The last quarter is a critical time of year for businesses. Now until the end of the year will be a race against the clock to close deals, wrap up end-of-year projects, meet sales goals, compete for customer attention, and tackle end-of-year accounting.
In order to finish the year strong, don’t lose steam. The last quarter can give you the opportunity to make up numbers, meet annual goals, and provide momentum going into the new year. Though the holidays bring their fair share of distractions, here are some ways you can keep productivity high in the office for a strong last quarter:
Learn from the last three months
The first thing is to look back at what the business has accomplished in the last three months. Going forward, it’s important to understand what’s working and what isn’t so you can adjust accordingly.
Though sometimes tough to swallow, failures should be evaluated just as often as success. This is the only way you can change your strategy or know which mistakes to avoid in the future. Treat your failures as learning opportunities and remember that the greatest successes often times occur after failures. Take what you’ve learned last quarter (and all year) to finish the year strong.
During the holiday season, competition is steep. In order to stand out from the crowds, you need to distinguish yourself and your customer’s experience. Marketing will be critical to holiday sales success, so use your teams creativity and get organized with your seasonal marketing. Some ideas:
- Get your seasonal social media posts or newsletters ready
- Run holiday promotions
- Build up your reputation by donating proceeds or supporting charitable causes
- Rewards for new or loyal customers
- Update your website or decorate your business to reflect seasonal campaigns
Some retailers create pop-up locations just for November and December, which is a great way to have a larger presence during the season.
Revisit your goals
Part of successfully setting and achieving goals involves “checking in” with them throughout the year, and this will set you up for a strong last quarter. Every few months is a good time to see where you stand with the goals you’ve set. You have to analyze them in light of any new information, such as new competition, changes in your business, customers, or your environment overall. When you check in regularly, or as frequently as you can manage it, You’ll gain a more accurate reading of where you’re over or underachieving, and be able to make adjustments accordingly.
Use up your end-of-year budgets
If you have money allotted for projects or expenses that you haven’t used up, now’s the time to do so. Some business expenses might be tax-deductible, so it’s in your best interest to take advantage of those budgets.
The smartest way of using up your end-of-year budget is to invest it back into your company. Some smart areas for investment include:
- Updating office equipment or furniture
- Buying or subscribing to software or tools that will make work easier
- Hiring new employees, or beef up their training
- Anticipate your future needs and stock up now/li>
In general, think of what will help build your brand, support long-term goals, or benefit your employees when choosing where to invest.
Try to channel the holiday energy into work
As the year comes to a close, many people are juggling parties, shopping, travel arrangements, hosting, and more, which usually translates into a loss of momentum at the office. If it seems like your team has fallen off track due to holiday distractions, try to channel some of the excitement in the workplace
- Communicate your expectations ahead of time
- Consider creative scheduling options so team members can take care of life outside of work while still making up their weekly hours
- Reduce sick time by allowing those who feel under the weather to work from home
- Try channelling some of the excitement into the workplace with your own office party, secret Santa, or other holiday traditions
Start thinking about next year
Finally, nothing will bring your year to a great end like having a vision for the next. Even if you don’t have time to get knee-deep in planning at the end of 2017, it helps to make a list of your top priorities for the first week of the year, so that your most important tasks are already written out and ready to go.
On a greater scope, think about your company goals for the upcoming year. Start with an outline of the projects you’d like to take on and the accomplishments you hope to achieve. This will give you a good place to start when you come back to your desk in the new year.