7 Tips to Ease Your Year-end 2009 and Give You a Jump on 2010

Be proactive so you can assess where your business is at for 2009, and then focus on moving your business forward for 2010.

Yes, it's that time of year…Fourth Quarter, which means it's time for end-of-the-year preparation! So what can you do to lessen the pain? Don't ignore the situation. Instead, be proactive so you can assess where your business is at for 2009, and then focus on moving your business forward for 2010.

Here are seven great tips to help:

1. Review your year-to-date financials. Financials provide valuable business information that should be a critical part of your decision-making. Clean these up so that you'll have good information for internal and external use. Plus, clean them up now so you'll be ready early for tax time!

2. Incorporate an automated bookkeeping system. Get it up and running now so you are ready to use it January 1! If you are using one, such as QuickBooks, take time to review the processes and see if there are any items needing to be addressed or processes you can add to help with efficiency. We all have software that we only halfway use - is your accounting system one of those? Assess how you can improve those systems to make it easier.

3. Train yourself or your staff. Training is an investment that brings returns. Do it now so everyone's ready to kick 2010 off to a great start!

4. Dust off and update your business plan. Now is a good time to assess 2009 and anticipate where the business is headed for 2010. Don't have a business plan? Perhaps now is the time to develop one!

5. Finalize (or start) your 2010 budget. Begin by looking at your anticipated revenues and expenses, then expand the process to other aspects within your business. Using an automated accounting system (see tip #2) will help with this process. A budget is your road map, so get it in order so that everyone's on the same path for success.

6. Review your insurance policies. Things are always changing within your business, and if you've not had an insurance review this year then it's time! Your needs change over time and your insurance should, too.

7. Show appreciation to everyone that helps your business succeed - employees, vendors, customers, friends and family. We are all running 90 mph, so make sure you take time to enjoy life and let others know how much you appreciate them!

Year-end doesn't have to be stressful, and taking time to do some preliminary work makes it easier. It's important to keep things up to date and have a process in place for ensuring that all areas of the business are considered as you move from one year into the next. These seven tips will help you make year-end a pleasurable experience for yourself and those around you. (It's also a great way to kick off the New Year without any excess baggage!)

Pam Newman, president of RPPC Inc., author of Out of the Red, and host of "Unlocking the Secrets of Your Small Business," provides accounting and QuickBooks consulting for contractors and has been a speaker at National Pavement Expo. For more information, contact her at www.rppc.net or 816.304.4398.