Autumn is a revelation! The colours alone set this one season apart from the rest. Autumn also means that the busy season is here, and in three more months, so is the new year. Stepping into any department store, it is easy to gauge just what time of year it is simply by their displays; and, just like the colour-changing leaves, the new displays change from bright sunny yellows, blues, and pinks to oranges, reds, and browns. It is easy to detect the urgency as holidays like Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s creep closer and closer. This change signifies the end of Summer and, additionally, the vacation state of mind.
Now is the time for reflection of the current year and preparation for the new year, because you’re in the middle of a major transition. This means that you and your team are probably feeling the pressure of much busier days. The questions to ask yourself now are how prepared are you for the final quarter and are you currently in the middle of preparing your practice for the new year? If you aren’t, and you need a little nudge, here are just a few suggestions to get you started.
Don’t wait until the last minute
The worst thing to think at a time like this is “I still have three months, though.” Yes, you do still have three months, but time doesn’t play by our rules and when you least expect it, it’s three months later and nothing is done. Don’t procrastinate. Procrastinating just adds to your stress. Instead, set aside some time during the day to start reflecting and planning. Change your perspective. Don’t put it off just because you have three months. Start now, because you only have three months.
Create a plan for the last quarter
“Businesses that fail to plan plan to fail.” You have probably heard this popular adage before. That’s because planning is essential to the continuing success of your business. Create a plan for the tasks ahead and stick to that plan. A way to do that is to create for yourself a checklist. Checklists make life easier and reduce the stress of trying to remember all the tasks you have yet to finish. Also, there is an incredible sense of relief that comes with looking at your checklist and seeing that all your tasks have been checked off.
Evaluate this year’s goals
It’s time to take a well-deserved look back at all you have accomplished and what there is still left to complete. Are you satisfied or do you think you could’ve done better? These are always good questions to ask yourself going forward. What are the goals you’ve established this year and have they been reached? Which goals require more time? In an article on www.mysbcapital.com, regarding new year planning, they suggest taking an “honest look at where you have been and where you would like to be.” Being honest will provide you with the insight necessary to “review your business plan and make any necessary updates and adjustments.” The Balance also offers some sage advice, suggesting that you “make some notes on your thoughts about your successful accomplishment of your goals (or lack of it). These will be handy when you do your business planning for the current year.”
Keep an eye on external factors
Once you’ve taken a good look back at the current year’s goals, what’s been accomplished, and what requires more time or resources, it’s time to look outside of your practice to all the external factors that may be negatively or even positively affecting your goals. Assess your competition as suggested by www.mysbcapital.com’s article and ask yourself “how are your competitors performing?” and “How are they marketing themselves and do they plan to expand?” Ask what your marketing plans are and always take into account the impact of social media on your practice.
Ask your patients and employees for their input
It matters what the members of your team think. It also matters what your patients think, so don’t leave either of them out of your planning. Let them have a say in how the next year will go. “If you have ever worked on a company’s front line, you know how much those employees see that management does.” The same goes for the Office Manager and the Receptionist and the Dental Assistant. Have meetings and communicate with the people who can see your goals and ways to achieve them from a different perspective. Your entire team “can provide invaluable information; such as, where time and materials are being wasted, what new opportunities there are for new products and services or simply how to do things more efficiently.” Your patients can also provide you with invaluable information in the form of referrals and feedback.
Don’t put off your preparation for the last minute and take into account your past, external factors, and of course your team (this includes the patients) when it comes to preparing for a successful year. For more information and advice, check out the links and take advantage of the downloadable checklist all provided below.
- New Year, Fresh Start: 6 Steps to Small Business Success in 2018
- Year-End Checklist for Small Businesses
- How to Manage Business Expense Records