What Small-Business Owners Should Do Between Now and New Year's

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — With Christmas finally in the rearview mirror and New Year's Day coming up fast, millions of Americans have some time to reflect on their year and look forward to the next one.

Sharon Goldman, a New Jersey small-business consultant who runs the website BloomGrowThrive, says entrepreneurs would do well to have an end-of-the-year "talk" with themselves.

"Maybe you're anxious about having enough work to get you through the New Year," she says. "Or maybe you're swamped and trying to figure out how to create better balance as you go into 2015. Or you did just fine business-wise all year long but know you need to market yourself better — the website needs work, your social media needs a tune-up, your email list is dusty, your prospecting and networking habits are rusty."

That's all OK, Goldman says. Take a deep breath and take the time for these five things:

1. Take stock of your finances. How did you do this year? How did it compare with last year? What are your goals for 2015?

2. Do some self-care. Take a walk, even if it's cold. Get up and stretch. "Get a manicure or massage," she advises. "You worked hard all year long, you deserve to regroup."

3. Try not to fall into the comparison trap. "This is a prime time to fall prey to comparing yourself to everyone else on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or even in your own community," Goldman says. "The fact is, you don't really know how people did business-wise this year. Focus on your own goals."

4. Set some marketing goals to put into practice after New Year's. "You don't have to make yourself crazy about it right this second, but set a goal for after Jan. 1," she adds. "Maybe it's an investment in some marketing coaching or assistance. Or sitting down to figure out a new tool you can use next month. You can set the stage now for some serious effort after you've digested all those holiday sweets and get back into the swing of things."

5. Put some "biz" feelers out there. "There's no reason you still can't send some casual holiday greetings to current customers and prospective clients, or just send some updates to your network about what you're hoping to do in 2015," Goldman notes.

— By Brian O'Connell for MainStreet

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