The end of the year is a busy time for just about everyone. Between hosting holiday parties, buying the perfect gift and choosing New Year's resolutions, other responsibilities can fall to the wayside.
However, business owners should be at the top of their game at the end of the year. They need to properly wrap up the year and plan for the one ahead. Business News Daily talked to business owners and HR experts about the best business practices you should follow to end 2017 on a high note.
1. Keep up with ACA reporting requirements and compliance.
A confusing part of year-end paperwork for small businesses is the Affordable Care Act reporting requirements and compliance. President Trump recently announced an executive order on healthcare in October, but at the time of this writing, the ACA is still the law.
"It's unclear how or when these proposed actions ... will change healthcare laws," said Jay Starkman, CEO of Engage PEO. "Employers should monitor developments and ensure they remain in compliance with the current regulations."
For now, businesses with 50 or more full-time employees need to provide ACA-compliant health coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week or 130 hours or more a month. Employers must also track and report employee hours to the IRS.
"All businesses should review the current ACA rules and work with compliance experts to assist with managing the compliance process year-round," Starkman told Business News Daily.
For more information about the ACA and how it affects small businesses, read this article from HealthCare.gov.
2. Manage holiday bonuses and year-end performance reviews.
Holiday bonuses are a great way to boost morale and keep employees happy. However, Starkman said bonuses shouldn't be given out without a performance review.
"Otherwise, it becomes an expected part of salary," he said. "Second, bonuses should tie to performance, and there should be differentiation between employees based upon performance."
If all employees receive the same bonus, then the higher-performing employees could become disappointed with the fairness of the process.
Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation, agreed that holiday bonuses should be given based on the prior year's performance, along with revenue available.
"It is traditionally added to the paycheck at the end of the year," she said.
3. Review your business's cybersecurity.
The new year is a great time to review and improve your company's cybersecurity. Neill Feather, president of SiteLock, suggests adopting a password manager that can secure your online accounts and help you avoid password fatigue. [Looking for a single sign-on solution? Check out our best picks here.]
"It's important that small business owners are proactive with their cybersecurity," he said. "Small businesses are often targets of attack because they lack the resources to have dedicated web and systems security personnel on staff."
Feather recommends cleaning up your digital footprint by deleting old accounts that publicly reveal sensitive information. Around the end of the year, businesses should also be on the lookout for scams such as phishing emails and tax fraud. The end of the year is an especially common time for cybercrime because small businesses are often understaffed, said Feather, and tired employees are more likely to let their guard down and click a suspicious email.
4. Plan for the new year.
Before you ring in the new year, you should take some time to reflect on the previous year and create plans for the coming year.
Jeb Ory, CEO of Phone2Action, suggests working with customers and prospective customers before the end of the year to make sure they're ready for the new year.
"In our field, the beginning of each year is very busy, so proper planning can be the difference in a good start and a great start to the new year," he told Business News Daily.
Ory also looks at the year's performances, makes predications about how to grow the next year and starts to model in cash flows.
Sweeney said MyCorporation compares its profit and loss statements year over year as well as its balance sheets at the end of the year.
"We look at monthly and quarterly, and then we look at the entire year as a whole," she told Business News Daily. "We analyze the members of our sales teams and the avenues of revenue for our business. We concurrently plan and strategize for the next year."