Q4 is here and like many business owners, you may find your time stretched between end of the year sales goals, closing out Q4 projects, holiday planning, and parties. However, the end of the year is also a critical time to address that huge list of tasks that normally stay on the back burner.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and keep reading. Here at Specialty Coffee Finance, we have compiled a list of items that every business owner should consider to ensure they aren’t greeting 2015 with the same problems they had in 2014.
1. Review all of your systems and processes from top to bottom. When it comes down to it, what is working for your business and what isn’t? Pinpoint where your problems are and brainstorm how you can fix it. You may be able to fix the problem yourself, but don’t be afraid to ask for outside guidance – the result could save you a lot of time and money in the coming year.
2. Review all of your vendor contracts. Make sure to examine how much business you’re doing with each vendor. Are they meeting your needs? Are you getting the best rates based on how much you work together? If not, ask your vendor what can be done to change that or simply switch. On the other hand, if you’re happy with your vendors, tell them! Letting a vendor know you appreciate them only leads to a better relationship. They’ll appreciate that you’ve taken the time to make sure they’re happy in the relationship as well. It’s always good to be someone’s favorite customer.
3. Determine who your best customers are and connect with them. You may be surprised to find out that you’re best customers are not who you think they are. Examine your customers through a profitability lens. Just because you seem to be doing something for a specific customer doesn’t necessarily mean they are the most profitable. Once you know whom you best customers are, be sure to tell them you appreciate their business. Ask if there’s anything you can improve on or do differently to help them grow their business. This can come in form of a phone call, email, or a hand written holiday letter. It’s a quick and easy way to let your customers know that you care about their needs as well as encourage them to give constructive feedback.
4. Engage your employees as partners. Once you’ve identified your business’s end of the year priorities, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. If you’re struggling to find a resource that can help you, involve your employees, especially those who engage with customers everyday. These employees may have a plethora of ideas about how you can make your customers happier. Listening to your employees and implementing their ideas will make them feel valued, which will, in turn, strengthen their passion and encourage them to work harder in the coming year.
5. Consider technology and/or equipment upgrades. If your business needs new computers or essential use equipment to run more smoothly and efficiently, the end of the year is a perfect time to acquire those upgrades. New technology or equipment can make an enormous difference in the lives of your employees. Just make sure your employees receive the appropriate training if your business acquires new equipment or technology.
6. Overhaul your website. What is the purpose of your website? Are you looking to generate leads, nurture those leads, or simply drive web commerce? Much like a retail store moves around its floor sets, you need to be making changes to your website to keep people coming back. Many companies have incorporated a blog, within their website, as a tool to communicate with their customers.
7. Meet with your accountant. The end of the year is a great time to evaluate your company, meet with your accountant, and plan your taxes. Make sure to discuss with your accountant anything that your company can write off and what you should do with excess cash.
Although this list may seem overwhelming to you, most of these items are easy to do. You’ll find that most of the items aren’t quite as hard as you may have imagined. You’ll be amazed at how you feel once your end of the year to do list has been completed. You may even be surprised at how much it will help your company in 2015!