The 3 Rs for Closing Out the Year

December 22nd, 2009 by | Print

Whether your business is booming or you’re wandering opportunistically hoping for luck to happen, the closing of the year is an excellent occasion to focus on the 3 Rs for building a better start to the New Year.


But wait, if business is booming, why would you need to build a better start? If it ain’t broke don’t sweat it, right? Not so fast. We’ll get into why this is a weak choice in a minute. For those of you with lackluster livelihoods, making a change is a more obvious choice.


And now, on with the 3 R’s.



In every industry and with the companies competing for its market share, there are cycles. Just a few short years ago construction, real estate and mortgage lending as a whole were making some millions, but now instead of buying a new Benz, many of these same people are filing BK. If your business is doing well, you still need to take time periodically for review to ensure that the road ahead is as advantageous as you assume it will be.


If your business is flat lining and you’re on the verge of signing the death certificate, if you can afford to, take a week or two to review first. You’ve dedicated time and money, you sacrificed time with the family, don’t throw it away just yet. You may be missing the mark due to a few tweaks.


Instead of listing all areas of your business to consider in this post, check out my Review page for a detailed run down. If this is a good down time for you, take the time to assess all items now instead of waiting.



Don’t skip to this step without performing your review first. Although you may think you know your business and your industry, as mentioned above, we operate in dynamic markets. Your review is similar to going in for a physical. You will make better choices when you know specifically what to focus on.


Once you’re armed with that knowledge, re-assess your original plan and create current market-appropriate alternatives for moving forward. But, you say you already have a business plan? Business plans are living documents. Unless your business is ready to go belly up, you don’t often have to revamp your entire original plan. Often some simply massaging in a couple of key areas will suffice.


Your sole action may be to perform a SWOT analysis. You may need to further fine tune your target market. A common mistake when you’re struggling for survival is to go after everyone and anyone. This is often a deadly mistake.


Let me share an analogy to help make the point.


About 15 years ago, I used to body surf regularly at a world famous location at the end of the Balboa Peninsula in southern California called, the Wedge. On a good day, waves would roll in somewhere between 15 – 20 feet and break right on shore. This spot was responsible for quite a few broken necks and dislocated shoulders. If you didn’t have your fins and were only accustom to waist-high waves, it was best to stay on shore and enjoy the scenery.


My roommate at the time had a friend visiting from Indiana. Having lived in Fort Wayne, I can safely say I saw more cows and cornfields there than waves. Feeling courageous, this visitor wanted to head back home with more than a T-shirt. The day we took him to the Wedge, the waves were about 5 – 7 feet overhead on average – a decent day.


While out bobbing in the water trying to learn the feel for the flow, a swell came in producing some 10-foot waves. Now when these waves start rolling, they not only put a pounding on you if you’re in the wrong spot, but they also create an incredibly strong undertow.


The inexperienced swimmer can find themselves in a nasty situation in a hurry. As you struggle to swim to shore, the undertow will pull you backwards into a wave that will hammer down on top of you or suck you up, throw you and then put you through a massive rinse cycle.


Most inexperienced swimmers will struggle through this airy wash trying to find the surface, just in time to realize that they are being pulled back into position to go through this energy draining cycle again. And again. And again, depending how long the set lasts or until a lifeguard can pull you out.


Our Hoosier friend found himself in this situation. We were yelling helpful instructions to him that we informed him of before he entered the water, but his survival instincts deafened him to our advice.


In these situations, it is best to stay calm, swim out to face the wave, duck under it, blow out your air and head for the bottom. All sets give you an opportunity to find smaller waves or calmer waters to make your way back to shore. However, most people not experienced in dealing with these waves will struggle to find the surface and the shore – all the while expending most of their energy after the first wave or two.


Trying to grab any business that comes your way can have the same affect. Different customers have disparate demands requiring variations on products, services, marketing, customer service, etc… You are at high risk of expending your energy and money trying to find which way is up after being sucked into this whirlpool.


With your newfound knowledge from your review, reorganize your plans (strategies and tactics) and goals – and stick to them.



Now that you have a clearer picture of your business and market, plus a focus for moving forward, it is time to recharge your batteries. Whether the forecast is sunny or stormy, the weather will change. You want to make sure that you are fully rested for the year ahead.


What are some simple ways to recharge?


  • Dedicate yourself anew. Remember why you started your business and what goals you are going to accomplish.
  • Get some rest.
  • Get regular exercise and watch your diet. I know that this is a tough time of year to accomplish these two when friends and family take up your time and big meals are customary. However, you only have to make some sacrifices over the next two weeks to give you a good start for the New Year.
  • Set up new motivators that may be more applicable to your current situation. After reviewing and reorganizing, you may have an altered focus requiring new motivators.



The reality is you can prioritize time for the 3 R’s at any time throughout the year. Depending on your industry, your year-end may fall in a month other than December. However, in most industries, the close of the year traditionally is a period when prospects and customers focus on family and friends. Take advantage of this time to re-assess what your business needs instead of simply running it.


All the best during these holidays.

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide


8 Responses to “The 3 Rs for Closing Out the Year”

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