With 4th quarter well underway and the holidays fast approaching, the end of the year will be here in a flash. But there’s still so much to pack into the next two months!
One key to staying organized and getting it all done: A checklist. Make one now, and include everything you need to have completed by the end of the year. Grouping individual tasks by subject or timeline checkpoints can help break a long list of tasks into more manageable chunks.
If your business swings into high gear during the holidays, start a pre-holiday retail checklist now. Borrowing from Retail Minded Magazine and retail experts Kizer & Bender’s Retail Adventures blog, packaging expert nashvillewraps.com says a pre-holiday checklist will help ensure a successful fourth quarter. (And since time’s moving quickly, we’ve added a few of our own touches to the list!)
- Put the finishing touches on in-store event planning, from a holiday open house to the big post-Thanksgiving weekend. (You may not be able to implement a lot yet this year, but get a jump on next year’s holidays with Kizer and Bender’s holiday planning e-book at JingleBellsChristmasSells.com.)
- Finish up hiring—and training—if you’re adding seasonal staff.
- Do a last review of the non-negotiable basics and check them off the list, if you haven’t already, including repairing. repainting, and replacing
- Conduct (another) physical inventory of must-haves.
- Create a top 10 list of recommendations for outstanding gifts.
- Complete your finalized returns policy.
- Solidify your sales strategy for December 26.
As soon as this year’s holidays come to a close, turn your sights on the 2014 holiday season. Debrief your staff on what worked well and what didn’t. Keep copious notes and records. You might even want to plan a contest among employees to come up with out-of-the-box ideas for next year.
But business isn’t just about the holidays; nor is 4th quarter. Sarah Day of Day One Business Services encourages small business owners to somehow find the time this quarter to make sure your business is in shape for next year. Run a financial checkup, Day says; review your year-to-date P&L statement, balance sheet and expenses. Look for gaps or errors, and correct them. How to fit it all in? Make an EOY checklist, and work your way through these items:
- If your budget is still in the works, finalize it.
- Fine-tune your business plan.
- Update your marketing plan.
- Update your customer database.
- Get in touch with customers you haven’t heard from in a while. The holidays are the perfect time for this.
- Tie up loose ends with employees. Make sure everyone has the feedback they need, including rewards for accomplishments, to start next year with a clean slate.
As if you need more to do, there are probably still some things you should address before the end of Q4. Take a look at swipely.com’s 10-point fall checklist for small business to see if there’s anything you’ve missed in these three broad areas: finance, marketing and business development, and operations. If so, add them to your fourth-quarter checklist. It may be tough to carve out some time to meet with your tax advisor or to update your disaster plan—but these may be just the actions that help make next year a successful one.
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