End of the Year Checklist for Small Business Owners

This year has flown by! Are you ready for the next one? Before you jump into January, look over our suggestions for an end-of-the-year business review.

This list can guide your organization efforts and get you ready for growth.

Analyze Financial Statements

It’s paramount that you understand where your company stands financially and how that compares to prior years.  The SBA suggests that you review the following:

  • Profit and loss statement
  • Cash flow statement
  • Balance sheet

If this isn’t your area of expertise, reach out to your accountant or another financial professional to help you analyze the numbers. 

Set Goals

Assess your business goals for the previous year to determine if you achieved what you set out to do. If not, why? Do some digging to see if your goals were realistic and attainable.

If you don’t usually set long and short-term goals, now is the time! Set goals for the next year and map out a plan to reach them. Check out 10 Powerful Steps to Achieve Your Small Business Goals from The Balance Blog.

Review Customer Feedback

Do you have online reviews or a low-tech suggestion box? Your day probably moves at lightening speed but reviewing feedback now can help guide your customer service, inventory offerings and more. If you don’t have a review collection system in place, consider incentives for customers to post on sites like TrustPilot, Google Reviews or Yelp.  A dentist’s office in Southern California is located next to a Starbucks. They offer a $5 Starbucks gift card if patients check in and leave a positive review. Consider a similar strategy.

Check Your Work/Life Balance

How do you feel physically and mentally? If you’re burned out, exhausted and feel overworked, you won’t be the best business owner you can be. Review your day to see if there are any tasks you can cut down, eliminate or delegate. Bringing on an additional employee can help you manage your workload. Physical fitness goes a long way towards a feeling of wellbeing. Most people can fit in a short walk or bike ride each day to get their heart pumping.  Check out our blog post 4 Essential Tips for Avoiding Burnout as a Small Business Owner for actionable advice.

Employee Reviews and Appreciation

Unless you’re a one-man-show, you probably have a team of employees who help you run your business successfully. Now is a great time to do an annual review with each. There are dozens of ways to review an employee formerly or informally. Inc. has an easy to digest article to help you get started if you don’t have a review system in place: How to Conduct Annual Employee Review.

In addition to offering salary increases or bonuses, employee appreciation is important to improve the overall company culture.  If your budget doesn't allow for a holiday party, consider a potluck or letting employees leave early close to the holidays. A holiday gift is always nice. We have suggestions on our blog here: Employee Holiday Gift Ideas for Small Business Owners.

Assess Staffing Needs

If you’re expecting additional business to come your way, look into your staffing needs. Do you need more hands on deck to handle customer service, inventory management, financial tasks or more? Take a look at your business plan and projected growth so you have employees in place when you need them.  Here’s a post from our blog that offers guidance: 5 Hiring Tips for Every Small Business

Consider Professional Freelancers

If you have tasks that don’t require a full time, salaried employee, consider hiring a freelancer or contract employee. Freelancers can preform tasks like marketing, SEO strategy, accounting, public relations and more. Check out this article for more information: Hiring Help: Do You Need an Employee or Independent Contractor?

Explore Giving Back

Giving back to your community or a national organization is a great way to elevate your profile and help a cause you believe in. Whether supporting a local school or sports team, donating to a non-profit organization or collecting items for the needy, you can make a difference.

Look Into Outside Financing

Pull out your business plan – are you on track? You might need to increase inventory, purchase equipment, beef up marketing efforts or hire employees. Low-cost outside funding can help finance growth initiatives.

The first step is to determine how much you need. Work with a financial professional if you’re not sure. Next, look at your credit rating. This is key to get low cost funds when you need them.

Consider an SBA Loan

An SBA loan is known as the “gold standard” in small business loans. If you meet the criteria, an SBA loan has low rates and a 10-year term. Visit the SmartBiz Loans website and enter requested information here. You’ll know in minutes if you’re pre-qualified. Don’t meet initial requirements? We won’t leave you hanging! SmartBiz Loans has launched SmartBiz Advisor program to help small business owners get “SBA loan ready.” Learn more here.

Keep checking our blog for articles to help you run and expand your business. Best luck in the New Year!