Setting Yourself Up For Success in the New Year (and a free checklist!)

Lela Barker

Setting Yourself Up For Success in the New Year


The turning of the calendar to a new year holds the promise of a fresh start on your entrepreneurial adventure.  There’s a rare break in the action- a precious few moments of calm on an otherwise frenetic journey. I hope that this season delivers not just a blank slate but renewed energy, too, as I have little doubt that your soul is due for some R+R after the holiday rush.


Entrepreneurship is a wild ride, and we’re in the midst of an especially exciting time.  Barriers to entry are dropping and people the world over are showing increasing interest in beautifully designed products that created with soul and intention.  As business owners working in the midst of the maker revival, it’s fantastically easy to be swept away by a wave of passion, making decisions on the fly, and moving from one urgent task to the next.


Throughout the year, I find myself accumulating clutter (both mental and physical). I’m often too busy to spend significant amounts of time on my own website or notice that my costs are slowly and insidiously creeping north. I’m pulled in a zillion directions and constantly “dinged” at by a myriad of devices. I hardly ever carve out the time to look at key customer touchpoints and ensure that they’re up-to-date and reflective of my current brand. Sound familiar?


I like to begin each year with a very intentional series of steps designed to help me critically analyze the year that was, boost my focus, clear my space of mental (and physical) clutter, and see my company through the customer’s eyes. The results are always worth the effort. I know these exercises will help you get into fighting shape, too, so I made a downloadable checklist and I invite you to play along! Click the image below to grab it…




Click here to download my “Kicking the Year Off Right” Checklist!


May the coming year bring both focus and fulfillment. The Lucky Break team will be cheering you on as you tackle new trials, expand beyond your comfort zone, and press ever-closer to the empire of your dreams!


Pull it directly from your e-commerce platform or accounting software and lay your eyes on total revenue and revenue-by-product. Don’t rely on your memory or your perceptions of what sold over the past year. Pull the numbers and get down-n-dirty with them. They don’t lie!


Go through your product costs with a fine-tooth-comb. Raw material prices have a tendency to slowly creep up unnoticed throughout the year. Double-check your raw material costs, labor expenses, and overhead to see if a price adjustment is needed. If you have my Price-O-Matic software, then updates are blissfully easy! Pull the most recent invoice for each raw material and update the costs in the “Inventory” tab of the POM software. The system will automatically search for that raw material in every product you make and instantly retabulate the costs of each product made with that raw material. Technology is beautiful, eh? If you don’t yet have my Price-O-Matic software, then you’re wasting time and leaving money on the table! Why not grab a copy?


This is what I lovingly call “The New Year Purge.” All of those stray emails that have collected for months need to TLC ASAP. Set aside a few hours and quickly go through your entire inbox. Answer whatever is outstanding and discard the rest. You have no idea how good a “zero inbox” feels until you’ve experienced it! A clear space allows you to start the new year off right.


Continuing on that theme: Tidy up your workspace. Remove clutter, file or discard papers, and reorganize if needed. Whipping your office into shape changes the way you feel when you sit down at your desk and is well worth the investment of an hour or two.


You know all those things that buzz, ding, and whirl? They need to die a swift death! The perpetual inundation of alerts and notifications contributes to mental overwhelm and they break focus every single time they make noise. You needn’t be notified when someone places an order, sends an email, favorites a picture, likes your page, or shouts you out on Twitter. Remove all audible notifications and ensure that your email isn’t auto-checking throughout the day. Do whatever you need to do to set up these systems so that you’re in control of when you review information, not the other way around!


Whaaaat? No, I haven’t been drinking! By unsubscribing and then resubscribing, you’ll have an opportunity to see copies of all the emails you programmed a loooong time ago into MailChimp, etc. The information you share in those autoresponder emails is especially important because it’s some of the first information you present to new customers, but we often “set it and forget it.” Give it a good once-over and update as necessary. Is it up-to-date? Is it relevant? Is it in your brand voice? Make adjustments as necessary.


Click through and read every last page of your own website. Keep an eye out for outdated or inaccurate information. Place any single in your cart and complete the entire checkout process. Double-check the order confirmation email you receive to ensure that it’s formatted well and up-to-date.


Use this uber-cool (and free!) broken link checker to identify misdirecting links on your own website. Simply pop your website address into the box in the upper-right corner and it will magically find every stray link that isn’t functioning as it should. Which this tool can find broken links, it can’t fix your broken links. Make certain that you get into the backend of your website and reprogram them to direct peeps to the right spot in the coming year.


I’m not in the business of quoting Disney Princesses in my day-to-day life, but I have to hand it to Elsa: that chick really knows how to let go. Make like Elsa and let go of any angst that you’re harboring. This may sound a bit “woo-woo” but stay with me for a moment…it’s incredibly cathartic.  I like to  take a handful of index cards and write a single grievance on each one. Be it frustration with myself, displeasure with a teammate, jealousy of a competitor, or the disappointment in an unrealized expectation- inscribe those cards with whatever plagues you.  Then start a good fire and release them one-by-one!  I read them aloud individually, toss them into the flames, and allow myself to feel the release as each one crackles. I envision myself feeling lighter as my cares melt into ash. Whatever happened exists exclusively in the past, unless we allow ourselves to be burdened by the energy. Make a conscious decision not to carry that energy into the new year.


As entrepreneurs, we have a lot of plates spinning in the air every day! It’s incredibly easy to stay busy all year long without actually moving your business forward. I like to choose one “big picture” goal each month to ensure that I’m constantly stepping up my game. It could be new product photos, rewriting product descriptions, doing some media outreach, developing new product offerings, doing a cost analysis, exploring collaborations, etc. I recommend plotting a single Big Picture Goal each month and then directing all spare time + energy towards stepping up your game in that one facet of business.


About the Author

Lela Barker

Lela Barker hails from the deep-and-dirty south (ATL, represent!), where she spends her days helping makers and product designers navigate the pitfalls of product pricing, brand development, and wholesale strategy. She launched her apothecary brand in 2003 and bootstrapped the hell out of that little business to cultivate a portfolio of 1500+ stockists worldwide, generating $12million in revenue and establishing successful distributorships in the Middle East, EU, Scandinavia, and South Korea. Lela is the keeper of a well-worn passport and the maker of the finest lemon meringue pie you’ve ever put in your mouth.

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