by Deborah Sweeney | Featured Contributor
The countdown is officially on — less than a month stands between entrepreneurs and the New Year! As small business owners look forward to a fresh slate and new opportunities, they’re also filing documents to report changes made to the business and working hard to wrap up the year’s loose ends. Think you forgot something important from your to-do list? Our checklist covers 10 items to mark off and ensure you’re finishing the year on a strong note.
File a foreign qualification
Did your business expand to another state this year? Are you incorporated in one state, but headquartered in another? You’ll need to file for a foreign qualification in order to legally conduct business in that state. Remember that your corporation or LLC is only domestic in the state it is incorporated in and is considered foreign everywhere else. If you want to be authorized to do business, elsewhere, you have to file for a foreign qualification.
File an annual report
Generally required by most states, annual reports keep your company information — like activities, locations, and contact information — in good standing with the Secretary of State. Be sure to check in with your state’s schedule to see when you are required to file the report. If you don’t file by the deadline, your LLC or corporation may be subjected to late fees and penalties or even dissolution.
Organize documents on a cloud storage system
Where are your receipts? How about your corporate records and minutes? Rather than spend hours trying to hunt down print or digital documents, store them in a cloud based document storage system. Unlike a laptop that could suffer from hard drive issues or lose files, cloud storage allows you to access all files and even share them securely with work team members.
File an amendment
Did the name of your business change this year? What about its ownership or office address? For any changes made to a Corporation or LLC, the state requires filing an article of amendment to ensure accurate corporate records.
File for a dissolution
If you closed a business this year, you have to close the business formally with the state too. By filing for a dissolution, your Corporation or LLC will no longer be considered an active entity with the Secretary of State. This will keep you save money from paying unnecessary taxes and annual state fees. If you don’t file, you’ll continue to make these payments because your business will still be considered to be in existence.
Review your profit and loss statements
How was your financial performance this year? By creating profit and loss statements, you can look back on your revenue for the year. Look at what did and didn’t work compared to previous years in business and use these statements as a guide for what your outlook might be like for the upcoming year.
Check your cash flow
Along with a P&L statement is a cash flow statement AKA a report that shows how your money was spent throughout the year and how much cash you have on hand. Typically, you should look at your cash flow statements based off of three activities: operating (revenue and expenses), investing (any assets purchased or sold), and financial (loans).
Get a head start on tax season
You can never prep too early for tax season! Take this time to schedule in an appointment with the accountant or bookkeeper for your business. Gather any receipts that could qualify for possible deductions, track quarterly estimated tax payments made during the year, and discuss whether or not you’ll need a tax payment extension.
Make payroll corrections
Did anything change with your payroll this year? If so, make note of that on your records for local, state, and federal payroll to ensure you stay in compliance with payroll regulations.
Celebrate accomplishments from this year and set goals for next year
Reflect back on all the standout moments from the year and take pride in all that your small business has accomplished. Reward your employees with small tokens of gratitude like bonuses or even handwritten notes that highlight their hard work. And finally, make your own small business resolutions for the next year. What do you hope to do next and what steps are needed to get there? Create a list of short and long-term goals to get everyone motivated for what’s to come. When the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, get on your mark, get set, and achieve those goals!
Deborah Sweeney – Legal Expert, CEO, MyCorporation.com – Calabasas, CA
As CEO of MyCorporation Business Services, Inc. (MyCorporation.com), Deborah Sweeney is an advocate for protecting personal and business assets for business owners and entrepreneurs. With her experience in the fields of corporate and intellectual property law, Deborah has evolved from lawyer to business owner. She has extensive experience in the start-up and entrepreneurial industry as she has been involved in the formation of hundreds of thousands of businesses for MyCorporation.com’s customers.
Ms. Sweeney received her JD & MBA degrees from Pepperdine University. She is active in the community and loves working with students and aspiring entrepreneurs. She serves on the Board of Regents at California Lutheran University and is a founding member of Partners of Pepperdine. Deborah has served as an adjunct professor at the University of West Los Angeles and San Fernando School of Law in the areas of corporate and intellectual property law. Ms. Sweeney is also well-recognized for her written work online as a contributing writer with top business and entrepreneurial blogging sites. She is a regular contributor on Forbes, American Express, Social Media Today, and BlogHer among many others.
In her ‘free’ time, Deborah enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, Benjamin (8) and Christopher (6). Deborah believes in the importance of family and credits the entrepreneurial business model for giving her the flexibility to enjoy both a career and motherhood. Follow her on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.