For most people, the end of the year is a time for celebrating the holidays with family. But many entrepreneurs are already thinking ahead to 2018, focused more on setting goals than getting gifts. Here are a few tasks that will help you gain clarity on the past year and to inform your business resolutions for the new year.

Revisit Your Mission

The end of the year is a great time to reflect on where you spent your time and attention throughout the year, and see if those time commitments align with your mission and goals. Without setting dedicated time to pause and reflect, it's possible to spend far too long on tasks, projects and initiatives that don't align with your overall goals and mission. In a  previous blog post, I shared a list of three structured reflection questions I'd heard from Rand Fishkin, of Moz. These can prove helpful for this portion of your year-end evaluation:

  • What should I change?
  • What should I keep the same?
  • What don't I know yet?

Say "Thank You"

I'm a big fan of saying "thank you" in general, and of finding new and personalized ways to make your thanks known. Thanksgiving and the end of the year is a great time to reflect on and make a list of everyone who has helped make your business' year what it was. A small gift, handwritten note, or even just a heartfelt email can help make your gratitude known to those who have had the greatest impact, and may have a great impact again in the new year. If you need some inspiration for who to share thanks with, here's a good start:

  • Your customers, clients or investors (anyone who helps fund your business)
  • Your employees, colleagues,  (anyone you worked alongside)
  • Your partners, vendors, and others who support your business
  • People who made valuable introductions for you
  • People who invited you to events or groups to network
  • People who featured you, quoted you or otherwise promoted you

Organize Finances

Many people see the new year as an opportunity to set new intentions for saving money, reducing spending or otherwise revamping their mindset about money, and entrepreneurs are no different. But don't just log your money in and out the door to figure out your profits for the last 12 months. Make sure you pause to look a bit deeper for chances to optimize in the new year. 

  • Check your billing statements for recurring expenses: software, services, subscriptions and automatic deductions. Are these all still necessary for business and properly sized to match your needs? Can any be reduced or cancelled in the coming year?
  • Have you collected all of your expenses in preparation for tax season? Can you set up a system to track these in a more automated way, such as with a designated email folder for receipts or by integrating your business credit cards with a tracking software?
  • What ways, if any, did you invest in yourself this year, whether through courses, coaching, masterminds, books, conferences, trainings or something else? Were these worth the money, and how will you adjust this spending--increase, decrease or stay the same--in the new year?

Review Your Calendar

Many of us wish we had more hours in a day, but you may actually be able to find and create more time in the 24 hours that you have. The end of the year is a great time to do a calendar audit, to see how you've been spending your time and look for ways to optimize your schedule for productivity and free time. Here are some questions to ask as you look at the previous year's calendar and schedules. 

  • How much, if any, time did you spend on business trips or vacations away from home or the office, where you were less productive than anticipated? Can you alter the way you book travel to make that time more productive? (Direct flights to reduce wasted layovers, pre-pay for wi-fi onboard to ensure you're able to work, etc.)
  • How much time to you spend commuting/traveling to meetings? Can any of those be reduced or swapped for calls to reduce wasted time in transit?
  • Are all of your recurring meetings still necessary? Can they be reduced in time (from 60 minutes to 30 minutes, or from 30 minutes to 15 minutes) or in frequency (shifting from weekly to biweekly) to make more room for productive work?