It’s the end of the year, and you’re multi-tasking like crazy. Generating sales, closing out the year, tying up loose ends, preparing for the start of next year, and—dare we say it?—squeezing in some much-deserved time off are just a few of the things you might be juggling.
And yet, experts say there are definitely some things you should be doing now, some before the end of the year. Some others, you can do after the start of next year. And the easiest way to make sure you cover them all adequately is checking off to-do items, one by one, on a list.
The Center for Productivity suggests a year-end checklist specifically for small businesses. Contributor Debbie Gilster offers a two part list: Things small business owners should be looking at yet this year and things they should be looking at after January 1, 2014.
Things to do before December 31, 2013
Review your P&L statement. Do you have the cash to still make an anticipated purchase that could net you a tax advantage?
Look at your loan accounts and tie up loose ends, if needed.
Revisit your accounting system to make sure all your 1099 information is correct. Contact vendors if necessary.
Where do you stand on year-end bonuses or gifts? Ask your accountant whether these should be made now or after January 1.
Review benefits that may need to be reported on W-2’s, reimbursement for moving or education expenses. Consult with your accountant on this one, too.
Can you squeeze in a physical inventory? If so, adjust your accounting system accordingly.
Prepare a detailed list of all the company’s accomplishments for the year. Then share it with your employees and thank them for their contributions!
Make sure you have completed and current written business and marketing plans. These are complementary but different.
Same for your annual budget. By December 31, have a comprehensive and current budget in place for 2014.
Re-check everything on your website. All the links should work, and if you sell online, your checkout process should be quick and easy.
Things you can do after January 1, 2014
Reconcile all your accounts.
Check your entries in Petty Cash, especially for purchases made in 2013. Check entries paid for with personal funds.
Review printed year-end reports that should include, at a minimum, your P&L statement, balance sheet and customer sales sorted by dollar amount.
Work with your accountant on things like depreciation entries, adjusting entries for tax liability accruals or pre-paid expenses.
If you do these yourself (and many don’t)—print and mail payroll forms, 1099s and the 1096 that goes to the IRS!
For another perspective, entrepreneur and Fox Small Business contributor Nellie Akalp suggests that business owner’s end-of-year checklist include six steps to ensure your business’s legal fitness as you head into 2014. The six are:
Incorporating or otherwise changing your legal structure, e.g. to an S Corp or LLC.
Closing inactive businesses. There are formal legal steps to take if the business has been registered with the state.
If you’re a corporation or LLC, keep it in good standing by holding an annual meeting.
Same with filing an annual report. Depending on the requirements (these vary by state), failure to meet this reporting deadline can result in penalties and late fees.
For corporations or LLCs, filing “Articles of Amendment” are required to record company changes.
Review your estimated tax payment for 2013. Based on your YTD gross earnings, adjust your January 15 payment as necessary to avoid over- or underpayments.
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What’s on your end-of-year checklist? How are you tying up loose ends for this year and preparing to start 2014?