Small business planning guide for a brilliant year

Small business planning guide for a brilliant year of work from

Obviously I love to plan and budget and scheme new ways to grow my business, so when the New Year rolls around I get extra excited. December is the perfect time, amid all the end of the year holiday craziness, to rework your offerings, add new projects and discover ways to grow your blog or business. I’m getting ready to put together a game plan for next year, so I thought I’d share a few ideas to get you going as well!

How did everything turn out?

First we need to evaluate – client by client or month by month, what went well and what didn’t. For me, in addition to explaining my process via email, I need to create a pdf explaining what happens week by week to make sure clients know what to expect and what is expected of them. I had two clients go completely MIA and while I ask up front that they be prompt with responding to email in order to stay on schedule, I think one more reminder could have helped that issue. This is the time to be super honest with your self on what you screwed up, so you don’t repeat the same mistakes next year AND give your self a high five for all the things that went right.

What’s been selling and what hasn’t?

Next take a look at what packages or product sold and what didn’t bring in much money. Don’t keep items laying around or cluttering your shop that only sold a few times. I’ve cleaned out my Etsy shop and am prepping new templates to replace those that haven’t sold much. I’m taking note of what features are asked for on a regular basis (color changes and extra icons – done and done!) and what items nobody seems to care about.

If you could do anything, what would it be?

We talked about this last week – what have you been wanting to add to your business that you haven’t had the time/money/guts to conquer yet? I’m excited to expand my consulting packages. I’ve been considering this for a while because I love talking with people about blogging and business, so it’s time to beef up my offerings and make a highly valuable addition. This also probably means conquering my fear of Skyping with people I don’t know (yikes!) but I know it will be worthwhile.

Is it time for a raise?

Take a look at your budget (you have a budget right??) and set some monthly revenue goals. I went into my handy dandy spreadsheet, averaged each row, and set goals for 2014 that increased by about $100 – $200 each. Not a huge amount, but at the end of the year it will be a big jump in profits. Think of it as a way to save up some money for that little business-related leap of faith you’ve been wanting to take and maybe you can add it to your goals for next year (or take a vacation!)

What are clients and potential clients saying?

Think about the questions you’re always asked by clients or people interested in your services. I receive a lot of the same emails to my Etsy shop – does this template include drop-down menus, can I make it one column, can I change the colors, can you send an extra social media icon? With my new templates I’ve fixed all these issues and made the answer YES to all of them. Now, not only do I receive less questions, but since all those items are included my sales are growing.

Five ways to boost your business

Build an email list. People may or may not see your tweets and Facebook posts (FB is makin’ it REAL difficult to get your content in front of people lately and I have a feeling it’s only going to get worse), but I bet your clients and customers check their email at least once (likely multiple times each day). Give them a little incentive to sign up – free downloads, discounts and insider information are always appreciated – and next time you’ve got an important message they’ll be much more likely to read it.

Start a blog. Now, I’m guessing most of you are already bloggers, but might not all be blogging for your business. This is such a great way to position yourself as an expert and draw more traffic to your site. The more your website is updated, the more search engines will crawl it looking for content. I’d say 70% of my clients made their way to my portfolio through my blog (10% word of mouth, 15% Etsy, 5% search engines). This means new clients trust my design skills and coding/business/branding knowledge, mesh with my design style, and think I’m pretty cool from the start! It doesn’t have to be complicated – here are a few prompts to get you started.

Create an info product. Put yourself in your reader’s/client’s shoes…what is something they would find valuable that you could create, package and sell that wouldn’t involve set-up, tech support, or any time out of your schedule? You could also give it away for free, but passive income is always nice!

Send a year-end note to past clients to thank them for their patronage & support. I’m not much for Christmas cards, but I love to email or snail mail a little personalized note to each client wishing them a happy 2014 and reminding them that I’m always available and I’d love to work with them again.

Be ready to launch. Start your planning now! Don’t wait until December 29 to create goals and plans for next year. You’ve got a couple weeks of 2013 left – use this time to create something spectacular to jump start your business and get your readers and clients excited and interested in what you’re working on. Whether it’s a new product, new deal, a partnership, or blog feature – start 2014 with a bang!

What’s one thing you’ll be doing in 2014 to expand or improve your business?

The Badass Blog Planner from


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  1. says

    Great post, Sarah! I’ve got the week of Christmas – New Year’s set aside for business development and planning, and I’ll definitely be coming back to this to help me along. I love that you take an approach of evaluating, improving, and adding all new stuff!