Fourth quarter small business checklist

Published 4:54 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015

By BOB VAN LOAN / Guest Columnist

As 2015 moves in to autumn, what can a small business owner or manager do to prepare for the last quarter and make sure the New Year starts off well?

Here’s a quick checklist to help you finish strong and start 2016 at a fast pace.

-Look at your profit and loss (P&L) statement – Know where you stand now, rather than after the first of the year. If you have more profit than expected you may want to consider a major depreciable purchase. Talk to your accountant if you are not clear of the depreciation rules. The Helena Business Association recommends Essential Solutions ( and Jones & Associates ( for expert guidance.

-Start planning for your client holiday gifts and cards – Order client holiday gifts and cards now so they arrive in time. Clients love to be thanked and invited back.

-Create budgets for 2016 – If your fiscal years coincides with the calendar year, start budgeting now. Easy to use templates for budgeting and other business purposes are available at

-Clean up your email list – Are there people on your list who haven’t responded or opened an email all year? Now might be the time to clean up that list and purge inactive users.

-Perform a website audit – Check all the links and auto responders on your website to make sure they’re still working. Check for expired offers or promos and pages that are no longer relevant.

-Record your year-end mileage – If you use your vehicle for work, write down your year-end mileage so you have it handy when it’s time to meet with your accountant. Detailed trip records are even more useful for audit purposes.

-Make a copy of your current year calendar – Save a PDF report of your entire year.

-Backup your files – Assemble all of this year’s files into a single folder dated 2015. Send a copy to a cloud backup such as DropBox, keep a copy on an external hard drive separate from your computer, and keep another copy on your computer’s hard drive.

-Have a strategic planning session for the New Year – Now is a great time to meet with your leadership team, consultants, advisors and staff to help plan the future of your business. Feedback from trusted stakeholders is invaluable. Thoroughbred Strategic Services (972-897-4919) can help facilitate this process.

The fourth quarter is very busy and it is never too early to begin thinking about and documenting what must get done.