1. Finances - Review & Analyze Financial Statements
Your year-end review starts with getting your financial books in order. Whether you have an accountant, utilize a cloud based accounting solution like Freshbooks, or manage the books yourself (or, like most, some combination of the three), your year-end business review is much easier when you’ve practiced good record-keeping throughout the year.
A Balance Sheet is a key financial document that will give you a good sense of your current position at year end. An Income Statement will provide a view to your financial performance over time with a summary of what activities (operating and otherwise) incurred revenue or expenses. You will also want to prepare a simple Cash Flow Statement summarizing inflows and outflows for operating (revenues and expenses), investing (i.e. assets purchased or sole) and financial activities (such as loans or loan repayments).
2. Check in with your Goals & Targets
Chances are, whether formally or informally, you started the previous new year with some business goals for the year ahead. This could include specific and measurable business performance goals such as sales targets, or aspirational goals for your business such as expansion to new locations or establishment of key partnerships. You make have set personal professional goals for instance to complete an online course or certification.
Now is the time to check in, contrast and compare. Some key things to consider:
- Reflect on why particular goals were set. Do you still feel these objectives are as important as they were a year ago? Why or why not?
- Were the objectives realistic and attainable?
- What steps did you take through the year to focus on meeting or exceeding those targets?
- Which targets were met or exceeded? Was it challenging? Easy?
- Which targets were not met, and why?
3. Reflect on Successes and Learnings
This is a seemingly simple but actually difficult exercise that starts with two questions:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
The purpose of this exercise is to acknowledge and celebrate key achievements and milestones. It is also of equal importance to honestly acknowledge and reflect upon the tough lessons learned. Making mistakes is an important part of running a small business and can be rewarding and enlightening provided you take the time to reflect on them.
4. Taxes - Prepare Tax Documents for the Coming Year
Whether you opt to do your own taxes or hand it over to an accountant, you will need to prepare your documents ahead of time, and the sooner it’s done, the better.
Some examples of key documents you or your accountant will need include information slips and tax documents (such as T4), tax records such as filings from the previous year, and of course all financial statements, records and receipts.
5. Plan for the Year Ahead
Once you have taken a thorough look back at the year that has passed, it is time now for the fun part - looking forward. The year ahead is full of promise and opportunity for you and your small business. Set your goals and targets for the year ahead, review and update business plans to ensure they’re current and relevant.
We have put together a recommended list of New Year’s Resolutions for Your Small Business but of course, this is a personal process unique to every individual and business. Take the time to come up with resolutions that are meaningful to you as a small business operator.