I’m often asked how I have the time to run more than once business. The answer is – I’m organised! If I wasn’t organised there’s no way on earth I’d get everything done that I want to get done. Today I’m going to explain my start of year routine and we’ll have a little chat about SMART objectives.

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My January small business routine - goal setting & SMART objectives
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My start of year tasks

At the start of each calendar year I like to carry out 3 simple tasks:

  1. Clear my desk
  2. Carry out a FULL data backup
  3. Do some goal setting

January is a great time for this. There’s always that lull around New Year and no better time to catch up on a bit of business admin. I’ll not chat about clearing my desk – pretty obvious what I’m talking about there. Get the filing done and give yourself a nice clean start. Let’s pick it up from the data backup.

Data backup

Hopefully you’ve been periodically backing your data up throughout the year. Perhaps you make use of cloud-based backup services. Now is the time to check everything is in order. There’s a couple of things I like to do here. Firstly I like to take an archive copy of everything produced in the previous calendar year. That way if there’s some sort of disaster, such as a hard disk failure, it’s relatively simple to roll back to a snapshot of how things were in January:

Data Backup Snapshot

I have a folder ‘per year’ and simply drag and drop the relevant year to an external hard drive. In an ideal world you should have:


If you do make use of on-line backup services, what are the data retention policies? You need to consider:


Deleted data is an important point that most small businesses overlook. If you have a hard drive failure then you simply restore everything from backup. But what happens if you accidentally delete something using? i.e. you accidentally hit the delete key? Many online backup services only implement a 30 day retention period for deleted data. So in other words if you delete something important and don’t notice until 2 months later, that data is gone forever. You don’t have this probably if you make a straight copy of everything to a hard drive.

Goal setting

Every year I like to set personal and business objectives for the upcoming year. I find I’m much more likely to make progress if I do this.

  • At the start of the year I review my goals from the previous year
  • If there’s any I haven’t achieve I try to work out why
  • I create a new set of goals for the new year, if needs by carrying forward any incomplete goals from the previous year

SMART Objectives

Keep all of your goals S.M.A.R.T. That means:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

January To-Do List

My goals for the year tend to be quite broad. However it’s a really good time to give yourself some specific tasks for January. January can be a surprisingly busy month and I know if I don’t set myself a specific to-do list I’ll end up getting lost off in customer work before I know it. Then, depending on how organised you are, you can carry forward a monthly to-do list that ultimately results in you completing your main goals for the year. I’m not that organised, but I find this approach works well for me.

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Last Updated on 7 January 2019 by Andy Mac