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I have acquired many effective time management tools over the years, in fact time management is one of the courses I most enjoy teaching. When deadlines are creeping upon me, I hone in on my daily list, create priorities and I “Eat that Frog”. Really, I have come to relish getting the frog off my plate. “Eat That Frog” is advice from Brian Tracey; his inspirational video provides 21 ways to stop procrastinating and get things done. The video runs 1:29 minutes and can be viewed here.

We find ourselves at the end of the year. For enterprising families there are a myriad of projects to wrap up: inventories to be sold and taken, seasonal celebrations, gifts, year-end bonuses, company parties, snow to be removed and cookies to bake. With all of the activity that transpires between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, Santa’s time management strategy of making a list and checking it twice will help ensure you’ve been diligent about your business details.

Below are tasks that you may want to include on your small business year-end checklist.
Things to do before December 31

  • Look at your year’s goals. Create a list of all the company’s major accomplishments. Perhaps share these with your staff during a year end celebration.
  • Look at your Profit & Loss report. Where do you stand? If you have a larger than expected profit, are there any major purchases you should make now that can be depreciated? Make sure you have the cash. Talk to your accountant if you are not clear of the depreciation rules.
  • Schedule an appointment with your accountant and/or financial advisor, tax time is here shortly, have a conversation to expedite tax savings and year end transactions.
  • Begin to think about year-end bonuses or special gifts. Will you give these this year or in January? The date of the check matters.
  • Make sure your financials are GAAP compliant (generally accepted accounting principles), if not, begin making moves in that direction.
  • Assess your internal controls, check to see that they are working properly.
  • Verify loan accounts and clean them up if necessary.
  • Verify your 1099 information is setup properly in your accounting system. If you don’t have proper information from each vendor, ask for it now, then create a form to use every year.
  • Look for fringe benefits you should report on W-2’s. Some of these could include health and life insurance, transportation subsidies, moving expense reimbursements, educational reimbursement programs, and employee loans you’ve forgiven.
  • Take a physical inventory of your products and make adjustments in your accounting system as necessary.
  • Use up your flexible spending account for health care expenses, if you still have money set aside in this account.
  • Write out your goals and plans for the next year.
  • Create budgets for the next year if you work on a calendar year fiscal basis.
  • Check all of the links on your website to make sure they are active.
  • Check your social media sites. Are they working for you?

After January 1st

  • Reconcile all accounts – bank and credit cards – in your accounting system.
  • Verify you’ve made all entries in Petty Cash. If you made the purchases last year, make sure to use that date.
  • Verify you’ve made all entries for items you’ve paid for with personal funds.
  • Print year end reports. At a minimum you should have a Profit & Loss Statement and a Balance Sheet. Sorting Customer Sales figures by total dollars helps track customer trends.
  • Make depreciation entries. You should have the following information on each item: date of purchase, purchase price, make, model, serial number, year, and whether it is new or used.
  • Make necessary adjustments to entries for accruals of payroll tax liabilities or pre-paid expenses (get help from your accountant).
  • Print and mail payroll forms if you do it yourself (W-2, W-3, 940, 941, 944).
  • Print and mail 1099’s to independent contractors (by 1/31). Don’t wait in case there is an error.
  • Max out retirement contributions. You have until you file your tax return this spring to make 2014 contribution to an individual retirement account (IRA) but 401(k) contributions are only deductible when made in the calendar year.
  • Big Picture Thinking. As you reflect back over the past year, take a moment to dig yourself out from under the minutiae of the day to day activities and think about the big picture. Is your business’ vision on tract? What are your milestones? Where are your weak spots? Is it time for a change?
  • Making a list does not get the job done. Your “to do list”, if tackled, is a proactive means to ensuring a job well done. Prioritizing the “to do list” will help you focus your time on the important things. Strategically placing these items in your next year’s calendar, as something you take care of, or monitor, throughout the year will ensure that the component pieces of your business are ready when the end of the year arrives.

This article was sourced from the Enterprising Rural Families newsletter , an instrument of the Enterprising Rural Families: Making It Work program of University of Wyoming Extension. For further information concerning the Enterprising Rural Families program or online course contact or go to