Each new season brings some type of change and seasonal specialties to look forward to. For fall, you might think of pumpkin spice, sweaters, trips to look at changing foliage and pick apples, and getting closer to year-end holidays. For some, September comes, you blink, and its suddenly December 31.

Fall is a great time to get in control of your business and focus on what you have accomplished, and maybe still need to work on, before year end.

Reflect on What Has Happened this Year

Before you can do any additional planning, it’s important to look back on the year and think about everything you’ve done. How does what you’ve accomplished match up to what you set out to do?

Did you offer a promotion that went particularly well? Was there a period where business was lower than projected? Did you get around to setting up that website you planned? There are some goals you likely hit but a few you may have not gotten around to yet.

The intent of this reflection is not to beat yourself up or rest on your laurels, but understanding how you measured up and what you have yet to accomplish in the year is important—not only might it alter some of your plans for year end, you might take away some learnings that make next year’s planning more accurate and realistic.

Plan for the Next Four Months

The next four months will probably pass quickly, especially given the many holidays in the mix. Start thinking now about any type of promotion you want to have to get those holiday sales in—with so many holiday sales and specials happening, you’ll want to start thinking ahead so you can stand out from the competition.

Don’t forget about Small Business Saturday, which is Saturday November 25. With Black Friday deals starting earlier and growing in scale each year, you’ll want to think hard about a way to stand out from the big chains and get some sales for your business. If you’re in a small town, you could also plan an open house with a gift certificate deal, as we mentioned in trends for small town small business success in this article.

Focus on New Goals

It’s never too early to start thinking about things you would like to improve for your business and goals for the following year. Use the analysis you have already done as a jumping off point for your new goals. Maybe you want to increase ROI 10% or attract ## new customers in the first quarter. Whatever your goal may be, it’s nice to think about ahead of time and begin mapping out a strategy for conquering them.

Bottom Line

The fresh start of fall brings the opportunity to start fresh in your business. With the ‘back to school’ frenzy still lingering in the air, it’s the perfect time to hit your own books and do some prep work for the year ahead.

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