It’s the time of year when you’re likely looking forward to cozy nights with a hot drink or fun with family and friends. These are wonderful things, but don’t forget to pay attention to your small business empire before you get too settled in. It won’t be long until we’re ringing in the new year – what kind of shape will you be in?
The holiday season is actually a great time to get organized – to close out this year and to plan, strategically and financially – for what’s around the corner. There are some simple things you can do to wind down your business year properly, and get set for 2012 so you can hit the ground running in January. Nothing feels better than being prepared – not even eggnog!
Get your financial records house in order for 2011
Your accountant or bookkeeper will love you forever if you present well-organized and documented files and records soon after your fiscal year end. Sounds like a headache, but the “shoebox” method of filing receipts just doesn’t cut it – shoe boxes are for shoes, not your financial records. And there are likely other areas you could spruce up too.
Here’s our list of five things to tackle between holiday festivities:
1. Update your payroll records, report all 2011 paycheques on T4 slips, and make sure all your other deductions are in order.
2. Organize your accounting files, records and receipts to get ready for income tax season. This includes completing inventory records and putting expense receipts into categories by month.
3. Streamline your contacts list – remove old contacts and duplicate records, and update current contacts, adding to your professional networks such as LinkedIn.
4. Update your personal productivity and technology tools – download updates and templates and make sure your current apps are still working for you.
5. Create a to-do list for the first week of January and make appointments now with key advisors, especially your bookkeeper and accountant – before they get booked up.
Hit the ground running in 2012
Winter can be a slow time for many businesses, especially at the end of the year. But, by taking this downtime to prepare your business for what lies ahead, you’ll start 2012 refreshed, prepared and ready for anything.
Five more things to keep you busy and out of trouble:
1. Review your 2011 business goals. What worked well and what didn’t? In 2012, do more of what worked in 2011. Simple.
2. Develop a strategic plan – a roadmap for getting from point A to point B. If you don’t have a strategic plan, create one – and follow it. We’ve got a one-page business plan template at our website.
3. Take a close look at your marketing, human resources management, financing and operations. Is there anything you could do better? (The answer is yes – there’s always room for improvement!) Get working on some ideas to become more effective.
4. Confess if you’re in the dark about how social media can help promote your business. And make a decision to learn more about at least one of these tools. Read some business blogs or tweets as a first step – your grandchild can show you how. Or Google for a “how-to” guide.
5. Clean up your act! Delete old files, get rid of spam, back up your business records onto a disc, memory stick, cloud server or hire a company to do it for you on a regular basis. Set up a good online file folder system so you don’t have to scroll through 347 inbox emails to find something your accountant wants.
Have questions about year-end preparation? Ask a GoForth Expert online any time. Not only will your question be answered by one of our experts, we’ll post it on our website. You’ll be helping other entrepreneurs who may be wondering the same thing. How charitable of you – perfect for the holiday season!