Plan for a new, better year for your small business

By Michelle van Schouwen

The approaching end of the calendar year offers a great opportunity to organize a strategy for an “even better” next year.

-Start your tax planning now. Consider how to reduce your business and/or personal tax burden by comparing this year’s revenues and expenses with expectations for next year. Are there bills you should plan to pay now, or arrange to defer? Bonuses to pay now or later? Talk with your accountant and financial planner well before the end of the year, so you have as much flexibility as possible to carry out your plans for legal tax reduction.

[amazon_link asins=’1985108356′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c9b138ba-de98-11e8-b1e9-85a763a85e88′]-Work toward creating an overall budget for next year, including the aforementioned revenue and expense expectations. Some of the following points also may be of value in this planning.

-Consider your health care benefit options early. With modest increases in health insurance premiums likely for 2019, now is the time to consider your options for employee and personal coverage. If you need to make a significant change to health care benefits for your staff, it’s best to get the information on the table early.

[amazon_link asins=’1119236916′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3457c5fb-de99-11e8-8e51-dd2d6f7cc560′]-Should you make any changes to your product or service offerings for next year? Even if the rollout date isn’t in January, start planning how and when you will make the changes and how you anticipate they will affect revenues, staffing, inventory, customers, and other aspects of your operations.

-Review your sales and marketing plans. What’s working for you? What’s holding you back? Do you need to make substantial changes, or are you on the right track?

-Review your business software. Is the software you are using serving you well? This review should be undertaken at least annually, because the wealth of business software for every conceivable need – often cloud-based and very affordable  – can streamline your operations and help you maximize profits.

[amazon_link asins=’1551808560′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1167d534-de99-11e8-b4d9-2da5a81c722d’]-Do you have customer contracts? Examine their planned renewal or end dates. Make a plan now for specific interactions, reviews and forward-planning with these customers to help assure you continue or even expand your relationships after current contracts end.

-Likewise, conduct a vendor review, and consider whether any vendor relationships need to be changed or revisited. Determine whether any vendor services should be put out to bid or handled by your staff. Talk with any vendor with whom you’d like to create deeper partnership or undertake any type of joint venture.

-Review your staffing needs. Do you need to hire next year? Is there anyone currently on your staff who may plan to retire or move on? Is there anyone whom you may wish to retrain, promote or dismiss from employment? Take these potential changes into consideration now.

-What other issues are on the table for next year? Examples may include business structure, lease or purchase of property or equipment, needs for any partners you have or may consider adding, changes to laws or regulations affecting your business, or changes to external conditions that may impact your sales and revenues for better or worse.

-Finally, plan to continue planning. Take note of any pending issues you need to revisit, strategies you need to hone and changes you need to make later, and mark your calendar now as a reminder to act when the time is right. This way, next year can be a strategic planning success from the start.


Michelle van Schouwen enjoys an “Act 2” career as principal of Q5 Analytics, providing advocacy and communications for climate change mitigation and adaptation. See For the past 32 years, Michelle was president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company. In 2017, van Schouwen Associates was acquired by Six-Point Creative Works, Inc. of Springfield, MA.

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