It’s not just the impending holidays: For entrepreneurs, the end of the year can be stressful for all sorts of reasons. Whether it’s a final push to beat last year’s numbers or an annual budget review, getting everything squared away can be tedious.
Looking to the future doesn’t have to be draining as you’re wrapping up your year.
But the end of the year also brings opportunity. By reflecting on their progress and looking ahead, entrepreneurs can turn end-of-year blues into new-year excitement. Here’s how to use the end of the year as a springboard for an even better 2020:
1. Remember Why You Started
Every business has a unique origin story. Whether you started yours as a passion project, on the advice of a mentor, or to solve a real-world problem, think back to how it felt in the early days. When your to-do list gets unbearably long, stop to rekindle that sense of excitement and opportunity.
Embed those reminders in your office. If you’re giving a presentation at an all-staff meeting, start with a few photos of those early days. Hang a few favorites around the office. Reminisce together about the adventure of building a company from the ground up.
If you’re still struggling for motivation, bring in a motivational speaker. Select someone whose background resonates with your company’s. In a few paragraphs, sum up your company’s history so she can fit her speech to your situation.
2. Revisit Your Resolutions
Remember those New Year’s resolutions you made 10 months ago? Bring them back to the surface. Ideally, you’ve been checking in on your goals throughout the year — but when deadlines loom, it’s easy to fall back on old habits.
Maybe you’d meant to stop spending so much time on administrative work. The typical small business spends nearly 40 hours per month on payroll and HR alone, according to OnPay’s latest report, but 40% of SMB owners still handle their finances themselves.
Finance experts can be tough to hire, and your team members have to get paid. If you shrugged your shoulders and did your books yourself month after month, spend the time now to recruit some help. Imagine how much more time you’ll have to focus on things like your product and strategy in 2020.
3. Re-Examine Your Industry
A lot can change in the span of a year: Is your company’s product still competitive with what else is on the market? Did any startups enter the space? What sales trends might influence your strategy in 2020?
Conduct a fresh competitive analysis. Research who’s selling similar products in your space, what they’re selling, where they’re selling, and how they’re selling. Make a list of the top 10 companies. Look for their products on popular online marketplaces, and check for brick-and-mortar locations. Then, dive into product details: Do any of their offerings have features yours don’t? Finally, consider their policies: What are their customer service options? Do they have a loyalty program?
Understanding the state of play in your sector is essential for maintaining a competitive edge. Use the remainder of the year to shore up areas where you may be falling short. You might open up new sales channels, realize your product needs a new interface, or even spot an opening in the market for a related product.
4. Make an End-of-Year Push
Chances are high that you have a lot more goals left on your plate this year than you have time to achieve them. Choose a singular focus area: You might be one glorious ad campaign away from hitting your revenue goal this year. If you’ve had a lot of turnover, perhaps it’s time for a team morale boost.
How can you choose among multiple areas that need attention? Project management expert Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez suggests what he calls a “hierarchy of purpose.” Start with your company’s purpose: Which priorities will help you make the most progress toward it? Consider not just next month, but 2020 and beyond.
As you count down the days left in this calendar year, don’t despair. Look at all you’ve achieved, and be grateful you have a few weeks left to finish the things still on your plate. Cheers your way to a new year, and prepare to do it all over again.