October in Wisconsin is full of autumn glory. Colorful leaves like you wouldn’t believe. Pumpkins and cornstalks and frosty mornings. This year has blessed us by the big lake with a simply glorious fall, one that teases that we’ll enjoy mild weather for a long time to come. But we all know better; we all know that it’s only a tease.
October is a definite turn of the seasons in preparation for the holidays and the (long) winter ahead.
The harkening of October also signals the fourth quarter, the final push for small businesses to complete end-of-the-year goals.
This is Verity’s very first “Q4.” It’s the first time I’ve felt the push to finish out the year strong, with purpose, and with a plan for next year. As I’ve thought about the final weeks of the year, I’ve been collecting a handful of things Verity can do to end this first full year of business. Here is a list of five steps you can take to finish out the year with momentum.
Take stock of how the last three quarters have gone. Recognize when you experienced growth and when you could only hear the crickets. Chart seasonal trends. Did you experience a slow summer? For Verity, I noticed a massive slow-down across social media as people changed pace, were gone on vacation, enjoyed more time with their families, or were just generally busier with real life. September saw a boost in inquiries and interest, and now Q4 looks promising. Prepare for noticeable trends in case they happen again next year, and do what you can to boost this fourth quarter to make up for any slow period for your particular niche.
Prepare for holiday business. If you are a handmade shop or other product-based business, use the holiday season to your advantage and market, market, market! This time is huge. Prepare additional inventory, promote your goods, offer coupons, and compete to boost your sales. If you are a service-based business, can you use your services to reach out and help others businesses experiencing a boom for the shopping season? Depending on your industry, this is a great way to offer service-based support and utilize their busy season too.
Write down your year’s end goals and create actionable steps for each. Try pick up new work or complete projects that can be finished by year’s end. End the year with a new campaign or special offer. Wrap up with something exciting but not too consuming. Whatever you decide to do, try to finish it by the end of Q4. Why? You’ll be excited to start the new year afresh with new plans, goals, and projects, and it’ll be a great boost for morale and business to be able to wrap up all (or most) current projects to prepare for the new.
Set business objectives for next year. If you’re planning to take on more clients than last year, start advertising and seeking out those people now. Book early. If your business is more than a one-person show and expansion is imminent (may it be in the form of VA, an employee, or other outsourcing), start planning for staffing changes and advertise for the perfect individual. If you hope to offer new services or product lines, it’s a great time to map out those expansions. Dream big! Lofty goals are good if you have a plan of action for turning them into reality.
Reflect and improve. Finally, remember to celebrate your big wins from this past year and bring that momentum forward with you into the new year. There are always ways to improve your business (better book keeping or business systems, anyone?) to invest in the health of your business by pinpointing ways to grow and improve.
You’ve got this! Let’s finish out Q4 strong and with momentum.
Do you have any Q4 strategies for your small business? Share in the comments or find me on social media!