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We’re almost at the end of September, and as entrepreneurs, we are now officially in the fourth-quarter stretch. 

I don’t know about you, but I have a love-hate relationship with the fourth quarter.

I love it because I get to plan for the forthcoming year. It’s fun to be creative and architect what’s possible for the future. But then, there’s this crazy duality we live at the same time, isn’t there? We can’t take our foot off the gas because we’ve got goals to meet on the year — the trick is keeping the gas pedal down while we’re looking ahead.

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And, for many of us, there’s the all-important holiday season. Just like clockwork, the studies are streaming out all of the sudden that all point to people starting their online shopping earlier. 83% of them will do their shopping on Cyber Monday or earlier (all information in this post is from Bulldog Reporter, specifically, Market Track).

“This holiday shopping season, shoppers will have more options to shop where and how they want than ever before and they won’t be forced to fight the crowds in-store during a single-day event to get the best deals,” said Traci Gregorski, vice president of marketing at Market Track, in a news release. “The gap will close on price differences offered online and in-store, and there will be a move toward retailer messaging that emphasizes making things easy for the shopper such as buy online, pick-up in-store, free shipping on out of stock merchandise, and faster delivery for online orders.”

Whether you’re in retail or not, that’s all interesting info and relevant to how consumers are thinking in terms of buying as we close out 15.

No matter what your business, as an entrepreneur, you need to finish the year strong. I’ve put together five tips to help you do just that. NOTE: A longer version of this will be airing on Friday, Sept. 25 in my podcast, The Intrepid Entrepreneur

Look at every tip I’m about to share with the following two words in mind:

FOCUS

IMPLEMENTATION

All successful business owners are disciplined about staying focused and on implementation (actually doing, not just planning).

Here are my top five tips to finish out the year strong:

1 – Know where you want to finish in sales for the year – in as much detail as possible.

Getting a clear line of sight on your revenue goals for the year can be a stressful exercise. First, there’s the reality of where you are – sometimes that can be good, other times, it can cause mass anxiety. Try to get rid of any money anxiety around this – and make it an exercise about the business, not you. And know that you have a quarter to go for progress on your end goal!

Once you know your goal, keep focused on it. When you create progress against it, update the goal to reflect where you are now (share updates with your team also). Keep the goal top of mind for yourself and your team. What’s measured is managed is really a true statement!

2 – Consider Your Audience and Customers

Consider your ideal customer or client. You’ve been serving them all year and more than likely, you’ve also served them in the close of last year.

Consdier:

  • What worked last year in any fourth quarter or holiday promotions?
  • Where are their points of entry for your business and brand:
    • Social media?
    • Brick and mortar?
    • Catalogs?
    • Networking events?
    • Small business Saturday events (Amex?)

Once you figure out what worked well and examined any data that you have from last year (for example, social promotions, email marketing campaigns and incentive selling or “sales”) then look at what you have to do in the fourth quarter of this year and make a plan.

3 – Your list and email marketing:

When I refer to a list, I refer to the emails of your customers and clients. You not only need a list, but you need to be care taking it, growing it and being remarkable in terms of how you serve it. You have awesome opps in Q4 to do just that.

Start considering yourself an email marketer.

You will need to incorporate email marketing into your fourth-quarter stretch. Be creative! Brainstorm on what will be so good that people will want to share it. Take time to be memorable in your email marketing and you will be rewarded with a growing and engaged audience that actually wants to hear from you. You’ve heard it, I’m sure, before: Your businesses’ revenue is in your list…

4 – Systems Check:

  • Make sure that anything you’re counting on for automation (including social media, newsletters, etc.) is set up and operational
  • Do a check of your site and make sure it’s ready for any traffic that you’ll be driving to it
  • If you accept money, make sure that is working (on your site cart and also, with your mobile payment solution)
  • If you are planning to do more emails than usual, make sure that your Internet Service Provider is set up for this – you may need to upgrade your plan for this quarter.
  • Make sure that the system in which you create your content and marketing is also aligned – that includes getting your people on the same page. Let them know how important this time of year is for the business and ensure they know that their tasks must be done on time

5 – Don’t worry about your competition:

Know exactly who your customer is (your ideal customer/client) and clearly know what your offer is. Then, be creative in how you communicate. Your goal is to engage with your customers in a way that’s unique only to you (your business/brand). If you need help on this one, go to livinguber.com. Right on the front page, you can input your email and get two worksheets that will help you nail this efficiently.

Try being on-brand and remarkable FIRST – that should always be your first trick out of the bag. Going straight to having a sale or discounting something is not memorable or remarkable, and chances are, you’ll look a lot more like your competition than you want to by taking this route.

If you have any questions, first, check out the podcast notes page for this Friday’s episode (9-25-15). I’ll have a lot of great links in there for you to check out. If you have an idea to share or a question, you can leave me a message via Speakpipe right on my website, living uber.com or… .You can email me at questions@livinguber.com.