It’s the season for jack-o-lanterns, spooky adventures and tricks and treats. Just like kids hitting the neighborhood in their favorite costume, business owners are also looking for treats this time of year – and trying to avoid ‘tricks.’
Following are eight ways you can use October to position your business for year-end success and avoid unpleasant surprises:
1. Review year-end purchasing needs now – Does your business traditionally pre-purchase necessary inventory or supplies to get in expenses before year end? With supply chain issues currently hitting industries across the board, don’t plan on just waiting until the end of December to purchase potential supplies. Everything from cleaning chemicals to lumber and paper are in short supply and holdups at various port locations will make restocking a challenge in Q4. Investigate options to start your year-end purchasing now, ensuring that you are not stuck without available items in December.
2. Start investigating new tax law changes – Every January brings a slew of new laws and changes to business and personal tax codes. Now is a good time to sit with your tax or accounting team to look ahead to the new year and potential changes that could have a positive (or negative) impact on your bottom line. If pending changes may impact the way your business categorizes deductions or expenses, start planning now how you will modify in the new year to minimize or maximize impacts.
3. Get a jump on 2022 forecasting and employee needs – Q4 is traditionally a time for forward-looking projections into the new year. With continued uncertainty and likely employee shortages, use this time to create projections based on a number of scenarios. What if you need to reduce hours or offerings because of staffing issues? Or, conversely, what if demand spikes and you appear well-suited to meet that demand? Either way, spend a little time to create scenarios now and solutions to match so you are not crunched come December.
4. Don’t miss expiring incentives and bonuses – Many large expenditures come with a bonus incentive or offer, such as subscription services or additional supplies. Have you taken advantage of all of these? If your business has purchased equipment or a large service contract this year, be sure to look back through your records for any unclaimed special offers or bonuses and take action before they may expire.
5. Factor in staffing shortages for paperwork needs – Every industry is facing staff shortages; you’ve likely even experienced this in your own business. Plan on this impacting the time it takes to complete and process necessary paperwork essential to your business operations. Do not wait until the last minute to submit renewals and documentation for vital licenses and other permits required by your industry; many government and regulatory agencies are running processing delays of weeks or months.
6. Start scouting potential supply price hikes and buy in advance – Suppliers typically release new pricing models just before the end of the year. If your company relies on inventory or resale items, reach out to vendors now to see if 2022 pricing is already available. If possible, pre-purchase inventory to lock in 2021 rates to avoid surprises in the new year.
7. Stay current on all business scams – Criminals are always looking for ways to take advantage of business owners. Whether unnecessary warranty sales or cyber security threats via phishing emails, there are countless ways your business may be at risk. Make sure you stay up to date on all the latest scams and ways to protect your employees and livelihood.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an excellent resource specifically aimed at educating and protecting business owners. Visit “Small Business Scams” for the most current information on things such as directory listing and unnecessary paperwork scams, as well as telemarketing and banking/checking fraud risks.
8. Look out for unwanted auto-renewals – Did your business sign up for an annual or trial contract for a product or service you no longer need? One area where both businesses and individuals waste money is unmanaged subscriptions. You may still be signed up for a magazine you no longer reference, an online tool or web database that you have found outdated or even automatic supply reorders. Take some time this month to review everything you have on auto renew — Both on an annual and monthly basis — and determine which items need to be modified or canceled at this point.