For many businesses, planning for the next calendar year begins in the late summer or early fall. While this always seems to come so quickly – it is just over halfway through the year – it’s important that you give yourself and your team enough time to properly plan for the myriad financial considerations that come with the end of the year.
No matter what stage your business is at, I’ve put together a handful of areas you want to be sure are on your checklist to review as you begin planning for year-end and the upcoming year.
Tax Planning and Strategies
Tax Law Updates and the Impact on Your Business
Work with your trusted partners, such as a CPA or tax advisor to review the changes in the tax law and understand how they will affect your business. This evaluation will help you determine your tax strategies including ways to save on your tax bill, when your taxes are due, and how you plan to cover your overall tax liability. Be sure to start this process early, as you don’t want to get down to the wire and realize you can no longer take the best approach forward.
Determine Purchases to be Made Before Year-End
If you anticipate major purchases that’ll need to be made early in the new year, determine if it is a good idea to buy them ahead of schedule so you can take the deduction in your current tax year. Remember to consider other options for obtaining equipment, such as leasing. No matter which route you take, significant purchases may impact tax planning and how you may address your tax liabilities.
Consider Year-End Bonuses or Extra Retirement Plan Contributions
Extra employee benefits, like bonuses and extra retirement contributions, are often a second thought for businesses. However, at this point, you likely have a good idea of how the company’s year will turn out, and what surplus funds will be available for this type of benefit. Consult with your trusted advisors to determine how or whether a year-end bonus could work for your business.
Evaluate Results and Prepare Goals
Compare Results to Projections
Early fall is a great time to start evaluating how the business is performing. Are you ahead or behind on your sales, profit and growth goals? What areas are you doing well in? Where could the business improve? When you review your margins, sales mix and customer base now, you’ll have the opportunity to begin making adjustments and start the next year off strong.
Prepare Your Budget for Next Year
Budgeting season gives you the opportunity to review your current objectives and plan your upcoming goals. Take a look at the financial needs involved in reaching those goals – is expansion or new equipment part of your business’s upcoming year? Consider whether you need to start conversations with your banker and get the ball rolling now.
Revisit Your Business Plan
Remember that your business plan should be a living, breathing document. Whether your plan covers the next three, five or 10 years, now’s the time to review the strategies laid out in your plan. Are they still in line with the direction your business is in? Will you reach your goals sooner than anticipated? If so, how will you make adjustments? As you review this document, one area that is very important to keep top of mind is succession planning. Make sure you’re involving the appropriate advisors and making the necessary plans now, as the most effective succession plans are the ones that are started early.
With these six areas to consider, and the many efforts your businesses is undoubtedly already undertaking, you should be well prepared to close out one year and start the next year off on the right foot. Here are three additional next steps that may help you in this process.