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Shaping Up Your Business for The New Year

Justine Smith is the Small Business Outreach Manager at FreshBooks.

As the calendar turns to another year, it’s the perfect time to take stock of your business and make some important changes for an even better year ahead. Here are five simple things you can do to start the year off right:

Retool your pricing and packages

The ideal time to re-evaluate your current pricing and packages is the New Year.

If you’re a solo professional or small business owner, you have undoubtedly realized that no one is responsible for giving yourself a raise but you. Too often, self-employed individuals end up working for the same rate year after year because they’re too busy to evaluate just how much their time is worth.

Why not enact a rate increase effective January 2013 for all new clients? To give enough notice for your existing clients, it may be wise to offer them a special deal or incentive to continue working with you. For example when I raised my rates a couple years back, I immediately applied it to new clients but let existing clients continue working with me at my old rate for 3 months longer.

To stand out from similar businesses in 2013, you may also want to consider creating packages instead of just charging by the hour. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you could create a “New Year, New Website” package that allows people to purchase multiple website-related graphics they need in a single transaction.

If you already have packages, give them a second look to determine which ones may need updating, upgrading or even retiring.

Revive your workspace

If you can’t get to your desk without knocking over a pile of papers, your workspace could use some sprucing up

Start fresh in 2013 by creating a more attractive and useful working environment. Spend a day organizing, filing and/or recycling all the paper you’ve accumulated in the last year. You may also consider making things more comfortable by upgrading to an ergonomic chair. Finally, try sprucing things up visually by adding artwork, color and greenery so you’ll want to keep things organized and beautiful.

If you work from home, you may want to consider a change of scenery by trying out a shared office space this year. Check out a website like LiquidSpace.com or Loosecubes.com; working in a shared office environment one day per week can help you beat the isolation and distractions of working from home.

Get your books in order

Very few small business owners go into business because they love handling the administrative tasks, yet things like cash flow and Profit & Loss statements can make or break your business.

Are you still managing your finances on a combination of paper scraps and Excel files? Do you know when a client is late on their payment? Do you scramble each year at tax time to track down your expenses and receipts? Think about which aspects of your financial books caused you the biggest headache last year, and get a new tool to solve it. The right tool will free up your time and benefit your business’ financial health. 

Set trackable goals

Come January 1, everyone is keen to set a goal or two. Unfortunately by the time February rolls around, these goals are long forgotten.

This year try setting two types of goals for your business. First, define one or two aspirational goals representing where you’d like your business to be in the coming years.

Second, define smaller, bite-sized goals that can be tracked on a quarterly basis. Examples might include: revamp website home page, increase Facebook fans by 20 percent, roll out new service, etc.

It’s important that the smaller goals feed into your aspirational goals to ensure your day-to-day activities work toward the master plan you’re envisioning for your business

Focus on your customers and clients

Regardless of industry or annual revenues, a successful business hinges on happy customers. Therefore, the most important step toward a successful 2013 is to continue putting your customer’s needs at the forefront of everything you do.

With every decision you make, think about how it will impact your customers. If you’re not sure what your customers need from you this coming year, just ask them. Even in the age of social media, a simple phone-call or in-person meeting is the best way to take the pulse of your customers. A quick conversation will reveal invaluable insights about your customers and what they need to be successful.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessNewsDaily.

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