We’re all naturally drawn to witty headlines, bright colors and shiny wrappers (and not just during the holidays). Even as business owners, we must remind ourselves to ‘adult’ and be mindful of the often unstimulating but important tasks that can have big impacts on our businesses—especially those that can have negative consequences if neglected. Non deadline-sensitive tasks such as reviewing insurance policies, cyber security issues, or ensuring updated terms in our contracts can easily fall off the priority list when we’re managing daily to do’s and putting out fires.

Something I hear from many of my clients is how much they value my prompts about the importance of working ON their business and not just working IN it. Working ON the business builds the strong foundation that we need to withstand fierce competition, employee issues and market cycles…and in the long run, working ON the business can mean the difference between building a business that thrives and one that merely survives (or doesn’t even manage to do that).

To succeed we must plan beyond today.

As we embrace the New Year, it’s a perfect time to ease our foot off the accelerator a bit and check the fluid in our engines. Critical annualized infrastructure items are easy to forget but are ever-present.

Here’s a complete checklist for you to review for taking action in Quarter 1:

  • Annual insurance policy review
  • Cyber security and data breach procedural review
  • Q1 Sales and marketing plan ready to go
  • Review of contracts (clients & employees), leases, trade agreements (value exchanging hands)
  • Gather feedback from employees
  • Give feedback to employees
  • Electronic device backups
  • Website audits—bios, pricing, social media profiles, photos
  • Physical inventory
  • Annual office decluttering and organization
  • Customer appreciation efforts
  • CRM review/cleanup
  • Pricing review/increase (approach with a communications plan and use as marketing leverage)
  • Annual giveback plans
  • Continuing education efforts
  • Milestone tracking for clients (i.e. how working with you has positively impacted their life)
  • Review and update policy and procedure manuals

(You can also download a copy of this checklist here.)

I’ll exit here with these key closing questions:

  1. What infrastructure business items need your attention in Q1?
  2. How can you focus more on working ON your business and less IN it, to spur growth this year?

In your business challenges, remember that small and consistent changes over time add up to big change and steady growth.


Erin Joy