At this time of year, it’s hard to focus on anything other than Christmas. However, while you’re winding down for the year and looking forward to the festive break, there’s another very important thing you should be doing – planning for 2017.

shutterstock_377448043Preparing your business for the new year is essential, as it means you can hit the ground running in January and hopefully get ahead of your competition. Here are 5 crucial things you should be doing and thinking about:

  1. Get your accounts in order. This is possibly the most important thing to do at the end of the year, as accurate, organised accounts will set you in good stead for 2017. Prepare your accounts for tax filings, make sure that all documentation is ordered and complete and that there are no outstanding payments that need to be cleared before the end of the year. You should also take a close look at your business bank account to get a clear idea of profits and losses and whether you need to make any changes in 2017. Are you happy with your business bank account, your accountant and other financial services? If not, now is the perfect time to make a change ready for the new year.
  1. Declutter email inboxes. It seems a very simple thing to do, but it’s amazing the psychological effect that de-cluttering, archiving and organising your company email can have on everyone in the business. Reorganising the office and its processes in general is a very good thing to do at this time of year, but de-cluttering your email is perhaps the easiest win and is certainly the most satisfying.
  1. Hold a year-end meeting to list this year’s successes and failures. What worked well this year, bringing in added revenue or improving efficiency, and what didn’t work so well? Get the whole team together and make a list of 2016’s successes and failures, so you can repeat the former and learn from the latter next year.
  1. Start sketching out goals and strategies for 2017. Using information from your financial assessment and your year-end meeting, start to plan your strategy for 2017. Set out plans for improvements and changes now while they are fresh in your mind (you’ll be surprised how blank your mind goes in January when you try to think of these things) and outline some key goals and deadlines for achieving them.
  1. Fill in a calendar for next year. Include important deadlines as well as goals you’ve set yourself, the dates of trade shows you want to attend and applications you need to get in by a certain date. You can also include tax deadlines, special events, marketing opportunities (i.e. Valentine’s Day for retail businesses) and other landmark dates. With a completed calendar, you’ll be able to get a jump start on 2017 and ensure you never miss anything important, as well as having clear deadlines to work to.