It’s only a matter of days until a New Year is upon us. Many people are still away on vacation, or enjoying an extended ‘staycation’ at home. And just about everyone is getting ready for New Year’s Eve, which will be filled with sights, sounds, and festivities. For small business owners, the last week before the new year arrives is a great time to take stock of the past twelve months and start planning for the future. A few members of Balboa Capital’s digital marketing team and management team met and came up with this small business checklist for the new year.

Let your employees know how important they are.

Your employees are the backbone of your small business. They are the ones who make things happen and help you succeed. So, why not share your appreciation and gratitude with them? This can help start the new year on a positive note. Plus, research shows that recognition boots morale, and leads to higher job satisfaction and increased productivity. So, instead of sending a company-wide email, think of something unique to start the new year, such as a kickoff breakfast or lunch, extra time off, gift cards, or a company-wide outing to someplace fun.

Look at your website’s key metrics.

Having a creative-looking website for your small business means nothing if it isn’t generating traffic, leads, and sales. Ask your marketing manager, or the company/individual who designed your website, to provide you with a 12-month report of the most important website metrics. These include website traffic, traffic sources, top landing pages visited, bounce rate, and conversion rate. This information will give you a snapshot of how your website is performing, and helps you determine what needs to be changed, if anything. In addition, ask for a website audit report so you can see if your site has any problems that need to be addressed. Common issues include broken links, missing pages with 404 errors, overly large images and videos, and slow page load times. These things can result in a poor use experience and missed sales opportunities.

Revise your strategic sales plan.

Your company’s financial performance of the past 12 months will determine what your goals will be for next year. If you reached or surpassed your sales and revenue targets, you will definitely start the new year right. If you fell short, you should try to figure out why, and make adjustments as needed. Examine ways to attract more customers, and upsell to existing customers. It is also a good idea to re-evaluate your company’s sales procedures and protocols to see if anything is causing you to miss out on sales opportunities. Ask your employees what feedback they were given from prospects, read your customer reviews online, and keep tabs on what your competitors are doing. Then, think of what you can do to persuade customers that your product or service is beneficial to them. The better you understand your customers’ expectations and purchasing decisions, the easier it will be to get them to buy.

Get a jumpstart on your bookkeeping.

The hectic tax season will be here before you know it, so getting ready early can be a real time saver and make your visit to the accountant a breeze. Start by gathering up your business expenses, sales, receipts, credit card summaries, payroll, bank transactions, and bills from vendors, among others. Then, make sure they are accurately entered in your bookkeeping system or software. If you do this before December 31, you will have less bookkeeping to do in January, and that means more time to focus on running your business.

Improve your business credit rating.

Do you know your company’s credit rating? If not, you probably don’t know how much borrowing power you have. Start the new year by giving your business credit rating a nice boost so you can get a business loan or a business cash advance with a lower interest rate. To do this, update your company information with all three credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax), pay your bills on time, pay your taxes on time, and borrow from lenders that report your information to credit bureaus.