When the phones hush and emails subside

One of the most appreciated aspects of December (aside from it being a time for family and festivities) is that it’s a quiet work time that allows home business owners to get the house in order. The phones don’t ring so much and emails don’t arrive so often. It’s a perfect time for some considered business planning.

Make plans against these main headings to be sure of starting the New Year with that extra bit of oomph.

Business Development

The first priority is to take care of existing clients. Send Christmas cards (with personalised notes) to thank them for their custom over the year. For bigger clients, set up New Year meetings to ask for feedback and propose new ideas and activities for the new year.

As for new clients, make a list of those you’d like to work for in 2009. This is your sales pipeline that can be recorded in excel, in your carry-around note book or via software applications such as www.salesforce.com . Spend a couple of quiet hours researching contact names and, if you can find the time in between merriment and mince pies, send an introductory email to the contact so the note is waiting for them at the beginning of the year.

Marketing

Produce a 12 month press schedule and resolve to writing a press release each month. Think about partners who could add weight to the release – maybe through a joint piece of research or a survey – or help with distribution. Set up these alliances now so they’re ready to activate when the time comes to release your news.

If you have an online presence, December is the month to spend an hour going through the site as if you were a new visitor. Does the design still reflect the brand/ are there any broken links/ is the press section up to date etc. Give the site a spring clean so it’s ready for all the new traffic set to arrive on account of your ’09 marketing plan.

Technology

Carry out a technology audit. The key questions to ask are:

Am I spending too much on broadband/wireless access? Are there better deals now on the market? www.broadbandgenie.co.uk is a great way to check this.

Are there any new and affordable pieces of software that will help me work smarter? (look out for an article dedicated to this topic in January)

Is 2009 the year I get set up with an IT support contract so computer security and back-up is taken care of by someone else? www.zuuMedia.com offers this service remotely and at a competitive cost.

Finance

The final piece of planning is the finances. Does cashflow look strong and is this the time to consider outside investment to take the company to its next stage of growth.

After all this planning, you’ll feel fit and ready for the year to come. And will have earned yourself a glass of fine mulled wine!

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About the Author: Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of Spare Room Start Up: How to Start a Business from Home

Emma Jones

Emma Jones is Founder and Editor of Enterprise Nation, the home business website. She has successfully started two businesses from home offices in London, Manchester and rural Shropshire. Following a career with an international accountancy firm, Emma started her first home based business at the age of 27 and successfully sold it just 15 months after launch. Redbrick Enterprises Ltd was founded in 2002 to advise the public sector on effective homeworking. Spotting a gap in the market to provide information and inspiration to homeworkers, Emma launched Enterprise Nation [www.enterprisenation.com], the home business website, in January 2006. The website is a free resource for people starting and growing a business at home and has a readership of more than 390,000 people. As well as site content, there is also a free fortnightly e-newsletter and podcast. Emma’s first book on how to start a business from home Spare Room Start Up: How to Start a Business from Home will be published by Harriman House in May 2008.

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