End of the Year Small Business Checklist

If you’re like many business owners, this is your crunch time. That’s because 20 to 40 percent of annual sales for small businesses take place during the holiday season. So when the end of the year finally comes, it’s tempting to sit back and relax. But don’t. The planning you do at the end of 2015 sets you up for success in 2016. Here are some items you should consider adding to your year-end small business checklist.

Contact your tax preparer

Your tax situation can change every year so it’s important to take advantage of opportunities and minimize liabilities. For example, if you expect your tax bracket to change next year (either higher or lower), you may want to adjust the income you take from the business. Your tax professional might also suggest you accelerate or defer the deductions you take.

Decide to give or not to give

Think about the timing for any year-end bonuses or gifts you plan to give. When you make the payment can make a difference. That also includes “gifts” you give to yourself in terms of any contributions you make to your own retirement accounts.

Take stock

Make a list of two things. What went well this year? What would you do differently? Thinking of your business in these simple terms can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. It also gives you a start on next year’s business plan. Remember, you don’t have to do this by yourself. Involve your staff too. You may uncover some things you hadn’t thought of. And it can improve employee engagement.

See if you’re still plugged in

Use this time to be sure that the information on your website and social media pages is accurate and up-to-date. Did you update your new hours of operation? Did you link to that new Pinterest page? Do all of the links still work? Outdated information reflects badly on your brand. It’s also frustrating to current and potential customers. Attention to these details makes sure your digital assets are still plugged in.

Check your form

It’s true; the job isn’t done until the paperwork is complete. So verify that you have the proper 1099 information from each of your vendors. Verify that the address you have for each employee is accurate so you send his or her W-2 to the right place. And then there is the W-3, Form 941, 944, and 940 too. Your accountant can advise you whether they apply to your business.

It’s challenging to close out your year on the heels of your busiest time. But stay the course. The investment you make now can help jumpstart 2016.

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