Year-end checklist for distributor owners

Late December is a crazy busy time for most of us. Between the holidays, home life and, this year, mitigating COVID-19 risk, it seems like there’s hardly enough time to address the year-end needs for your business. Whether it’s tax preparation, evaluating the business, and dealing with employee issues to close out the year, the list of things owners need to begin addressing can seem overwhelming. But keep in mind that taking some time now to shore up your business can help you end the year strong and can help ensure that you start the new year off on the right foot.

The following checklist includes a few of the major tasks you should begin addressing now, before the new year sneaks up on you.

Accounting

Managing your financial records is critical throughout the year, but even more so in December. Maintaining accurate records can help you predict what the next year may have in store for your business. Plus, you’ll be better prepared for tax season. At a minimum, crucial reports to review for year-end include your monthly and annual income statements (also called a profit & loss sheet), a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement. If, like many small businesses during COVID, your profits ended up lower than you had planned, now is the time to give some thought to changes you might want to make. For more tips on evaluating the financial health of your business, it would be wise to speak to an accounting professional who is well-versed in the promotional products industry. We suggest speaking with the professional staff at Certified Marketing Consultants, https://www.certifiedmarketing.com/index.html as they’re offering new services for owners like tax preparation.

Technology

As we near the end of 2020, it’s a great time to look at the technology you use within your business. Back-up your essential computer data and customer and vendor contacts, download any important reports or data files that would make it difficult to do business in case of a disaster, and reorganize your paper and electronic files to ensure that you have back-ups that are readily accessible. If you’ve not yet converted your systems to paperless, it might be beneficial to find an outside vendor who can provide these data storage and filing services.

HR

Once the critical business tasks have been addressed, December is an excellent time to examine your current staffing situation. Take stock of your current staff and determine whether or not additional staff will be needed in 2021 and budget accordingly. Alternatively, you may need to address having too much administrative costs wrapped up in staff.

Now is also a great time to reward employees for a job well done and to help boost morale as you head into a new sales year. In addition, the end of the year is a good time to review your employee compensation and benefits plans to ensure they’re still competitive.

Everything else

Finally, there are a few business odds and ends you should take a look at before you start the new year. Create new business goals for the upcoming year, anticipating the impact that COVID may or may not have on your business. “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst”, has never been truer than during this global pandemic. Also, if you run any company stores or customer programs or if you operate a warehouse, you know that year-end always means that it’s time to count any on-hand inventory. You want to be sure that you’re keeping accurate records and avoiding internal loss.

Remember, it’s these back-office tasks that keep your business running smoothly and can help ensure that your business is properly situated for success in 2021.

Grateful for the tiny moments

As 2020 is nearing its end, not very many people are sad to see it go. The challenges have been significant and to say we will go forward without scars from the wreckage would be unrealistic. Often, when times get tough, the brightest parts are simple ones: a smile, a warm wave from afar, a tiny act of kindness. This year has given me the gift of more time at home, and while that comes with a host of challenges, I am grateful for it!

When I look back on things that I hope I remember forever, it’s the tiniest moments in time that mean so much. Early on, school had canceled and suddenly my kiddos were home every minute of every day. So many people are still in that situation, or they are back home full time again. One day, the kids couldn’t stop laughing, and I asked why. They printed and cut out a tiny Danny DeVito face and put it on the coffee maker button that I use religiously twice per day (at least). The funny thing is, they had actually done this several days earlier, and I never noticed. Next, my husband found a Danny DeVito face on his charger: also unnoticed for days. We realized…he was everywhere. It was simple entertainment that brought us a lot of laughter. I mean, it’s Danny DeVito! We even found a pic of him on a picture in our living room looking like some sort of caveman…that one went unnoticed the longest. They are all still there because, amid strange chaos, this was light and laughter.

I hope when you think of this year, you reshape your thoughts to those types of moments…tiny ones. I had a call with one of our salespeople today. I have never met him, and we had the nicest conversation. We shared stories of a great leader we both know who has brought great insight to us both. This is a moment to savor. Come together and find tiny moments because they add up.

We had a Coffee Collaboration a couple of weeks ago. We started out by sharing favorite Thanksgiving food traditions. I cried, because it had been a busy week but, in this moment, we stopped, and shared stories and the human connection I had been craving. Laughter, smiles, fun and then idea sharing where I got to see the things that make each day so special- our people, doing their thing, helping one another, sharing and caring for the success of one other.

I hope that as you go into this holiday season, you take a moment to reflect. Find the good things and the bright spots from this unusual and challenging year. I hope you find areas you grew and new areas you’d like to strengthen in the future. Whatever it is, may you treasure the part of shaping you that it has played and keep your mindset a positive one.

I’m grateful to be a part of the Vernon family, one that has built a strong foundation for so many people to thrive for over one hundred years. At the heart of who we are is this: “Helping other businesses grow and prosper” (F.L. Vernon). I’m grateful for the chance to be part of that.

The Vernon Company is recognized as one of the largest and most successful promotional product firms in North America. Founded in 1902 by F.L. Vernon, we serve more than 40,000 customers from our Newton, Iowa corporate headquarters.

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