Welcome 2015! The new year brings new beginnings, renewed aspirations and will power in our personal lives. It’s also a great time to take a step back on the business side. Here are 15 things to do for a fresh start this year. Some of these take longer than others, so give it a read, add a few things to your calendar, or just dig in where necessary…

1. Change your passwords & start using a password system like LastPass or 1Password

Lastpass
With the likes of Adobe, and countless other networks hacked each year, if you haven’t given your passwords a reset in a while, set a timer, and knock out the biggies like your Google Account, social networks, and banking sites. Whether you go with a password storage system like LastPass or 1Password, now is a great time to generate secure {aka crazy} passwords and not have to worry about it. Hint: if you remember all the passwords off the top of your head, they’re most likely not secure, and you’re probably using the same password for more than one thing.

With many of these accounts you can add double-authentication login (Google Account, Twitter, Mailchimp etc.)

2. Backup and update your website/blog

Wordpress update
Have a blog or website? When was the last time you backed up your files? It’s a boring one, but when you most need it, you’ll be incredible thankful. If you’re on WordPress, also make sure you’re on the latest update and all your plugins are up to date. You can also make this happen automatically on a recurring basis with several of WordPress plugins. All done? Feels good doesn’t it?

3. Stalk yourself

Go on now, Google, Bing and Yahoo search your name and your business name. Have a brick and mortar store? Check your company out on Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook Places and make sure your profile is “claimed”/secured and see if there’s any feedback you need to reply to. Need any reputation management? Remember, this is also a great time to add links back to your website and social presence if it’s not already done. Have just a website/blog, check out what people are pinning on Pinterest from your site by putting your url as the “source” like: http://www.pinterest.com/source/poweredbytofu.com/
Pinterest Search

4. Update your social profiles to be current and consistent

The new year is a great time to check out your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest etc profiles and make sure your bio and background are consistent (“oh, hello profile that I haven’t updated in 3 year”). Using a cute new headshot on Twitter? Make sure it’s everywhere else too!

5. Check your internal site search in Google Analytics

Site Search in AnalyticsDo you have a blog or website? If you’re on WordPress, you can see what people are searching for on your site by heading to the Behavior tab on the left. Behavior > Site Search > Overview. Make sure you set your date range (top right) to the last year so you’re getting a full picture. Anything people seem to be searching for a lot? From what pages? How can you help them find things or make it more clear so they don’t have to search for it? While you’re in this report screen, you can also set the date range to monthly and then click the “Email” button on the top left, and set up a “Search Term” report to automatically be emailed to you as a pdf on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Neat huh?

6. Take an end-of-year look at Google Analytics

Google Analytics Yearly
While you’re in Google Analytics, set your date range to the last year and check out some of your metrics. Tip: check the “compare to previous period” box to take a look at year over year growth and stats. Whether you compile a detailed report or just cruise around a for a bit, set a timer and see what you can learn about the last year. Any major shifts in Traffic Sources in 2014? or quarterly? Search vs social channels? Any partnerships that are really generating some good (or poor) traffic? What can you learn from that? Any big jumps or dumps this year? How about sales? Are there any goals that you should set up for the coming year?

7. Check in on your email list

Do you have an email newsletter? Take a look at your end of the year stats. How has your list grown this year? What about your open rates and click through rates? Any big wins? Any obvious improvements?

8. Pick a KPI or some metrics that you will track for 2015 or the next quarter

Metrics that aren’t actionable are just stats, not a KPI but a “vanity metric”. So track some metrics to know where you stand, but use the KPI as your focus. Note: you usually need “metrics/stats” to create a KPI. Example, if your KPI is sales conversion rate, you’re going to need your sales and some kind of traffic or lead traffic numbers to even get to that %. So pick some KPI, goals, and metrics that you’ll be tracking this year. Remember you can always change them to something else next month or quarter if you realize it’s not what you want to track. Some ideas: blog post frequency, a sales goal, email newsletter signup rate or number, number of leads closed, number of influencers connected with, online to offline meetings, etc. Read more about Where to Start with Choosing Metrics & KPIs that Matter.

9. Are there any conferences or local meetups you want to attend this year?

lanyrd - conference searchHow often have you heard about a conference only after it’s happened? Take a few minutes and make note of the dates, prices, and locations of a few conferences that are already on your radar and then ask a few peers for some recommendations. Lanyrd is a great site for finding conferences coming to your area, as well. Check out some local meetups too. Meetup.com is great for finding local groups of all kinds (from business to tech to blogging to design etc).

10. Automate something: business, personal, financial

IFTTT recipes
The new year is a great time to check in on your current processes and see if you need any updates. Whether you’re setting up something clever or pretty standard in IFTTT or Zapier, or even removing a process to streamline your time, try to think of something that you spend a lot of time repeating… checking the weather to see if it rains? Use IFTTT. Adding tasks with dates assigned to your calendar? Make it happen with Zapier. Have fun, go a little crazy. ;)

11. Set a date/calendar appointment with yourself to begin your taxes

Tax day surpriseOh taxes. Don’t stress yet, just set a calendar appointment with yourself to address it at some point before April 14.

I’ve told myself I’ll review tax stuff on Sunday, February 1. In the meantime, all emails that I get from banks etc notifying me that I have at tax statement ready to view, I’m labeling as “Taxes” in Gmail.

12. Do a budget review

Set aside a bit of time to review your monthly business (and/or personal) budget. Does anything need to change this year? Are there any services or software that you’re paying for, but not using? Or anything fancy and new that’s duplicating your efforts, that you should cancel? Example: a friend is using the $12.95 Quickbooks Online software for accounting, but barely uses the features, so he’ll be switching to a free Wave account. $12.95/mo isn’t a lot, but since it’s barely used, that’s $155.40 that could be spent on something else in 2015. (Are you a freelancer? Here are a few more of my favorite freelancing software freebies).

13. Recap 2014

If you haven’t already, think about the last year and write down three things that you accomplished that you’re proud of. More than three things, go crazy. Then.

14. Set 2015 goals

What is the ONE THING you’d like to be able to say next year at this time for 2015? Write it down. Make it happen. What’s the next thing you need to do to make it happen? Start small.

The first few weeks of the year is also a great time to archive old stats and reports and make room for the future. For example, this week, I moved my 2014 editorial calendar tab in my Google Spreadsheet all the way over to the right (my “archive” area), and added a new editorial calendar tab from my updated 2016 editorial calendar template.

15. Go treat yourself to a latte

This is what a latte heart looks like if you're left handed!
Come on, it’s a new year, give yourself a break. Get a latte and then finish up any of the above items you haven’t done. ;)

How are you starting anew this year? Anything to add to this list?

Originally published January 6, 2014. Updated for 2015.

  1. Just signed up for LastPass and set up site search tracking on Google Analytics! Great post :)