BUSINESS STRATEGY & GROWTH • May 21, 2015
3 minutes Read
By Gene Marks
Happy Spring. Hope you’re enjoying the weather. And I hope you’ve got some fun plans for the summer – maybe a vacation, a drive to the shore, a trip to the mountains.
Me? Yeah, I’ve got some summer plans (a family trip to Chicago combined with a Cubs-Phillies game is in the works) but my mind is really not on the summer right now. I’m thinking about Christmas. And so should you.
That’s because Christmas is only a little more than six months away. And Christmas means the end of the calendar year, which for many of us means the end of the tax year, too. One thing I’ve learned from smart business owners is that they’re always thinking forward. They’re not last-minute thinkers. They’re taking actions now that will affect their businesses in the months and years to come. I’m trying to be like them. And so should you. We should both be using summertime as a point to do some mid-year reviews. Which means we’re talking to these five people.
1. Our accountant – “Last minute deductions” are not part of a successful business owner’s vocabulary. It’s always about planning. My accountant is less busy around now, so I plan to have lunch with him. You should plan to meet with your accountant too. Take a walk around your offices. Talk on the phone. Go over last year’s return. Brainstorm ideas for reducing taxes in 2015 while you still have time. A retirement plan? Better inventory control? A Health Savings Account? These are all things that can’t be done overnight, but when setup can have a significant impact on this year’s tax liability.
2. Our insurance agent – Insurance agents are experienced at risk management, and smart business people want to know where their risks are. So why not invite your insurance agent in this summer? How good are your sprinklers? Wait – do you even have sprinklers? Are there any property hazards? Potential product liabilities? Other concerns that your insurance agent can address so that your policies can be updated or improved? This is a great time of year to have that discussion.
3. Our IT firm – No one is 100 percent secure. No one has a perfect network. Summer is a great time to bring in the tech guys to do a look over. While things are a little slower, now is the time to upgrade the wiring, buy a couple more devices or PCs, even invest in some software training for your people that could improve their productivity throughout the remainder of the year and into next. IT firms are happy to do these things at no or nominal cost – it gives them the opportunity to sniff out more work for themselves. Good for them, and good for you and me if a problem is fixed now that could be a bigger problem later.
4. Our key employees – I prefer mid-year reviews rather than year-end reviews. That’s because at the end of the year everyone is too busy with holiday activities and vacations. During the year is the best time, in my opinion, to sit down with key employees and not only review their performance over the past 12 months, but to also set some interim goals for the next 6 months that could impact 2015. Things are more relaxed. It’s a good time to take a walk outdoors or go for a beer at an outdoor café. Our employees need feedback from us as often as possible. And they want to spend some one-on-one time with the big cheese. This is a good time to spend the time with them.
5. Our significant others – Running a small business is demanding and time consuming. But the most successful business owners I know have one thing in common: balance. Money isn’t everything, life is short and happiness is what it’s all about. If you’ve got a family then this is the time of year to really spend time with them. It’s OK to leave the business for a week while you go on vacation. It’s fine to take some half days during the summer to do something with your spouse or kids. You know once September hits you and I will be too busy to do any of that so we should take advantage of the time now. We will not remember those hours in the office, but we will remember that trip with the family to Disney – and that frightening plunge in the Tower of Terror. I do!
The year is almost half over, can you believe it? Now is the time to spend some quality time with a few key people that will have an enormous impact on our businesses through the remainder of the year. That’s my plan. Hopefully, it’s yours too.
Small business influencer Gene Marks is a guest blogger for CAN Capital. He is a celebrated author, columnist and small business owner.
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