It’s never too soon to focus on year-end because it always comes up sooner than expected. I love a good year-end CEO planning session, but it’s planning it right that makes it most worthwhile.
I think it is best to dive right in and talk about the things you can be doing right now. Basically, how you can prepare your finances for year-end.
4 Tips for Preparing for Your Year-End Plus a Bonus Tip
1. Get Your Bookkeeping Up to Date
I know a lot of you have been putting this off. You’ve had a lot of other seemingly more important things to do this year. And I agree, I probably told you before that I don’t always do my bookkeeping every month or all of my financial tasks every month. They sometimes fall behind! But NOW (whenever you might be reading this) is the time to get those caught up!
The way I would recommend you getting caught up right now is to actually start with the most recent month’s bookkeeping. Just start there and then you can stay current. Then moving forward, you’ll do the previous month’s books. So in November, you do October and in December, you do November. In the beginning of January, you do December.
What’s most important is that your bookkeeping is caught up before the end of the calendar year. If not, you are going to pay your tax preparer more to get your taxes done.
You can reach out to us to learn more about us doing this for you. We are currently doing a lot more historical transaction work right now. People want to be caught up before they get to their tax preparers and tax return.
2. Talk to Your Tax Preparer at the End of the Third Quarter or the Beginning of the Fourth Quarter
We always recommend our clients and every business owner, myself included, talk to their tax preparer at the end of the third quarter or the beginning of the fourth quarter. Do this when your bookkeeping is up to date, so they can look at your financial statements and give you a projection of what your tax bill is going to be or if you might be getting a refund. The earlier you know this information the better. After all, if you’re going to owe money, you have the rest of the year to save that money up.
If you haven’t already been saving, or you haven’t been saving enough, we can make adjustments and get you on track.
When your tax preparer gives you an estimate (for the next tax period) in April or when they do your taxes, that’s based on what they think is going to happen. Well, we all know that each year is a bit different from the last so it’s better to have a projection based on what’s happened so far in a given calendar year.
So, take your financial records to your tax preparer and have a conversation with them about what they really think your tax bill is going to be based on the actual results you have had so far this year.
This is also a good time to talk to your tax preparer if your revenue has significantly increased this year. If that happened to you, now is the time to consider becoming an S Corp. It can be beneficial to change from an LLC or sole proprietor, depending on the numbers.
This designation requires you to pay yourself via payroll, which can be a tax benefit for you. (You cannot pay yourself via payroll if you are in a partnership, an LLC, or a sole proprietor.) If you haven’t been doing this yet this year, now’s the time to start and talk with us or your tax preparer. You might need to do some catchup payments as well.
3. Set Your Revenue Goals
We all definitely need to be setting revenue goals for our businesses. We’ve all made revenue goals and had to adjust them mid-year. And that’s okay. This is the time to look at what this year was actually like and make whatever predictions are reasonable for next year. Set those revenue goals and then start to reverse engineer all of the things you need to do to hit those revenue goals.
I always start with the revenue as my goal and then say, “Okay, that means I can pay myself this.” Or maybe you start with your pay as your goal and reverse engineer it into your revenue.
Either one of those options is okay since they are interchangeable. It depends where your pay is currently, but then how many new clients does that mean you need and how many new leads does that mean you need? How much marketing should you then be doing to generate those leads?
Hopefully you have data to back it up. Say you want to get 48 new clients in the new year. That’s 4 new clients a month. So, how many leads do you need to sign up 4 new clients? It may be 8 or it may be more. Hopefully, the data you shows you exactly how many leads you have needed in the past to obtain the number of clients you want. Use that data to back up your goals.
Take the time in the fourth quarter of this year to be the CEO of your business and set those goals. Then reverse engineer to get all of those quarterly and monthly goals for next year.
4. Find an Accountability Partner
Finding an accountability partner is probably the most important thing on this list. Once you have your goals for next year, you can report them to your accountability partner or group. If you don’t have an accountability partner or group yet, find one. They are the only thing that’s going to make sure you hit those goals. I have a blog post that shares how to find accountability partners, so give it a read if you need a little help finding your accountability partner.
These are the four things you must be doing in the rest of this year to end the year on a positive note and to make sure next year is as close to what you plan for as possible. Obviously, we have to readjust when things happen, as past years have taught us. But we can only adjust if we have a plan in the first place. If you don’t have a plan, you are only flying by the seat of your pants all of the time and that won’t be very helpful.
If you are struggling with ways to end your year in a good way and start next year strong, contact us today. We can catch up on your bookkeeping for you, so you never have these struggles again in the future.