Organize business for strong start to 2018
By Shirley Sommer, CPA
Jan. 7, 2018 at 10:30 p.m.
Updated Jan. 8, 2018 at 1 a.m.
Well, 2017 is over, and 2018 has promises for new opportunities and new challenges. For small businesses, the best way to get off to a good start in 2018 is to make sure 2017 is all tied up and tucked away.
What does that mean? Well, a few to-do's need to be completed. They are:
• Reconcile the business bank statements: For most small businesses, a majority of transactions flow through the bank account. Reconciling your bank account between your books and records and the bank statement allows the business to capture all income and expenses for the 2017 year. It also puts you on a good footing to know what cash is available for 2018.
• Take inventory: Physically counting inventory on hand on at least an annual basis is always a good idea. A physical inventory helps the business determine if books and records are accurate as well as if there may be an issue with shortages or theft. Because January often brings cash flow challenges, now is a good time to evaluate any inventory that needs to be sold on a discount basis.
• Organize books for the new year: No one would drive a car without working gauges for fuel or speed. The same is true for having a set of books and records for a business. A set of books should provide information on an ongoing basis about how well the business is operating. The best set of books and records - whether it is QuickBooks, manual, Excel, etc. - is the one that is simple enough to be used on an ongoing basis. The University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center can help a business determine the best format for maintaining accurate and current books and records.
• Print and mail out tax forms: If the business's fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, businesses must print and mail certain forms by a certain time. If the fiscal year does not coincide with the calendar year, some of these deadlines may still apply, so be sure to double-check with your accountant.
1099s: These forms should be mailed no later than Jan. 31 to any independent contractors you hired. Do not delay in case there are errors.
1096: This form must be mailed to the IRS no later than Feb. 28.
Payroll forms (e.g. W-2, W-3, 940, 941): Print and mail these forms as soon as you can, especially if this is being handled in-house. Remember that your employees cannot file their taxes until they receive a W-2, and many people like to file as soon as possible.
The end of the fiscal year is a crazy time for any business, but smaller businesses feel the pinch even more because of limited staffing and skill-set availability. Prepare yourself and make sure to cross off all of the steps necessary for a successful and responsible end of the fiscal year and a happy new year!
Shirley Sommer is a Certified Business Advisor for the UHV Small Business Development Center. To make an appointment for business services or register for a UHV SBDC workshop, call the center at 361-485-4485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.