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A Year-End Checklist for Any Small Business

It’s hard to believe that we’re nearing the end of 2019. As you prepare your small business for the close of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, we want to share a checklist of things you need to think about.

This is a stressful time. With the upcoming holidays, the pressure of finishing the year in the black, family gatherings, and winter weather, we know you’re just about maxed out. With that in mind, we’re only recommending what our experts believe to be truly necessary

3 areas to focus on before the year is up

  1. Planning small business finances

    Get a quick overview of what might be due for some scrutiny before the end of the year

  2. Your business plan

    How did you do? Get some tips on what to reflect on – or what data to gather – to start next year growing.

  3. People & Technology

    Your employees and the tools they use to get the job done are a driving force behind your success that can’t be taken for granted. Below, find some factors to consider at the end of the year. 

Download a Copy of the ‘Small Business Year End Checklist’

Download the Checklist (Microsoft ExCel)

First, Take a Look at Your Financial Situation

Though it’s not the most fun thing, your financials are the most important way to evaluate your business performance. To finalize your financial reports and see year end performance, you must do a few things first.

Confirm All Documents Are Posted to the System

Make sure all of your receipts, invoices, bills and other documents are keyed into the system. Anything with the year 2019 needs to be in. You don’t want to have to spend precious time next year backdating documents and cross-checking statements. It’s a nightmare, trust us.

Meet with Your Tax Preparer or Accountant

Set up a meeting with your accountant or tax preparer. As you close out the year, there may be things that could benefit you based on your company’s profit/loss, like purchasing equipment, contributing to a retirement savings account, or other financial decisions. 

Do a Physical Inventory Count

If you carry inventory, year-end is the time for a physical inventory count. Start preparing for the physical inventory count as soon as you can. If you have inventory, you likely also have a very busy holiday sales season. This may cause some chaos with inventory storage, so clean up ahead of time if you can.

To tie with your financial statements, you need to have a clear picture of inventory value on hand as of the end of the year. Some companies close down on New Year’s Day for an inventory count. Others do it a few days before or after and back out the difference in sales and inventory receipts. Do what works for you. All I can say is – be thoughtful, be careful, be accurate. 

Pay Attention to your Accounts Receivable

It’s the end of the year. Many customers may have maxed out their terms in order to purchase before the holiday season. Take a look at your outstanding Accounts Receivable and contact any customers who have not paid what they owe. It’s important to keep on top of this.

For more information about each financial statement, see our articles on the Cash Flow Statement, P&L, and Balance Sheet.

Access your Savings Dashboard

Make time for the bigger picture. Put your membership to work handling your cost savings and enter the new year with a better bottom line

Next, Set Aside Time to Review Goals, Business Plans, and Performance

What’s the point of setting a goal if you don’t follow-up on it? Even if you don’t achieve this year’s goal – taking the time to take stock of how you did helps you do the next best thing: learn. What didn’t you have time to implement? Where could you have made adjustments? Explore below to get an idea of which bullets you should add to your to-do- list when it comes to the ‘big picture’ of your business.

Evaluate Your Projections vs. Actuals

Look at your projected financial statements versus your actuals. Were you way off? Why? Should you have been more aggressive in your sales forecasts? Are there expenses there that surprise you? This is an easy and important step in evaluating performance.

Take a Look at your Company and Employee Goals

Did you hit your goals? Sales targets are one thing, but what about efficiency, cash flow, customer reviews, and new customer acquisition? 

If you didn’t have set goals, be sure to do so for 2020. Goals help us see opportunities and focus our energy on continuing to adapt.

Revisit your Business Plan

Pull it out of the drawer, dust it off, and take a look at your business plan. Are you continuing to hit your targets? Do you need to revise any sections? Now is the best time to do this.

Finally, Review Your Employees & the Data Your Business Relies On

The end of the year is a natural time to review employee performance and strategize for the coming year.

Employee Reviews & Raises

Every employee should be reviewed at least once a year. They should be evaluated on predetermined metrics and given opportunities for growth. If you approve of an employee’s performance, it is expected to offer at least a cost-of-living raise. But if you can, consider offering more to keep employees happy and hard working.

Employee Bonuses

The end of the year is when you should determine if employees will be receiving bonuses. Often, employers will tell employees what bonus potential they have ahead of time so it is not a surprise or disappointment. 

Staffing Changes

The year-end is a good time to evaluate your staffing situation and determine if any changes need to be made. If you need to hire new people, the beginning of the year is a nice time for this. If you’ll be letting employees go, let them know this now.

Be Proactive in Data Management

All too often, staying on top of your computer systems and all the data that’s important to your business isn’t important until there’s a problem. Get ahead of it as soon as you can to make your life easier for the inevitable. 

Make sure you are working with your IT specialist to back up all company data at year end. This includes sales receipts, vendor information, customer information, business phone numbers, everything! Anything that’s in a computer system or in your phone should be backed up.

Take a Breath and Remember: The List is Truly Endless

Of course the list could go on and on. But as mentioned at the start of this article, these are the essentials. Evaluating your social media or updating vendor contact information can wait. Focus on completing the items above and then sit down, drink some hot chocolate, and spend time with your loved ones. Take that winter getaway. Then come back to work and tackle the second-tier projects like updating contact information.

As the end of the year approaches, these are the most critical things for your small business to do. With this checklist, we hope you will stay organized and forward-looking as you close out your 2019 year.

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