With the year winding down, right now is a great time for small businesses to take stock, assess (or reassess) where things are, and make some plans for next year. Here then are my top tips for ending the year on the right note and getting ready for a successful 2012:
Time for a new recipe: I always like to say that it takes a great recipe to make money in a business – you have to put several ingredients together, test, taste, and perfect – and then before you know it, you have a reliable way to consistently make your dough (groan, sorry!).
But where most small business people get hung up is that they create one or two recipes, and then stop. Let me suggest that if you really want 2012 to be a better year, now is a good time to start tinkering with a new recipe. Brainstorm with your team, come up with a few new profit centers for your business (which is really all a good recipe is), create a game plan, and then start testing. You can be sure that 2012 will be a tasty year if you do.
Get a handle on taxes: This is also, of course, the end of the tax year, and as such, the smart small business will prepare now for their filings in 2012:
- If you need to reduce your tax bite for next year (a nice problem to have for sure), then the basic plan is to defer income until after January 1 and accelerate expenses in December. If, for instance, you need new computers, buy them now. And if you can delay receiving some accounts receivables until January, do so.
- This is also the time of year when you need to get your W-2 and 1099 reporting in order. If you are not sure what you need, then check out my pals at Greatland – the leader in 1099 and W-2 filing software and forms.
- Another way to reduce your tax bill is to contribute to (or set up) your retirement account as making payments to one before the end of 2011 reduces the amount you will owe in taxes in 2012.
Finally with regard to taxes, consider hiring a veteran before the year ends. In November the president signed into law the Returning Heroes Tax Credit which gives you a $5,600 tax credit if you hire an unemployed veteran. The Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers a tax credit of $9,600 per wounded veteran whom you hire. And it’s a great thing to do if you can do it.
Spruce up your online presence: Nothing says amateur like “© 2008” at the bottom of your website. Just as you do with your office or store, periodic thorough cleanings are also good for your website. Get rid of old, stale content and post something new. What about adding some video? Post some new pictures of you and the staff. Add some new articles to your site.
By the same token, how is your social media presence looking these days? I need not tell you that, more and more, people are tuning into social media as a way of connecting and making decisions. So, while you need not be totally plugged in, you definitely need some sort of presence on social media sites if you want to be part of the conversation.
Update your forms and documentation: This is also a good time of year to review your forms, documents, employee handbooks, written policies and the like to make sure everything is current and relevant.
A little prep now will ensure that you really will have a happy new year.