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How to prepare for the calendar year end

It’s hard to believe we’re in the home stretch of 2016 - less than two months to go!  Depending on your business, the end of ...

It’s hard to believe we’re in the home stretch of 2016 - less than two months to go! Depending on your business, the end of the calendar year may or may not be a significant event. Many businesses go into overdrive during the holiday season, while others slow to a halt.

Regardless of the type of business you run, there are numerous opportunities to take advantage of the time leading up to the calendar year-end to get ready for 2017. Below are a handful of ways to prepare.

Of utmost importance in many of our minds is the upcoming tax deadline in April of 2017. Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure your tax records are in order. You want to avoid penalty fees and find any missing records well ahead of tax time.

Review your quarterly tax payments (if you’ve been making them) and estimate your total tax payments using accounting software, so you’re well aware of any additional payments or credits coming in 2017. Double-check your tax deadlines so you don’t end up with missed payments and penalty fees on your hands.

And if you calculate your payments and need an extension, get in touch with the IRS right away. If all of this seems overwhelming, consider calling in a tax professional early to help sort it out.

The end of year is a busy time, but it can also be one of reflection. Sit down and look at your business’s goals going into 2016. How did you perform against those goals?

What areas of your business exceeded expectations, and what other areas fell flat? After answering these questions, think about your goals for 2017. Will they be the same, or will you add or subtract new goals?

Reevaluate your existing goals for relevance to your business, and add any new goals that might help your business grow. After determining goals for 2017, think about ways you can translate your goals into activities that will help drive their success.

For example, is there a large dropoff in your on-site order volume? There might be improvements you can make to your order process or website in general to help increase order volume. If you are experiencing issues with customer delivery, analyze the process to make sure you understand where problems occur. Plan to evaluate at specific intervals in 2017 to see if your efforts are working.

Another important task to take on at the end of the year is to make sure your business is organized as it should be. Tax records are important, but there are other areas you can organize that will help your business run smoothly and efficiently.

Review your business records - both digital and hard copies - and toss those that are no longer needed. Make sure vendor contracts are up-to-date, as well as important details like customer contact information.

And don’t limit yourself to just records - now is a good time to review inventory as well. Conduct an audit to see if the information you have on file matches the inventory you have in stock, and look for any damaged or devalued inventory in addition to breakage and theft.

Last but not least, consider sending your customers a holiday greeting. Brainstorm ideas that will stand out from the crowd, such as a greeting sent around Thanksgiving or New Year’s or a coupon for future purchases. This keeps your business top of mind with customers during the busy holiday season.

The end of 2016 is fast approaching, and with it comes the need to wrap up this past year’s activities and prepare for 2017. You don’t have to do everything at once, but a little advance work will make the transition to the new year easier for every member of your business.

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