Late December is a crazy busy time for most of us. Between the holidays, home life and, this year, mitigating COVID-19 risk, it seems like there’s hardly enough time to address the year-end needs for your small business. Whether it’s tax preparation, evaluating the business, or dealing with employee issues to close out the year, the list of things owners need to begin addressing can seem overwhelming. But keep in mind that taking some time now to shore up your business can help you end the year strong and can help ensure that you start the new year off on the right foot.
The following checklist includes a few of the major tasks you should begin addressing now, before the new year sneaks up on you.
Managing your financial records is critical throughout the year, but even more so in December. Maintaining accurate records can help you predict what the next year may have in store for your business. Plus, you’ll be better prepared for tax season. At a minimum, crucial reports to review for year-end include your monthly and annual income statements (also called a profit & loss sheet), a balance sheet and a cash flow statement. If, like many small businesses during COVID, your profits ended up lower than you had planned, now is the time to give some thought to changes you might want to make. For more tips on evaluating the financial health of your business, it would be wise to speak to an accounting professional who is well-versed on your industry.
As we near the end of 2020, it’s a great time to look at the technology you use within your business. Back-up your essential computer data and customer and vendor contacts, download any important reports or data files that would make it difficult to do business in case of a disaster, and reorganize your paper and electronic files to ensure that you have back-ups that are readily accessible. If you’ve not yet converted your systems to paperless, it might be beneficial to find an outside vendor who can provide these data storage and filing services.
Once the critical business tasks have been addressed, December is an excellent time to examine your current staffing situation. Take stock of your current staff and determine whether or not additional staff will be needed in 2021 and budget accordingly. Alternatively, you may need to address having too much administrative costs wrapped up in staff.
Now is also a great time to reward employees for a job well done and to help boost morale as you head into a new sales year. Vernon offers some fantastic employee thank-you gifts on its website at www.vernonpromotions.com. From high-end watches and gifts to fun branded items like stocking caps and desk gadgets, our promo experts can help you find exactly what you need to show your appreciation.
In addition, the end of the year is a good time to review your employee compensation and benefits plans to ensure they’re still competitive.
Finally, there are a few business odds and ends you should take a look at before you start the new year. Create new business goals for the upcoming year, anticipating the impact that COVID may or may not have on your business. “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst”, has never been truer than during this global pandemic. Also, if you sell products or operate a warehouse, you know that year-end always means that it’s time to count your inventory. You want to be sure that you’re keeping accurate records and avoiding internal loss.
One to-do item that you can add to your calendar is to set a new goal for your business each month. This will help establish some short-term tasks that can be done throughout the next year rather than put it all off to next December. Remember, it’s these back-office tasks that keep your business running smoothly and can help ensure that your business is properly situated for success in 2021.