My friend Steven Leibold, San Diego Business Advisors, is an experienced tax accountant whose Ten Step Annual Checkup for Business Owners was our topic for last week. See what you may need to work on.
- Review all systems, policies, and procedures – Basically take a look at your business and see what is working and what is not working for you. If there are pieces of equipment, or procedures you are following that are out dated or not being used, no reason to keep them around. Improve upon what is working well, fix items that are worth fixing, and simply letting go of things that are not working is all part of your businesses success.
- Review your business insurance coverage – Things change. Coverage you bought 3, 4, 5 years ago or longer may not be adequate to protect you. Take a look at the goods and/or services you provide. Is there something new you’ve added that may not be covered by your existing policy? Keeping your insurance agent current on your operations is a good way to ensure you have adequate coverage.
- Review your business banking relationships – Find out if there are any services offered by your bank that you could benefit from and are not currently using? There are many efficiencies that can be discovered and benefited from by using the services that are most beneficial for you.
- Check the effectiveness of your marketing – This is something I know I have started working more on. Are your methods of marketing effective? Do you have a system in place to help track where your leads are coming from? Do you reward your referral sources? Is your content interesting to draw inquiries and putting a call to action out there to your consumer? Engaging a marketing professional may be the best business decision for the new year.
- Evaluate your team – How effective are your employees /Independent contractors? Can you engage them further to drive up your revenue, or perhaps even reduce your costs? Your employees are a very valuable asset.
- Examine all vendor relationships – Every so often, it is appropriate to shop around. Making sure you are receiving the best value for your dollar. If you have vendors you use often and do a lot of business with, perhaps you can negotiate better pricing. Perhaps additional value added service can be included in your pricing or there are services/products they sell you just were not aware of.
- Get a pulse on your customers – Consider a customer satisfaction survey. Your customers’ feedback is extremely valuable and can help guide your future decisions. Over the years many of the services or delivery methods I use have been driven by customer comments. Small give backs that help your customer and enhance their experiences means volumes for your business.
- Review your business tax strategy – Yes that means you should annually touch base with your Tax person to make sure there are no new opportunities available for you. An hour or two of time can mean thousands of dollars in tax savings if the appropriate conditions fit. Perhaps it is a change in entity, a new retirement plan, establishment of a family trust or family LLC, or any other move that may benefit you not only from a tax perspective, but an asset protection perspective.
- Clear out the clutter – Tidy up your documents. You only need 7 years of tax statements. Clean them up and destroy what you don’t need. If you have a retail establishment or an office where you meet your clients, keep it tidy. I do everything I can to keep my conference room where we all meet in excellent shape. It looks and presents well and your clients/customers do appreciate it.
- Update succession planning for your business – At some point you will want to retire. That will hopefully involve selling your business. However, succession planning also involves short term absences. What would you do if something happened to you and you would not be able to work for a period of time? I have unfortunately seen businesses come to an end due to an unexpected illness. The business ended up being sold for pennies on the dollar or even worse, they simply disappear. Proper planning can help prevent that from happening.