It’s that time of year again. A time when we look back on the year before and make plans for the year ahead.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few suggestions to help get you started. Tweet This

Organize and Clean House

First quarter means a fresh start, so begin things on the right foot by getting your workplace in order. This can involve physical organizing, such as cleaning up your desk and getting rid of things around the office you no longer use or need.

It can also involve virtual cleanups of your computer, email, website, social media and applications. Address anything that requires attention, archive what you don’t need readily available to you and purge the unnecessary.

Conduct a Thorough Review

Before preparing your goals for the next three quarters, take a few moments to go through what you accomplished last year, if you haven’t already.

Take a moment to congratulate yourself on all of the wins you enjoyed and analyze what steps you took to get there. Heading into the new year you can do more of what’s working and less of what’s not.

Take a look at your revenue, assess profit margins and measure your KPIs to determine how you fared. This will help you to identify which areas of your business could use some attention so you can begin laying the foundation for the rest of 2017.

Get Your Finances in Order

Regardless of what tax schedule your business happens to operate under, others with whom you’ve done business over the past year – such as employees and contractors – you’ll still need your tax documentation by January 31st, so by now you should have already started looking at what you need to get in the mail.

This is also a great time to begin gathering the appropriate paperwork and information on profits, expenses and anything else your accountant or bookkeeper will need for your taxes. This can keep you from scrambling when tax time arrives.

Perform a Customer Audit

Over the past year, you probably made some changes to your customer list. You may have lost a few – whether by your choice or theirs – and you (hopefully) gained several more.

As you plan for the rest of the year, it’s a good idea to go through and measure your current customer list against your profit margin to see if any additional opportunities might exist.

This exercise can also help you identify new opportunities as you adjust your target market profile and develop your marketing plan.

You may also want to get a free Data HealthScan to help identify incomplete or outdated leads. Start the year off with clean and improved data for better sales.

Educate Yourself

Every year there are many changes, additions and modifications made to the various laws and regulations governing businesses.

Such changes are usually set to take effect on or about January 1. So make sure you’re well informed about which laws may be impacting your company. Consulting with an attorney and CPA can help you stay up to date on any compliance issues relevant to your business so you can avoid any potential penalties.

Set SMART Goals

Setting goals, defining objectives, identifying benchmarks and mapping out your strategy for the rest of the year is something you’ve scheduled on your to-do list. But are you taking the right approach?

Rather than making resolutions, work on developing your SMART goals. That is – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based.

The more effort you put into this step, the better you’ll be able to stay on track and achieve real results over the next 11 months.

Strategize as a Team

Now that you’ve begun to identify exactly what you’d like to accomplish in 2017, it’s time to sit down and develop strategies for putting your plans into action.

Getting your entire team on board and excited about the rest of the year is a great way to start the ball rolling and gain strong momentum. Schedule strategy meetings with your employees, colleagues and anyone else you envision playing a role in the future success of your business.

Is 2017 going to be your best year yet? Q1 is the time to get your ducks in a row, so you can be effective during the remaining 9 months. The above tips should provide you with the foundation you need to further build on your prior successes while also creating a springboard to propel you into an even more profitable future.

Photo Credit: baandit.studio, Twenty20