We have arrived at that time of the year when we count our remaining work time in hours, not days. As I sit in the quiet with my coffee considering what to blog about, I realize this is my perfect moment to begin 2015. All my critical year end tasks are done – anything on my list could happen after Christmas, or perhaps even New Years. Rather than drifting out of 2014 and into 2015 I have time to sit down and set some goals. You should join me as we head into the new year.

Take a look at 2014.

Analyze your progress, odds are you’ve done more than you realize. It is OK if it wasn’t on the to-do list. Acknowledge everything you’ve accomplished. Take time to celebrate it! So often we are too hard on ourselves or in too much of a rush to take a moment to celebrate what we’ve done. Make yourself a cheesy certificate if you want – as a solo practitioner you may need to make your own accolades! Congratulations on being Employee of the Year for 2014.

If you are not where you want to be take a hard look at why. Don’t wallow in it, but be honest and then use that honesty to make a plan. Did you do a lot that wasn’t on your original plan for the year? If so, decide if your choices were good ones. Reprioritizing is a reality. The key is to be sure it is because of real needs and not distraction or avoidance. You will have accomplishments you didn’t plan on, but you will have tasks you didn’t get to as well. Acknowledging your own fears or avoidance techniques will help you do better next year.

plan-business-financial-new-year

Next stop 2015!

Set your goals for 2015 as a whole, but break them down into manageable chunks as well. This will allow you to check in periodically and assess where you stand. You may find quarterly is enough, or perhaps you will have some monthly goals.

Goals are nothing without a plan of action. Next step is to create a plan to reach your goals. Take some time to research how you can get new clients, increase your revenue or add a skill to your portfolio. Take a look at your data. If your goal is 20 new clients in 2015 use your closing ratio data to decide how many contacts you need to make. Some folks back the data all the way out to the number of business cards to hand out.

If you don’t have the data handy you now have your first item for 2015! Start collecting everything. You need to know how many prospective clients it takes to sign a client. Once you know those numbers you won’t be flying blind, you will be able to come up with concrete goals to get the clients you want. You can also begin to analyze your process and reduce the prospects to client ratio.

Time for CE

I work primarily with financial professionals who have to achieve required continuing education credits in order to keep their credentials up to date. I hear a lot of “I have to get…” or ‘I need to get…”. I challenge you to think about “I want to…” Plan your own personal CE. Think about your weak areas, industry trends or any topic you – and therefore your clients – will benefit from. Make time to get your personal CE even if there is no one there to track it for you. This will pay dividends through new clients and increased credibility in the marketplace.

Be Accountable

Take your plans and put it into your calendar or CRM. You want to trigger reminders throughout the year to determine if you have stayed on track. However you decide to remind yourself, just be sure your plan doesn’t get filed away until next December. I prefer to set up an email reminder – sometimes I even send myself a scheduled text to check in. I find that variety in reminder styles keeps me from ignoring the reminders and deleting them without the attention they deserve.

There are some reminders I have still found easy to ignore. Often the ability to ignore or put off the activity is directly related to the difficulty or fear I have of it. An accountability partner or coach can help when your own nagging falls on deaf ears. You will get more done when you know you must touch base with a human being about what you have – or have not – gotten done. You’ll be amazed at the progress you make.

Now go get that cup of tea and start planning. Happy New Year and good luck with all of your business building plans for 2015!