It’s hard to believe, but 2013 is almost over. Have you accomplished the goals you set for yourself this year? Perhaps you have a few things in the back of your mind that are nagging you, that you still have time to complete before the year ends, but you keep putting them off. Maybe you feel a bit discouraged at all of the things on your “to-do” list that you never did get to this year.
Whether 2013 was, or wasn’t a good year for your practice, there are a few steps you can take to finish strong and to plan for a better year in 2014. Each of these 5 steps below will help you have a better understanding of your business during the past year, and the direction you want it to take in 2014 to make it your best year yet.
1. Review Your Business Practices and Systems From 2013
Business practices and systems are easy to ignore or put off until a later time. However, there really is never a “good time” to get efficient systems and practices in place. You just have to make time to do it, as it saves you precious time in the long term.
Take a look at what is working in your business right now, and what practices or systems could use improvement. Do you have a good system in place to keep your income and business expenses organized? Are they ready for tax time? If not, is it time to hire a bookkeeper to stay organized throughout the year?
Was scheduling therapy clients an issue that needs further scrutiny? Perhaps you want to save time next year by using an online scheduler. Recently one of my clients who resisted using a scheduler for years finally signed up for one and then say to me, “Why didn’t you insist I get one sooner!”
What about invoicing and payment systems? If these could be improved upon, then now is the time.
Are you tracking client inquiries? Make sure you have a system in place for tracking how they found you and when you need to follow up with those who haven’t yet decided to work with you. Following up can sometimes make the difference between having one more client or not.
Do you have a system in place for backing up your computer? I still am surprised when I find out many therapists and healing professionals don’t back up their computers and then find themselves in a panic when something goes wrong and they lose their data. I know you don’t want this to happen to you, so find a way to make sure it doesn’t.
What other practices and systems can you improve upon next year?
2. Declutter – Electronically and Physically
Take a look at your computer files as this is a great time to purge anything you do not absolutely have to keep. Perhaps your files also need to be better organized.
Take a good look at your office from the point of view of a client. Is it cluttered? Are there things you have misplaced, or that you always have trouble finding? “Spring cleaning” isn’t only for spring! Take some time and organize your therapy or holistic practice. Get rid of old paper documents you do not use anymore.
When your space is organized, your productivity will only increase. You will feel less stressed and more at home in an office and with your computer when you know where everything is. Your clients too, will feel more at home in an organized space.
3. Take a Close Look at Your Private Practice Finances from 2013
I know that you might be resisting this, but this is the perfect time of year to examine your finances. You’ll need to review both the money that came in and went out of your practice.
How does your revenue compare to the previous year? If your business is growing, you want to know how and why, and if it’s not, you’ll need to know that too so you can plan for more growth next year.
How about your business expenses? Did you spend more than you should have last year? Were there any areas where you could have cut back a little bit, or things you purchased that you didn’t really need or use?
On the other hand, maybe you didn’t invest enough in your business and the size of your disappointing caseload is a consequence of that. There is a difference between business expenses where the money simply goes out with no return to be seen, and business expenses that invest in your business and help it grow. Understanding this difference and finding the right balance is important for your success.
Tracking your finances and planning for improvements will help you better achieve your goals in the New Year.
4. Revisit Your Marketing Plan
Take a look at your marketing plan from 2013. Didn’t have a marketing plan for 2013? Well, it’s not too late to have one for 2014—and you should have one.
Do you know exactly what marketing activities worked well for you, as well as those that did not work so well –or didn’t work at all? If you didn’t track where each client came from, you probably want to get a tracking system in place for next year. You want to invest in your business wisely, and tracking what is working and what isn’t, is the only way to do that.
If your marketing plan didn’t work as well as you’d hoped for this year and you can’t figure out why, perhaps you need to take a course or read some key marketing books. Of course, being mentored by the right marketing coach can really boost your results as well. A coach can help you identify the areas that you should be focusing on, give you the valuable tools and information you need to accomplish each task and help you to hold yourself accountable.
5. Set Your Goals for 2014
Once you have a better understanding of your business during the past year, you will be able to focus on setting your goals for the new one. Some of your goals will be tied into your financial plan and marketing plan.
Decide on what projects you want to work on this year. Do you want to offer a course, webinar or workshop? Are you thinking about adding other services or products to offer your clients or prospective buyers?
Maybe your website needs a revamp. Perhaps you need to increase the amount of time you spend marketing this year in order to see better results. Or maybe, you want to spend less time on your business because you worked very hard this year and want to focus on other areas of your life more.
What about your income goals for the year? Planning for how much you want to bring in 2014 will help you know what you need to do to reach your financial goals. Having a goal “as much as I can” is not a goal. You need to set targets and plan how you will achieve those.
As you go about making your new marketing plan, remember to concentrate on specifics. You may want to schedule time to post on social media each day, or perhaps you have not been blogging as much as you should, and you want to schedule time for that. If networking will be your focus, find events that you want to attend, and plan to reach out to those in your community to begin building, or rebuilding those important relationships.
Large goals can be overwhelming and unhelpful. Break down your large goals into smaller goals that work together to help you achieve the large ones. You will find that you feel encouraged when you reach them, and that encouragement will spur you on toward success with reaching the bigger goals.
A Final Word On Finishing Strong
No matter how successful you have been this year, understanding what worked and what didn’t will give you the knowledge you need to grow your practice in the New Year. 2014 has the potential to be great, if you plan for it.
If you want help in developing a marketing plan, check out when the next Marketing Plan Mini Camp begins.