This article contains affiliate links, because I was going to recommend this to you anyway and I may as well get paid for it, yes?
Wreaths, snowmen and… taxes? Booooo. Dealing with the administrative stuff isn’t fun but with a little effort now, you worry about all that candy on Valentine’s day instead of whether you should have written off a little more of your expenses last year. Here are five things you must do before the end of the year to set yourself up for success in the new year.
1. Get your books in order.
If you’ve been sitting on this for awhile because you think your brain may implode, it’s a good sign you should just get started. Set a timer for 15 minutes and tell yourself that’s your only commitment. If you can’t do something that’s good for your business for 15 minutes, maybe it’s not the right business for you or your heart just really isn’t in it. The problem is that DIY bookkeeping happens maybe once every few months and is overwhelming, but a bookkeeper can cost you hundreds of dollars each month. The best in-between solution I’ve found is Bookly, which allows you the best of both worlds- you have access to bookkeepers who handle some of the work and you do a little yourself, keeping you accountable but without the high price tag of a 1:1 service.
2. Is it time for you to become an S-Corporation?
If you have no clue what an S-Corporation is, read this article. If you are thinking about becoming an s-corporation (sometimes called just an ‘s-corp’), this is something you’ll need to elect in the beginning of the year in order to start paying your payroll taxes and filing properly with the IRS. This week, try to find a list of ten accountants (aka CPA) you could use. I suggest Amy Northard, but local options might work better for you. Next week, contact them and see how you could work best with them. And the week after, set up an appointment and let them take it from there.
3. Time for a plan.
For the first six months of my business, I flailed around throwing things at the wall and hoping some stuck. I had no systems, no plan, no strategy and no team. Fortunately, my businesses are ones that solved a real need, so there was at least a steady stream of revenue to support me as I grew, and became more wise about managing a business. My biggest problem was that I was so afraid to implement the wrong plan that I just didn’t have any plan. In hindsight, it would have been much better to have SOME kind of plan than none, even if it was wrong or bad or whatever. At least I would have had some kind of concrete jumping off point rather than just floating around aimlessly. Hopefully, you’ll create a plan that involves some product or service launches, monthly and quarterly focuses and maybe even an editorial calendar for your content on any blog or social media presence you have (or would like to have).
4. Contracts, you need ‘em yo.
I’m like a broken record. If you think you don’t need a contract, read this article. If you have wised up and think you need one or have one but think it could be better, then yes, all this is true. Grab a template, customize it to your needs and if you already have one, take 15 minutes to actually read it (when was the last time you did that?!) to modify anything you need to. It may be a great time to think about changing your packages as well.
5. Survey your audience and clients.
At the end of the year, we all tend to be in a reflective mood as we think about what has happened, how we have changed, how we have grown and what we are looking forward to next year. Take advantage of this mood by sending out a brief survey to your clients, email list, instagram followers or posting one in a facebook group if you have none of the above to figure out what products and services you will offer or change next year.
The end of the year should be filled with lots of parties, quiet tea time, books and family/friends. It should also be a time when we take a little break from our businesses, and by thinking about these five things now, we can set ourselves up to be fully in these fun life experiences instead of wondering what’s going on with our business next year.