When you think of the end of the year, what do you think of?

Most small business owners think of taxes. It’s a good time to analyze what worked and plan ahead for the next year.

At Excellerate Success Institute, my clients use their own Business Blueprint Wizard complete with identified metrics to measure their successes throughout the year.

A Business Blueprint is their existence system so they not only map out their goals and objectives, but have a systematic way to bring those goals into existence. With a quick snapshot, they easily see all areas of their business, including their Marketing Mix. The end of the year is a perfect trigger to analyze it.

If you don’t have a Business Blueprint, consider adding some of these items to your checklist:

1. Thank your clients. If you haven’t yet thanked your customers this year, send them a simple thank you note for being a loyal customer or client. SendOutCards makes it easy to include a gift card, like a coffee to Tim Horton’s or Starbucks.

2. Get your financial books in order. Gather all of those receipts for your accountant or CPA. Did you attend a business-related training or donate gently used business attire to your favorite charity? If so, keep your receipts. These events may be considered business deductions!

Above all, get the financial help you need so you can make informed decisions and choices in planning for the new year. Examine your balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statements to see the changes you need to make in your business to make next year even more profitable.

3. Strategically plan your business goals. Now that you know how your business performed, it’s time to look at how you got there. Did you accomplish what you set out to? Identify the reasons for the success or where you fell short. Make notes on your successes or identify the support you need to reach your goals for next year. This assessment will come in handy when you conduct your business planning for the upcoming year.

4. Work Smart. Identify the contacts you’ve made and make a list of items you need to follow up on – you might have left some business hanging. This is also a good time to reassess if your networking organizations are working for you. The end of the year is a good time to determine if you’re going to reinvest in the same organizations. You might just find that it’s time to let go of memberships that are no longer working and explore new ones that will be more in alignment with new initiatives or goals.

5. Refine your Branding. Keep things fresh by updating your website, Ezine or Enewsletter and other marketing and branding materials. You need to be exact to attract your ideal clients. Make sure that your clients/customers know exactly who you work with by reviewing whether or not your messages match your market.

6. Set up your marketing systems. If you find yourself saying, “I wish I had a sales person who could work 24/7,” you may need to implement automatic lead generation systems and set up your marketing systems so they work on autopilot. Examine other internal systems and processes you need to implement next year to help leverage your time, energy and resources.

7. Plan for your personal development for next year. Whenever I invest in my own personal development, it pays off a hundred fold. Plan to grow your business by investing in you. Identify the training or resources you need to take your business to new levels next year whether it is a specific program or mentor. Investing in yourself is the greatest form of leverage. It changes the way you look at growing your business.

The old saying is true: businesses that fail to plan, plan to fail. With the distraction of daily events, it’s easy to put off business planning. Use this simple checklist to determine how you did and to get a jump start on next year.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Mininni is the best-selling author of Me, Myself, and Why? The Secrets to Navigating Change and President of Excellerate Associates, and Founder of The Excellerate Success Institute, showing business owners how to automatically bring in pre-qualified prospects and turn them into invested clients. For her brand new eBook, Get More Clients Now! 3 Steps to More Clients, More Money, and A Business You Love, visit http://www.freebusinessplanformat.com