The Year-end Crunch: What your small business should be focused on right now

It’s around this time of the year when many businesses start their flurry of activity to close the gap between where they said they would be with their revenue targets versus where they really are. It’s that last minute, Hail Mary pass in the end zone, to get orders in and sales up for the year. Depending on the industry, businesses may also be thinking about how holiday promotions can bring in more revenue. This year-end flurry of activity is no different whether you are a billion-dollar corporation or a six-figure small business; however, in larger companies this is also when strategic and annual planning for the next year kick into high gear (And they have likely started the initial planning in the third quarter).  

Yes, my coaching and consulting friends, waiting until January is too late to start planning for the year! It’s too late because at that point your competitors have already started acting on their plans leaving you playing catch up in the market. It’s also too late because you don’t get to capitalize on that ‘fresh start’ mentality many of your clients start thinking about December. (Get started easily with the Creating Your Strategic Plan Workshop)

3 Focus Areas

If you really want to have success and reduce some of the churn and flurry, you must plan for it. Here are some things you should be focused on early in the fourth quarter: 

Planning for next year

This is the time for annual strategic planning. The time to gather lessons learned, analyze the strengths of your business, the opportunities for growth and evolution, and where you can realize gains by enhancing what you did in the current year.

It is the time to zero in on your strategy for the upcoming year including identifying the products or services you’ll be rolling out or promoting, defining internal projects such as process improvements or changes to your backend systems, and where you can enhance your customer’s experience. Many small businesses skip this annual planning step which prevents you from working on the right priorities and does a disservice to your profits. 

Optimizing your operations

If optimization is not already built into your processes, the fourth quarter is a great time to review and analyze your systems for opportunities for enhancements, consolidation, and reduction. With one of my clients, we’re looking at canceling a license with one vendor and using a similar feature within another tool already in use.

Are there ways to consolidate your technology so that you reduce the number of payables you have going out? Maybe you could change the way you deliver your product launches or onboarding your clients?

Now is a great time to review and make changes so that it’s less disruptive to your business. You don’t want to get in the middle of a product launch and find out your tool doesn’t have the capacity for your influx of customers. I’ve seen it happen – Yikes! 

Don’t lose focus on revenue

I mentioned this before, but it is important as you don’t want to shortchange the last few months of the year as potential revenue generators. The goal here is to not get complacent and begin slacking towards the end of the year but to continue pushing to meet or surpass the revenue goals you initially put in place during annual planning the year before and refreshed throughout the year. 

While you absolutely want to maintain focus on your revenue goals the trick is to ensure you have planned and put measures in place to understand how you’re doing to your targets. This consistent measuring prevents the flurry of activity that puts all the focus on sales and meeting objectives at the last minute which puts pressure on you and your team. 

If you want to run your business like major corporations – and grow your business beyond the five- and six-figure mark – focusing even just on these three areas from now until the end of the year can quickly get you from running it like, to being a multiple comma revenue business. 

Need help getting ready for next year? Click here to get free access to the Creating Your Strategic Plan Workshop.