I bet you have a long list of things to do over the next few weeks as we approach 2012. I know I do! But in the midst of the busyness and growing list of to-do’s, I will be making sure I have time to close out my business for the year.
Here are five tasks to complete before you ring in the New Year.
1. Consult Your Tax Advisor
With a few weeks left in December, you still have time to conduct year-end tax adjustments that can help lower your taxes for the year. It may make sense to purchase new equipment, defer income, contribute to charity, set up a retirement plan or even hire personnel. But the first step is meeting with your tax advisor to see what makes the most sense, based on your current status.
2. Thank Your Employees
Thanking your team for their contributions during the year is a great way to end on a high note and gear up for 2012. You can show your gratitude by purchasing gifts for your employees, hosting a company party, giving monetary bonuses, or allowing for some extra time off.
Make sure your staff leaves for the holidays knowing how much you recognize the role they’ve played in the company’s success during the year.
3. Clean Up Your Files
The end of the year is the perfect time to check on open proposals, invoices and projects, and make sure you have a plan for revisiting them after the holidays. It’s also a good time to clean off your desk, purge old and out-of-date paperwork from your file cabinets, and straighten up the files on your computers and servers.
Part of your clean-up process should also include a check on data backups to verify the integrity of your files. Whether you have copies of your data saved to a server, an external hard drive, an online backup service, or any combination of those, it’s worth the time it takes to do a spot-check to make sure everything is working as it should be. Not only will this give you peace of mind that your data is safe, but it could also save your business from disaster.
4. Conduct Year-End Reviews
How did your business do this year? Did you end up where you expected you’d be, or did you fall short? And did you hit the mark where your budget is concerned? Conducting performance and budget reviews for your business is a powerful way to end the year.
While you’re in review mode, you should also spend some time conducting employee evaluations so your staff knows how they did and where to aim for next year.
5. Make Time for Goal Setting
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. Skip the fluffy resolutions and set some SMART business goals for 2012. No, goal setting is not a quick and dirty process, but if you take some time before the end of the year to get started, you will most certainly feel more focused and centered as we roll into January.
Start by brainstorming some ideas on where you want to be in three months, six months, a year, five years, etc. Don’t worry about how you will get there, just write down every possibility — big and small. Then, follow this step-by-step worksheet that will help you set SMART goals that stick.
What will you be doing to wind down 2011 and gear up for 2012?