End of Year To-Do List

Analyzing your small business’s achievements, failures, and the near misses at the end of the year is the smartest move you can make to assure future success.

At the top of the To-Do list is one too often overlooked: celebrating employee efforts and the patronage and loyalty of current customers. Good will, praise, and thank you go a long way in terms of a winning attitude.

Office workplace with glasses and plant. Notebook with to do list on wooden table from above, planning and design concept.

Equally important is taking stock and honestly evaluating the past year’s performance. Where did you succeed, where did you fall flat? Write it down, analyze what, when and why — then set new goals based on that evaluation.

For a business to succeed, it must consistently meet consumer needs. The most reliable source to explore those needs is right in your Contacts folder: customers are the best source of new ideas. The end of the year is the best time to have those customer conversations. 

Next, look into new innovations that may have not been previously available to your business or industry, and evaluate their potential value to your operation, such as enhanced data analytics, cloud-based human resources, and customer service software like LiveChat. 

If you are happy with the services we provide, we’d love to hear from you. If you know another small business owner who is not satisfied with their current accountant and might benefit from a conversation with us, please let us know.

Small Business Marketing Tips

Marketing Plan concept with man holding a tablet computer

Do ever hear yourself say, on a really busy day, especially one with a deadline to meet…”wish that phone would stop ringing!” Really? When the phone stops ringing, it’s time to reconsider marketing in today’s connected world. Here’s a checklist you may find helpful.

  1. Create a free Google My Business account. If you have one now, congratulations, because these free profiles are among the most effective marketing strategies today. Google is the new Yellow Pages. It’s what buyers check first when looking for a new or replacement service or product.
  2. Take Social Media seriously and responsibly. Social media engagements are an excellent way to expand your reach beyond your website and print advertising. It can show a more personal side of your business, but avoid controversies, politics, or any divisive subject.
  3. Use free promotional features on Facebook. Invite your friends to “like” or “share” your page (or blog); promote contests or giveaways.
  4. Blog on your website, then share your blog on social media and via email to your customers. Avoid sharing or emailing anyone unless you have their permission to use their email address. Unsolicited postal mail ends up in a trash can; unsolicited email also is sent to Trash, but most often ends as an “unsubscribe” or “block” action on the receiver’s end.
  5. Ask customers for feedback and reviews: Ask them during an office call, over the phone or even a quick text. Give them a reason to say yes to your request for a review. For example, adding a Customer Review page to your website offers your customers a pathway to getting their name in front of your clients!
  6. Offer a referral discount or gift. Your current customers are the best source of your future customers.

What techniques can you recommend to “market on a budget”? Share your success stories (and even your flops) with us via email. With your permission, we’d like to share them with our customers. 

Looking Toward the Christmas Bonus

As we barrel into the Christmas season, many small business owners are thinking about the annual Holiday Bonus. Owners want to let their employees know that their hard work is appreciated, and workers look forward to having that extra cash to spend on their family during the holidays.

The first recorded Christmas Bonus was given out by Woolworth’s in 1899. Each employee received a $5 bonus for each year of service, up to a maximum of $25.

So what is a small business owner’s typical bonus? For some it could be nothing more than an office party with food, drink, and small gifts…even gift exchanges (which cost each individual employee more and misses the entire message of “you’re appreciated”! )  While there’s no standard rate for performance bonuses, surveys report a range from 1% to 10% of an employee’s annual salary when goals are met. Of course, executive bonuses may be much higher.

Your profits vary from year to year in line with the rate of inflation and whether it’s been a lean or lucrative year. If a company has paid cash benefits in the past, then employees may be expecting and counting on a Christmas bonus to pay for their own holiday expenses and family gifts.

If this year was more profitable than last, then it is time to show your appreciation. Employees, by far, prefer receiving cash bonuses, but if your’e a lean startup or coming off a difficult period, there are other ways to show your appreciation for their loyalty. 

At the annual Christmas party, be sure employees understand that this party is in appreciation for them! During the party, recognize each person individually with a compliment and sincere thank you. If appropriate, it’s a good time to announce new job titles or that “John” or “Jane” will now have extra responsibility because of their past performance. Announce new learning opportunities for the coming year that could lead to pay raises. Or give the second most appreciated gift, paid time off, even if it’s just a day.

The post-Covid year of 2022 has seen the so-called “great resignation” with many people quitting their job to start their own business or to change employers and even careers. Plan now how you can show your appreciation this holiday season, whether or not it be a financial one.

Footnote: For more ideas, we suggest reading 12 purpose-filled alternatives to the Christmas bonus from Management 3.0.