Small Business Year-end Checklist 2018

Utilize 2018 Year-End to Set-up a Successful 2019!

With the typical rush of the holiday season, the final month of the year is always busy and challenging. For business owners, the anxiety level is compounded further with a host of additional stressors –

  • Can we make payroll in December? [Hopefully, not this one!]
  • Will we make a profit this year?
  • Can we close our pipeline sales before year-end?
  • Will employee retention be a problem?
  • What issues need my attention at this time of the year?
  • What should I be doing to ensure success next year?

Mr. Biz is here to help so fear no more!

Take a big gulp of your caffeinated beverage of choice and read the checklist that follows to help ease your tension level.

Financial Tasks: Optimize financial well-being

  1. Work Accounts Receivable
    1. Sort in descending order to target the largest balances first
    2. Push to close past due accounts before year-end
    3. Consider offering a discount in order to get cash in the door
    4. For 91+ day AR, strongly consider sending them to a collection agency
  2. Review pricing – this should be regularly reviewed; it is critical to ensure your products and services are being sold at profitable levels; despite owners’ confidence, this is almost always an area that needs additional expertise and attention
  3. Review Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – these measures should be regularly reviewed and, if selected properly, demonstrate how and why your business is growing – if you have heard of KPIs but you aren’t sure what they are, please reach out to us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  4. Review financial statements – pay particular attention to comparisons to the prior year (2017, in this case), prior year quarter (4th quarter of 2017) and prior quarter (3rd quarter of 2018)
    1. Balance sheet – summary of business health at a point in time
    2. Income statement – are you profitable . . . or not??
    3. Cash Flow – shows you the net change in cash and where your money went
      1. Operating – revenue and expenses
      2. Investing – assets purchased and sold
      3. Financing – loans and repayments
  5. Prepare for Taxes
    1. Calculate 4Q estimated payment and ensure it is received by the IRS no later than January 15th
    2. Schedule a January appointment with your tax advisor
      1. Beat the rush and get on the calendar now – you will thank me for this later!
      2. This will also give you a deadline to plan against for your tax-related “To Do” list
    3. Consider ways to reduce your tax burden (always consult your tax advisor for guidance specific to your business) – items to discuss, for example:
      1. Taking advantage of year-end sales to buy needed equipment
      2. Writing down unsellable inventory
      3. Paying outstanding Accounts Payable
      4. Making a charitable donation
      5. Deferring revenue, if possible
  6. If you have old inventory - consider a year-end sale to boost sales and reduce inventory
    1. Likely, it will only continue decreasing in value
    2. This can be a quick source of cash

 Operational Tasks – keep the wheels on the road

  1. Review insurance policies
    1. Consider new coverages for changes in your business
    2. Do you need to increase coverage to account for business growth?
    3. In a nutshell, ensure you do not have any uninsured risks
  2. Review and update your technology
    1. If you need to update hardware or software, take advantage of year-end sales
    2. Ensure your cyber security is up-to-date with the latest developments
  3. Backup all of your critical data – this should be done regularly, but especially at year-end
  4. Check your website
    1. Test all links and functionality
    2. Update information, as necessary
    3. Renew or update your security certificate

Human Resource Tasks – ensure you’re on-point with employees

  1. Complete performance reviews for every employee – feedback, both positive and constructive, is critical to continued employee development and, therefore, your company’s future success
  2. Check your payroll details
    1. Ensure you include often-forgotten items such as taxable fringe benefits – for example, sick pay or car allowances
    2. Corrections are cheaper to make in December vs. early next year
  3. Administer an anonymous employee survey
    1. If you want honest feedback, and that is the only feedback that matters, it must be anonymous
    2. Gives your employees an opportunity to provide feedback and have a voice
    3. Consistent negative feedback can be a leading indicator of ensuing employee retention problems
    4. Information can help shape new programs and changes for next year
  4. Plan employee recognition
    1. Will you pay bonuses or provide profit sharing?
    2. Strongly consider a holiday party or year-end celebration
    3. Be creative – provide annual awards, grant comp time, deliver verbal recognition, etc.
    4. Celebrate successes!

Strategic Tasks – get to the next level!

  1. Establish goals for 2019 – make the goals measurable; track them directly with KPIs throughout the year; don’t forget to STRETCH!!
    1. Financial
    2. Operational
    3. Human Resources
  2. Use those established goals to create a financial budget
    1. Utilize trends from this year and known upcoming changes
    2. Assess staffing needs to accomplish established goals
  3. Create action plans that ensure you accomplish your goals and budget – Benjamin Franklin once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail!”
    1. Make the actions specific and transparent
    2. Assign an owner to each action

Year-end can certainly be a daunting hurdle to clear for every business owner. However, if you follow this checklist, you will start the new year with a detailed plan for success!

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