If you’re like me, you spent the first three quarters of 2015 plugging away at building your business. But now we have both feet solidly in Q4, and that means it’s time to prep for next year–and reflect on why we work so hard in the first place. Here are a few of the routines I use to make sure I’m ready for whatever comes next.
A financial checkup is always first on my end-of-the-year list, and should be for any business owner. After all, most of us own businesses so we can make a better life for our families. But in the daily grind, it’s easy to lose track of the big picture. To bring that back into focus, I ask myself…
- How are the kids’ college funds? This is a major priority for many parents, and I’m no exception. I see where the college accounts stand and make the necessary contributions.
- What do I have in savings? I usually know what’s in my savings account, but I also check on my investments and retirement plan. Whether the market’s up or down, it’s better knowing where you stand than guessing.
- Where is my money going? Am I paying for a gym membership that I’m not using? Overpaying for my cable bill? The end of the year is a good time to review expenses and cut or renegotiate where possible.
If reviewing your finances has become an afterthought this year, check out this post from Intuit. It divides accounting tasks into daily, monthly, quarterly, and annual routines so you can get it right going forward.
There’s a reason New Year’s resolutions are clich: the holidays are an obvious cue to think about what you’ve accomplished and what you’d like to do next. For me, it’s also the time when I sit down with my accountant. Once I have a financial snapshot of where my business is, I can start setting some goals.
Though everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, very few of us keep them. According to research from the University of Scranton, only eight percent of us actually achieve what we set out to do. I try to stay in the eight percent by setting goals that are…
- Realistic. That’s one reason I speak with my accountant before I make plans. If I’m launching a massive re-branding campaign at the expense of contributions to my kids’ tuition funds, I’m setting myself up for future failure.
- Specific. At best, a vague goal is a moving target. At worst, it’s forgotten.
- Focused. You may be tempted to fix everything at once, but you’re better off funneling your resources to one or two areas where they can have a serious impact.
Here’s another tip: consider breaking up long-term goals into bitesize chunks. Not only can that make your resolution more attainable, but deadlines can be excellent motivators for you and your employees.
We’ve all read the articles about how our jobs are going to be the death of us (e.g., this one from Business Insider), so we know how important it is to get away from the office and recharge our batteries. For me, that means taking a week to be with my family.
I spend 51 weeks a year in an office working to make my business successful. That’s not to say that I don’t go to my kids’ games or have dinner with them when I can. But those opportunities, as much as I love them, can become routine. Too often, we are all too distracted to see that our family time is decreasing. One week to reconnect may not seem like much, but it reminds me why I work so hard.
It might seem impossible to take a breath during this hectic time, but doing so gets you ready for next year.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.