10 Things To Do Before 2010

To do list graphic 

The best way to start out the New Year is to close out the previous year with a plan to get your house in order. Don’t start January 1st in a panic. Use the down time of the last two weeks of the year to close out important administrative and marketing tasks.  Here’s a list of suggestions to start your 2010 off right.

Organize Your Files. I can find all the proposals I created in 2009, because I have a file folder for it on my hard drive. Don’t waste time looking for things. Organize your files and create file folders for key projects and information. Delete duplicate files before you cannot remember which one was the final version. Once the organization project is complete, back it up.  Invest in an external hard drive from Western Digital or another top brand. Remember this is your back–up system, so please have your information in at least two places. There are also online back-up systems such as http://www.carbonite.com or Mozy. It will be a sad day if you lose critical data, because you didn’t take the time to back it up.

Clean Out Your Inbox. Clean out your email. If you can’t get to an empty inbox every day, get busy deleting all unnecessary emails to get to zero before the New Year. Marsha Egan, of the Egan Group, Inc. has some great advice for changing your email routines in her book, Inbox Detox; And the Habit of Email Excellence. Here’s a link to a great article Egan wrote as a resource. If you make her advice part of your daily routine, you will reduce stress and increase your productivity throughout the coming year.

Review Accounts Receivable. Find out who owes you money! What is the total owed? Start making calls on all outstanding invoices. Try to negotiate at least partial payments. If you have been owed money longer than 180 days you may need to decide whether to turn them over to collections or write it off as a loss.  Consult your accountant for advice.

Update your website. Every year you should update your website with new graphics and photos. You can get a new header graphic for under a $100 bucks. If that’s not in the budget, at least update your site with fresh content. Update your services or product offering pages.  Make sure your tagline still best describes what your business does. You will need to fine tune your website as you learn more about your niche target market.

Organize your financial records. If you have waited until the last minute to do any accounting for the year, it’s time to get organized. Go online and print out all your bank statements, organize your receipts and bank withdrawal or deposit slips by month. Make sure you have copies of all invoices.  Collect statements from any credit cards you use in the business or monthly draws from your account such as a merchant service accounts or any online memberships.  Pull together copies of any monthly phone or utility bills and any quarterly insurance bills.

Update employee paperwork. Ask each employee and any freelancer to complete new 1099’s & W-2 forms. This is to verify the mailing address you have on file and make sure you have the social security numbers for current and former employees and your independent contractors as well.  Your accountant or payroll company will need this information to prepare tax forms by Jan 31, it is best to collect the information before you need it.

Develop Your Editorial Calendar for 2010. Holiday downtime is an excellent time to start creating a library of content. Take time now to develop an editorial calendar for your blog.  Write as many posts as you can and all your monthly e-newsletters for 2010.

Update your contact database. This is a great time to take the business cards that have been lying around on your desk or in your purse and get that info entered into your outlook database or contact management system.   Aweber, Constant Contact, or 1shoppingcart.com are effective CMS systems.  This is a great task to hand off to an intern or virtual assistant.

Get a new professional headshot. If you’ve changed your appearance in any way, you need a new head shot. If it’s been a year or two since you had a professional photo taken, you need a new headshot.  Ladies, be sure to get your makeup professionally done, and remember to smile.  Give your business a fresh new look with a new headshot.

Refresh your bio. Every business owners need two bios. You should have a comprehensive one-page bio and a 50 word bio. Be sure to include a mini client list, any national media, all awards, association memberships and any volunteer service. Ask at least two people to review it, if you’re really struggling, hire a professional copy writer to tweak it for you. Once it’s updated, be sure to update your bio across your entire social media footprint for consistency.

Special shoutout to @AliciaSanera who’s blog post The Cure For A Business Hangover was inspiration in part for this blog post.

Is there anything else you are planning to tackle before the year is out?

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For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog www.succeedasyourownboss.com.

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