The act of planning in business is often seen as something that must be done for the long term or the somewhat distant future. However, at this time of year, it is extremely important to plan for the few remaining weeks as they can certainly have a significant impact on your business for this year as well as the coming year. For those of you that own and operate non-retail businesses – the remaining weeks of 2016 can still be extremely productive and should be used to make sound decisions that can have both an immediate as well as a long term impact on your business.
First – most small businesses operate under a fiscal year construct that is tied to the calendar. This means that the end of December will also mark the end of the reporting period for your business. These final few weeks could be the most important to you and your business in terms of either understanding or actually reducing your tax liability for the year. If you have had a great 2016, then you may want to consider some steps that could help to reduce your tax liability by either accelerating some planned expenditures or deferring some potential revenue generating activity. If you planned to upgrade or purchase new equipment in 2017, you may want to consider acquiring those pieces before the end of the year and leveraging the tax savings that may be applicable to your situation. Meet with your accountant and see if acting (i.e. spending) now could be financially beneficial to you and your business.
Second – avoid the temptation to simply coast through the end of 2016. The common refrain is that nothing is happening between mid-November and the end of the year so we will just pick back up after the new year. If this time of the year is in fact slow for you and your business, then take full advantage of the free time and get out and network. Check in with your key (if not all) clients, touch base with your referral sources, and look to build as many new relationships as possible. If you met someone earlier in the year that could be a good prospect or potential resource for your business, but did not have the time to follow up, then now is your chance. The likelihood of them being available is greater as well so book the meeting and start advancing the relationship.
Finally – as the year does come to a close, take some time to be reflective and look back on 2016. Think about what worked and didn’t work in your business. Do this while the impact from those decisions is still fresh in your mind, assess the good and the bad, the mistakes and the successes. There is a lesson in each and you will want to leverage those as you get ready to open your doors on the first business day of 2017.
Mark Butler is the Area Director at the Savannah University of Georgia Small Business Development Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-651-3200.