Taking time at the end of each year for a dedicated pulse check on the various areas of your business can position you for greater success in the twelve months to come. The more insight you have into how your operations are faring and where they’ve evolved, the more likely you are to make the right strategic decisions going forward. Use these 5 key tasks as the foundation for your end-of-year business checklist.
1. Clarify your financial standing
Bring your accounting and business records up to date so you can streamline year-end from a tax perspective and generate the annual income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet you’ll need to:
- See where your business stands financially
- Measure your profitability against previous years
- Determine where cutting costs or increasing investment might improve your financial results in the year to come
This is also a good time to examine your accounts receivable and focus on collecting past-due amounts so you can start the new year from a strong cash flow position.
2. Update your insurance
As your business grows, the conditions for keeping it safe legally, financially, and reputationally can shift.
Think about how your products, processes, premises, or people have changed over the past year, then speak with your insurance broker about the possible benefits of:
- Reducing or increasing current coverage amounts
- Lowering or raising deductibles
- Adding a new type of insurance (in addition to general liability, for example, some companies may need product or professional liability, business interruption, property, auto, or cyber risk coverage)
If you’re self-employed and working from home, don’t forget to check the requirements around covering business activities, supplies, and equipment under your home insurance policy.
3. Take stock of inventory
Conducting a thorough inventory count, and looking back at your ability to fill customer orders in a timely manner, can help you determine where changes in stock or service management may be needed.
This could include:
- Adjusting inventory order volumes or schedules going forward
- Eliminating sluggish products from your line-up, or carrying extra stock of best-sellers
- Seeking more cost-effective supply or service resources
You may also want to start the year fresh by automating your inventory and record-keeping (this can save time and minimize embezzlement and theft opportunities), updating vendor contact information, renegotiating purchase terms, or reinforcing your supply chain.
4. Secure data and reassess IT requirements
Depending on how your business has expanded, it may be time to upgrade the software systems you use to manage your marketing, customer data, bookkeeping, or other internal processes.
You should also consider:
- Establishing a consistent, company-wide system for naming and organizing files and other data
- Backing up important documents, contacts, emails and similar records to both the cloud and an external hard drive
- Evaluating (or hiring a professional to evaluate) your cybersecurity protection
Additionally, year-end is a great time for a thorough website audit to optimize performance while checking for broken links or inaccuracies.
5. Revisit business goals
Hopefully, you began the last year with a clear business plan so you can take this opportunity to measure outcomes against objectives and adjust your path forward (if not, it’s never too late to create one).
Improving your performance in the months to come should include:
- Comparing actual conversion, sales, and revenue figures with your forecasts and projections
- Revisiting management, marketing and even customer goals, so you can create new action plans to achieve them
- Re-examining staffing requirements, and ensuring your compensation package is still competitive
Remember, too, that budgeting around changes to your plan or goals for the coming year is essential. That said, working with your accounting professional to better understand your financial future is a valuable addition to any end-of-year business checklist.