You may be in the process of making up your holiday shopping and to-do lists…
So while you are at it, here’s another important list to make – this one for your advocacy practice. When if you complete these tasks before December 31, you’ll set the stage for an even better business year in 2016!
Included on your list should be tasks that address money, marketing, taxes and legal matters, plus others you think of that will help you grow, prosper, and support your patient-clients who so desperately need your skills.
Here are some ideas to get you started on your end-of-the-year list:
1. Current Clients: Consider giving them a holiday gift. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, and it shouldn’t be pricey. You might bake them some cookies, or put together a small fruit basket. Maybe there is a book with appropriate sentiments, or you could make a small donation in their name to a charity that represents their medical problem. (Past Clients: see an end-of-the year idea for them in “Marketing” below.)
Money, Taxes and Legal Review
2. Review your contracts for each client to be sure you are on track, and you’re not either missing something, or providing services you can’t get paid for that would call for expanding the contract. APHA Premium members can find a sample contract in the Legal Center, accessible from their dashboards.
3. Clean up your bookkeeping for the year. Make sure you aren’t missing any receipts that are business-related and tax-deductible For example: I sometimes forget to print out or save a receipt that has been sent to me in email, and since I make a lot of online purchases for my businesses, those missing receipts could represent a lot of missed tax-deductions.
4. Reduce your income taxes by paying business-related bills before December 31 and contributing to your retirement account. If you think you’ll be taking a big hit on income taxes for this year, you might make a large business-related purchase before the end of the year, too, such as a new computer or other device, or even some furniture for your office.
5. Raise your prices! You know you aren’t charging enough for your work, and as we’ve reviewed before, you are setting yourself up to fail if you don’t charge enough. This is not to say that you should connect with current clients to make them pay more (unless you think you can do so gracefully).
However, when the next potential client comes along, and you put a quote together for them, then charge them more than you would have today. You’re worth it! (And, while I’m at it, my usual admonition to never quote an hourly rate in isolation!) You can learn more about setting your prices in The Health Advocate’s Start and Grow Your Own Practice Handbook.
6. Past clients: Review your client list from the entire year. While you are still working with some clients (see #1 above), there are probably several you haven’t worked with in a few weeks or months or more. This is a good time to touch base, and you can do so with a simple note (maybe handwritten on a holiday card). Thank them for trusting you to work with them, remind them of their improved outcomes, and ask them to refer you to others. Enclose a few business cards in the envelope. If you are an AdvoConnection Directory listed advocate, ask them to write you a testimonial, too.
7. Update your online presence: Do a search for yourself in any search engine – then look at your overall online appearance. Do you come across the way you would like to be seen? This is a great time to do an online refresh: update your website, clean up your LInkedIn and Facebook profiles. Make sure your branding for all business-related web properties is consistent. And – most importantly – update your AdvoConnection Directory listing!
8. Review and update your marketing plan for next year. What worked this year? What didn’t? What did you plan that you never actually executed? What did you do that wasn’t part of the original plan? Did it work well? What new marketing task that you’ve been reluctant to attempt in the past should see the light-of-day in 2016? More public speaking? Enhanced social media? An email newsletter? (Learn about all of these and more in one or both of the Health Advocates’ Marketing Handbooks.)
Smart planning and keeping up with business are always good practice. Focusing on end-of-the-year tasks now, while you’ve got the time, is a great way to see out the end of 2015, knowing you’re prepared for an even better 2016.
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