Improve your prospects at year end by working continuously and consistently in December so that you finish strongly.
“It’s not where you start – it’s where you finish that counts!”
It’s a fine quotation from best-selling author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar. And highly appropriate for businesses of all shapes and sizes as this year draws to a close.
- So, how are things looking for you and your company?
- Have you already hit this year’s numbers?
- Or, perhaps you’ve left it a bit late and are planning one last push to get you over the line?
For many it is either peak season or nearing the close of the financial year. For some it is both. Either way it is essential to end the year well.
But finishing the year with a flourish is not enough. There also needs to be strong forward momentum to carry the business into a successful start to the new year. This is because where you finish is often strongly influenced by how you start.
To end the current year on a high and begin the new year with a bang, there are 3 surprisingly simple tactics you can employ:
Keep your focus on hitting the year end sales numbers
For businesses that have achieved their targets, it is tempting to take a breather. Easing off would be understandable, but paradoxically it is easier to keep going. This way you ride the wave of success into the New Year, rather than having to start over cold in January.
For businesses with all hands on deck trying to hit their KPIs as they navigate the stormy year-end waters, it can be hard to see beyond the current struggles.
And yet, tackling issues now can stand the business in good stead as it moves into the New Year . It also improves prospects at year end itself.
Don’t postpone year end business activities
Complacency sometimes sets in at this time of year. Businesses often postpone decisions, defer activities and even make excuses.
Of course, it is true that December is a short month. Naturally, we all have one eye on the Christmas festivities and a well-earned break. However, January can be a very long month. Unfortunately, this can come as a shock as a new, tougher budget kicks in. What’s more, we are all expected to be up to speed from Day 1.
So it makes sense to get prepared now. For example, by doing that training that you were planning before year-end. Or by completing that test marketing campaign this month. Above al,l by keeping filling your prospect pipeline.
Treat December and January as one block of time
We are all human and year end plays a psychological trick on us. We see December as the end of the old and January as the beginning of the new. In reality, they are part of a continuum.
Many of us are fortunate enough to benefit from year-end bonuses that focus the mind, but sometimes they cloud our judgement.
As a result, orders that belong to January are sometimes brought forward into December, often at a substantial discount in order to meet a sales target.
Or investments in inventory needed in December are deferred until January to artificially boost cash flow at year end.
And even if bonuses are not an issue, our natural tendency to think that January is some way into the future rather than nearly upon. Unfortunately, this can easily fools us into deferring action until “after the holidays” or “when we get back in the New Year”.
The best way around this is to think about December and January as one block of time to be planned together. It really concentrates the mind! What’s more, it can help you improve your prospects at year end.
In environments such as call centres and retail it is possible to run short term incentives over the entire 2-month period to maximise efficiency and sales. Even in the business to business arena there is often ample opportunity to schedule productive client/supplier meetings just before Christmas or just after New Year.
Orson Welles once said:
“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story”
To have a successful first quarter next year, in December don’t stop – even for a few days – doing those activities that made you so successful throughout this past year.
For more advice on improving your business prospects and meeting business targets please read how to find buried treasure in your business plans
NB: This article was original written in December 2015 but updated in March 2020