Karla De Leon, Main Street Launch’s Assistant Vice President – Business & Economic Development, offers the following tip for small businesses.
We’re reaching the end-of-the-year frenzy. Everyone is trying to close out the year on a strong note while maintaining a semblance of work/life balance. If we’re being honest, it can be a stressful time. It’s easy to recognize the common stressors: long hours, heavy workloads, and tight deadlines. As a business owner, those three stressors are common occurrences year-round that get heightened certain times of year.
As the holiday season comes and goes, let’s take some time to think about how to make next year more prosperous and less stressful with these three tips.
1. Keep Up
Sometimes it seems like work is endlessly piling up and you never seem to catch up. For some, it’s a question of organization. You might be constantly scrambling to write your weekly newsletter, and it seems like you just finished one when it’s time to send the next one.
For others, it’s forming habits and being consistent with the tasks that are not our favorite (I’m looking at you, Quickbooks). You might try scheduling time in your calendar once a week to enter your business purchases and review your revenues to make sure you’re keeping up with your financials.
Then for some, it’s about needing extra help to get it all done. In some cases, if it makes sense financially, hiring someone to help you keep up with the work that keeps piling up might make your business overall more efficient.
Identify what it is that keeps your work piling up and be honest about what can be done to fix it.
2. Plan Ahead
It’s hard to plan ahead when you constantly feel like you’re just trying to keep up, but with planning, a little can go a long way. Now that the year is coming to a close, take some time to plan and set goals for the coming year. Your plans can always change, but having a guide for how you want to move forward can make you feel secure in your work. Think about what you want to accomplish in the next twelve months (and beyond) and set out some strategies and tactics for how to accomplish those goals. For example, if you want to increase sales by 20% in 2018, how many additional customers does that mean you have to get? Where will you find these new customers? Will your expenses go up? What will it take to deliver more of your product or service to reach those numbers?
3. Measure for Success
If you spent the time to plan the coming year, how do you know if you reached your goals? Decide on metrics and stay on top of them. No matter what you plan for 2018, the only way to reach your goals, have peace of mind, and course-correct if necessary is to measure your progress.
Decide on which metrics help you reach your goals and that might mean looking beyond the traditional metrics. You might have increased your sales four months into the New Year, but have your expenses gone up so much that you’re breaking even? Maybe your sales have stayed consistent but you’re able to spend more time with your family. Regardless of your goals and the metrics you choose, stay consistent in your measuring to make sure you’re not left in the dark. Sometimes, the most stressful part of reaching a goal is not knowing how far you’ve come and how much you have left to reach it.
The holidays can be a stressful, but they’re also a time to reflect on the past year and be optimistic about the year to come. Planning and preparation can help make the next year more prosperous and hopefully less stressful.