If you're like most small business owners, this is the most hectic time of the year. Here are four things every small business owner can do to finish 2014 strong.
1. Know which clients owe you money.
You'll find that in your accounts receivables aging report. Your accountant or bookkeeper can print that report for you. Any client that owes you money for more than 20 days should probably be given a gentle reminder as to when payment is due. Remember, the sale is never completed until your business gets paid.
2. Do some year-end tax planning.
Speak to your accountant before Dec. 31. Ask if it makes sense to pre-pay some bills due in 2015 this year, such as insurance premiums, to manage your tax liabilities for 2014. It's perfectly legal and every small business will have a different cash position and tax liabilities so the answer may be quite different depending on the situation of your small business. Also, don't assume your accountant is keeping tabs on this. Ask.
3. Make sure you have enough cash to pay bills in January and February.
In the year-end hustle, we rarely plan for the cash crunch coming in the weaker revenues months of January and February. Project your expenses for these months or ask your accountant or bookkeeper to do the projections. Why? You don't want to be blindsided when your revenues are soft because customers are busy digesting their purchases from 2014.
4. Back up all your electronic files, especially the numbers.
When we're pre-occupied, we forget to do some risk management. Last year, I made that mistake. I was two weeks away from reconciling my entire year's books, when my hard drive and back-up drive crashed. What a painful lesson that was. This year, everything is backed up in the cloud. Does it cost a little more to do this? Yes. But the time saved is incalculable.