Today is August 2nd, and it seems too soon to think about 4th Quarter planning, but this business coach knows the importance of year-end fact checks and action steps for your small business. Now is the time to protect yourself from unnecessary financial loss and the disappointment of going into another new year, feeling that you haven’t achieved your goals.
Allow me to tell you a story.
One entrepreneur’s business took off during her second year of coaching with me. In addition, her husband started a company of his own, which grew quickly and substantially. Their 2022 combined household income was three times what it had ever been. This year, both businesses continue to flourish.
I always remind my fast-growing business clients to meet quarterly with their accountants to double-check numbers, plan spending, and ensure their earnings are appropriately taxed. However, working with a business coach is a new experience for most clients, and they don’t always realize the importance of a quarterly financial checkup, so many small business owners neglect to heed this advice. They are well-meaning, but things get busy, and important meetings get placed on the back burner. As a result, my client just got hit with a state tax debt of $10,000 for 2022. That was manageable, even though it was disappointing. But it wasn’t as upsetting as the $100,000 IRS tax debt notification she received two days later!
Why did this enormous tax debt happen? Because the client’s accountant had adjusted quarterly taxes at the end of 1st Quarter but not since. Scheduled meetings would have prevented these shocking tax debts seven months into the following year. Sure, these taxes need to be paid one way or the other, but you can imagine the infuriating surprise of an unexpected bill of this size. It’s better to pay taxes on a schedule than to receive a shock like this one.
Business Coach Advice: Don’t let that happen to you!
Now is the time to delve into operations, bookkeeping, goal assessment, and future planning for your business. I often advise my clients to schedule two or three days away so their time is free of interruptions and distractions. Book yourself into a lovely hotel just far enough away from home and work to keep distractions at bay. Tell everyone, including employees, friends, and family, that you will check in once at the end of the day and are otherwise unavailable. Use this time to follow the checklist below and complete what you can.
Important tip: Also, schedule an end-of-day massage and at least one decadent meal somewhere nearby!
Here is your 4th quarter checklist.
Begin now to clean up your 2023 plan and go into 2024 feeling good about yourself and your small business. The 1st piece of business coach advice on this list should be obvious by now!
Schedule a 4th quarter meeting with your business accountant.
Your accountant will know what to talk about, but here are a few suggestions:
- Ensure there are no tax code changes that will affect your business.
- Double-check your tax withholdings.
- Ask if you should increase your taxable spending.
- Review payroll to see if year-end bonuses or pay increases are possible.
Check on your inventory history and plan for future sales.
- If you carry inventory, be sure that holiday stock is on order. Allow time for delayed shipping and out-of-stock inventory.
- Do a review of the current year. Where did you fall short on supply? Plan for those months during the upcoming calendar year.
- Will you add new items for holiday gifting? What new product line ideas do you have for next year?
Revisit your other 2023 goals.
Are there remaining goals on your list that hold the possibility for completion yet this year? If so, forgive yourself, schedule time to work on them, or, better yet, think of someone to delegate them to, even if it’s a 1099 contractor. Be realistic about your goals; otherwise, you will let yourself down repeatedly. Of course, if lack of completion is an issue for you, hire a business coach to help you manage and eliminate this issue.
Review operations and documentation.
Have operations run smoothly in 2023? If so, congratulations! If not, any number of things could be to blame.
Plan for documentation of your primary processes and procedures in 2024. The lack of training materials is usually a significant problem for owners who see a lot of operations issues. Again, the main complaint about the documentation process is time consumption. I always tell my clients to imagine how much more time they’d have if they didn’t have to deal with a plethora of mistakes and oversights. Documentation isn’t only for training purposes; it serves as a guide in each job role. These materials give you a tool for effective employee reviews and dismissals, and it keeps your organization running smoothly.
What else is essential to know about clear and thorough documentation? It adds value to your company. This collateral is considered proprietary information, and should you ever sell or seek to be acquired, there must be processes in place before anyone takes you seriously.
Also, review staffing needs. Will you require an additional headcount or freelancers in 2024? If additional payroll is something you need to consider, add this to your accounting discussion. Schedule time on your calendar to define the job role and get your onboarding plans in place. This is another area where a business coach could be essential to the process.
Consider automation for 2024 or 25.
Customer Relationship Management tools are about more than just managing client relationships. These money-saving tools are a powerful means for running your business efficiently. A customized CRM will reduce errors and oversights. Your notifications to prospects and clients will go out on a timely basis. Your CRM will keep all correspondence branded and consistent, and it will track your job progress, flag issues, and be your project manager. Some will even integrate and track your inventory.
Some contractors specialize in customizing just about every CRM on the market, and you’ll likely find a list of preferred vendors on the CRM builder’s website. A contractor’s fee is well worth a reasonable investment. Do your best to work this into next year’s budget, but shop around for your contractor!
Create or revisit your 4th Quarter marketing plan.
Preparing a marketing calendar in advance with the big-picture strategy broken down into monthly, weekly, and daily bite-sized action steps is always a great idea. If you haven’t done this before, work with your marketing person or business coach to create your marketing calendar for next year. This task is a great 4th Quarter activity.
For now, consider your sales goals for 2023. Have you fallen short or exceeded your projections? Either way, it’s time to revisit or create marketing initiatives to achieve the current plan or continue to surpass your initial goals. Try something new or build upon what’s been working. If you set your sights on improving operations, realistic goals, and a solid marketing plan, you can and will increase profits in 2024. Who knows? You may be able to add revenue to 2023; it's not too late!
Book your hotel or getaway location today! If you’re so inclined, email me a few pictures, and I’ll include them in a follow-up blog later in the year!