It’s not that long until all the holiday craziness will be behind us. As you finish up your holiday shopping, it’s time to turn your attention to planning for the new year, and greater success for your online business..
You don’t have to make grand resolutions for the new year just because it’s a tradition. This is, however, a great time of year to consider where you’re headed and where you would like to be.
What Are Your Goals For Next Year?
Just where are you headed with your online business anyhow? Are you moving in the right direction?
No matter your answer to that question, set goals to keep things moving. Setting goals is a huge part of planning for the new year.
Some people say their goals are as simple as “I want to build a great business online that gets tons of traffic and earns me lots of money.”
That’s fine. But not really helpful.
A goal must be actionable.
It’s easier to set actionable goals if you use the SMART Goals technique. This means the goals you set must be:
Once you have your overall goals set, you can create milestones that will help you work toward those goals. Think of these as smaller goals which will help you reach your bigger goals.
If you want to earn $10,000 a month, for example, you can break that down into milestones that will help you get there.
Milestones don’t have to be the same type of event as the overall goal. One milestone could be finding five
You can also set a smaller version of your big goal as a milestone, such as reaching $1,000 a month. Just don’t limit yourself.
If you find it too difficult to reach your goals, you may have set them too high. Remember that SMART goals must be attainable. If that’s not working for you, rethink the goal.
Is It Time To Update Your Skills?
When you have an online business, odds are that you have some skills that could use updating or improvement. Things change fast online, and it’s important to keep up.
Consider social media marketing, for example. Most social media sites make significant changes throughout the year.
Twitter, for example, no longer wants users to tweet the same post out over and over again. They want you to use the retweet function or change the content of the tweet. This has changed how you should use scheduling tools with Twitter.
That’s only one example.
Consider paying for courses that will help you keep up to date with the things that matter to you most. Many will include free updates for at least a year, and possibly for life. When you’re trying to keep up with a changing industry, getting updates helps a ton.
And of course you should keep up with your industry to the best of your abilities as well. Exactly what that means depends on the niche of your online business.
Udemy can be a great resource to find courses you want to take on just about any subject. Many of the course creators keep them updated regularly.
You can learn about SEO, making YouTube videos, WordPress tricks, ebook publishing, app development, improve your writing skills and so much more. Now’s a great time to get started.
Is Your Website Up To Date?
It’s amazing how fast information on a website can go out of date. This is a great time of year to see what needs to be updated.
Start with your photo on your About page. Does it look good? Does it convey the impression you want to create?
What about the information you share on your About page? Has anything changed? Are you still happy with the information you present there? Does it have a call to action?
If you don’t have an About Me page on your site, make one. People like learning about the person behind the site.
Next, check your website for broken links. Broken links make your site look terrible.
This is easy if you use WordPress – the free Broken Link Checker plugin can handle it for you. Don’t run this plugin all the time – it’s very resource intensive, but it’s great for the occasional check. Deactivate and uninstall it once you’re done. Be aware that some hosts do not allow the use of this plugin due to how resource intensive it is.
If you have Google Analytics installed, you can also use it to find broken links on your site. Follow the steps offered on this site to see how to find and fix these errors on your site.
There are also a variety of online broken link checkers you can use. Most check a limited number of pages for free, and have a paid version that will allow you to check your whole site.
Finally, check for information that is out of date. What has changed in your industry in the past year? Keeping the information on your site up to date makes you look better to visitors.
Review Your Social Media Accounts
Social media plays a significant role in marketing for most online businesses. It’s affordable, and extremely effective if you do it right.
Start with your profile image for each social media account. Do they convey a consistent impression of your and your business?
In many cases, a photo of you is the best choice for a social media profile. It shows the person behind the business. And while you don’t necessarily have to update your photo every year, it should be reasonably current.
Next, take a look at who you’re following. Cull the ones that aren’t interesting, and find new people to follow who are relevant to your industry.
Don’t worry about who follows you back – following people on social media should always be about who you find interesting.
Take a look at any analytics you have on each social media account. Tools such as Hootsuite and Tailwind make it easier to see how each social media account is performing. You should do this regularly throughout the year as well.
On Pinterest, take a look at your boards and see how they’re performing? Does it make sense to create any new boards in your niche? Are there any boards that you aren’t really pinning to at all?
Start Organizing For Tax Season
The end of the year means tax season will be upon you all too soon. It’s time to start getting ready.
Start by getting all of your expenses pulled together. Any money you’ve spent on your online business should be listed. Anything you have any doubts on should be put into a special place so you can ask your accountant or bookkeeper if it’s deductible.
Start pulling together your income reports as well. Having all of these things ready to go will make it easier to file your taxes when the time comes. If you’re getting a refund, the sooner you file, the better!
If you have employees or contractors you paid during the year, you need to get the appropriate tax forms ready for them as soon as possible in the new year. You know how much of a pain it is to wait for these forms – don’t make other people wait for one from you.
Get Your Email Under Control
Are you the organized sort who keeps their email organized all of the time, or do you let it slide and have thousands of emails sitting in your inbox? If you’re the second sort, it’s time to clean out your email!
Start by finding newsletters you don’t read, and unsubscribe from them. They’re just clutter.
Next, come up with a system for sorting your emails. I have lots of filters set up so that many of my emails are sorted before I ever see them. It helps a lot.
You can use filters to sort out emails from social media sites and
Create email templates for any responses you give regularly. I use email templates quite a bit, and they significantly simplify my responses, as many questions come in over and over again.
Organize Your Home Office
Odds are that your home office has become cluttered during the year. This is especially a problem if it’s the spot everyone throws things when getting ready for the holidays. It might even be the guest room during the holidays, and not available for you to use for a time… which can also mean a mess when guests leave.
But there’s more to it than that.
Take a look at the technology you use. Is it out of date? Should you upgrade or add on?
Do you have all of the tools you need to make things happen?
Not everything has to cost money, of course. Some productivity apps are free to use, at least at the basic level, yet will help you be far more productive.
Don’t only consider the technology in our home office, however. Consider the furnishings.
A comfortable and functional home office can help you be far more productive and worth an investment in appropriate supplies and furnishings. Anything in your home office that is getting in the way of your productivity should be replaced.
Consider your office chair, for example. This one is a current focus of mine because I found out how incredibly uncomfortable my husband’s office chair is. He doesn’t work at home, so it’s not the priority mine would be, but wow, his chair is hard to sit in for any length of time.
An ergonomic office chair will allow you to work comfortably for longer. If you’re comfortable, you’re probably more productive.
Similarly, a good sit-stand desk will allow you to change positions and still keep working. It can be an excellent investment. There are a number of sit-stand desks that simply go on top of your current desk, so you don’t need an entirely new desk.
Commit To Action
Don’t just think up what you’d like to do. Commit to it. Write it out if that helps you. Keep track somehow of your progress. Hold yourself accountable.
Take a look at the things that have been slowing you down. What has kept you from being productive? How can you avoid the problem in the future?
Committing to action is a key part of planning for the new year. Plans are nothing without action.
In a way, committing to action is much like setting goals, as I suggested at the start of this post. But it’s
What Are Your Plans For The New Year?
Have you made plans to grow your online business in the new year? What items are most important to you?