6 ways to prepare your business for a new year: Going Solo

7 min read
Matthew Pattinson

The upcoming month of December may well be the busiest time of your business year, but it’s also the perfect time to assess the last 12 months in your business.

Look at what you’ve achieved. First and foremost: you’re still in business. Still making your dream a reality. That’s something to be proud of. But, to ensure you continue to thrive, you need to have a plan.

And you start a new plan by looking back at the past year. Did it go the way you wanted it to? What could have gone better? What weren’t you ready for? Most importantly - what can you learn from this year and apply to next?

#1 Did last year go according to (business) plan?

Hopefully you started the year with a business plan. Look back at that plan and see how the reality compared to it. This isn’t something that should take you long - pour yourself a coffee and read through your plan.

When you’re running a solo business, it’s tempting to be over-critical of yourself. After all, business begins and ends with you. If things aren’t going according to plan, don’t kick yourself. Firstly, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing (change is good, honest), and secondly, you should be able to adapt easily. You’re much more nimble than a big business that needs to have meetings to make any change.

Besides, you need to look at your business plan from time to time, anyway, just to make sure your business is still on course. If not, you may need to adjust your plan, or you may need to course-correct your business; but you won’t know either way, if you don’t stop and check. If your business isn’t doing what you expected - you need to accommodate that and adjust your plan, moving forward.

Doing so now, means that you can attack the new year with confidence.

Once you’ve assessed your plan, and thought about where your business is in comparison to it - you don’t need to jump to conclusions. Take a day to think about your best response. Talk to your business friends, your mentors; those people you go to for advice.

The thing to remember is that a business plan is an evolving thing. It’s okay to change it, as your business changes and your goals change. The end of a full year of trading is a great time to evaluate that!

#2 What’s the SWOT?

Part of your original business plan should have been a SWOT analysis. Now you’ve had some experience of meeting your customers head-on, have another look at this. Are you playing to your strengths? Do you need to develop new strengths? What new opportunities can you explore?

Review your business progress against your initial SWAT analysis

Now, have a good, honest look at the weaknesses you expected. Are those weaknesses still true? Do they matter? If they do, then that should be something you address in the new year. Make that the focus of your new year's plan. Addressing your business’ weaknesses is a great way to grow your business and to keep your business plan relevant and effective.

#3 Is your website working?

It’s possible your business might get quiet in the new year - in which case that would be a perfect time to tune up your website and your online marketing. But, plan for that now!

First off - you do have a website, right? If not, the new year is definitely the time to address that. GoDaddy’s Website + Marketing tools can take you through that process, step-by-step.

And, our simple How to make a website blog explains the range of options that are available to you, to ensure your site is perfect for your business.

But, if you have a website that you’re happy with - there’s still some housekeeping you could do, to ensure that your site is good to go in the new year.

#4 Website security

Make sure you update all the software that runs your website as often as possible. If you haven’t done it recently - do it now! You need to make sure you update any WordPress plugins you use, that you’re running the latest version of your operating system and - most importantly of all - you must update your antivirus software. You need to do this for your computer, any mobile devices you use, and your website too!

We tell you all about the importance of Website Security in this blog, and talk you through the range of measures you should take, and the services we can help you with. Keeping your business website secure isn’t just good business, protecting your customers’ data is a legal requirement.

While you’re at it - have you made a backup of your website? If some disaster does befall your business - from a burglary to a flood to a cyber-attack - having a backup of your website can get you back in business in next to no time. GoDaddy offers a range of backup options here.

Once you know your website is secure - make sure your content is up to date and working hard for you. The blogs you write and the photos and videos you upload, can be the backbone of great content marketing. Find out more about how to create great Content Marketing here.

#5 Reviewing your marketing

Have a look at the marketing you’ve done over the year. Did you do enough, did you target it properly and did any of it actually bring you any custom? You won’t know any of this for sure, if you don’t take a good look.

Website marketing and social media marketing are probably the two most affordable ways of getting your name out there, and they’re the methods in which you can have the most personal involvement.

The new year is the perfect time to launch a new marketing campaign, or take your marketing in a new direction. So, make the time to take a good, honest look at how you’re doing, and soak-up as many ideas as possible about what you could be doing.

From using SEO to Google Adwords to the power of local - everything you need to think about when sharpening up your marketing is laid out in this Website marketing tips you can use blog.

#6 The financial year

Don’t forget, if you haven’t already sorted out your accounts, the deadline to file your return and pay what you owe is the end of January. Depending on your business, other deadlines may apply, so make sure you understand your responsibilities by visiting HMRC.

Don’t put yourself through the stress of the last-minute panic (or the penalties, if you file late). Take the time to make sure all of your book-keeping is up to date.

In case you’ve been putting this off because, let’s be honest, it’s no-one’s favourite job; now is the perfect time to come to terms with what taxes may apply to you and what to do about them.

Hopefully this has given you some incentive to take a step back and look at what your solo business did in lastyear, and craft the perfect plan for how you envision your future. Your, if you will, new year's vision!