10 Essential Things Every Small Business Owner Should Do Before the End of the Year


It’s hard to believe that 2018 is coming to a close! Many small business owners are already thoroughly immersed in Q4 prep; however, it is always possible they could accidentally forget to include something important on their to-do list. One forgotten item from the agenda could set your business back, or even have the potential to penalize it entirely next year.

Let’s try to keep that from happening to your company. If you haven’t already taken care of these 10 items, start adding them to your to-do list now to tackle before 2019 arrives:

1. Submit delayed filings or dissolutions if necessary

This only pertains to a select number of small business owners: those who want to start a small business or formally close one.

For those who want to incorporate or form a limited liability company (LLC), it’s a good idea to look into a delayed filing. Delayed filings allow you to file your paperwork now and set an “effective on” date, typically a month or so out into the future. Your business formation, by that date, should be fully approved and formed. However, this is not by any means a requirement. You may wait to file next year, but may have to wait longer than anticipated. January is a busy month for processing incorporation paperwork—you’re starting a business along with many other entrepreneurs!

Dissolutions, on the other hand, formally dissolve or close the business with the state. A business owner can’t put up a “closed” sign on their door and expect it to be inactive as a result. The business is still considered to be in existence with the state. Articles of dissolution must be filed with the Secretary of State. Doing this ensures that the business is officially closed and the company no longer has specific obligations (like paying taxes or state fees) to fulfill from there on out.

2. Meet with an accountant or bookkeeper

I am not a financial professional, and it would be impossible for me to give any entrepreneur financial advice. However, what I can do is recommend small business owners schedule in an appointment with an accountant or bookkeeper now.

Why have a meeting now instead of later? Meeting with a financial professional allows you to get all your ducks in a row. You can use this time to review financial statements, ask questions about deductions, and establish a timeline for your tax deadlines (you may pay taxes on a quarterly basis, for example). Meeting with a professional now will leave you better prepared to face both the new year and its tax season.

3. Revisit your inventory

What sold and what didn’t for your business in 2018? Take stock (literally) in what you have in and out of stock. If you don’t offer physical products for sale, check in with the services you do offer that sold versus those that didn’t. You may use this time to determine a strategy for 2019 that focuses more on items in demand, and cut those items that take up too much money or time.

4. Prepare to hire

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to hire full-time employees, now is the time to get ready to bring on new team members.

Remember, however, this is a fairly time-consuming process. You want to find employees who have the skills to help your business succeed, and not hire for the sake of doing busy work. Keep this in mind while drafting up your job descriptions and interviewing potential candidates.

Preparing to hire also means obtaining certain documents. You will need to file for an employer identification number (EIN), file Form I-9, withhold taxes, and report information about your new hires to the state. Additionally, you’ll need to obtain workers’ compensation insurance and establish compensation plans within your business.

5. Conduct end-of-year reviews

Do you already have employees? Whether they are part-time or full-time, schedule time to meet with them for year-end reviews.

Discuss their performance over the year, and chat more about their future in the company. They might be ready for a promotion or could use a little extra mentoring within their department. Encourage them to provide you with feedback about the business, too.

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6. Determine if you should change legal structures

Maybe you started 2018 out as a sole proprietorship, but are ready to make the switch to a different entity. Do you want to become an LLC or S Corporation?

If you’re unsure of what to do next, it’s recommended that you meet with a legal professional. They can answer questions you have about changing your entity type and guide you towards the legal structure that would be your best fit.

7. Update your social media presence

Does your Twitter handle have an irreverent tweet from months ago still pinned at the top? Do your Facebook cover images need a refresh? Is there an old Pinterest account you’d like to dust off?

You can use some of your time right now to update the most pressing social media items. Then, create a strategy for 2019 on how you plan to create, share, and engage with content for your business.

8. Alert your team about upcoming changes

Whatever you do next, keep your team in the loop! This may include your employees, advisors, mentors, or anyone else who is associated with your small business and its day-to-day operations.

9. Revise your business plan

Remember when you first created a business plan for your company? Go back and review it. How are you doing? Are you hitting all the short- and long-term goals and objectives you had for your business? Has the management at your organization changed at all? Are your financial projections still in sync? If noticeable changes have occurred, edit your business plan to reflect them.

10. Look back at the items you accomplished in 2018

A lot can happen in a year—both good and bad. While I have no doubt you dealt with hurdles along the way, I am fairly certain that you experienced some fantastic victories, too. Take a moment to reflect on those achievements, share them with your team, and be proud of what you did this year.

Then, buckle up for 2019’s wild ride, and be prepared to outshine yourself in the coming year!

RELATED: The One Word You Need to Say to Move Your Business Forward This Year

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