December 31st is less than four months away. It’s time to take a few minutes to think through where you want your business to be at the end of this year. Dream big! You’ve got enough time to make some important changes. Start by asking:

  1. What’s Holding You Back?

Wait a second. Let’s start with the positive. Instead, think about the areas of your business that are performing well. Perhaps you have excellent customer feedback about your services. Or, you’ve just completed renovations that your customers rave about. Now, move on to what you’d like to improve. At this time of year, it’s usually all about sales: the need to increase revenue, secure more recurring business, or close more profitable deals. Next most common is finance: billing or collections problems.

Take a minute to actually write down how you want your business to look, come December 31st.

Be realistic: pick just 2 – 3 initiatives to complete by year end. If you’re having difficulty prioritizing, ask your staff, your advisors, or a really good customer. They will tell you exactly what needs to happen first.

  1. The Solution Is Closer Than You Think

Whatever the problem is, you are not alone. Some other small business owner has already found a solution. See the sidebar on the right for a few good sources of information. Our favorites: ask your staff, or pick a strong competitor and see how they’ve solved the problem.

A recent client was struggling with how to set payment terms for shorter-than-average projects; it took us less than five minutes to find a key competitor’s payment terms online. Our client looked at them, said “huh – that will work for us”, and implemented them immediately for all new customers. Done.

  1. Just Do It Already

Sometimes, as business owners, we get hung up on wanting everything to be perfect. Instead, start the easy way. Implement new pricing or payment terms to new customers only. Test a new process on just one project. Work out the kinks, then implement the initiative throughout your business before the end of the year.

Think of it as your holiday present: a stronger, better business by December 31st.

September 12, 2013