For most people, today will be the first real day back at work following the festive break. Thoroughly rested, with renewed vim and vigour, it’s time to grab 2014 by the short and curlies and show it just what you think of it.

Just as many of us sign up to gyms in the New Year to lose the extra cushioning we gained in the few months previous, you can give your business a workout; make what you have work harder for you, trim some fat around the edges, cut costs, and generally tune everything up in preparation for another year. Every business is different, but here are some good starting points.

1. Get that damn Self Assessment done and dusted

Before you do anything else, file your personal tax return. We’ve published a big guide here – read through it, get all your paperwork in order and file that bastard. Come back once that’s done.

2. Review your suppliers

January has a reputation for being a lean month. The excesses of Christmas and New Years, followed by (for salaried staff, at least) an extra long month before the first payday of the year. Channel this Fagin-esque spirit and see if there’s a penny or two to be pinched where your suppliers are concerned. Some obvious one to look at:

  • Your website hosting
  • Your accountant
  • Your insurance
  • Your bank account
  • Your utilities
  • Your broadband
  • Your mobile contract

3. Fine-tune your tax efficiency

Are you taking advantage of all the tax breaks available to you? HMRC banging the anti-avoidance drum puts many people off, but there are plenty of totally legitimate tax minimisation strategies at your disposal. Talk to your accountant or an IFA about your option – it’ll often end up saving you money overall.

4. Set some goals

What do you want from your business this year? Maybe you want to expand and take on your first employee? Perhaps you’d like to land a prestigious client? Or maybe you just want to carry on as you are and live a comfortable, stress free life?

Whatever you want to do, write it down and work out what you’re going to do to achieve it. Set deadlines. Make contacts. Send emails.

5. Get out thereins

Various bits of research last year pegged freelancers as not only the fastest growing business group in the UK, but also Europe as a whole. So it’s not an exaggeration to say we are dragging the UK out of recession by the sweat of our brow. Sure, the Government might largely ignore us¬†and big companies may treat us like something they just stepped in, but none of that seems to be stopping us.

Hold your head high and get back to what you do on a daily basis – awesome work.

Photo by Inpivic