Every year, companies spend a lot of time and energy buying gifts for their clients and staff. While gifts are a thoughtful way to recognize hard work, loyalty, and appreciation, savvy business leaders can also use the end of the year to “gift” themselves.

This week, we encourage you to invest in a thoughtful gift for your business. We don’t mean buying a new jet (although if you can, more power to you!); instead, show your business the same appreciation, thoughtfulness and encouragement you give to others. Here are four gifts you can give your business this month:

  • A “SWOT” Team – It’s always a good idea to take a step back and look at your business, particularly when it comes to marketing. Conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (or SWOT) analysis is a helpful way to take stock of your current marketing position and how you can improve, change, and grow in the coming year. Give your business the gift of your undivided time and thoughtful analysis. Take a look at your resources (financial, external, and internal), your procedures, and current position in the market. Gather feedback from your employees and customers, and assess your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. All this information will help you gain a clear idea of where you are succeeding and where you can improve in the year to come.
  • Get On Trend – At the end of every year, endless articles come out predicting trends for businesses and industries (ours will be out in a few weeks). Take a second to get caught up on what people are predicting for 2016. Some of these predictions will come to nothing, of course. Others will be spot-on. However, it is wise to be aware of what is new in the business world and how you can incorporate emerging trends into your plans for the next year. The worlds of marketing, advertising and digital media are constantly evolving, so pay close attention to these fields.
  • A Refresher – A trip to the local spa may not be in the budget, but a trip to the classroom should be. One similarity between companies that attract and retain top talent is their commitment to offering professional development opportunities to their employees. Offering employees the opportunity to take classes to master new media and marketing tools can only benefit your business. These classes don’t have to be through a university or college; try thinking outside the box and offering something different. If your staff needs an injection of creativity, a writing class, improv clinic, or art-focused conference may help cultivate inspiration. Find what suits your needs best and then sign everyone up – including yourself.
  • Speaking of Strategy – The best time to plan for next year is now. You may not feel ready to build a detailed, month-to-month plan for the year, but you need to have a clear idea of where you are going and who you want as your customer. Use the information from your SWOT analysis and set tangible, practical goals that you can track throughout the year. If you find your needs outstrip your ability, you could always consider hiring a company with a dedicated marketing staff (like these fine people) to help you reach your goals.