We’re getting pretty close to the end of the year, but there are still a few things that may make the difference in how your business does in 2010.
- Talk to your accountant. I handle most of the bookkeeping for my business myself, but I pay my CPA to handle my income tax return as well as advise me on what I can be doing for myself and my business from a financial point of view. Suggestions like when to open a retirement account and how to use it to minimize the taxes I pay have more than covered the amount that I pay my CPA — and those payments are tax deductible as well. As the year ends, it’s good to check in with your accountant about the state of your business. You can talk about what you need before January 1st to improve your tax situation, as well as make plans for the new year.
- Touch base with your clients. It’s worth checking in with your clients before either of you start to take time off for the holidays: starting with Thanksgiving, it can be a bit hit or miss to catch people in the office. I find it worthwhile to chat about everyone’s availability during the holiday season, especially if there are any deadlines approaching. It’s also helpful to check if they’re going to be sending any work your way in the first quarter of 2010.
- Take a look at your prices. The beginning of a new year is a great opportunity to raise prices if you aren’t earning what you’re worth. It’s easy to tell clients that your prices will be going up after the end of the year, while it can be harder for them to remember that things are changing mid-month or even mid-year. Since most writers have a hard time raising our rates, having a set date to do so can provide a little internal motivation as well.
- Double check your expenses. While we freelance writers have less expenses than a lot of other small businesses, there are a few standards: utilities, internet access, banking fees. A lot of these services change their terms and prices over the course of time — just as we may increase our rates on New Year’s Day, so might they — so it’s important to take a look at where those prices have gone. Spending 15 minutes checking through bills and seeing if you can negotiate a lower rate or take advantage of a discount can make the difference for your business. It’s also a good opportunity to review what tools you’re using. If you’re using software to manage certain parts of your business, it may be time to make sure that you’re getting the most out of that tool.
- See how your colleagues are doing. The holiday season offers a great chance to check in with other writers. Many of us feel like we really know what’s going on based on what our peers post to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, but it’s worthwhile to send out an email directly, check in on folks and see what’s happening. These little chats may give you insight on where you’re going in the next year, opportunities to team up or even a chance to just enjoy some downtime with a friend.
- Clean out your inbox. From my email to my filing cabinet, I want to have everything emptied out by the end of the year. It rarely happens that way, but in trying to get as far as I can, I often catch things that would otherwise slip through my fingers. Take some of that downtime that comes with every holiday season as clients reduce the work they’re sending out and apply it towards cleaning out the old and making room for the new.
- Set goals for 2010. I feel like goals are my main motivation for moving forward as a freelancer. If I can’t tell myself that next month I’m going to make more money, it’s hard to get up and send out more queries. At the end of each year, I check how I’ve done in achieving my goals and set some new ones for the future. By preference, I prefer to set out monthly goals, but some people prefer yearly. No matter what works for you, this time of year seems to be a good time to stop and think about goals.
What are you planning to do before the end of the year? How are you setting yourself up to succeed in 2010?