End of year checklist for small businesses

End-of-year checklist for small businesses

As the year nears its end, it’s the ideal time for small businesses to reflect on the challenges and successes of the past year. It can be easy to get caught up in the madness of the silly season, going on holiday and thinking that everything will all be fine when you resume business in the new year. However, the last few weeks and days before everyone’s out-of-office emails get turned on are when SMEs should be effectively wrapping up the year and preparing their businesses for a prosperous new year. A good starting point is an end-of-year checklist, which covers every aspect of your business, if you’re unsure where to start we’ve put together the ultimate small business end-of-year checklist.  

10 things to tick off your end-of-year SME checklist:

1. Review your financial goals

If you’ve been operating for two years or more, chances are you’ll start every year with financial goals you’d like to meet. The end of the year is the ideal time to take stock of your finances and reflect on these goals. If you broke up your goals into quarterly goals then review whether you were able to meet them. Use these financial goals to strategise and map out your next year’s financial goals, sometimes it’s okay to reach for the stars but make sure these revenue goals are at least vaguely achievable.  

2. Put together your financial reports  

Hand-in-hand with your financial goals are your financial reports. Before you close off the year you’ll need to run all your financial reports so that you have a good idea of the bigger picture.  

At the end of the year, it's important to evaluate the financial standing of your business. You can use a specific accounting software or system to create a financial report. This will include an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement. The income statement, also known as a profit and loss statement, is an effective way to determine the current economic position of your business and predict its future. If the profits are lower than anticipated, you may want to consider making some alterations as the new year commences. If the gains are more than expected, you might want to make some larger investments which you can claim for depreciation in the future. It is always advisable to consult with an accountant before any big purchases to make sure you have enough money and to get guidance on the matter.

3. Verify your vendors  

Things can be a bit all over the place at the end of the year, especially when it comes to updating all your vendors’ information and making sure you actually still use them. Use this time to audit each and every vendor, if some of your vendors are costing your business too much money then evaluate your vendor relationships and look for opportunities to negotiate better deals in the new year. During the auditing process, ensure you update and verify all of the vendor’s contact information. Be sure to add any new vendors to this list you may have forgotten.  

4. Get your employee information in order  

If this year has been about growing your team or allowing more of your team to work from home, you might need to do a data overhaul when it comes to updating all of your employee information. This could include anything from cell phone numbers and personal email addresses to physical home addresses and payroll information. While you are in the auditing mood, make sure to use this opportunity to update the employee’s access to any software programs or computer systems.

5. Take inventory of business equipment, supplies & stock

No matter if you’re a retailer, construction business or marketing agency all small businesses need to take a physical inventory of their equipment, supplies and stock. If you’re a retail business, use this time to determine what products you have on hand, and how much stock is available for sale. Doing a physical inventory is also a great way to identify any discrepancies in your records, which can help you avoid losses due to theft or inaccurate data. The best time to do a physical inventory is at the end of the year, in preparation for the new year so you can plan out your purchases and stock levels. If you aren’t a retail business, but still own/lease office equipment and supplies, you’ll need to use this time to take a record of everything. This will include making sure all your office equipment and supplies are operational and in working condition. Tally up your office supplies like computers, printers, desks etc and if needed place orders for more items in the new year. If you don’t have a designated person in charge of inventory, then gather your team and make sure you count and record everything on your online systems. This may take some time, but it's well worth it for the peace of mind it can bring to any small business.  

6. Invest in cloud computing software  

If you haven’t yet invested in cloud computing software, it’s best to do it before everyone leaves the office and goes offline. Cloud software is one of the easiest ways to improve your operations. If you are currently using a computer system for your accounting, point-of-sale systems or employee information, investing in cloud software will mean you are able to buck up your systems automatically. If you are looking for cloud content collaboration software then anything from Google Drive and Sharepoint to Apple iCloud to Dropbox will do the job. Cloud computing software provides access to data and programs from anywhere, anytime, so you can stay connected and productive. It also ensures that all data is secure, meaning you don't have to worry about data breaches or security threats. Finally, cloud software is cost-effective, as most services are available on a subscription basis. This means you don't have to make a large upfront investment, and you can scale up or down as needed.  

7. Give your social media & website an audit  

As this time of the year is all about reflection, use it to go through your social media profiles and website with a fine tooth comb. As a small business that may not have heaps of marketing budget, your website and social media platforms serve as a sales funnel and retention tool. It’s often the first port of call for your consumers when they engage with your brand. SMEs can often let their websites and social media platforms fall by the wayside, when things get busy these can often be the first things that are neglected. Your marketing channels are vital in creating brand awareness, improving brand reputation and allowing your consumers to easily interact with your company. Your website needs to be regularly updated, but if you’ve forgotten to give it attention use December to make a note of all the things you’d like changed so in the new year you can task your website development team to fix it. Over the festive season you should definitely maintain a regular social media content calendar, and be sure to schedule these in advance.  

8. Focus efforts on HR  

Were your team feeling a bit stretched this year? Use the end of the year to examine what areas of your business could’ve done with extra hands and which parts of your business are over-resourced. For teams that don’t need as much time and energy, look at repositioning those team members into other roles within the company. If you don’t have the budget right now for a full-time employee, look at a post-graduate intern to help with some of the admin tasks. For employees who have been with you for a year or longer, use this time to reward your team for all the work they’ve done. This doesn’t always need to be monetary, it could be an extra leave day, a flexible work schedule or even a small team celebration. Monetary incentives are also a great idea, and you can think about what each year’s incentives should look like for employees. Rewards and incentives are a great way to boost company culture and employee satisfaction as you head into the new year.    

9. Tally up the big & small wins  

Small businesses are often so manic that they forget to take note of the small & big wins. Look back at the year and make a list of all the business successes. It’s often quite surprising for SMEs how many wins they missed while they were putting out fires. Your employees and your customers want to know about your successes and how they were part of making these happen. Spend some time collecting, sharing and celebrating all the achievements over the last year. Put everything into an excel spreadsheet so you can compare it over the years and track your year-on-year success. Use the data to create social media posts about your achievements, and send it out to your customers in their monthly newsletter, and most importantly shout it from the rooftops in your office, it will definitely end the year on a high note.  

10. Set new business goals  

Last but not least, wrapping up the year often means that you’ve gone through all your financial reports, your team’s suggestions and customers’ feedback – so you have a good idea of how to prepare for the next year. Since you’ve already assessed whether you’ve met your financial goals or not you can use this information to strategise for the next year. If you didn’t achieve what you expected to in the last year, look at why things may not have worked out. Financial goals are not the only goals you should be setting for the new year, management goals which include new hires and company culture and marketing goals which include social media awareness and public relations efforts are all just as important. Once you’ve strategised and written down all of your goals, create an action plan and present it to your team in the new year. If any of your goals require financial assistance, it’s also the ideal time to apply for business funding so that you can kickstart the new year on the right foot.  

Yes, the end of the year can sometimes be daunting but following a very manageable checklist can ensure you are feeling ready to tackle the new year.  

For more tips & tricks for SMEs visit our resources hub.  

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