Back to Basics Business Checklist

Kathy Simpson

This achievable small business checklist will help you cross your Ts and dot your Is so you can reach your annual goals.

Get Your Finances in Order

  • Review your revenue goals. Where do you stand now in relation to the goals you set for the year? What action do you need to reach the end line by December 31?For Gail Hill Williams, a business development consulting executive with ACI Consulting Group in Danbury, CT, it’s imperative to start now to reach her company’s financial goal.“We know that the lion share of our business revenue comes in the last quarter, so I evaluate our business by looking at where we are in billables year to date and what billables are outstanding,” she said. “I also look at what we need to bill to grow our business at least 20-30% over the previous year.”
  • Do a tax check. Get your records in order and review your plans to take advantage of tax deductions and credits. Meet with your tax professional to ensure you’re up to date on the IRS’s ever-changing programs that may help lower your tax liability.
  • Plan to maximize your tax deductions. Make any big equipment purchases before the end of the year in order to take advantage of tax write-offs for 2013. Also budget contributions to tax-deductible retirement plans for you and your employees.

Ramp Up (or Streamline) Your Operations

  • Follow through on operational goals that you’ve set for the year but haven’t accomplished yet. For instance, would a new order processing system or workflow improvements yield new efficiencies? What training opportunities might help your staff be more effective in their jobs? Identify and implement practical measures that would improve your day-to-day business operation.
  • Take an inventory of materials you’ll need through year end. Office supplies are typically on sale during the back-to-school season. It’s a good time to stock up on essentials.
  • Prepare for the possibility of extreme weather ahead. September and October are at the heart of hurricane season with winter not far behind. Shore up your business for weather ahead.
  • Plan for the holidays. Holiday time is a busy time of year for many small businesses. If it’s your peak time, begin preparations for holiday promotions and sales now and get started on your efforts to hire seasonal staff. No matter what the nature of your business, you may want to budget for gifts for clients and employees, make arrangements for your staff party, and plan for all the other perks that make the season bright.

Step Up Your Marketing Efforts

  • Check in with your best customers just to say hello and let them know you’re thinking of them. Make it a point to fulfill a daily contact quota, such as five calls per day.
  • Develop two or three “big picture” campaigns to reach prospective customers and generate leads. Try something new. For instance, if your business typically does direct mailings, see what kind of results an email campaign delivers. Offer product and service demos or incentives.

Remember, the early bird gets the worm. By staying ahead of the game now, you’ll be better able to meet whatever changes (and challenges) come your way.

What recommendations do you have for a business needs checklist? Share your ideas in the Comments section below!

These materials provide general information, and should not be construed as specific financial, insurance, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult a qualified advisor for individual guidance in these matters. The Hartford shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, punitive, or exemplary damages in connection with the use by you or anyone of the information provided here or for link to or use of any website referenced herein.

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