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Forget partridges and pear trees. Here are the 12 things business builders need to get sorted before the year shuts down

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Forget the 12 Days of Christmas. Before you stick a partridge in a pear tree, here are the top things you need to get sorted with what’s left of 2011.

1. Back up your files – then back up the back-ups

Don’t kid yourself that a catastrophic hardware fail won’t happen to you. (I did and it cost me $20K). Get yourself some good advice; the peace of mind alone is worth paying for.

2. Check your insurance

Luckily I was covered for part of ‘The Event’ as it’s now called. Ask your insurance broker to do a quick review of your policies to make sure your house is in order.

3. Check in with your clients/customers

Are they happy? Conduct a quick survey. (Survey Monkey is great and free.) Keep it simple and make sure it’s relevant to the business you’re in. It should give concrete feedback you can act on. Better yet, book a face-to-face and ask them how they feel the client-supplier relationship is going.

4. Nix the bottom feeders

Every business has clients that drag them down. Imagine how much happier and more productive you’d be without them. Plus, by ditching the dead wood, you can spend your freed-up time on new business and organic growth.

5. Review your top five

What worked for you and your business in 2011? Have you set plans in place to repeat those successes in ’12?

6. Consider outsourcing

We can’t all be experts at everything. Trying to is a waste of time and energy. If there’s anything outside of your core business that you can outsource, do it. You will save money in the long run, all the while keeping your clients happy.

7. Check in with your staff

Are they OK? Have you asked recently? Or ever? I had one of my best employees leave suddenly for personal reasons. What would that do to your business? Ask for genuine feedback from staff – including how you are as a leader of your company.

8. List it

Get a list started early so you don’t walk back into the office come January saying: “What did I have to do again?”

9. Get personal

Book all your personal dates into your 2012 diary; these are the things you need to keep sane. Whatever your poison – massages, sport, gym, beauticians, weekends away – book them now.

10. Plan for Christmas expenses

Cash-flow may be tight in January; make a contingency plan. Put some dosh aside now or, better still, send out all your January invoices before Christmas so they can be processed early.

11. Say thanks

To your clients, to your staff, to your suppliers. If you don’t have time to send cards or fancy emails, pick up the phone. Tell them you’re looking forward to working with them next year – you’ll make someone’s day.

12. And lastly, buy yourself a Christmas present

It’s been a long year. Who knows what awaits you on the other side of the break?

Merry Christmas and have a happy and safe New Year.

Alicia Beachley is Founder and CEO of April5, an independent and specialised multi-service marketing agency. Alicia has over 16 years’ agency experience and is on the Executive Committee of the Australasian Promotional Marketing Association (APMA).

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