The life of an entrepreneur is busier than most. And the holiday season can be especially hectic, as you work to tie up loose ends in your business before the start of the new year. But while you’re more than entitled to enjoy and celebrate the holiday season, Rob King believes the end of the year is also a good time for entrepreneurs to reflect on their lives and companies, and to lay the groundwork to ensure success in the new year.
“A lot of people start businesses in the new calendar year,” says King, Director of Small Business at Intuit Canada. “And we know more than ever, people are starting them faster and quicker.” While that’s very exciting, King says the end of the year is the right time for would-be entrepreneurs to take a moment and think about their business plan. Studies found that 62% of people who start a business do not have a plan. “If you’re going to start a business, you should really take the time to think through where you want to go, what’s your plan, who are the associations and mentors [you’re] going to work with, who are [your] customers and what [are you] going to charge for products or services?”
For those running an established or emerging company, King says the end of the year is a good time to stop and do the things you’ve been meaning to do all year, and to re-examine the business to identify what did and didn’t work in the previous 12 months.
Here’s what King says business owners need to be doing at the end of the year.
1. Re-examine your fees and/or product pricing
Cap off the year by looking at your final numbers, and do some industry research to determine if your pricing is compensating you appropriately for your time, experience and costs.
“Fifty percent of people don’t quite know if they’re priced correctly,” explained King. “That means you might not be competitive or you might be leaving money on the table.” The end of the year is a chance for entrepreneurs to make sure they are getting enough for their product or service to warrant all their hard work, and to make sure their businesses are profitable and competitive.
2. Prepare for tax season
“Take action now to reduce the amount of income tax you have to pay come April,” advised King. “Touch base with an accountant to ensure you’re getting everything you’re eligible for, like holiday charitable donations.”
3. Refresh your social presence
“Your website and online profiles are often the first impression customers and clients have of your business,” observed King. “So take the time to ensure everything is up to date, and if you feel it’s necessary, consider working with a specialist to do a complete revamp in the new year.”
4. Check your books
“Create and send any outstanding customer statements, reconcile your accounts, and run balance and profit/loss reports to summarize income and expenses,” said King. The easiest way to do this, he suggests, is through software like QuickBooks Online, which can now sync with Square and Shopify to help entrepreneurs run their businesses painlessly from one place.
5. Backup and secure your files
“This should be an ongoing practice, but make sure you’ve backed up any essential data, and have secured your financial and customer information,” said King.
6. Reflect on the last 12 months
“Consider what has worked over the past year and what could use some improvement,” advised King. “As you look ahead, you may choose to change certain aspects of your business, including restructuring or implementing new processes for smoother operations.”
7. Set new goals
“Revisit your business plan in order to set yourself up for success in the year ahead,” suggested King. “By reviewing and updating your plan, you’ll remind yourself of your initial goals and priorities so that you can adjust them as appropriate.”
8. Reach out to potential mentors
“Running your own business isn’t something you have to (or should do) alone,” said King. “There are many supportive communities that are designed to help entrepreneurs. Ryerson University’s DMZ is one example, and we recently partnered with them to launch #FinanceHub, a program that gives small business owners essential bookkeeping skills.”
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What’s on your end-of-year business checklist this December? Let us know by commenting below.