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TCV Insights

Year End To Do's - A November Guide for Small Businesses


By Dave Costello, Financial Leadership Partner @TCV Growth Partners (with assistance from ChatGPT)


Hello fellow business owners! This post is sort of a rerun of one I wrote about two years ago. But for this one I decided to get some help from my assistant, ChatGPT. Don’t worry, it’s heavily edited and you will note my style throughout if you have read a few of these from me previously. It’s also an important conversation to have NOW, no matter when it was written or by whom! Please read on and let me know what you think!


Can you believe it’s November? Already!!! Seems like I was just dusting off my golf clubs to begin golf season! Now we're in November, and the year is sprinting to a close. You know what that means, right? Time to start thinking about finishing the year strong. November is more than just pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters; it's an important month not only for small businesses but really all businesses aiming to wrap up the year on a high note. So, what can we do? Here are some ideas for you.


Reflect & Review:


As we approach the year-end, it's the perfect time to reflect on what you've achieved so far. Look back at your business goals, KPIs, and targets you set at the beginning of the year. What milestones have you reached? What fell short, and why? This self-assessment is helpful and important for the future, as it helps you identify areas that need improvement so you can plan strategies accordingly. Make note of the areas that need improvement and why - you will need this information later as you put together your budget and plan for next year.


Financial Health Check:


November is a good time to conduct a comprehensive financial health check. This is something that should be done at some level throughout the year but doing it in November helps get your mind set for next year. At this point you can’t change what happened this past year; you can only work to get better results in the future. Review your financial statements, including your balance sheet and income statement. Assess your cash flow and outstanding accounts receivable. It's a great time to reconcile your accounts, pay outstanding bills, decide if it makes sense to pay certain bills ahead, and ensure your financial records are up to date. This can set the stage for a smoother tax season and provide insights into your business's financial condition and plans for the upcoming year.


Budget Planning for the Next Year:


While it might seem early to be thinking about next year's budget, in my opinion the time for thinking should be over. You should be knee deep in preparing the budget for next year at this point. It will take you longer than you think to get the approval of owners/investors (if appropriate) or get buy-in from those on your staff who will be responsible for carrying out the actions needed to make the next year successful. Remember those notes from above on areas that need improvement? This is where you will need to work on developing plans in your budget to improve outcomes. Trust me, having a final budget in place when the new year starts can help you hit the ground running come January. Make sure you input your budget into your accounting system so you can generate budget/actual variance reports once the new year starts. Evaluate the current year's performance to make informed decisions about where to allocate resources in the upcoming year. Set realistic and achievable financial goals.


Inventory Clearance & Sales:


November isn't just about turkey and Thanksgiving. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, it's a prime time for retail businesses to clear out inventory and offer enticing sales. Hopefully your inventory system can identify items that are slow moving. If not, that could be something to consider improving. Prepare promotional strategies and marketing campaigns to attract holiday shoppers. Create bundles, discounts, or exclusive offers to boost sales and reduce excess inventory before the year ends. If your business has inventory that you maintain you should plan to do a physical inventory and reconcile to the general ledger. Unless year-end cutoffs are critically important in your business you could schedule the physical inventory at the end of October or November to make sure your accounting records and your physical inventory records agree.


Tax Preparation and Planning:


Don't wait until the last minute to sort out your taxes. November is an excellent time to get a head start on tax preparations. Ensure all records and documents are organized, review deductions, and consider any last-minute expenses that could be deducted for this year. Consult with your tax professional if necessary to maximize deductions and optimize your tax strategy. It’s always a good idea in my mind to meet with your tax professional as you approach the end of the year, and October or November is a good time to do that. You will want to get an idea of any cash needs you might have to pay your taxes, especially if you will need to obtain a loan to pay them.


Employee Reviews & Goal Setting:


It's not just about evaluating your business's performance; it's also about your employees. Use this time to conduct performance reviews and set employee goals for the upcoming year. Provide feedback, discuss achievements, and outline objectives for growth and development. Clear communication about expectations and objectives can align your team towards a common goal for the next year. If you have some kind of bonus plan, make sure you communicate to your employees what they need to do and to achieve in order to earn a bonus. In my mind bonuses are not paid for showing up; they are paid for achieving a higher level of performance.


Marketing for the Holiday Season:


You should have already prepared your marketing strategies for the holiday season. We are already starting to see holiday ads all around us. Utilize social media, email campaigns, and any other marketing channels to capitalize on the festive season. Make sure your content is engaging, plan holiday-themed promotions, and leverage the seasonal spirit to drive sales. Engage with your audience, convey gratitude, and entice them with offers that resonate with the holiday cheer.


Networking and Relationship Building:


November is a fantastic time for networking. Attend industry events, webinars, or local business gatherings. Strengthen relationships with existing clients, partners, and suppliers. Building rapport and fostering connections can open doors to new opportunities for your business in the upcoming year. I’m a pretty avid networker and I look forward to seeing you out there and meeting you! Make sure you say “hi” when you see me and tell me you read this post!


Plan for Downtime:


Lastly, prepare for downtime. As the holiday season approaches, anticipate potential slowdowns in business activities. It’s a natural reaction during the holidays and it has been occurring for many years. Plan for reduced staffing or modified working hours during the holidays. This foresight will help manage expectations and ensure a smoother workflow, even during quieter periods.


Think you need help?


TCV Growth Partners can help as needed in a several ways. If something on this list strikes a chord, feel free reach out to us for a free consultation.


· Year-end audit preparation

· Year-end financial statement preparation

· Preparing next year’s budget

· Preparing a cash flow model to help manage cash

· Fractional or interim CFO support

· Assist in preparing your strategic plan

· Assist in writing your business plan

· Preparing multi-year forecasts for owners/investors

· Assist in preparing pitch decks for possible investors/banks

· Reviewing your operations to eliminate bottlenecks and improve efficiencies

· Getting your sales team prepared for boosting revenues


I can be reached at dave@tcv-growth.partners.


In Conclusion - November is a time of opportunity for small businesses. It's the best time to tie up loose ends, plan ahead, and strategize for a successful finish to the year and a strong start to the next year! Use these tips as a guideline to navigate the month successfully and effectively. Reflect on the year, set your sights on the future, and approach the year-end with a well-thought-out plan. Cheers to a successful year-end for your small business! In addition, have a great holiday season!


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