A 4th Quarter Guide for Stillwater Small Business Owners
As small business owners wrap up the year, it's important to take stock of where we are and where we want to be. That means evaluating our goal achievement for the year, outlining new goals for the coming year, and planning our holiday marketing strategy. It's also a good time to update our website and social media profiles, stock up on inventory, and review our accounting. And of course, we need to get our tax paperwork in order!
Assessing Goal Achievement for the Year
The first step in fourth quarter planning is to evaluate how we did against our goals for the year. Did we hit our targets? If not, why not? What can we do differently next year to make sure we hit our targets? This reflection is critical to ensure that we're moving in the right direction and making progress toward our long-term goals.
Laying Out New Goals
After reflecting on our achievements for the year, it's time to start setting goals for the coming year. What do we want to accomplish? How will we know if we've succeeded? What resources do we need to achieve these goals? Answering these questions will help us create a roadmap for the coming year so that we can hit the ground running in January.
Planning Holiday Season Marketing
The holidays are a critical time for small businesses. Many of us rely on holiday sales to make ends meet, so it's important to have a solid marketing plan in place. What promotions will we run? How will we reach our target audience? What kind of messaging will resonate with them? These are all important questions to answer as we develop our holiday marketing strategy.
Updating Web Presence and Social Media Profiles
With the fourth quarter comes an opportunity to update your website and social media profiles. This is a great time to freshen up your content, post any new products or services you may be offering, and make sure your contact information is up-to-date. Taking care of these small details will help ensure that your online presence is polished and professional.
If you sell physical products, now is a good time to stock up on inventory so that you're prepared for any holiday sales you may have. This will help ensure that you don't run out of product and have angry customers! It's also a good idea to review your inventory levels so that you can get rid of any slow-moving items and make room for new products.
Reviewing Your Accounting and Tax Documentation
IRS requirements can be daunting, but staying organized throughout the year will make tax season much less stressful. Be sure to keep all relevant documentation—receipts, invoices, etc.—in one place so that you can easily find it when tax time rolls around.
To make things easier on yourself, you might even want to take some time to scan all of your receipts and tax documents, then convert the images to PDFs. That way, you won’t have to worry about one or two important receipts getting misplaced right when you’re sitting down to finish filing your taxes.
The fourth quarter is also a good time to review your accounting practices. Are you keeping accurate records? Do you have a system in place for tracking expenses? Are you invoicing customers in a timely manner? These are all important factors to consider as you wrap up the year. By taking some time now to review your accounting practices, you can save yourself a lot of headaches come tax season.
Revisiting Your Business Structure if Warranted
There are many reasons why you might need to change your business structure—you may be hiring employees, expanding into new markets, or changing your product offerings, just to name a few. Whatever the reason, be sure to consult with an accountant or attorney before making any changes so that you're compliant with all laws and regulations.
The fourth quarter is an important time for small businesses. By taking stock of where we are and where we want to be, we can set ourselves up for success in the coming year. By evaluating our goal achievement, outlining new goals, planning our holiday marketing strategy, updating our website and social media profiles, stocking up on inventory, reviewing our accounting practices, organizing our tax paperwork, and changing our business structure if necessary, we can ensure that our businesses are ready for anything!
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