Your Small Business Checklist to End 2023 Like a Pro
The weather’s changing and the days are getting shorter: 2023 is winding down.
But before looking ahead to 2024, let’s end this year like pros, with our finances in order, our support systems—digital and human—energized for the new year, and a deep appreciation of everything we’ve learned these past 12 months.
Ready to get started? Use this checklist to help you wrap up 2023 right.
1. Conduct a 2023 Year-End Review
Did you set financial goals in 2023? Did you hit them? Or did you get so busy running the day-to-day that you didn’t take time for long-range planning?
Whatever your results, now is the time to look back over 2023 and think critically about what worked and what didn’t. Did you launch a new service? Learn something new? Adopt a new technology?
Think of it as giving your business a performance evaluation. Look at what worked and figure out how to repeat those successes. And, of course, identify what didn’t work so you can avoid a repeat.
2. Examine Your Finances
It can be hard to make the time to look at your finances, but it’s essential to understand your business’s performance.
Start with your income statement to see how profitable you’ve been over the past year.
Then look at your balance sheet to get an idea of the overall health of your business, including your debts and assets.
Finally, your cash flow statement will show whether you have money to invest in the business, and whether outstanding invoices are affecting your ability to grow.
3. Review Your Tax Liability
Try to meet with a tax accountant to review your year-end tax-saving options. When you do, ask if your business is entitled to any tax breaks or incentives. And don’t forget to ask about SEP IRA, traditional IRA, or other retirement account contributions that can reduce your tax liability.
4. Review Trends Shaping Your Business
Are you curious how artificial intelligence (AI) might help—or threaten—your company?
Unfortunately, there is so much hype around new technologies that it can take time to understand what they truly offer.
The best way to discover whether AI is friend or foe is to try it. You can start by reading this short overview, “How AI Can Transform Your Business.” Then experiment with ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, Microsoft’s Bing Chat, or others to see for yourself what they can do.
Or consider taking a free online course. The University of Pennsylvania, the University of California, and Harvard all offer free classes on AI, which should give you a solid, objective view of the technology.
What about social trends? Are more of your customers working from home? Or from the office? How does that affect the products or services they might buy from you? Are your customers concerned about environmental issues and the businesses they work with?
Thinking about these things now can keep you from being caught off guard in the coming year.
5. Audit Your Website, Social Media, and Technology
When was the last time you checked your website to ensure it was up to date? Business financial services company OnDeck suggests that you think of your site as a living thing, meaning it must always be fresh and relevant.
The end of the year is an excellent time to review your site to keep your business information—like pricing, scheduling, or inventory—current and to consider adding new customer reviews or success stories.
Then look at your social media. Look at your posts the way a customer might. Are they consistent? Do they create a positive image of you and your company? Importantly, is social media bringing in business?
What about other technologies? Can AI help you with marketing or other tasks, like writing the first draft of social media posts?
Are you using technology to interact with your customers? Consider the ways you communicate with, schedule, educate, and bill your customers. A simple app like Index by Pinger (link) enables you to send text responses to missed calls, automate appointments, keep customer notes and communicate more easily and efficiently.
Finally, when was the last time you backed up your important data, including the info on your computers and mobile phones? Now is a great time! The few minutes it will take is nothing compared with the nightmare of losing important customer data or communications.
6. Invest in Yourself and Your Employees
Like all small businesses, your employees, vendors, or contractors are critical to your success. Consider holding a morale-building event, like a party, to make everyone feel appreciated and valued. These don’t need to be big, expensive affairs. Even small events can make people feel good about being on your team.
Also, consider career development for yourself and your employees. There are a variety of online courses on finance, sales, marketing, and leadership that can help you develop new skills and become better at what you do. Many, like those offered by the Small Business Administration, are free.
And of course, the end of the year is a natural time to show your gratitude for the support you’ve received over the past 12 months. As Pinger CEO Greg Woock said in his post Why Gratitude Matters, “Every accomplishment is the result of some sort of collaboration, so let your collaborators—your customers, partners, and employees—know how much you appreciate them.”
7. Read a Great Book
Need some business inspiration? Looking for fresh ideas about marketing, sales, or management? Then consider making time to read a book (or listen to an audiobook) while you’re wrapping up the year. Check out “5 Best Books for Small Business Owners: Recommended Reads for 2023.”
8. Give Yourself a Break
We’re finishing a crazy post-pandemic roller coaster of a year. With conflicting economic news breaking daily, higher prices at every turn, and some people returning to the office after living on Zoom for a few years, it’s been 12 months of constant change.
And you survived! So, congratulations to you and your colleagues, whether they’re employees, partners, or vendors. You’ve all earned a moment to pause and feel good about what you’ve accomplished.
Reward yourself by scheduling a long weekend or even a vacation. Either will help you avoid burnout, and you’ll return refreshed and recharged.
So, there you go. Hopefully on top of everything else, you can enjoy the holidays with family and friends and get a little downtime before jumping into 2024.
For more, visit the Index Small Business Resource Center.
Jim Monroe is an author, business leader, marketing and product strategist. He is passionate about helping young managers be successful by avoiding common mistakes. His latest book on management is “Don’t Be a Jerk Manager: The Down & Dirty Guide to Management.”
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