Well, here we are December! The world looks a lot different as 2020 comes to an end, and now is the time to get your business in order and set things up for 2021. Start the new year organized with a plan that will set you up for success.
There are lots of things to consider. What do you need to get in place before January? New website? Podcast? Video series? Do you need to switch payroll services or request a line of credit? Now is the perfect time to start getting things together while the rest of the world is off for the holidays. Here are 19 things you should take action on in your business before 2021.
Start with Gratitude
This year more than ever, it’s so important to start with gratitude. It’s said that people who take time to reflect upon the positive things in their lives sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, feel more alive, experience more positive emotions, and even have stronger immune systems. Start each day by thinking about (and jotting down) a few things you are grateful for.
Show that gratitude to your customers. If you are a B2B service provider, now is the time to connect with those that have supported your business this year. Reach out to at least ten current and former customers a day for the next two weeks and let them know how grateful you are for their business.
Show gratitude to your team. These are the people who have been by your side this year, through thick and thin. Make sure they know just how much you appreciate them. A handwritten card goes a long way and a gift or a monetary bonus if it’s in your budget.
Schedule a Virtual Retreat
Usually, I hold a retreat with my key team members every January to set up our sales game plan for the year. I would be planning it right now and can’t help but think how important that connection and collaboration are, now more than ever. As a team, we also identify key targets we’ll pursue for business, and we make decisions about our product offerings we’ll promote for the coming year. Sadly, we won’t be traveling in the new year, but scheduling a virtual retreat is in the plans. Schedule something now is important, so your team feels that connection and can arrange their schedules. Do you have someone in-house who can organize the agenda and activities, or will you need to hire a facilitator?
Review Your 2020 Results
Put together a list of wins and what went wrong for the year. The process will help you to think about what you can do better next year.
- What were your revenues and profitability this year?
- How many proposals went out?
- What was your close ratio?
- What was your shopping cart abandonment rate?
- How many revenue streams does your business have?
- Is it time for a brand refresh?
- Do you need to add to your team?
This will help you establish your small business goals for 2021.
Complete Your Tax Planning
Reach out to your accountant to schedule a meeting to discuss how you are positioned for your taxes. He or she may advise you to make a significant purchase to increase your expenses before the end of the year. Make sure your accounting records are up-to-date. Pull any extra paperwork together so tax time will go smoothly. Remember, business taxes are due March 15th, not on April 15th like personal taxes.
Set up Your Admin Files for 2021
I’ve been in business for a long time, and often I need to refer back to old projects and contracts. Every year I create files for the coming year to keep things organized. My filing system is by year, then a category, for example, 2020 Contracts.
How do you file your contracts, blog posts, special projects, PPT slides, HR files, etc.? Develop a system, and you’ll save lots of time.
Update Vendor 1099’s and W2’s
Reach out to all your contractors and consultants and get them to update the W9 forms. Any vendor who you’ve paid more than $600 during the year should receive a 1099-MISC. The IRS requires 1099’s to be mailed before January 31st, 2021. Any employees must receive their W2’s by January 31st, 2021. Your payroll service should provide W2’s for you and your employees
Sign and Scan Your 2020 W9 Form
Some vendors or corporate clients will ask for a W9 form before paying any invoice. If your business is a sole proprietor, LLC, or an S-Corporation, you will send over a W9 with your invoice to get paid.
Develop Your 2021 Budget
Many people have cut out excess spending this year, and now is a great time to develop a budget for next year. You need up-to-date financials so that you can see what you spent this year. It’s always best to base a budget on the previous year. If you used accounting software, you could use that as a starting point for creating an account for the next year.
Develop Your 2021 Sales Goals
Review your revenue for this year and how many clients you served. Think about where you want your business to be this time next year. Develop your annual sales goal, which will give you your monthly and weekly sales goals.
Tweak Your Sales Strategy
Develop a new sales strategy for your business in 2021. What is going to be your main offering? How will you generate leads? How will you qualify the leads? Will you hire a salesperson this year? Do you have any upsells for your existing customers? You need to start the year with a plan to fill your sales pipeline. Do you have an email campaign to roll out to generate interest? Will you do webinars? Or develop a new ebook to attract prospects? Put together a marketing budget that will help implement the new sales strategy and meet your sales goals.
Evaluate Your Social Selling Strategy
There’s lots of competition on social media platforms, so it might be time to add something new. Think about creating a podcast. Instagram is the fastest growing social platform, and people are spending more time there. Live video streaming is now on every platform YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Choose just one new thing to add to your social media mix.
Make a Promotional Calendar
Map out what promotions you’ll be running next year. What month will you launch your new product or podcast? Do you have a promotional campaign that ties-in with a national event or holiday like “Valentine’s Day,” “St. Patrick’s Day,” or “Back to School” or “Thanksgiving”?
Start planning your special promotions now, so your team won’t feel like they are running from fire to fire, getting ready for the latest marketing promotion.
Update Your Website
Your website is your #1 sales tool, and most people are looking at it from a mobile device. You need to make sure your website is simple and engaging on mobile-first. Pay close attention to load time. Take a look at your site navigation. How many choices are there? Are your calls to action simple to see on mobile? You might not need to do a complete overhaul, but mobile is really important, so make sure your website speaks to mobile visitors. You also should add videos with subtitles.
Review Your Google Analytics
You want to see if your marketing efforts have been working or need to be tweaked. Pay close attention to your traffic sources, which are generating the most referral traffic, most popular content, and time on site. This will help you determine where to invest your time in social media.
Clear Your Desk & Email
Do you have 10,000+ unopened emails? Make it a goal to get back to no new emails before the end of the year. And is your desk cluttered? A cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. Deal with those stacks of unopened mail, who knows there could be a check-in one of them.
If your workspace or computer is cluttered, spend a few hours and set up a system. Shred things you don’t need and organize your computer files. It will save you hours later.
Review Your Monthly Subscriptions
There is nothing worse than paying for something you don’t use. With all the apps and subscription services out there, you could be paying for things you no longer need or paying for apps that do the same thing. Productivity apps, media subscriptions, and music are a great place to start. Do you need Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon music? What about your CRM software? Look at social media scheduling tools too. Save money where you can.
Develop a New Sales Funnel
You need to have a way to capture an email address, nurture, and educate a prospect, then sell something to them. You might need to invest in a professional copywriter to help you develop the email series. Leverage email marketing tools like Infusionsoft, or MailChimp, set up a sales funnel using an autoresponder series of emails that go out on selected dates after someone downloads a free offer from your website. You should develop a new sales funnel for 2021 before the year is out.
Send Direct Mail
Direct mail has made a comeback, especially with existing customers. All the online clutter makes it easier for you to stand out if your mailer shows up in their box. Try a double-sided postcard to keep the bulk postage price low. Coupons are great to offer this way. For example, if you’re a pizza shop, you could send your customers an offer for 20% off on Tuesdays, if that is your slowest day of the week. Direct mail can spark repeat business.
Invest in Online Ads
Paid ads are now a necessary method of marketing. There are lots of options from Retargeting, Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Mobile SEO, and Mobile ads are significant things to consider in 2021. Always test your campaign first, then invest in a longer campaign. Some platforms, such as Facebook, allow you to target ads to your existing email list or website visitors, which allows you to stay in front of them all over the internet.
This is a huge to-do list, but if you jump on it quick, you can get this stuff handled before year-end. You have a few weeks, so get it done. A sale is nothing more than a preparation meeting opportunity. Get prepared so that you can hit the ground running in 2021.
Do you have any more key task suggestions for 2021? Share them below in the comments.