Five Beginning-of-the-Year Tasks for Small Businesses

As we begin 2024, it’s time to focus on some of the basics for small businesses. We often neglect these things, especially when a business is doing well. They will, however, help ensure a prosperous future. 

Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe

Email is a significant time suck for most businesses. One estimate is that we spend about 28% of our day on email. Some of this time is productive and necessary, but much isn’t.

One of my favorite things to help me spend my time more efficiently is to have several “unsubscribe weeks” every year. During these weeks, I take a brutally honest assessment of each commercial email I receive and decide whether I want to continue receiving it. I get 75+ emails a day on many days, so if I can cut that down to 25-40 useful ones, I can save a lot of time each day. Almost all commercial emails have an Unsubscribe link at the bottom. If you are using Gmail, you can use the Report Spam if you are sure it’s spam or if there is no unsubscribe link in the email.

Cancel, Cancel, Cancel

One survey found that the average consumer wastes about $50/month on unused subscriptions. I’d guess most businesses have many times that. 

Subscriptions to software, music services, and newsletters can add up to a lot every month. Other “gotcha” subscriptions start with a very low teaser rate and high renewal rates. These can add up to tens, if not hundreds, of dollars a month. I like to review my bank statements in detail every month and ensure I am using what I am paying for. If not, cancel.

Grease Your Machines

Most people are good about getting oil changes for their vehicles but might neglect to keep their office equipment, production machines, and physical premises in good condition. The beginning of the year is an excellent time to dust, shampoo carpets, check for computer software updates, fix the squeaky wheels, organize, and order supplies. 

Here’s a good checklist for office equipment maintenance. 

Take an Honest Look at Your Digital Assets

At Kona Impact, we have many production machines, but other than excellent employees, our most valuable asset is our data. We go through our mailing lists every six months. This ensures that we have maintained our contacts and have updated our prospecting lists. We add new businesses as they form in our community. The end of the year is a great time to prune and add to these lists. This is also a good time to make a several-month or year plan for email, social media, and direct mail campaigns.

If you are looking for some ways to more effectively use your customer database, check this out

Commit to Learning

It’s easy to get complacent in any small business. Well enough is well enough. I like to believe, however, that we can always do things better: faster, less expensively, and with higher quality. The way to improvement is knowledge and a willingness to implement that knowledge. Committing to reading a business book a month or taking an online course in an area with skills you may be lacking are keys to unlocking future growth. 
Great places to start are YouTube videos or, my favorite, Coursera.