business owner checklist 2018

As the year draws to a close, now is a great time to polish your strategies and fix the problems that you noticed throughout the year. It is also ideal to step back and study your industry and what your competitors are doing. Internally, however, use this checklist to refresh your business for the upcoming year:

1. Review cash flow and reconcile accounts.

Analyze your cash flow statements (operating, investing, and financial activities) to understand how the money was spent during the year and adjust the budget accordingly. Other statements such as the P&L statement and balance sheet should also be reviewed. Don’t let the debts pour into the new year. Relieve the financial burdens and pay vendors and contractors so you can start the year within minimal debt.

2. Make any end-of-year tax adjustments.

If your fiscal year matches the calendar, you might be able to lower this year's tax burden, by pre-paying some expenses and making sure you are exercising all of the applicable business expenses.

3. Assess your marketing strategy.

New methods of marketing appear several times a year. It is easy to fall into the same marketing cycle you’ve been used to for years, and even easier to be left behind in the latest marketing trends. Regardless of whether you have only yourself, five, or twenty people on your marketing team, be sure to consistently assess the marketing plan you have in place, and make a blueprint for how to improve in the next few months.

4. Take care of your employees.

What better time than the holidays to show appreciation and recognition for your employees? Use this time to measure your employees’ performance and reward or incentivize them for it. Additionally, the beginning of the year is time to prepare for tax season, and you should have W-2’s organized and mailed out by mid-January. This means solidifying new hires and confirming benefits and salary changes.

5. Dissolve if you’re no longer operating.

There are many benefits to dissolving your business within the tax year, including:

  • By dissolving your business before year-end, you’ll no longer have to worry about any compliance responsibilities, including annual reports and state filings.
  • Officially ending a business cuts off unknown liabilities that continue to lurk, such as creditors, lawsuits, and old customers.
  • If you fail to close the business before the year ends, you're likely going to have to pay for taxes for 2019, even if you don't generate revenue.

If you are no longer operating, make sure to dissolve your companybefore December 31st.

6. Reflect on goals and make new goals for next year.

Revisiting your goals is a necessary practice – both long- and short-term. Create a direction for your business by asking yourself, “Did I meet X goal?” If the answer is no, what can you do differently to meet that goal? If the answer is yes, what new goals can you achieve in the new year? Be sure to open the brainstorming session to your team members and partners, as they might provide fresh ideas that you couldn’t think of before.

7. Brag about it!

Although it might seem unnecessary and tedious to gather your company’s success over the course of the year, your customers and vendors will appreciate the impact they made by doing business with you. Include statistics such as the number of employees you hired, the total money raised for a non-profit that your company assisted in raising money for, or even industry-specific information like “cakes baked in the past year” if you are a bakery. Be creative, and you’ll stand out against your competition.

Download a free PDF version of this checklist here.

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