The holiday season is the busiest time of year for everyone. But it’s also the end of the calendar year, which is the perfect time to evaluate your overall business strategy and identify areas that could use a little housekeeping. This calls for an end-of-year checklist.
In the day-to-day, you’re juggling all the parts that keep a small business operating. It can be easy to lose sight of your company's grand scheme. Having a quick checklist on hand can help you look back at all you accomplished this year, while focusing on what you want to do next year.
To close out the year strong, follow these seven steps, and you will be ringing in the new year with confidence that your business is ready to thrive in 2023.
1. Catch up on bookkeeping
You cannot plan for the future of your business without knowing what you have spent and where your money has gone. It's worth the time to spend some time catching up on bookkeeping.
Locate and consolidate all paper receipts and business expenses you haven’t gotten around to recording. You’ll also want to gather email documentation of any business transactions you made in the last year.
You’ll also want to reconcile your accounts receivable. This is the process of reviewing and cleaning up the credits and debits, so you know what your customers owe. This helps ensure your accounts are clean and auditable.
Similarly, you’ll want to do the same for your accounts payable. Make sure you understand your obligations and reconcile variances.
If you don't have a certified public accountant (CPA) or tax preparer you work with regularly, you might consider hiring one to help you out with the end-of-year cleanup. They can also help set you up for success come tax season.
Also, if you’re still using spreadsheets (or even paper files), there are plenty of user-friendly bookkeeping apps and accounting software such as Quickbooks or Xero out there that will help you keep track of your books, automate revenue and track expenses to ease the process.
- Pay any vendors or contractors
- Review accounts receivable to collect the amounts that are due
- Upload or record any receipts and transactions
- Finalize any payroll records
2. Review your financial statements
Once you catch up with bookkeeping, you can start to figure out where you stand financially. Run financial reports to learn where your money initially came from, where you spent it and where it is currently heading.
These reports should include:
- A balance sheet to track business assets, liabilities and equity
- An income statement that shows your company's profits
- A loss statement that shows what areas you experienced losses
- A cash-flow statement that documents how much your company made over a certain period — typically fiscal quarters.
The financial reports not only give you a head start on your taxes; they also reveal where you need to make adjustments to achieve your goals.
- Run end-of-year reports
- Review reports and financial records to understand where you are and are not profitable
- Identify areas where you can reduce costs or if you need to bring on help to grow
- Set a budget for the upcoming year
3. Make a plan for the coming year
Now that you know where you stand financially and what needs to get done, you’ve reached the fun part: planning for the future.
Looking at your entire business landscape, set goals for where you want to go, and then put together a strategic plan to help you reach your goals. It’s better to pinpoint specific, measurable goals to help you stay focused.
For example, many business owners would like to “grow their business next year.” But how, and through what means? On the other hand, saying that you would like to get 15 more clients next year or move to a larger location by next summer is more specific, allowing for more accurate business planning.
This is also a good time to review your business operations. Do you need to hire help so you can focus on other things? Should you renegotiate any vendor contracts or research new suppliers? Does your pricing model still work or do you have to update it to account for inflation?
- Create attainable goals for the next year
- Make a plan or roadmap for achieving your goals
- Review vendor contracts
- Examine staffing needs
- Audit your equipment and inventory. Differentiate between “nice to have” and what are critical business needs.
- Review your client list; thank them for being a customer
4. Make sure to have or update your business insurance
Business insurance protects you from unexpected expenses after an accident or mistake involving your business, employees or customers. While it may not be top of mind for many entrepreneurs, it’s important to have and keep up to date, so you’re not paying a much larger amount after the fact.
Small business insurance will cover a variety of incidents and situations:
- General Liability covers property damage to other people's property and physical injury to other people.
- Professional Liability covers accusations of professional mistakes, pays for work to be redone or for any damages caused by faulty work.
- Commercial Auto insurance can help pay for damages if you or an employee are involved in an auto accident while working or your work vehicle is damaged.
- Workers' Compensation covers employees injured at work and helps pay for medical expenses and lost wages.
- Commercial Property can help protect almost all of the physical items you need to do business, including repairs to your building (if you own it) up to your policy limit.
If you already are insured, the end of the year is a natural time to make any updates you didn’t get around to earlier. For instance, if you hired employees and need to update your Workers’ comp insurance or started offering delivery services and need to protect your business with Commercial Auto now.
Tasks (if you don’t have coverage):
- Research providers
- Get instant quotes to evaluate costs
Tasks (if you already have insurance):
- Review your insurance policies
- Double-check and update your coverage based on business changes
5. Organize and back up your data
The modern business world relies on a myriad of cloud storage solutions to manage all sorts of data — employee, customer, vendor and even equipment. With so many different apps and software available, you could be searching across several programs to locate it all.
Try to organize it into as few programs as possible, then back it up. Losing all of your well-organized information and data is the last thing you want to kick off a new year.
Many backup options are available for businesses. You’re probably already using some of the programs, such as Google's cloud storage or Dropbox.
- Clear out your email inboxes
- Organize your data files both on your local computers and in the cloud
- Consolidate your programs and software if you can
- Back up data and make a plan for regularly scheduled backups in the event of a system failure
6. Revisit your marketing strategy
Today's marketing world is as fast-paced as ever, and social media trends change in what seems like a heartbeat.
It’s easy to neglect marketing when you’re busy juggling everything, but consistent marketing is what helps you gain new customers. It helps your customers understand the value of your products or services, which in turn fuels your business’s sales and longevity.
- Take a look at your marketing return on investment (ROI)
- Look over site performance. Check web traffic, analytics, conversions, and keyword rankings
- Determine which channels your content thrives on
- Evaluate your target audience and if you’re reaching them
- Rebrand if necessary and update all social media platforms with a new logo or graphics
- Brainstorm new promotion ideas you want to launch
7. Celebrate your wins
You’ve accomplished a lot this year, so now it’s time to celebrate. You might get into the holiday spirit by showing your appreciation to employees and customers. The end of a year also is a good reminder to give back to those who've supported you or lent a helping hand. Don’t forget to take a break and recharge your batteries so you can start fresh in the new year.
- Do something celebratory with employees (or customers)
- Distribute any end-of-year or performance bonuses to employees
- Give back by volunteering or donating to an organization you support
- Take time off to relax with friends and family
How NEXT Insurance supports small businesses year-round
Managing insurance shouldn’t be an annual task you dread; it can be something you can take care of in minutes with little hassle. NEXT Insurance makes it easy to create customized small business insurance packages that offer peace of mind while allowing you to focus on other business aspects.
We’re 100% online and available at your fingertips 24/7. You will never have to worry about finding an agent, scheduling an appointment or filling out tons of paperwork. If you want to discuss options, our licensed U.S.-based insurance professionals can help.
With our online application, you can see your coverage options, rates and purchase coverage — all in less than 10 minutes. As soon as your purchase is complete, you can access your certificate of insurance.