by Art Piccio . December 14th, 2011
By now you would already have laid out plans for next year, or will be fumbling around trying to figure things out. If you’re in the latter category, we’ve come up with a few quick tips on things you should think about when planning for the New Year.
We’ve touched on this topic several times in the past. It does bear a lot of repeating, especially for anyone running their first business. The most important part is answering these four questions:
1. What is your goal?
2. What needs to be done to achieve your goal?
3. How do you plan to accomplish what needs to be done?
4. Having considered all this, is your goal realistic?
For a lot of entrepreneurs who are just learning the ropes, figuring out this part can be insanely difficult. There’s absolutely no way we could even begin to cover all the bases in such a short article, but you will have to prepare the following for your accountant: your profit and loss statements, your balance sheet, a comprehensive list of customer transactions, a concrete idea on your actual expenses (your accountant may ask questions), and a short summary on how your business is doing- the shorter the better.
Those are just the absolute basics. You will likely need to prepare more than just this, especially if you do business in different states or internationally.
You will also need to take note of the deadlines your accountant will give you. As early as now, you will need to know if you have to submit anything before December 31. While the tax year in the United States starts April 15, preparing your taxes early will give you plenty of time to catch up in case you’ll need to come up with more money than you thought you’d need to.
This goes back to our earlier discussions on goal-setting. Creating a budget is all about setting goals. Monetarily realistic ones. Budgeting also means you have to be a bit of a gambler too, so you’ll have to be sure you set aside enough to cover any losses you might reasonably expect could happen.
This one is actually you should always be doing regardless. However, we might not always have the time to figure things out, and the approaching New Year, with all its promise of new possibilities might just be the thing to remind you about what’s really important. Most small businesses may want to look at finances and project management as areas worth looking into. Another one you might want to look into is your marketing channels or how you acquire your customers and contacts. As a general rule, all of these can stand to be improved, no matter how big your company is.
Actually, it would be great if you could have a meaningful plan in place for the whole year. But since the further into the future you go, the vaguer things get, it might be pointless to plan too far ahead. If nothing else, you just have to be sure you’re never left without a plan of action- EVER.
Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.