The new year is a popular time to make resolutions about your personal life, but many business owners also use this time of year to make important business decisions. From prepping crucial tax documents to readying that new company initiative, there are various tasks every small business owner must undertake to ensure the coming year is a profitable one. Put the following items on your to-do list to set yourself up for success.
1. Create a List of Deductions
The small business tax burden can be a weighty one, especially without an employer around to pay half your contribution to Social Security and Medicare. To counteract the effects of the self-employment tax, small business owners need to take advantage of all possible deductions.
In anticipation for the 2016 tax filing season, companies might want to consider investing in potential deductions this year, such as new office equipment and continuing education courses for employees. Consider hiring a tax preparation professional who can help you maximize deductions. From marketing costs to auto mileage, there are many deductions of which you might not be aware, and a good accountant is well worth his or her price tag.
2. Finalize Your Health Insurance
Providing employees with health insurance helps ensure that your team remains healthy and able to function at top capacity throughout the year. With this in mind, savvy business owners take time to review their health insurance provider information at the start of the new year.
According to Healthcare.gov, businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) workers that don’t provide health insurance may be subject to Employer Shared Responsibility Payments. If your small business hired a slew of new employees in 2015, it’s important to assess your health insurance obligations for the new year.
Additionally, small business owners will want to ensure that their family’s health coverage remains in good standing. Depending on the income of your household, you may just qualify for a tax credit in 2016.
3. Create Annual Reports
As a business owner, you’re probably accustomed to creating weekly and monthly reports detailing sales figures and losses. However, the beginning of the year is a good time to generate an annual report that focuses on both the past year and the one ahead. Annual reports feature information on the coming year as well as financial data from the previous one, and are useful for showcasing to prospective lenders or investors. Components of an annual report include:
- Balance sheets
- Income statements
- Cash flow statements
- Financial highlights
- Summary page
- Relevant analysis
- Auditor’s letter
By understanding what happened in the past, you can make the best decisions about the company moving forward.
4. Look at Your Retirement Fund
In the competitive world of small business ownership, entrepreneurs are often more focused on short-term successes than long-term financial planning. The new year is a great time for small business founders to adjust their focus and assess their current retirement savings.
If you aren’t putting much money aside currently, consider increasing your contributions for the rest of 2016. Additionally, business owners should assess possible savings plans for their employees. The Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA allows for higher contribution limits than the Roth IRA. As of 2015, employees can contribute up to $12,500. As an added bonus, by starting a SIMPLE IRA in 2016, your company may qualify for a tax credit of $500 per year for the first three years.
5. Inspire Your Team
Small business owners know that their employees are invaluable to achieving long-term success. With that in mind, taking time to convene with your team is a key entry on any small business’ to-do list.
If you didn’t hold annual performance reviews in December, then January and February is a great time to accomplish this task. Along with letting employees know where they could improve in the new year, take a moment to recognize their contributions to the company and ask about their goals for the future. In some cases, you can move jaded employees into new roles at the company rather than lose them to your competition.
Just as it’s important to touch base with employees about their performance each year, it’s a good idea to share information about your plans for the company. To keep workers engaged, take time to discuss any new project initiatives or product launches planned for the year ahead. The goal is to ensure that everyone at the company is working together toward a common goal.
Resolve to stay on top of your company’s to-do list this year, and keep your business from becoming just another statistic.