10-Item Checklist for Closing Out 2014

Closing Out 2014The end of 2014 is just around the corner. In order to kick into gear for the New Year, there are some things that you should take care of. Here’s a 10-item checklist for small business owners:

    • Payroll

Be sure to make your payments and file any forms that need to be in before the end of the year. It’s important to be in good standing to get your employees paid and have their W-2 forms in on time. Remember to take note of any holiday bonuses or gifts that might not be paid until 2015.

    • A/R Collections

You don’t want to go into the New Year with any open receivable accounts. Do everything you can to collect the money for any unpaid bills. Don’t forget that everyone is going through generally the same processes as you, trying to clear accounts, so be persistent.

    • Reconcile Checks and Transactions

Balance out your cash inflows and outflows. Reissue and void checks as necessary. Having reconciled transactions will help clean up your tax return.

    • GAAP Compliance

In the case that you might be planning to sell your business or seeking outside business funding, you’ll need clean books to show the prospecting companies and/or investors. Line up your accounting processes with generally accepted accounting principles.

    • 1099s

Hopefully you have been staying on top of your 1099s year-round. It’s almost inevitable that you will be asked to hand them out, so collecting as you go is the best way to handle these. If you’re just now starting your hunt for who you need to file for, take note that 1099s are due to recipients by January 31, 2015 and due to the IRS February 28, 2015 or March 31, 2015 if you file electronically.

    • Income Tax Estimates

You may think you have plenty of time to get your taxes in order, but just think about how you thought the same exact thing last year. Tax season always sneaks up on everyone. Start planning now so you aren’t blindsided by any surprises. Identify your tax needs and look for any potential areas where you might find tax savings.

    • Valuations

If you’ve had valuation in the last 12 months and haven’t had anything that would require a new one, this can be excluded from the checklist. However, a 409A valuation refresh is an annual requirement. If you are planning to issue stock options, seeking to value the common stock of your business, or acquired outside funding, a valuation is also necessary.

    • Internal Controls

Even if internal controls is strong as a whole, there may be some weak spots that carry a potential for fraud or detrimental errors. Make sure everything is working properly, under your business plan and according to all regulations.

    • Minimize Expenses

Saving money is making money. Examine your department budgets and see if there are any unnecessary costs that can be cut for the next year. If you can find a better service for less money, change what you have. You are running a business and you need to do what’s best for you and your company to succeed.

    • Review and Refine

Everyone dreads year-end reviews – employees and employers. It could be a little less daunting by planning ahead. Create a schedule and set up times to meet with your employees on a one-on-one basis. The reviews should be more than a discussion and negotiation about how much more money is coming out of your pocket. Think about improvement. Before the meeting, have your employee create a list of what they think they could do a better job with and how they plan to do it. Have them include any projects that they might want to spearhead.

Some managers and owners might be so caught up with the employee reviews that they forget about reviewing themselves or the company. Take a step back and out of your own shoes and do a thorough review of your business. What are your values? Are you still on track to your end goal? If not, why? Should you change your processes or change your end goal? These are some important things to think about going into the new year.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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