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Start 2020 Right - Year End Checklist for Small Businesses

Every project should close off with a bang, and every financial year should be wrapped up neatly.

That goes for businesses as a whole too. As we bid goodbye to this fulfilling year and ring in a hopeful 2020, it’s important for businesses to tie up any loose ends to start the new year off on a cleaner slate.

But what exactly are these loose ends? Here are some of our year-end business tips and resolutions for 2020 you may find useful to use as your year-end checklist.

Review sales and marketing efforts

Don’t let the thought of conducting a marketing or sales strategy review come off as daunting. Matters not the size of your business, a review can be as simple as sitting down with your employees and discussing:

“What worked best?”

“What didn’t?”

Which campaign saw the best results - and why? If you’re actively running email newsletters, which headlines resulted in the highest open rates, and how are you going to double down on those in 2020?

Speaking of open rates, one good tip is to first identify and compile the key metrics you’ll be using to analyze results. Try to look beyond surface level metrics like revenue alone. Think also of things like qualified leads and conversion rates, or lower customer acquisition cost.

While you’re on that page, what metrics have you not been tracking in the past year, and would it be helpful to start tracking them?

Digital declutter and spring cleaning

Just as we spring clean our homes, our workspaces shouldn’t be left out either. Restock the pantry, clean out the mess of files, and clear out your cluttered desk.

Come 2020, you’ll be greeted with an environment that puts you in a fresh new headspace to make your best work.

This applies in more than just the physical sense too. Think back to the entirety of your year - what mundane tasks ate up more time than you’d like to admit? Perhaps it’s time to digitize and automate everything that can be digitized and automated.

There’s a simple formula to go about this, and it starts with asking yourself this question: “Which area of my business has not yet been exposed to cloud technology?”

Be it accounting, payroll, HR or inventory management - there’s a cloud platform for every system, and migrating over to them can truly streamline your workflow in every sense.

Safer data security, better collaboration and long term cost reduction. SMEs have a lot to gain from implementing cloud technology, and there’s certainly no better time to do it than the year end.

On the other hand, clutter isn’t just messy unorganized files in your computer or your storeroom. It’s also procedures and work habits that may hinder your company’s workflow from being all that it can be.

Here’s a hint. Too many meetings.

Review financial statements

Not all business owners are at the stage where they’re able to have the luxury of an accountant, let alone an in-house accounting team. And that’s perfectly fine!

At the very least, your balance sheet should show that your current assets will be enough to meet your obligations in the following year. This is called your current ratio (current liabilities divided by current assets).

When looking at your Profit and Loss Sheet (P&L) on the other hand, it can be helpful to look at the past few years instead of 2019 alone.

How much did the balance change from the previous year? And what was the primary driver behind the change?

While we’re on the topic of your business’s finances, make sure to create your budget for 2020, as well as financial projections to give you a better picture of where your business may come to be.

If it applies to you, remember also to make any big business purchases you’ve got your eye on within the year to maximise deductions!

Prepare for Year-End Financial Audit

Your company’s financial statements will need to be audited and then submitted to SSM within 6 months from your respective financial year end, together with the tax submission to LHDN.

If you’re running a small business in Malaysia, make sure you know this! For the not-so-accounting savvy, this is a simple slip-up - but one you don’t want to make.

The thought of auditing your company accounts may not spark joy, but being well-prepared can certainly make the dreaded ordeal a lot less daunting. Here are some tips to do just that:

  • Follow up on any outstanding payments, address and file all invoices

  • Ensure all journal entries are accurately recorded

  • Verify reconciliations before closing the books

  • Document any changes in your business and operations throughout the year

Time for the New Year!

Often, employees come back to work with the lull of the holiday season still trailing behind them. Be it operations-wise, sales-wise or marketing-wise - by having a plan in place, you and your employees will have a clearer picture in mind for 2020.

So before you clock out for that precious family time, perhaps take a couple moments to:

  • Dust off that business plan

  • Rethink your mission statements

  • Set SMART goals for 2020 (e.g. go cashless, growth plans for opening a new outlet, or create a new product)

With all that done and dusted, time to celebrate all the accomplishments, and toast to all that was done this year.

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