The New Year is a significant time in business. It usually marks a moment of re-invigoration for many businesses, when success is evaluated; new goals are set; and fresh strategies are implemented. It is also a time when many businesses try to put their house in order. Here are our best tips to make the most out of a new year.
It's time to think like big business
Big businesses often see the New Year period as an opportunity to clear up tasks which, though essential, have been swept under the rug, to be dealt with at a later date.
Freelancers, startups and new and growing businesses can learn much from this approach, which can help make sure that your operation is in great shape before the new year starts in earnest. ‘Getting your house in order’ at this stage of the year can re-invigorate your passion, drive and conviction, setting you up for the months to come.
Here are the few key tasks which will create structure, order and organisation for the year ahead.
I find the sight of a cluttered inbox very unsettling. Unopened emails are a sad inevitability in an age which requires so much email communication and a build up of spam and unsolicited emails is almost destined to occur. As the number increases, so too does the will to avoid dealing with them. A fresh year offers a great opportunity to rid yourself of your cluttered inbox and a systematic purge like this can often remind you of contacts, fallen by the wayside, who may prove useful in the coming year.
(If your inbox looks as cluttered as ever by March 1st, don't worry... this is perfectly normal!)
If we have learned anything from 2014, it's that our 'digital doings' aren't as safe and secure as we might have thought. High profile security breaches have been the order of things over the past year ('heart-bleed' is just one example) and there is no reason to suggest that 2015 will be any different.
It is of course impossible to plan for every contingency, but taking a few simple steps at the beginning of the year, with a mind to regular review and maintenance throughout, can help maximise your defence.
Simple things like changing all security passwords regularly and making sure that you never use the same password for more than one account are a great place to start, but really the average modern business needs a more robust approach. The UK government has set up the 'Get Safe Online' service, which has lots of essential information for protecting your business from malicious attacks.
- Creating a long-term plan
In the day-to-day hustle and bustle of running a business, it is rather easy to lose sight of the long-term goals of your venture. Perhaps you have become so engrossed in getting from one day to another that you have almost forgotten what you hoped to achieve with your business, or perhaps the trajectory of said business is now so far off what you had originally conceived that your starting goals now hold little relevance.
Goals change, that's a fact of life, and most certainly a fact of business. Indeed it is especially true for sole traders, SMEs and startups who, in finding their feet and learning about their industry, may change tactic often in favour if what their increased experience has revealed to be a more lucrative and rewarding direction.
Taking time at the beginning of the year to set new goals based on your current position is a great way to focus your energies for the coming months and ensure that they business keeps moving in the right direction. This exercise will also help to put into perspective your business's growth since you last actively set goals but also give you a sense of accomplishment about what you have so far achieved.
- Thanking people and wishing them well
If you haven't done so over the Christmas period, now is the time to reaffirm important strategic relationships that you have developed in the past twelve months. Staying on top of your correspondence can be tricky especially when you have a to-do list the length of your desk to contend with; the New Year gives you a chance to thank those you have worked in 2014 and wish them good luck for the year to come.
It might even offer a better prospect for this sort of contact because, unlike Christmas time, when 'Merry Christmas' emails and e-cards are flying around in every direction, very few businesses engage in New Year greetings. Not only is it more likely to make a lasting impression, but the message "Happy New Year" offers you the opportunity to tell customers and clients briefly about what you hope to achieve in 2015 and how you hope to work with them.
Eoin O'Hara is a business developer and lead content writer at Startacus.net. He has a background combining arts and culture with strategic business development, and now plays a central role in the growth of the Startacus brand. Startacus.net, The Self Start Society, is the place for enterprising people to learn, share, connect and bring ideas to life. Follow them at @Iamstartacus