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How a Madison, IN Small Business Prepares for the Fourth Quarter

The fourth quarter can be a grueling time for small businesses. There are holidays to plan for, inventory to check, and goals to review – not to mention the everyday tasks of keeping your business running. It can be tough to stay on top of everything, but luckily we're here to help. Today, this post from the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce will go over some of the key things you need to do to wrap up the fourth quarter and set your business up for success in the new year.


Look Back at This Year's Goals


The first order of business is to take a look back at this year's goals and see how you did. This will help you identify what's working and what needs to be improved going forward. If you didn't hit all your targets, don't worry – the important thing is that you learn from your mistakes and use that knowledge to inform your planning for next year.


Next, it's time to start thinking about next year. What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals for growth? Once you have a good idea of what you want to achieve, you can start putting together a plan of action. Remember to be realistic in your goal-setting; try not to bite off more than you can chew.


Finish Holiday Marketing Plans


If you haven't already, it’s crucial that you take some time to finalize your holiday marketing plans. This includes everything from creating holiday-themed content (e.g., blog posts, social media posts, etc.) to running promotional campaigns and discounts. Getting started early will help ensure that your holiday marketing is successful.


It’s also a good idea to target your marketing whenever possible. For instance, new moms might not necessarily have the same shopping needs and interests as college students or outdoorsmen. If you’ve been proactive and already drafted a PDF of promotional images and holiday sales information, use this free tool for help with separating the pages into multiple PDFs, and then send them to specific social media groups and target audiences.


Evaluate Your Inventory


It's also important to check your inventory levels at this time of year. With the holidays coming up, you don't want to get caught short-handed – or worse, run out of stock entirely! If necessary, place orders for new inventory now so that it arrives well in advance of the holiday rush.


Reviewing Your Accounting


This is also a good time of year to review your accounting and make sure that everything is up-to-date and in order. This will help prepare you for tax season and ensure that any end-of-year financial reporting is accurate. If you're not comfortable doing this yourself, consider hiring an accountant or bookkeeper to help out.


Change Your Business Structure, Potentially


If your business has grown significantly over the past year, you may need to change your business structure to accommodate that growth. For example, if you're currently operating as a sole proprietorship but have hired several employees, it may be time to incorporate as a limited liability company (LLC) or S-Corp. Consult with a lawyer or accountant if you're unsure about which structure is right for your business.


Get Ready for Tax Season


No one likes paying taxes, but they're an inevitable part of running a business. The good news is that there are things you can do throughout the year to get your paperwork in order and minimize your tax liability come April 15th. Be sure to keep good records of all your income and expenses, and take advantage of any deductions or credits that apply to your business (e.g., the home office deduction). You may also want to set aside money each month so that you're not hit with a large bill come tax time.


Refresh Your Website and Social Media Accounts


No matter what time of year it is, it's always a good idea to keep your website and social media profiles up-to-date – but that's especially important during the holiday season. Make sure your contact information is current and accurate, and take some time to spruce up your website design if it's looking outdated. You should also create or update any holiday-themed content (e.g., blog posts) well in advance so that it's ready when customers start searching for gift ideas online.


The fourth quarter is a busy time for small businesses – but with proper planning, it doesn't have to be overwhelming! By taking care of key tasks like reviewing this year's goals, outlining next year's goals, finalizing holiday marketing plans, checking your inventory levels, and preparing for tax season, you can set yourself up for success in the new year. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

Grow your business by building relationships with other local entrepreneurs and accessing unique resources offered by the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce. Join us today!

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