The Christmas break allowed most of us to enjoy at least some time away from our work. And, although many of us might have been equally as busy doing festive things with family and friends, you might have spent at least a little bit of time reflecting on your year in business.If you’re self-employed, each year brings its own distinct successes, obstacles and lessons. Many often don’t have the time and space to properly consider these though. We’re all busy people.Whilst we might be somewhat tired of the classic ‘make a New Year’s resolution’ cliché, there is something potentially very powerful behind the sentiment. After all, it’s about trying to start the year off on the right foot as well as actively making aspects of your life better. This can extend easily to the way you work, and how you run your business during the year to come. With that in mind, let’s look at a couple of resolutions which, if stuck to, might just make work in 2019 a little more enjoyable, efficient and most importantly, productive…
“I will be more organised when it comes to my taxes”
The first thought which will occur to most of us reading this is simply ‘getting your tax return in on time’. Well, yes – absolutely – and lest we forget that the deadline for the 2017-18 tax period is fast approaching - Midnight on January 31st!But it’s not just about getting your tax return submitted before the deadline. The approach of a new tax year is your chance to start afresh with how you organise yourself, which means getting into the habit of adopting good habits. It’s about laying some groundwork during the year so that, when you come to sort the paperwork, it’s a less headache-inducing for you.The first practical action you can take in relation to your finances is to note the important dates relating to filing your tax return. Set reminders up in your email client calendar perhaps, and your phone, on a wall calendar – just make sure they’re visible to you somewhere.Another good thing you can do is make a conscious effort to store all business expense receipts together, in a safe place. It’s something which seems so obvious, yet many of us fail to actually do it. Every. Single. Year. (I am, in fact, one of those self-employed people who are about to reap the chaos of not keeping their expenses paperwork in one place during 2017-18.) During the autumn, Coconut asked their Twitter community to take part in a poll and declare their biggest ‘work weakness’. ‘Forgetting to keep receipts’ was the clear winner, clinching 60% of the vote (‘dodging deadlines’ came in second with 20%). What it tells us is that it’s a very common slip-up that self-employed people make – but it’s also something that’s very easy to fix - especially if you’re an existing Coconut customer!You can use the Coconut app to scan in copies of your receipts; attaching each one to the relevant transaction in your Coconut account. It means that your expense records are all stored tidily in one place. So no more rifling through drawers, filing cabinets or who knows where else for those precious receipts!Sound good? More on the Coconut current account, here.
“I’m going to stop doing work I don’t enjoy”
One of the brilliant things about being self-employed is the ability to have more control over all aspects of your business. And the advent of a new year can bring with it a fresh opportunity to revamp your thinking when it comes to what you work on - and indeed, who you’re going to do that work for. If you’ve got quite a wide portfolio of products or services as a business, but you don’t actually like delivering one particular aspect very much – or you’ve always felt as though it’s not one of the areas you’ve got as much flair for - perhaps now is the time to consider dropping it completely (if you can afford to do so). Otherwise, keeping things ‘as is’ might end up affecting your levels of motivation or even become a trigger for stress. If you don’t enjoy doing it, why are you still doing it? Whilst we’re on the subject, the same rule applies for troublesome clients (we’ve all had at least one on our books). These are customers who aren’t great to work with due to being either too demanding, they're repeat offenders when it comes to paying invoices late, they’re terrible at giving clear briefs and communicating with you properly - or perhaps all of these combined. Any supplier of a product or service deserves to work for clients who treat them with respect, pay on time, and acknowledge expertise – and being self-employed is no exception to this. So once again, if you can afford to lose them, why not. Cut them loose if you possibly can (and all whilst maintaining the utmost levels of professionalism). Without this kind of client to deal with and be a drain on your time, you can instead focus on winning some new contracts – and hopefully, with clients you deserve.
In a nutshell
All in all, it’s about taking practical and pragmatic steps to make your long-term work life a better one. When simple changes like these can make such a profound positive impact on both your business income and general sense of wellbeing, there’s definitely a strong case there in terms of giving business-focused resolutions a proper go.