It can be really difficult to find time for your business during the holiday season. Many people focus on other things during the holiday season; and for good reasons. It is a great time to kick back, relax, and enjoy time with your friends and family. However, ignoring your business in between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be detrimental to the success of your business. There are so many important business tasks you need to accomplish prior to year-end and when they don't get done lack of time is typically to blame. You need to make sufficient time for your business during the holidays and here is what you should be focusing on.
Define Critical Events
Below is a list of critical events I believe you need to address before year-end. I could not fully focus on my family during the holidays if these items were not complete. Attending to these items before year-end allows our business to hit the ground running each new fiscal year.
Getting your bookkeeping in order before year-end is important. You should review and tidy up all of your questionable transactions. You want your books to be updated and accurate to help you with the next step of creating a budget for next year.
You also need to get your bookkeeping to your CPA for review before year-end. This is a critical step for a few reasons. First, your CPA can help you properly code any questions you have. Second, the books will be cleaned up and ready for a quick and efficient tax return. Lastly, you will get a rough estimate of your tax liability. If there are any tax advantageous moves to be made you need to do them before year-end.
Create a Budget
It is vitally important to create a budget for next year before year end. You should create your small business budget based on several different factors. First, you want to consider your current year financial performance. You need updated and accurate books (see step 1) in order to help build your budget.
You should also consider any major business changes that you are aware of. If something has happened with the economy in general that directly affects your business, make sure to build those effects into your budget.
Lastly, consider any major changes that you are planning for the upcoming year. If you know you are going to hire some new employees or make major purchases be sure that is reflected in your budget.
After you have considered all of these items carefully you need to blend your past financial performance, with your goals, and also any major changes that you are aware of to come up with a logical budget. After you develop a budget, be sure to enter your budget in QuickBooks to make budget vs actual performance comparisons simple in the coming year.
Review Strategic Plan
Another important task for year end is to review your strategic plan. If you have developed a strategic growth plan for your business you can't just write it and tuck it away in a drawer to collect dust. It is important to pull it out a few times throughout the year and read it. Are your goals still the same? Are your goals still feasible? Have any major changes taken place that have an effect on your strategic plan?
Don't worry if things have changed drastically, that does happen. More important is to realize that you need to change direction in your business to succeed and hit your performance goals.
Now that you have created a logical budget and reviewed your long-term goals you need to communicate with your team. If your team is not on the same page with you on where you want the business to go you are going to fall short of your goals. Communicate your budget and sales goals with your sales team and critical managers. Review changes to your long-term goals with partners and key members of your management team. Clearly communicating your goals to the right people will help you reach them.
Calendar Critical Events
The hardest thing about getting things done during the holiday season is that it is a busy time on a lot of different levels. If you don't put these items on your calendar they are never going to get done. Things always seem to come up during the holidays. In addition to running your business you need to worry about a lot going on in your personal life. Start on these items as early as possible, but not too early. Ideally you are starting to schedule some of these things in November so that you ease your stress at year-end. You can get a lot of push back from employees that you need help from when trying to schedule these during a busy time of year. All you have to do is let them know how important these items are to you and why they need attention prior to year-end.
There are many benefits of making time for your business during the holiday season. First, you are going to feel good about getting everything done before the end of the year. This will allow you to focus on your family during the holidays and not be distracted by your business.
Next you are going to have a clear vision for next year. Nothing is worse than starting a new year behind on everything and no idea where you really want the business to go. Working on this checklist will give you a strong and clear business direction for the upcoming year.
Lastly, you can focus on executing on your plan rather than planning it once the new calendar year starts. By making adequate time for your business during the holidays you will be way ahead of your competition. Rather than catching up on your books, building your budget, and reviewing your long-term goals you can focus on execution.
The start of each new year you should be focused on hitting sales goals, keeping your business on budget, and aligning your business with your long-term goals.