Congratulations on what I hope has been another prosperous year for your business! With 2016 coming to a close, now is the time to reflect on your successes and what you still need to do to make sure you’re set to make the upcoming year better than ever.
Do you have all of your business’s end-of-year responsibilities wrapped up?
Here’s a list of questions I recommend you ask yourself, so you can identify what you still need to take care of before the New Year begins:
Have you organized all your accounting and tax records?
Tax time can be painstaking enough without needing to dig through a disorderly pile of receipts, invoices, and other paperwork. The more organized you are with your income, expense, charitable giving, past tax returns, W-9s, 1099s, etc., the less time and fewer headaches you’ll have when working with your accountant or tax preparer.
Did you prepare and approve your 2017 budget?
Having a budget for the upcoming year can help steer your finances in a positive direction. Your budget will help you establish limits on expenses related to the various areas of your business. By identifying what you expect to spend throughout the year and how much revenue you expect to take in, you can more quickly recognize what has gone amiss if profitability isn’t where you want it to be.
Is your marketing plan in place for the New Year?
Just as your budget can guide your business’s finances, your marketing plan will provide a roadmap that drives which strategies and tactics you’ll use to promote your business. And it will help ensure you schedule time to execute them. From printing advertising materials to engaging on social media to creating website content to exhibiting at trade shows to launching email campaigns, your marketing plan should identify all of the ways you intend to get your business in front of prospective customers.
Have you assessed your need for new hires?
If you had a difficult time growing your business this year because you were understaffed, maybe it’s time to add employees. It will take some time to create job descriptions, determine wages/salaries (and put them in your budget!), and work through the other considerations that go along with hiring, so begin now. That way you’ll be able to begin accepting resumes and interviewing candidates as early as possible in the New Year.
Have you reviewed your business structure to make sure it’s still the right fit?
If you’d sleep better at night with a greater degree of liability protection or if your business’s tax situation isn’t ideal, it may be time to change the legal structure you selected for your business. This is especially true for sole proprietors. Either forming an LLC or incorporating your business will separate your personal assets from those of your company. So personally, you will have limited liability if your company were to be sued. That means your home, vehicle, savings accounts, etc. will have more protection than if you continued to operate your business as a sole proprietorship.
You can use our Business Structures Wizard as a resource to help determine which structure might be best in your situation. Before making a decision about changing your business structure, however, I recommend talking with an attorney and tax professional to make sure you understand all the pros and cons of each option.
Ready Or Not—The New Year Is Near
How did you fare after answering the above questions? If you’ve discovered you’re not quite prepared for 2017, I say, “Better late than never!” Try to schedule some time between now and the end of the year to tackle at least a few of the to-dos. A little work now can go a long way toward putting your business on the right path in the New Year.