-end review will help you assess what worked and what didn’t, and help you establish your small business goals for 2016.