As the year comes to a close it's time for small firms, and really any small business, to break out the to-do list of end-of-year tasks.
Not only is it the end of the calendar cycle, it's the end of the fiscal year for most of us, which means it's time to gather together all of the year's financial information. With that you can figure out how you've done this year from a business perspective.
There are lots of things you can do right now to prepare for the New Year and tie up loose ends. Here are some of the most important tasks that you can't afford to forget:
Get tax receipts in order. The end of the year means tax time is not that far off. Depending on your recordkeeping, it may take some time to collect all your financial information from the past year, and the longer you wait, the harder is gets. Take some time before the new year to make sure you have all your tax documentation together in an easy-to-find place.
Settle old accounts. Owning a small firm means being both attorney and bill collector. It's time to remind clients about the fees they owe or simply remind yourself about what money has been received and what is still missing. Don't miss out on the fees you're owed just because your client is forgetful. Take the time to add it all up and make sure you're in the black.
Max out your tax deductions. The end of the fiscal year doesn't just mean getting tax paperwork together. As a small business owner it's your last chance to qualify for whatever tax deductions are available. Talk to your accountant about any tax breaks that you can still qualify for before your window of opportunity closes. It's also a good time to max out your retirement account.
Assess yourself. The end of the year is a good time to reflect a little on the past. Review how business went, new skills you learned, and how well you met last year's business goals. Really set aside some time to consider the year as a whole. You may be surprised about how much you've learned.
Set new goals. It's a new year and that means time to strive for improvement. What do you want to accomplish in the coming year? Do you want to expand your client base? Hire new associates? Branch out into a different niche? Having a clear idea of what you're aiming for makes it easier to measure improvement. Next year is your year, so start planning now.