By Teena Rose
December can be a trying time for small businesses. The year-end rush to close clients in order to meet target year-end sales goals can leave a person feeling stressed, overworked, and definitely, not in the holiday spirit. Last year around this time, you were probably forecasting sales figures for 2005, and now, getting ready to do it again for 2006. When running your own business, it becomes immediately apparent that monthly, quarterly, and yearly sales resemble the layout for a roller coaster. It's challenging to devise consistent sales figures when the process of doing business fluctuates continuously.
1) Take a deep breath
Because you didn't reach your forecast doesn't mean you did something wrong, so take a deep breath and relax. Failure serves as great fuel, in my opinion. Not meeting your sales will give you the drive needed to ensure totals are met next year.
Jennifer Beasily, a small business owner in Tampa, Florida, stated, "After reviewing 2003 sales, I took an extensive look at what I was doing - and what I wasn't doing. Hindsight is 20/20, so I used last year's information to ensure that 2004 sales would be better . and they were. Now, I'm taking the same approach this year to secure a nice return from the sales I close in 2006."
2) Create a sales report
Take December and January to research your sales to date. Look over those from the last year, or take your research further by comparing each year you've been in business. Identify what months and years were least successful and your thought on why. Seasons, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, for example, can cause lower sales volumes depending on the type of business you operate. Have a full understanding of what months you recently struggled with, and whether this trend is consistent year after year or month after month.
3) Create an in-depth report
Take your sales report one step further by making notations and devising strategies to curtail lower selling months. Think of reasons why your sales were less than expected. Then, determine if changes, such changing your work habits, running a promotional campaign, or stepping up marketing/advertising efforts, can help. Your finished report should reflect all problem areas, along with several solutions you plan to integrate throughout the year to ensure sales from 2006 are substantially better than those from 2005.
4) New goals
Once armed with a full analysis of your prior year's sales, prepare to set goals for the upcoming year. Create a detailed list that outlines your goals for the next 12 months, and be sure to include a "how to" section. Also, separate and prioritize each goal to be finished within a particular timeline: 3, 6, 9, or 12 months. Weave practical and far-reaching goals into the list because you want to give yourself room to accomplish, but to also stretch beyond your current limits. "The refreshing part about consulting with different types of companies is that my skill level and abilities are always challenged. Who wants a position that is always the same thing, day in and day out?" said Jebdi Zaki.
5) Take time off
Are you crazy? Everyone reading this article will likely ask it. Taking time off seems like the least practical objective when there's so much to accomplish. People tend to lose steam towards the end of the year, especially small business owners who expend more time marketing the business as they do operating it.
Business people need to recharge their batteries before heading into a new year. The holidays pose a perfect time to take several consecutive days off, sneak a few mornings away from the office, and leave early in the afternoon.
Take your kids and spouse to an area pool where you can leisurely waste the day, or go on a stroll with your significant other. Disassociate yourself from the workday, and don't return until the "weight of the year" is lifted.
If year-end sales remind you of coal, don't worry about it. The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on Christ [C'Moms Editor's addition in italics], enjoy each other's company, and rejuvenate so you can take a stab at it again next year. The real gifts in life have nothing to do with money. Enjoy your holiday!
IT'S TIME TO SET SOME GOALS!
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