Note: The last version of this article was posted on December 2016. This updated article contains refreshed links and up-to-date information.
Winter can be a slow time for many businesses, especially at the end of the year. Nobody wants to be caught unprepared in the new year. But, by taking this downtime to prepare your business for what lies ahead, you’ll start the new year refreshed, prepared and ready for anything. Here are some simple things you can do to get everything in order for year-end.
- Organize your accounting files, records and receipts to get ready for income tax season. This includes completing inventory records and putting expense receipts into month-based categories.
- Update your payroll records, report all current-year paycheques on T4 slips, and make sure all your other deductions are in order – when you see your accountant or bookkeeper in the new year, it’ll run smoother for everyone.
- 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.
- Streamline your contacts list – remove old contacts and duplicate records, and update current contacts in your professional networks.
- Update your personal productivity and technology tools – download updates and templates and make sure your current apps are still working for you.
- Review your business goals. What went well? What lessons did you learn? What did your competition do? (Check out our competitive matrix to see how you measured up to your competition.) This way, you can do more of what worked and less of what didn’t work.
- Develop a strategic plan to get you to your goals. If you don’t have one, check out our free one-page business plan template to get you on the right track.
- Analyze your marketing, HR, financing and operations. There’s always room for improvement, so brainstorm some ideas to become more effective.
- See how social media can help promote your business in the new year. Read some business blogs (like this one) or follow some business experts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. Learn from the pros as well as from the social media gaffes.
- Delete old or duplicate files, get rid of email spam, back up your business records onto a memory stick or in the cloud. You can also hire a company to do this for you on a regular basis.
There you have it – 10 ways to prepare for your small business’ year-end that can easily fit in around your holiday activities. Have fun with it, and pat yourself on the back for your year in entrepreneurship!