The business owner’s pre-holiday checklist

Business checklist

Forget the 12 Days of Christmas, here are the 12 top things business owners should do before the end of the year.

1. Back up all your files—and then back up the back-ups
Don’t think that a catastrophic hardware fail won’t happen to you (I did and it cost me $20K). Think about cloud computing if you need it. Get some good advice; it’s worth paying for it and gaining peace of mind that you are covered.

2. Check your insurances
Luckily I was covered for part of, as it’s now called, ‘the event’. Do a quick review to make sure everything is in order. Speak to a broker and get them to check it over for you.

3. Check in with your clients/customers
Are they happy? Do a review, a quick survey (Survey Monkey is great for this and it’s free). Keep it simple and make sure it’s relevant to the business you are in and gives you concrete feedback that you can act on. Better still, book a face-to-face and ask them how they think you are going as a supplier. Use the exercise itself and the feedback to hone your relationship.

4. Get rid of the bottom feeders
You know those clients that drag you down. Think about how much happier and more productive you will be and how much more time you will have to spend on new business and organic growth from your existing clients if you get rid of the dead wood.

5. Review your top 5
What worked for you and your business in 2011? Do you know? Have you set plans in place to repeat those things in the New Year and/or make some adjustments?

6. Consider outsourcing
We can’t all be experts at everything and we just waste our time and energy trying, or pretending to do stuff we know others can do better. What is the one thing you can pass on to an expert? Do it: you will save money in the long run, not to mention a lot of grey hairs.

7. Check in with your staff
Are they okay? Have you asked recently, or ever? I had one of my best employees suddenly leave for personal reasons. What would that do to your business? Be genuine; maybe even ask for feedback from staff on how you are as a leader of your company.

8. List it
Get a list started so you’re not walking back into the office in January saying, ‘What did I have to do again?’

9. Get personal
Book in all your personal dates into your 2012 diary. These are the things you need to keep you sane. Whatever your poison is (massages, sport, gym, beauticians, weekends away). BOOK THEM NOW and plan them as you do everything work related in the diary. DO IT NOW before your diary gets filled up with work requirements and you find yourself at the end of 2012 wondering why you have no ‘you’ time.

10. Plan for Christmas expenses
Cashflow might be tight in January; if it is, make a contingency plan. Put some aside now or better still send out all of your January invoices before Christmas so they can get in and processed.

11. Say thanks
To your clients, to your staff, to your suppliers. If you don’t have time to send cards or fancy emails, pick up the phone. They would probably appreciate it more anyway. Say thanks for the work or for a good year and that you are looking forward to working with them next year. You know the drill, make someone’s day. Particularly if you are the boss and you bother to call, it leaves a great impression.

12. And lastly, buy yourself a Christmas gift
It’s been a long year and who knows what will await you on the other side of the break. Merry Christmas and have a happy and safe New Year.