What are you proudest of in 2012? Did one of your innovative marketing plans succeed? Did you land that big client you’ve been pursuing for years? Did you escape litigation because you were sufficiently protected by the business insurance you were smart enough to purchase? It might be helpful (and cathartic) to make a list of your accomplishments and failures in the past year and use it as a guide in your never-ending journey to do better as a business owner.
As you’re looking back at the year, here are some things you can still do to make for a better business next year:
Protect your business.You might have escaped the year without a major tragedy like Hurricane Sandy or even a business-breaking cyber attack, but you never know what the New Year will bring. Especially vulnerable are businesses that implement new technological advances like cloud computing without taking the proper precautions. You’re opening your business to danger if you haven’t thought of every angle that could present a risk. As part of your year-end actions, go over your business with a fine-tooth comb to look for areas of exposure. Better yet, call in a business insurance expert to show you what coverage you might be missing.
Cut your business taxes.Here’s what can you still do before the year ends to minimize your tax bite:
- Contribute to charity. Keep in mind, you can donate not only money but also cars and used equipment.
- Contribute the maximum allowable to your retirement plan.
- Take advantage of an expanded Section 179 expensing deduction and make a major business purchase before the year ends. Do you need new computers, a new copier, or other equipment?
- If your business operates on a cash basis, you can accelerate your expenses and defer some income.
- If you have any employees and provide health insurance for them, you may be eligible for a tax credit going back to 2010. Visit the IRS website for more details.
Get your payroll taxes in order. ADP Payroll Services suggests making sure these elements are in order:
- Work with your accountant or company’s payroll service provider to confirm that all tax ID numbers on payroll reports are up-to-date and correct.
- Confirm W-2 and 1099 information with independent contractors and employees.
- Submit any payroll adjustments for yourself or your employees.
- Report all missing wages or miscellaneous income/tax credits.
Get organized.Don’t start the New Year off with your business in disarray. Clean up your office, get your files in order (both paper files and computer files), clean out your email inbox, and organize your business receipts. Who knows? You might uncover some business ideas you forgot about or discover a tax deduction you forgot to take.
Review these areas, too:
- Staffing: How is your workload? Did you really need to hire this year, but couldn’t swing it financially? Check your budget for the next year to see if you can hire part-time help; if not, consider adding interns.
- Marketing: Did you accomplish what you set out to do in 2012 as far as marketing your business? Did you attend the networking events you planned to or run the social media campaign you wanted? What kind of ROI did you enjoy?
- Technology: Is it time for a new operating system, new computers, or new devices to get your business mobile? How about your website? If it’s frightfully outdated, make a plan for a redesign in 2013.
Take the time to assess your business now, and get off on the right foot in 2013.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.