Our thoughts at this time of year are generally consumed by Christmas shopping, holiday planning, scrumptious foods and end of year parties. While all of these festivities are taking place it is important as a business owner not to forget about the important tasks that need to be taken care of before the break and fun begins. The first step is to create a “to-do list” in order to see everything that you need to do and to avoid forgetting anything (no one wants to come in on New Years Day because they suddenly remembered an urgent matter). Some things that should be on your list include:

1. Be aware of all the deadlines that you have been set and make sure all client work is completed within these time frames. This way you will be able to start the New Year fresh, rather than facing angry clients who feel that they have been neglected for two weeks.

2. Prepare yourself for the New Year so you can jump straight into action. Little things make a large contribution to the smooth running of the business. Things to consider include:

•   Having plenty of stock on hand
•   Pre-ordering all of your 2011 stationery (pens, diaries, calendars, highlighters etc)
•   Pre write your blog articles for the first week back. This will make coming back to work much easier.
•   Renew subscriptions for newspapers, magazines, organisations and anything else you can think of. Places are likely to have good Christmas deals on, and again it is one less thing to worry about when you come back.
•   Make sure your insurance policies are renewed.
•   Turn off all of your electrical equipment at the switch on the day you close down to save power and money.

3. Chase up invoices before Christmas so they are organised and sorted before you take your much deserved break. Not doing this could potentially result in your business starting the New Year with cash flow problems while you wait for payment.

4. Send Christmas cards to the people who have contributed to your business this year. People such as staff, clients and suppliers really appreciate a small gift or card that says ‘thanks for the support’. Not only does this convey your appreciation and thanks, but also builds stronger customer relations for the following year.

5. If you suspect your clients are going to need you over the proposed break you may have to consider some of the following options to maintain a high standard of customer service (and to prevent having to rebuild relationships in the New Year):

•   Bringing in temporary staff or outsourcing the answering of phones to a call centre
•   Having a team on call for emergency work
•   Make sure emails, landline messages and mobile messages are being checked regularly over the break and are responded too if they are urgent.

6. Let your clients know the dates you are closing so they are not in any doubt. You can let them know in the footers of emails, on the website, by mail or email. Provide them with a number or email they can use for emergencies.

7. If your business has seen some nice profits this year why not make some year-end contributions to a non-profit organisation? Not only will embracing the Christmas spirit by helping out a charity but you may also be able to claim the donations as a deduction in your business’ tax return next year.

8. It is highly recommended that you put together a business plan for the New Year and enlist the help of a professional. Some things to include are goals, how you plan on achieving them, capital targets, marketing plans and financial aims.

Most importantly everyone needs to take a break and recharge every now and then. By organising your business and having it ready for the New Year as well as crossing all those things off your “to-do” list you will be able to have a more relaxing and fun holiday break.  Here at The Quinn Group our experienced team of Lawyers and Accountants can assist you with any of your end of year accounting or creating a business plan. For more information please submit an online enquiry or call us on 1300 QUINNS (784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to book an appointment.

If you have any other tips for small business owners on things to organise before they go on the Christmas break feel free to submit it in a blog comment below!