Small Business Year End Checklist
The Non-Financial Version
We’re rapidly approaching year end when most non-retail small businesses will begin to ramp down for the holidays. This is the time when small business owners do some housekeeping to prepare for next year. The challenge is to remember all the things you’ve put off and get them all done. The good news is you’re in luck, we’ve got a Small Business Year End Checklist for you.
Our checklist is not going to rehash all the same items your accountant is giving you. Here’s what you’re likely hearing from them:
- Take a Year-End Inventory
- Make sure you’ve got W9s from all vendors
- Prepare 1099 for all vendors
- Create a budget for 2018
- Reconcile accounts
- Prepare for tax season
These are all important, but there are some that fall outside of your accountant’s sight. The following are the big things your accountant isn’t focused on, but you should be:
2018 Goals & Objectives
I’ve found most businesses have three to five big things they must get right to be successful. The question is what are yours and how do you plan to do them in 2018? Many small businesses have these right on the tip of their tongues, while others need to really think about it.
If you know what they are, write them down. Then write a bullet list of all the things you’ll do next year to make sure they happen.
If they’re not top of mind, start writing a list of all the things you feel you need to do to be successful. When your list reaches twenty or thirty items organize them into three to five big groups. This is just another way to get to the same point.
These lists are the foundation of your 2018 business plan. The next step is developing an action plan for each item and a way to measure if it is getting done. These measurements should be a key component of your operations management in 2018.
Year end is a great time to benchmark your pricing. Most of your competitors will be offering their best price to close business. It can be very helpful to know what your competitors are willing to do.
Don’t wait until you’ve lost a few deals; BE PROACTIVE. Knowing your competitors price will help you win a few more deals in 2018. If your price is way off you’ll want to adjust it before you get into the the new year.
There’s never a good time to take down critical systems for updates. The holiday period might represent the best opportunity, especially if your business slows down over the holiday. Software across your business like firewalls, anti-virus, phone systems, desk-top operating systems, etc. all need to be periodically updated.
Don’t wait for these systems to become a business or security liability, take action now!
File Contracts and NDAs
I like to say “contracts are for when things go wrong” the rest of the time they collect dust in a file somewhere. If you’re like me, you go through the year signing various agreements and Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and they’re in your email box.
I’ve got news for you, if something goes wrong you’ll wish they were properly filed. Now is a good time to go find all those documents you signed over the year and put them where they belong.
Backup Cell Phones
I’m assuming you have all your files in the cloud. If you don’t, you should. This includes even paper files which should be scanned and stored. Online file storage is cheap and convenient, so there is no reason not to do this.
Unfortunately, your cell phone is a different story. Most carriers offer some form of phone backup, but most people don’t use it. This is the time to backup your critical phones. Trust me, you’ll thank me when your phone dies or gets stolen. Don’t know how, check out this article for backing up Android and iPhones or contact your mobile phone carrier.
Check Your Website
I’ll let you in on a little secret, you’ve likely got mis-spellings and broken links on your website. Even the best websites need to be checked on a regular basis. Your website is often your first impression to a new customer, make sure it’s a good one.
Take the time to go through every page on your website and click every link. Before you do this, make sure you clear your browser cache as it’s easy to get fooled. Fix any misspellings or broken links you find. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Year end is a good time to look back and think about what went right and what went wrong. Compare your performance to your goals at the beginning of the year. How well did you come out? How will you do it better in 2018?
Share the businesses accomplishments with everyone who works for you. Holiday parties are a great time to do this. Focus on the positive, people want to be a part of something successful.
This is also a great opportunity to get employees doing the same exercise, as performance appraisals are just around the corner.
Enjoy the holidays, and here’s wishing you a Great New Year!