Here we are at the end of the year, winding down and getting ready to enjoy the holidays. As business owners, this is an opportunity to assess, adjust and fortify certain areas of our businesses.
To help you do this, we’ve put together a checklist of 10 things service-based businesses should do at the end of each year:
Document Business Changes.
- If there have been or are going to be ownership changes in your business, now is the time to properly document them. It’s easier to make this kind of change at the end of the fiscal year.
- If you need to make changes in the structure of your business, or the way it is taxed, the end of the year is a good time to make it effective.
- Review the information filed with the State of Florida and prepare to file your Annual Report in January with any updated information.
List Major Business Actions & Decisions.
- Take a few minutes to write down the major actions and decisions that were made in your business during the year. This will help you to prepare for drafting your Annual Minutes.
- Be mindful of any follow-ups that need to be done to complete the major actions, or if you’re planning major actions, then be mindful of things you need to be doing in preparation.
Clean up Your Books and Analyze Financial Reports.
- Along with the other bookkeeping clean-up in preparation for tax season, consider whether it’s prudent to make some expenditures before the end of the year. Sometimes moving ahead with the expenditure or pre-paying can have some tax benefits.
- Check in with your accountant and see what you should be doing to make your life easier for tax season. Don’t wait until they’re in the middle of the tax rush to give them a call.
Focus on Client Relationships.
- This is a good time of year to reach out to clients you haven’t talked to in a while, whether it’s a phone call or a holiday card. Establishing good client relationships is worth the effort.
- Look over your client contract forms and see if anything has changed since they were last updated. Often, we change how we do things but don’t remember to update our client contracts. This could also help you to see where improvements can be made in your procedures.
- Review your client list and see if you need to do any updates or whether there are renewals that are coming up.
Check Status of Regulatory Compliance.
- Take a look at your licenses and permits to see when they need to be renewed. Calendar the renewal dates so that they are not forgotten.
- Research whether there have been any changes during the last year in the rules and regulations that affect your services. Industry and trade publications, as well as your regulatory agency, is a good place to start.
Assess Your Vendors.
- It’s a good idea to make a list of all of your vendors with their updated contact information. You can use this list to assess your satisfaction with each vendor. You may even “grade” them to see just how well they are performing for you.
- Track the start and end dates for your vendor contracts. It’s good to know when you are free of the contract and able to hire a replacement, but it’s also good to know when you need to renew if you plan to do so.
Do an IT & Security Self-Audit.
- This is a hot topic that you need to pay attention to. Make it one of your goals for 2018 to improve your cyber security. In preparation for those actions, do a self-audit now to see where you stand.
- Review and update your list of technology equipment (computers, printers, etc.). Assess whether any need to be replaced or whether you need to purchase technology to increase productivity.
- Review and update your list of software applications. Assess whether they are functioning properly and providing an adequate return on investment for your processes. Consider whether some need to be replaced or whether you need to purchase additional applications to increase productivity.
Analyze Your Website.
- Check your hosting service to see when a renewal is required. Given the increase in website hacking, you may want to review your hosting package and assess whether you should pay for more security or even change hosting providers.
- Update the information on your website, including new addresses, phone numbers, services offered, etc. You will probably need to update your biography and maybe those of your employees.
- Make sure you remove old offerings from your website. If you no longer provide that service or if you’ve modified it, make your website reflect your current offerings so that you represent your services honestly.
- Check your reports to make sure your website is doing its job. Your marketing consultant should be able to help you with this assessment.
Do an Inventory of Policies & Procedures.
- One of the most important aspects of building infrastructure in your business is having policies and procedures. Now is a good time to make a list of all the ones you have in place to see if they need to be updated.
- Make a list of the policies and procedures you intend to implement next year. Ironically, focusing on the smaller details can sometimes help you see the bigger
Examine Staffing Needs.
- Review employee files to make sure you have updated contact information on each employee.
- If you’ve made changes during the year, make sure your employee handbook reflects your current policies and procedures.
- Assess whether each position in your business is filled with the most capable person and whether any changes need to be made.
It should feel good once you’ve completed these ten steps. Take a moment to reflect on the previous year and acknowledge all that you have accomplished! Then set aside some time before the new year starts to write down some goals for the next year. The process of going through the list above should have given you some great ideas of where to start!
Bring on the Merry!
About Elevate Business Law: At ELEVATE, we help business owners do risk assessments. We aren’t coming from a “no risk is good” perspective because we know that some risk is necessary in business. Our main goal is to help business owners avoid unnecessary bad risks and make better business decisions.