Q1 Planning Checklist: 7 Ways to Start a Successful Year
- 1 Q1 Planning Checklist: 7 Ways to Start a Successful Year
- 1.1 1. New tax laws are confusing, consult your tax planner
- 1.2 2. Stay up to date with important tax dates
- 1.3 3. Look back before looking forward
- 1.4 4. Map your content needs
- 1.5 5. Create the Right Budget for Your Business (and Check Back Regularly)
- 1.6 6. Get team support for your action plan
- 1.7 7. Consider your funding needs
Q1 Planning Checklist: 7 Ways to Start a Successful Year
A new year brings new resolutions. As this year draws to a close, it’s time to strategize with a quarterly action plan to get your business on track from day one.
Here are seven important things to add to your Q1 checklist.
1. New tax laws are confusing, consult your tax planner
Let’s start with the tactical stuff. Tax return season is approaching and now is the time to start planning your 2018 return. Multiple terms of Employment law and tax cuts made changes that affected almost every business in 2018 and the years to come. Some of these can free up funds so you can focus on growing your business or helping alleviate any cash-flow problems you anticipate in the coming months.
Set a time on your calendar to meet with your tax preparer to determine which deductions and credits apply to you. Here’s advice from the IRS about How to choose a tax preparer wisely. If you are looking for more help next year, you can also use this time to find a new accountant.
2. Stay up to date with important tax dates
Keep these dates in mind in 2019: January 31, March 15, and April 17.
There are a number of tax dates and deadlines that fall in Q1. Corporations, LLCs, sole proprietors, and individuals have until April 17 to file their taxes.
S corporations and partners must apply by March 15, 2019.
Another deadline for Q1 is to provide a W-2 form to employees and a 1099-MISC form to independent contractors. The deadline for both is January 31, 2019. Consider releasing these early, to allow time to find and fix any bugs.
(Always double check your tax dates! To verify these and other tax dates that may affect your business, go to IRS Tax Schedule.)
3. Look back before looking forward
Now into more strategic business. Before you start examining all of your great business ideas for Q1, pause and reflect on the year gone by.
How did your plan for 2018 go? What works and what doesn’t? Which marketing tactics have shined and which are not worth repeating? Which product line has proven to be the most beneficial? Do you experience unexpected cash flow problems and why?
Knowing what works and what doesn’t will help you form a clearer idea of where to focus your energy and money in Q1 and the months ahead.
4. Map your content needs
Creating the right marketing content is more important than ever for businesses. 78% of CMOs see custom content as the future of marketing while 82% consumers feel more positive about a business after reading the content that business produces (blogs, eBooks, white papers, infographics, etc.).
But content needs to be communicated strategically. Think about your goals for the quarter (and year) and how strategic content can help.
Some questions to ask your marketing planner include: Will you produce content to generate leads, improve SEO, drive loyalty, or establish thought leadership — or all this? Who is your audience and what do they want to learn from you? Are there any stages of the sales funnel that would benefit from a certain form of content?
Now spend some time thinking about how content can help you achieve your goals for the coming year and where to direct your efforts.
5. Create the Right Budget for Your Business (and Check Back Regularly)
One of the biggest decisions SMBs make is how to spend their scarce funds, yet smaller businesses are more likely to overlook the important task of budgeting. Survey data shows that sixty one% among small businesses that did not create a formal budget for 2018, and 37% of those that did create a budget spent more than the budget they created in Q1.
Many SMEs feel that a budget will limit their business agility and growth, but without a budget it can be difficult to focus on what’s important and keep everyone interested. A budget is also an important tool to help you manage expenses and deal with unexpected financial surprises. For example, if you lose a customer or a revenue stream, your budget will inform how this loss will affect your cash flow, where to cut back, or whether cash needs to be reinvested in. sales and marketing to help drive new business elsewhere.
In this way, the budget becomes a dynamic reference point that informs your business growth and helps you navigate financial barriers – if you regularly revisit and adjust based on what Other trading indicators are telling you. For example, if your sales forecast indicates a strong March, you may need to shift your budget to cover additional inventory, equipment, or staff costs.
Cloud accounting software, such as Quick book, Xero, and Fresh books, brings a huge amount of value to the process, saves time and provides insights. Instead of the manual headache of maintaining a spreadsheet-based budget, these tools allow you to create budgets and run automatic comparisons with your financial statements, so you can easily view them. How does your business run?
6. Get team support for your action plan
Q1 is the perfect time to reconnect with your employees and get them excited for the coming year. If you can, meet them in person to connect face-to-face and renew relationships and a sense of belonging within the group.
This is also a good time to be honest about what worked and what didn’t last year and be clear about how you plan to address these opportunities and challenges in 2019. , conduct employee reviews and set individual and team goals. so everyone knows their role in getting you through the ring this year. If they need help, explore training opportunities and review business tools together.
7. Consider your funding needs
With so much going on in Q1, chances are you’ll need some form of funding to help you on your way to success. The good news is that the steady economy has created more funding opportunities for entrepreneurs and there are many unique options to consider.
SBA loans continue to provide an invaluable source of financing to small businesses. In fiscal year 2017, SBA reported approved more than 68,000 loans in 7(a) and 504 loan programs. But for businesses looking for smaller amounts of cash, small loans is also a useful alternative. With a maximum loan amount of $50,000, microloans can be used to purchase equipment, office supplies, furniture, etc. Although interest rates are higher than small business loans but there are fewer requirements to be eligible for this form of funding.
Another option—especially if you have a limited credit history or just need access to money anytime you need it—is business credit line. Unlike a term loan, a line of credit does not provide a cash payment but requires a monthly repayment schedule. Instead, it provides access to capital up to a certain amount. Similar to using a business credit card, you can access money when you need it most.
Businesses often use their business credit line as a tool to help them grow their business and get more done, faster, such as hiring a new employee or a freelancer to help you polish your website, buy inventory to get ready for a busy month and soon.
If you’re concerned about your mortgage or minimum credit score requirements, Fund box could be an attractive option. You may be eligible for a line of credit within as little as six months of starting your business. There are no minimum credit score or monthly income requirements, no sign-up fees and no starting fees, just a weekly fee when you draw. You can also get an early payback, reducing total costs.
Use this checklist to keep you focused in the coming months as you tackle key deadlines, work towards goals, and keep your employees motivated.