As the end of the year draws closer, I have been adding some things to my to-do list for organization and also reflection on the past year. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had a whirlwind of adventures over the last twelve months. Sometimes I feel like it’s difficult to wrap my head around everything, especially when I have multiple projects, clients, goals, etc, all going on at the same time. However, the end of the year feels like the perfect time to sit down and do exactly that.
I’ve this gathered year-end checklist of things that I have done, or plan on doing, before the new year to help archive, organize and reflect on everything related to my business. Some of them are more fun than others, but all of them will help you wrap up your business for the year on a high note.
1. Get caught up with your bookkeeping. This means taking an honest look at how much your business brought this past year versus how much you spent. This may not be the most fun task, but the last thing you want to do is start a new year without knowing what your finances look like! It can be hard to get an overall picture of your profits and losses without using some form of tracking software. I personally use(and highly recommend) Quickbooks for expense tracking, invoicing and tax preparation.
2. Meet with your accountant. Check to make sure you have paid enough in estimated taxes. If not, make sure to get caught up to avoid paying penalties later. Now is also the time to decide on any large business-related expenses or donations. If your profits were more than expected this year, then it might be a good time to make those purchases to lower your taxable income for the year.
3. Backup all of your files, in multiple places. If you use a physical external hard drive for file storage, I suggest using at least two and storing them in separate places. A hard drive can fail without notice and can also be lost or damaged by unexpected events like flooding, theft, etc. Another option is to backup up your files on the cloud. If you are only using a cloud-based service such as DropBox, perhaps consider also backing up on a physical hard drive that you can keep with your business documents.
4. Archive old files. If you have files from past clients clogging up your workspace, create an archive folder where you can store them. Perhaps consider having a separate hard drive specifically for past client’s files.
5. Organize business receipts. If you’re anything like me, you might have a few scanned images of business receipts mixed up in your photos folder, or worse – a fat pile of crumpled physical receipts in your wallet. Make sure you have them all scanned and sorted into folders by vendor and tax year. Doing this consistently will make it much easier down the road if you ever need to find something specific.
6. Eliminate extraneous time-suckers. Make a list of everything that you spend time doing. This should include work-related tasks, marketing, projects, goals, etc. Identify any things that you no longer enjoy doing or that might be distracting you from working toward your bigger goals. There’s a difference between working toward something worthwhile and simply wanting to finish something in order to feel disciplined. Try to figure out which activities and projects are the most important and rewarding to you. Is there a project that has lost steam? Is there a task you can outsource or delegate? Now is the time to clear out what no longer serves you so that you can create the space for things that do (click to tweet!).
7. Figure out what’s working, and what’s not. Was there a particular product or service that performed really well this year? Take a look at your website’s analytics and find out which content people engaged with the most. Did most of your traffic come from a particular social media platform? Use my free DIY Website Audit Checklist to make sure you’re implementing important techniques online. Figure out what you’re already doing well and plan to build on that. If something doesn’t seem to have the response you’d hoped for, ask yourself how you might tweak it or if you should focus your energy elsewhere.
Feel the good vibes
8. Re-cap all of your wins. Now on to the really fun stuff. Take some time to relish in everything you have accomplished this year. Grab a pen and paper and write down at least 10 things that you achieved during the past year. They don’t have to be huge things, just anything that you made happen. Maybe you launched a new product, learned something new or grew your email newsletter list. Even the “small wins” count! Let yourself enjoy the good feeling that comes along with finding even the tiniest bit of success. This good energy will help get you in the right mindset for creating positive change moving forward.
9. Share the love. Were there any people, businesses or products that helped you learn or grow this year? Take a moment to write a note and let them know how much you benefited from what they had to offer. Maybe promote them via social media or a blog post (speaking of which, find some of my favorite resources and tools here). Or maybe you even consider supporting them by making another purchase.
10. Give your brand a makeover. If your website is out of touch with the type of business you are running these days or you’re just not loving it anymore, perhaps it’s time to give it a new look. (I would love to help you with that!) Not looking for a complete website redesign? Maybe freshen it up with some new graphics for social media, blog sidebar or a new email newsletter template. Even the smallest changes can help you feel rejuvenated when starting out the new year.