Do you do an end of year business check-up? I love to do a business evaluation at the end of each year. December is the perfect time to complete my end of year business checklist. I have a good chunk of time booked off and my clients are also having time off.
I’m going to take you through the steps I take and the steps I think you should take in Private Practice. These will ensure you are starting the next year with the best possible foresight and knowledge.
1. Let’s Think Internally First
By going through an end of year business checklist it will enable you to set goals for the forthcoming year. How are you feeling about this year? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to? If not, why? How can you do things differently next year?
Did you set goals for yourself this time last year? Take a look back over them and see how you did. I’m going to be talking about the personal goals I set for 2020 and the ones I’m setting for 2021 in my blog in a couple of weeks. It’s good to have some goals, whether they’re financial, client led or any other type. If you didn’t set any for this year or they got blown out of the water by the pandemic take some time now and set some for this coming year.
How are you feeling at the end of this year? Are you tired? Are you excited for the next year? These questions may give you an indication to how things have gone in your business. Could you make improvements in your business that would impact on your overall health and wellbeing?
What Worked & What Didn’t
Was there anything that worked really well in your practice this year? Write down everything you think you did really well so you know to keep doing more of this in 2021. On the other hand what didn’t work so well? Write that down too and evaluate why it didn’t work. Could it be improved or should you stop wasting your time on it?
2. Computer Systems
This year more than ever we have relied on our computer to complete the majority of our work. Hopefully you had a lot less printed paperwork to sort through. That would therefore mean you have a lot of sensitive, confidential and important details stored on your computer.
Backup your Computer
First things first. Back up your computer. This should really be a monthly or automated task. I copy all my information about my business onto a USB at the end of each month. If you haven’t been doing this, now is a great time to start. You can get USBs online at really cheap prices and this is an easy way to back up your data.
There are other ways to do this too. You can buy an external hard drive. Dropbox Plus allows you to automatically back up folders like Documents and Downloads directly into your Dropbox account. Utilise Google Workspace or your Gmail account and upload all your important client data so it is both secure and backed up.
Now is also a great time to look at your client files. Are there any you no longer need? Is your internal filing system working for you? Is there a logical and systematic way to your filing so you could easily find the information you require in an emergency? Are they following GDPR guidelines about how they are stored? Use this time to tidy this up and create a better system for yourself if needed.
Platforms & Apps
I looked on my phone the other day and on that device alone I have passwords saved for over 150 platforms. Now that is ridiculous. None of my clients’ log ins are included as we have them on Lastpass. I also very rarely log in to anything work related on my phone other than emails and our project management platform.
I have active log ins for website and apps I don’t use anymore. My phone also told me I used the same password for multiple sites which is less than ideal. So I spent an evening cancelling platforms I don’t use and changing passwords where I had used the same one. Tedious…yes, necessary…also yes.
Saving your passwords on Google Chrome, your phone or using Lastpass makes it much easier to use different and more complex passwords. This is better for your online security without using any memory power.
Also as a side note, take a look at the platforms you are using and see if they are really serving you as they should. There might be something better for you OR something that can encapsulate a bunch of the systems you’re using. Take a look at the platforms I recommend on my Facebook Page (dated Oct 12th).
Looking at your financial information at this time of the year is a must in my opinion. Knowing how your business is doing ahead of the financial tax year gives you power to make decisions or change how you are working.
Now is a great time to review your invoicing procedures. How are you getting your money for your sessions? Could this be better? I have a free invoicing download which goes into much more detail about the best way to invoice. It will give you some tips on the pros and cons of each way you can invoice in private practice.
Regardless of how you complete your accounts you need to know how you are doing prior to the end of the financial year. I complete my accounts each month so I always know how my business is looking financially. The end of the year however is a great time to catch up on this if you’ve fallen behind. Could there be improvements made here. Are you paying out for anything you’re not using?
The deadline to complete online Self-Assessment tax returns for 2019 to 2020 is 31 January 2021. If this is the first time you are completing a self-assessment you will need to make sure you are registered and this can take a couple of weeks. Do not delay with this or you may have to pay a penalty.
4. Examine your Staffing Needs
Are you currently utilising the professional help of others? Are you happy with how that’s working for you and do you think you may need some additional help for the upcoming year?
Professional Advisory Team
This can be your accountant, supervisor, and personal assistant to name a few. I would recommend asking yourself a few questions in relation to everyone you deal with from a professional standpoint.
- Are they really helping you reduce your workload or do you find yourself re-doing work they’ve completed?
- Do you believe you are getting good value from their service?
- When was the last time you had a meeting with them to discuss your business?
- Are they still the right fit for your business?
Get a meeting booked in for the New Year for anyone you currently work with to advise them of your business goals. If you’re thinking about outsourcing some of your administration take a look at my 8 things you can outsource to a VA blog.
5. Online Presence
Now is a great time to also take a look at your online presence and make sure that everything is still up to date.
Audit your Website
Is your website clear on what you are offering and to who? Are you putting your fees up next year? This will need to be updated on your website. Are you still happy with the graphics, pictures, and colour scheme? First impressions matter and this can be the first look into you and what you’re offering. Check all the links are still working and up to date.
Audit your Social Media
Even if you are not present on social media from a business point of view it’s a good idea to at least have a LinkedIn profile set up and up to date. Have you completed any CPDs that would be good to add to your profile? Are you connected to many other therapists and peers? Send out some friendly invites to connect as networking is a great way to get referrals. Remove anything no longer relevant and take a look at your About Section.
Audit your Directory Listings
When was the last time you updated your directory listing profile? You can do Tamara Howell’s free How to Write Your Psychology Today Profile which takes you through the process step by step.
To recap these are the 5 areas on the end of year business checklist:
- Computer Systems
- Online Presence
This may seem like quite a daunting assignment so I would definitely set aside specific time to go through each individual item. They may not all get completed by the end of the year but having a plan for to look at them over the next 4-8 weeks will get your new year off to a great start. It will also give you the confidence to start making any necessary changes.
Now Look Ahead
Take a look at the first step I talked about. You and your goals. Based on all the work you’ve now done do those goals seems reasonable. Do they need updating? How can you achieve them? I have a blog about my own personal business goals coming up before the end of the year so keep a look out for that.