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Small Business Tips

Small business year-end housekeeping

Dayna Steele
Group of diverse business people talking in a meeting

After this week, you will be hard-pressed to get much done for the rest of the year. Most of December is usually a wash when it comes to getting anything accomplished. And, with Thanksgiving coming so late this year, there’s even less time to get much done. So, take this time to wrap up some things, check on some things and send your staff off for the holidays.

Use up that budget

Did you use up your budgets this year for marketing, advertising, supplies, events, whatever you are allocated money for each year? If you don’t use that money, many companies won’t let you carry it over, and they may even reduce your budget next year. Use up that money before you lose it.

As a conference speaker, I get hired more this time of year than at any other time. Often, it is for speeches late in the following year or even the year after that, but they ask to pay me now. This action never made sense to me until someone explained it – they needed to show that money was put to good use.

Now, don’t spend money just to spend money but do get the things you have been putting off. Where will you spend money next year, and can you do it now to protect your budget? Maybe purchase supplies you know you will need early next year or start booking things for next years’ big event or conference and place the deposits now. It’s also an excellent time to pay debts and clear out outstanding accounts payable.

Get organized

Take advantage of what may be a slower time for your company to start going through tax records and gathering what you will need in early 2020. It’s easier to fix many issues now rather than waiting for the new year – especially if it applies to your 2019 taxes. If you haven’t already made an appointment with your tax professional, CPA or bookkeeper, see if they can fit you in for a quick overview. If not, make yourself a note on your calendar in early fall next year to make that appointment next time.

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Have a year-end meeting

Have a year-end pow-wow with your team and discuss what worked this year, what didn’t and big ideas for next year. Have some fun with this. We used to do a thing at dinner with our kids that we called Three Good Things. We would go around the table, and each family member would state the three highlights of their day.

Let your team do this with their three favorite things from the year. It makes for a very positive meeting and can be eye-opening for managers as well. Be open-minded and receptive to all everyone has to say (no prompting). It will give your team something to think about over the holidays, and they may even come back in the new year with some great fresh ideas.

Use this opportunity to not only pat yourself on the back but hand out accolades to the team. Sending everyone off on a high note almost always guarantees people ready to go after the first of the year.

The team member, leader, is talking about the outstanding year-end results.

Set goals

After you meet with your team, you should have a clearer picture of what is working, what isn’t working, and where your team members fit best. It may be time to move folks around. It may be time to add or drop new products.

This vision can also guide you to one big goal for the coming year, one for each quarter, and maybe even a few smaller things to achieve in the first month of the year. Let your team contribute to this process. After all, they are the ones on the front lines.

De-stress your team

Closing out the year is the most stressful time of year for many. Don’t make it worse, trying to cram everything into a few days before the holiday break. Is it essential? Can it wait until next year? That’s just about two weeks from now!

Give everyone a little bit of extra time off, or at least let them leave early a few times during the holidays. Everyone is trying to get so much done at this time of year; a little generosity on your part will go a long way towards their well-being.

Stop and think – why are you working between Christmas and New Year’s – is it crucial to your career or business? Study after study shows that happy, well-rested people are more productive. And, more productivity means a better bottom line for you. Unless you are in retail, you aren’t getting much done anyway at this time of year. Just think, you could save on utilities and more if you just shut down for a few days.

Reconnect with your people

Last, see those cute little kids in the picture on your desk? Those are probably yours. Stop working. It’s time to spend time with your family, loved ones, friends, and neighbors. Make plans now to dedicate quality and quantity time to them over the next few weeks. Rest and fun are marvelous for a brain to function correctly and successfully.

Then, you are ready to rock 2020!

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