Questions My Business Owner Clients Are Asking Me: Year End Tasks

No one likes their year-end tasks – BUT it’s even worse if you have to start the New Year (think “clean slate”) with a bunch of left-over artifacts from the prior year.  Best to get them done NOW – the two weeks after Thanksgiving and before the middle of December when the Holiday Celebration kicks into high gear, the decorations are up, and the family starts to visit…

Here’s my list:

1.         Next year’s budget.  I usually complete a SWOT analysis as well, just to make sure my budget has a “most likely” with an “upside” and a “downside” scenario – complete with targets for the “upside” and triggers for the “downside.”

2.         All year-end tax reporting documents… AHH!  This includes making sure that all employee and vendor records are up-to-date including physical addresses.  If they are w-2 employees or 1099s, the reports are all due at the end of January.  There is enough scrambling going on to get the documents out — don’t need to be tracking down and updating information.

3.         Draft financial statements.  Are your books in order?  Close all those files for this year and open all new files for next year.  Start preparing as much information as you can for your company’s accountant and tax accountant.

4.         Meet with your advisors.  Start with your accountants mentioned above.  Are there any tax decisions that you can make this year to minimize the taxes you owe?  You should have an estimate of your net income since you’ve done #3 above. 

Also meet with your financial advisors and ask the same question about your personal tax situation.  The tax laws have changed during the Biden Administration and you might be surprised by what you owe… Are there ways to minimize the tax payment before year end?  How much money are you leaving in the company and how much will you distribute.  What is the best approach?

Finally, you may want to visit with your banker, insurance agent, and attorney just to make sure that all is in order for both the past year and the new year.  Are there any unaddressed items that need your attention?  There’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night with the sinking feeling that you’ve forgotten something…

5.         Verify vacation schedules with your leadership team.  Make sure that your on-going operations are covered (albeit with a skeleton crew if you’re not selling goods during the holidays) and that a manager is always available to answer customer questions during the holidays.  Someone (you probably know who) will inevitably have an “Emergency” that you must solve.  Make sure your Holiday Heroes are all lined up.

6.         Customer (and employee) Thank You’s!  Call your top 10 customers and thank them for their business (even if you send cards or gifts.  This is personal)!  Ask them about their holiday plans, how their year ended, and what their plans are for next year.  Ask if there is anything you can do to help; since you’ll probably hear some griping about the economy, inflation, and employees, be empathetic.  Finally, make sure they have your cell phone if they need anything.  Wish them Happy Holidays and an even better New Year! 

Duplicate this dialogue with each employee… make sure each knows how important he/she is to the company’s success!

Get these done in the first few weeks of December and then ENJOY your Holidays!  Start the New Year with a new set of goals and a new attitude! 

Let me know if you have other must-do items to add to this list.

Happy Holidays!