Make a List, Check it Twice: 8 Ways to Make Your Business Nice

by Kia Jarmon for 12th & Broad

Every year around this time I take some time to focus on my business. It's exciting because I get an opportunity to look back over the last 12 months and see what I've done right, what I could do better, and what I definitely will be eliminating for the next year.

As an entrepreneur who toggles between working on and in the business, we all have said what we will do next year, next month and next week, but what about what we can do today?

Here is a checklist of items I recommend to my business and brand coaching clients so they can make a greater impact on their bottom line and be better prepared to influence the marketplace:

1. Create a list of professional and personal objectives for the year. Seems like a 'duh' moment but how many of us can look past the daily to-do list? You will then align goals to each objective so they can be accomplished. I suggest taking several sharpies to large white paper in your office. This won't be pretty but it will be worth it.

2. Dump the junk! Get rid of everything that is overwhelming or holding you back. That includes contacts in your phone, paperwork that has laid in a pile in the corner, apps that make your phone run slower, receipts and business cards that needs to be scanned in, and it may even be time to fire a client (or two) that isn't your target.

3. Contact five people you want to collaborate with in the New Year. These are long-term relationships and you should be prepared to enhance them as much as you are asking them to do the same for you. The real question is, what is the cost of not connecting with them? Probably another year of shoulda, coulda, woulda's and a ton a business and relationships.

4. Seriously, update your online brand. Start with Google. Are the top results saying something other than what you want people to know of you and your business? Then its time to devise a plan. Revamp your social networks. Update the content and don't forget to include new photos. Remember, you don't have to be everywhere but Google+ and LinkedIn blogs are good for search engine optimization (SEO).

5. Update all of your business and computer software. How can you get any work done if your brain works faster than the devices you are typing on? Run the software updates on your computer and phone, upload your entire computer contents to an online cloud system—I use WD, and download your phone data to a backup software. This may also be a time to purchase the updated versions of your accounting software or your creative suite from Adobe. Oh, and I am not giving tax advice but I have found end of the year purchases for my business to be helpful when filing taxes.

6. Outline a budget. It seems very simple and quite honestly something you should already be doing in your business but believe it or not many don't have a listing of where money is or should be going. Does your budget have line items for areas of your business for growth like marketing or professional organization fees? Even if it has a zero beside it, include those line items that you've always wanted to but couldn't afford. Believe me, just seeing it there will help you allocate something to the budget..

7. Invest in professional development. This may mean taking a class at a program like Nashville Community Education, Vanderbilt, or Watkins or it may mean joining a professional organization. Either way, be a part of something that will enhance you beyond your current knowledge.

8. Map out your business process(es). Using a program like mindmeister or even evernote, you can sit down and map out the way you will build a better system for customer relations, your internal communications, account payables and receivables, and so on. The most successful businesses have a series of processes that make things run smoother and with greater efficiency.

If you don't think you can sit down and hammer these out in one day, I challenge you to take 8 days—one task a day—and thoroughly and thoughtfully complete each item. Your business in 2015 will thank you (and me)!

Happy Holidays.

Kia Jarmon is creator of brand depth + facilitator of ideas + curator of conversation + sculptor of stories at boutique PR and brand strategy firm MEPR Agency. She also loves connecting businesses & people to their heartbeat and coaches them through a Brand Mapping program, where they navigate their brand compass. Kia is a 25 year life-time member of Girl Scouts and daily she lives by the promise "on my honor I will try…to help people at all times". Kia is also a new mommy to a handsome son. She resides in Donelson.You can find more or