Sept 27, 2016

By: Chelsea Haley, DKI Ventures, LLC

Now that it is officially fall, the fourth quarter is right around the corner. This can be stressful to many business owners, especially given that the fourth quarter is during the holiday season when many clients are on vacation and your teams are requesting time off. As you consider the end of the year, many questions are probably entering your mind, such as:

  • Where do I begin?
  • Are we still on track? Where did we miss out? How can we improve?
  • How are we going to hit all our annual goals in time?

Read below for some tips to answer your questions, and start preparing now, if you haven’t already, for a successful end to 2016 and start to 2017.

Time to Review

Begin planning by reviewing and tracking your annual and quarterly goals and your strengths and weaknesses so far. Have your priorities changed? Where can you improve? Also, evaluate where you’ve spent the most money, where you can decrease your spending, and where you should increase it. Construct a calendar plan for each individual department, if you haven’t already, so everyone is on the same page to meet your goals.

Set Realistic Goals

Do your current goals match up with past performance? Are you on target to succeed, or have you set impractical goals that your business can’t keep up with? Examine your performance from last year and prior years, the industry trends you are seeing and your employees’ workloads. While you want to improve year over year, your goals should be realistic.

Remember, the holidays can be a physically and mentally busy time of year for everyone. Even with realistic goal setting, it’s possible your employees are already beginning to “check out.” Consider an incentive program for your sales and customer service teams to re-energize them to close that sale, and remember to encourage them with words of gratitude.

Use the Holiday Advantage

Yes, your time to reach your goals is limited with current and prospective clients and customers taking vacations, but start using the holidays to your advantage. Your sales and marketing approach can be catered to the demand for seasonal gifts, remodeling the house for holiday guests, or simply offering a holiday-focused or end of the year sale. Consider the activities during the holidays – cooking, shopping, cleaning, party planning, vacationing, etc. Can you use any of these fourth quarter trends to promote your products or services?

Maintain a Work Life Balance

Remember to allow downtime between your projects and goal-setting. Allow your employees the necessary days to rejuvenate. Whether laying low at home, spending time with family, or vacationing, everyone needs time to refresh, especially when under the pressures of finishing up the year.

Just make sure everyone is aware and can coordinate schedules to ensure coverage for those taking time off so that it doesn’t inhibit your business’ performance.

Reward & Celebrate

Keep your eyes on the goal(s) throughout the end of the year, and make sure to celebrate your accomplishments at the end. Your employees should have the mindset that hard work pays off, as it should. You all worked hard to get where you’re at – give yourself a pat on the back, and perhaps, an end of the year party.

Prepare for Next Year

Maybe you pulled through and hit all your 2016 goals, or maybe you slipped. Either way, it’s never too early to prepare for the future. Evaluate what you did in 2016 and how you can improve for next year.   Consider any new products or services, equipment, technology or key hires that may be necessary to advance your business for 2017.