Is your to-do list growing longer and longer? The holiday season is a great time to cut it down and prioritize for the New Year. We asked a panel of 12 successful founders from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) what they plan on squeezing in before January. Here's an edited version of what they had to say:
1. Plan your marketing efforts for the New Year
Setting up a marketing calendar can be incredibly helpful to make sure you capitalize on all of the major opportunities the New Year has in store. These should include holiday promotions, conferences and product-launch schedules.
- Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes
2. Express gratitude for 2013
Look back at your year and acknowledge your growth, challenges, lessons learned and goals accomplished. Then, celebrate. It's valuable to take the time to look back, so you can move freely and aggressively forward.
- Corey Blake, Round Table Companies
3. Revisit your metrics
You're probably already tracking metrics, but now is a great time to set up your 2014 reporting and find out where the gaps are. Look at web traffic, financials, social media and email conversions. Find out what metrics are no longer relevant and what new reports you can use to track your success in the New Year.
- Kelly Azevedo, She's Got Systems
4. Set your 2014 budget
Start with a three-year financial plan that considers your objectives and cost analysis. Upon this foundation, build a budget and estimate your projected money flows, in and out over a given period. Identify and test your key revenue assumptions and key variable costs. Break down your budget into expense and revenue categories. Then, plan your actions accordingly.
- David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services
5. Learn from your wins
More times than not, founders focus too much on what didn't go well. One thing every founder should do before Jan. 1 is identify what went well. These are the victories. The next step is to unpack why these things went well. From there, you can identify the consistent metrics your victories have in common and replicate them in the New Year.
- Antonio Neves, THINQACTION
6. Take those holidays you haven't taken yet
Entrepreneurs can be workaholics, but it's important to take time to unwind. I believe we should all disconnect from our businesses at least once a year. You go back to work feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.
- Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World
7. Reduce your taxes
If you like the idea of saving for the future (who doesn't?), then consider opening up a 401(k) before Jan. 1, and make a contribution. If you're a sole proprietor, the individual 401(k) can help you shelter $17,500 per year (in 2013 and 2014) and more if you're 50 or older. Plus, you can exclude up to 25 percent of your business's profit for a maximum of $51,000 in 2013 ($52,000 for 2014). That makes for major tax savings and a nice future fund.
- Brett Farmiloe, Internet Marketing Company
We all are guilty of powering through from one thing to the next and never stopping to look back at the progress we've made. Before Jan. 1, it's great to check out your rearview mirror and note your company's highlights and successes. Afterward, it's OK to take note of the low points in order to improve and plan for the New Year.
- Darrah Brustein, Finance Whiz Kids | Equitable Payments
9. Review your milestones and set others
Breathe, and then review. Assess what worked and what didn't, and make realistic plans for the future. You should also lay out a 12-month calendar--indicating your expected measurable milestones and goals.
- Nikki Robinson, Gloss and Glam
10. Reevaluate your position
It's a good policy as founder to be constantly evaluating your position and the decisions you need to make for the company. By being objective, you can uncover greater truths about yourself and your business that could make it more effective. What's even better? Doing this regularly.
- Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee
12. Thank your employees
Don't make your employees wonder how they were valued in 2013--tell them and thank them. We did this by taking our entire company and their families to a resort for three nights. Giving out holiday gifts of corporate branded clothing (hats, gloves, etc.) is also fun. And of course, bonuses!
- Michael Seiman, CPXi