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Wouldn’t it feel great to wrap up the year feeling organized and focused? Whether it’s a big decision like locking down financial capital or something smaller like auditing your website, this checklist will have you waking up January 1 feeling ready to take on the challenges of the new year.

Secure Important Information

The end of one year and the start of another is a great time to get your document ducks in a row. Make sure that contracts, financial records, and customer information is not only up-to-date, but also secure.

  • Download files and reports: If you store important documents on a cloud-based system, have an easily accessible backup. Download important files stored on the cloud, saving copies on your hard drive as well a printed copy to file.
  • Backup financials: You’ve collected a lot of critical financial data for your business. Don’t risk losing those files. The golden rule for data backup is to create two digital copies, stored in two separate locations, and one offline copy. If you’ve secured financial capital this year, make sure you have all relevant paperwork organized and filed.
  • File an Article of Amendment: Have you moved this year or altered the structure of your business? If you have an updated business address, changed business structure, or have a new business name, make sure you file an Article of Amendment to reflect these updates. Find your Secretary of State’s office and filing location here.
  • Back up your contacts: If you’re forced to get a new phone, will you lose all your contacts? Back up all contacts, even if that means writing down the most critical contacts on your list. Messy handwriting? This free contact app will save you from can’t read names and numbers.

Backing up and having multiple copies, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to securing your information. For an overview of how to keep your important information secure, start with this guide.

Get Organized

Even though it’s easy to put off, there’s nothing quite like a little organization to help improve efficiency and focus.

  • Declutter your physical space: If you don’t need it, don’t save it─especially when it comes to paper. This record keeping guide from the SBA can help you determine what you need to save and for how long.
  • Create new systems: If you’ve noticed a pattern of disorganization in one particular area of your business, it’s time to regroup and reset. Identify what’s not working and commit to trying it a different way for a month.
  • Review materials: Carefully look over all marketing materials for accuracy checking contact information, pricing, and anything else that might have changed in the last year. Audit your business website by clicking every link to make sure it’s functioning and no error messages are received.
  • Reassess storage: If you’re inventory of product or supplies is low, it’s a great time to reassess your storage before you place your next order. If you’re securing financial capital to make necessary purchases, consider adding new shelving or storage to your shopping list.
  • Look into technology: It might be that investing in technology can help you streamline certain functions in your business. The end of the year is a great time to research different options.

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”

Make a Financial Plan

Make room to evaluate financial goals— and then make a plan. Even if you tackle these tasks in portions, you’ll feel ready for the upcoming year knowing that preparations are underway.

  • Review how you did: Once you’ve looked at your financial performance over the last year, identify which strategies worked. What areas could use improvement? A Profit & Loss (P&L) is a good place to start.
  • Review agreements in place: Review contracts with vendors and suppliers, and revise and/or revamp service agreements with customers. If a contract or agreement is ending with the calendar year, now is a good time to discuss renegotiating.
  • Make a plan: Set goals for the upcoming year, create a cash flow forecast, and a budget for the next 12 months. With a buttoned up plan for managing financial capital, you can focus on other areas of your business.

A strong financial plan will put you on track to get the most out of your financial capital and set you on the path to business success.

Be on Top of Your Tax Game

Don’t let your taxes sneak up on you. Get a head start now to avoid tax surprises later.

  • Check in with your tax professional: Every small business has a unique tax situation. Working with a professional, will help ensure you understand any changes to the tax code that directly impact your business.
  • Know important dates: Here are the tax dates early in the new year that you want to be aware of.
  • Review payroll information: Review annual earnings of full-time employees (W-2s) and independent contractors (1099s) so paperwork is ready for filing. Verify information is accurate and up to date.
  • Organize expenses: Make sure you’ve been keeping track of your mileage, travel, and entertainment expenses. Many business owners can write off these expenses. Here’s a list of the most common deductions.
  • Plan ahead: Starting early can help you avoid these common tax mistakes. Plus, you will have time to determine if you have the cash flow to pay your taxes or if you will need to secure additional financial capital.

Taxes can be complicated and time-consuming. Doing a little prep work as you wrap up your year, will hopefully give you a little tax time relief.

Revisit Your Location

Don’t forget to evaluate your current space and location. As you’re planning for the next year, you can include any upgrades, additions, or relocations that may be on the horizon.

  • Be aware of renewal dates: reapply for needed licenses and permits; make sure your insurance policies are current.
  • Check for safety: Make sure all smoke detectors are working, fire extinguishers and first-aid kits are plentiful, and that your employees know what to do in an emergency situation.
  • Evaluate your current space: Is it meeting your needs? Do you need more or less space? Are there any improvements that you want to make in the new year? Will you have the financial capital to make those upgrades?
  • Know your options: If you’re considering a new location, here are ten things you should know before signing a commercial lease.

Even if moving to a new location is not in your plans for next year, revisiting your space will help create a safe and productive business environment in the new year.

Set Goals for the New Year

Finally, in order to put your business on a path to success, take time to set your business goals for the next year.

  • Review your goals from last year: Remember a year ago? Did you put goals in place for your business? Now it’s time to look back and see which goals you were able to meet and exceed and where you fell short.
  • Look at your competitors: Before you commit to goals for next year, it’s helpful to do a little research into what businesses like yours are up to. You might find that having an eye on your competition is helpful when planning your next move.
  • Set goals that work for your business: The goals you set for your business are your road map for the next year. Take some time now to prioritize what you can accomplish in your business and set measureable goals to guide you. Need inspiration? These goal setting insights might help. Don’t forget to consider if you will need financial capital to reach the goals you put in place.

When you clearly articulate your goals, write them down, and track your progress, you increase your odds of achieving them. Remember that business goals don’t always have to be about up and right.

Take the time now to build a solid foundation for next year, and you will ring in the new year organized, focused, and ready to hit the ground running.

Our mission at Swift Capital is to unleash the potential of every small business by providing them with fair and convenient access to working capital. We harness data and technology alongside personalized human expertise to see the true potential in every business. Did you like this post? Tell us what you’d like to see on our blog. Email us at newsletter@email.swiftcapital.com.

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