4TH QUARTER CLEAN-UP
Business owners have 4th quarter tasks to complete
By Jim Kendall
This column originally appeared in the September 28, 2015 Daily Herald
With three months to go, there’s time (if you move quickly) to turn 2015 results from so-so to good or, preferably, good to great. In fact, whether your business has 80 or more employees or is just you and a laptop, there are tasks to be completed before the year runs out:
* If the holidays are your make-or-break period, your plans and promotions almost certainly are in place. Still, double check employee schedules, marketing and advertising materials, deliveries and the like. Be prepared to tweak.
* Review employment rules. Talk to your HR officer, a knowledgeable human resources advisor or an outside employment attorney. Benefit rules change. Overtime classifications and pay levels are up for change. Uncle Sam and his 50 state counterparts, all hunting for more tax dollars, are looking more closely than ever at independent contractor relationships.
* Talk to your tax advisor. Reason number one: Make certain you’ve done, or are scheduled to do, everything possible to minimize tax liabilities. Reason two: Review likely 2015 results, which will help you plan 2016.
* Spend some time strategizing 2016. Is next year the year you expand, maybe by extending your product lines or introducing a new service, purchasing a competitor or creating an alliance with a company in your industry? Is it time to think about selling, a process that often takes a year or more to prepare?
Your tax advisor should be involved. So should your marketing-sales people, your management team and those outside the business you talk with and trust.
* Do you have the right people in the right places? You can get help assessing staff and needs, but that assessment should be connected to your 2016 (and beyond) plans.
Not to raise what can be an uncomfortable issue, but: Got women in your management team? Racial minorities? The goal is not to fill someone’s idea of quotas but to make certain you have the best people on your team.
* Make certain your banker knows who you are, what your business does and what the bottom line looks like.
* Find some friends. Put together a breakfast group made up of non-competing business owners, folks who collectively have varying expertise they are willing to share during monthly bacon-and-eggs discussions.
Take a slightly more formal step and create an advisory board. Independent of a traditional board of directors (if you have one) and without fiduciary responsibilities, an advisory board typically meets quarterly. Your benefit is what you hear from trusted outsiders who know your company.
* Network. E-networks are easy and save the trouble of actually talking to people, but face-to-face contact still seems to be the best way to relate to people who can help you with business ideas – and whom you can help.
* Rake the leaves, clean the gutters. Someone has to do these tasks, too.