Each new season brings some type of change and seasonal specialties to look forward to. For fall, you might think of pumpkin spice, sweaters, fall foliage, apple picking trips, and the quickly approaching year-end holidays. A lot happens in the last few months of the year, so it’s easy to blink and realize December 31st is upon us.
Fall is a great time to regain control of your business and focus on what you have accomplished, and what you still need to work on, before year-end hits.
Reflect on What Has Happened this Year
Before you can do any future planning, it’s important to look back on the year and think about everything you’ve done. How does what you’ve accomplished match up to what you set out to do?
Did you offer a promotion that went particularly well? Was there a period where business was slower than projected? Did you get around to setting up that website you planned? There are some goals you probably knocked out of the park, but maybe there are a few you haven’t gotten around to yet.
The intent of this reflection is not to beat yourself up or give yourself permission to relax, but understanding how you measured up and what you have yet to accomplish in the year is important—not only might it alter some of your plans for year-end, but you might take away some learnings that make next year’s planning more impactful and realistic.
Make a Business Plan for the Next Four Months
The next four months will probably pass quickly, especially given the many holidays and events in the mix. Start thinking now about any promotions you could offer to get those holiday sales in—with so many holiday sales and specials happening, you’ll want to start thinking ahead so you can stand out from the competition.
Don’t forget about Small Business Saturday, which is the Saturday immediately following Thanksgiving. This is the best time of year to make your small business shine in the midst of big-box Black Friday deals. There are plenty of resources available online to help you make the most of the day. Spending a little time for a thoughtful promotion now is better than throwing something together at the last minute and risking consumers passing you by.
Prepare For Year-End Payroll Tasks
While not as much fun as preparing a fun year-end promotion, you’ll want to start preparing for the payroll and tax items that will land on your year-end to-do list. Maybe you send your employees a reminder to verify the information on their W-4’s now so when you are busy prepping W-2’s in a few months you’ll have all the information ready to go. This final quarter is also a good time to start gathering receipts or any information you might need for filing taxes when the new year hits. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about year-end activities or seeking advice on how to handle your taxes, this is a good time to get established with an accountant or bookkeeper so you can get help before their busy season kicks off.
Complete a Financial Inventory
In a perfect world, you would be following a business and personal budget every month. However, managing that on top of everything else can sometimes be overwhelming. Before year-end hits, spend some time looking over the finances for your business and your personal life. Since it’s a busy time of year, it’s necessary to have extra cash on hand. If you haven’t been saving for goals that you set, don’t throw in the towel and venture on a spending spree, but spend some time researching some ways that you can cut back and boost your finances.
Focus on New Goals
It’s never too early to start thinking about areas you would like to improve for your business and goals for the following year. After reflecting on the last year’s accomplishments, use the analysis as a jumping-off point for your new goals. Maybe you want to increase ROI by 10% or attract ## new customers in the first quarter. Whatever your goal may be, it’s nice to plot them out ahead of time and begin mapping out a strategy for conquering them.
The fresh start of fall brings the opportunity to start fresh in your business. With the ‘back to school’ frenzy still lingering in the air, it’s the perfect time to hit your own books and do some prep work for year-end so you can start the new year in a good place.