Time flies when you’re running a business—it’s hard to believe we’re heading into the 4th quarter! A successful small business is always in planning mode, especially in Q4. To ensure business success through the end of the year, now is the time to prepare if you’re a small business owner.
Here are some small business tips for 4th quarter business planning:
- Check on your inventory and operations.
- Organize your 4th quarter marketing strategies.
- Plan your year-end client and customer appreciation.
- Review your year-to-date 2023 goals.
- Get your business finances in order for tax planning.
Check on Your Inventory and Operations
Small business owners should ask themselves these questions NOW to build their 4th quarter plan and to save time and money in the long run:
- Do you have the inventory you need? Supply chain issues are causing delays across the board, regardless of industry. So it’s important to plan ahead for your inventory needs.
- Is your online store ready? Review your website and ensure that the user experience is simple and in working order and that customers can easily access information on your products or services. Having an online store is one way to pandemic-proof your business as we move into the winter season.
- Have you factored in your staffing needs? Many industries in Oregon are experiencing labor shortages, making it important to think ahead about your labor needs.
Organize Your 4th Quarter Marketing Strategies
The holiday season offers many opportunities for small businesses to amp up their promotions. Planning your marketing strategies ahead of time will help business owners make the most of 4th quarter sales. So make sure you have your target market and target audience dialed in for the holiday season.
Some specific days small business owners should consider taking advantage of in the 4th quarter include:
- Black Friday, November 24, 2023: Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Last year, consumers reportedly spent $9 billion on this day alone! Plan ahead, and be prepared for an influx of business.
- Small Business Saturday, November 25, 2023: This is a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. Think about how you can participate and encourage your community (and beyond!) to support your business.
- Cyber Monday, November 27, 2023: Consumers are increasingly going online to shop for items big and small, and Cyber Monday has gained popularity over the years for online sales. If you have an online store, think about ways your small business can participate in this day.
Ideally, your holiday marketing strategies should encompass all your communication channels, including your website, social media accounts, and public/media relations.
If you have an email marketing list, think about how you might nurture your current and potential customer relationships through holiday messaging as part of your marketing strategy.
If community engagement is a focus, consider partnering with a local charity to spread the holiday cheer! Just be sure to plan ahead, as these types of initiatives can take time.
If the holiday season is not an ideal time for your business, take this opportunity to get ready for the upcoming year and get your marketing initiatives, strategy, and plan in place.
Plan Your Year-End Employee and Customer Appreciation
Speaking of the holidays, the 4th quarter is a great time for small business owners to show employees and customers your appreciation for their support throughout the year and to also apply some great customer service.
If you’re planning to give holiday gifts, set up a holiday function, or provide bonuses, be sure to plan well in advance. so that any gesture of appreciation is well thought out and doesn’t feel rushed to the recipient.
As mentioned earlier, inventory is being impacted and delays can be expected, so if you’re planning to give physical gifts, it’s especially important this year to order these gifts ahead of time.
Evaluate Your Year-to-Date 2023 Business Goals
Small business tips for 4th quarter planning wouldn’t be complete without checking in on where your business stands:
- Have you met your goals?
- Does something need to shift to stay on track?
Set aside some focused time on your calendar to review your business plan and check in on your goals year-to-date.
This is the time for small business owners to finish up any business projects in progress. You might be in the middle of redesigning your website, or maybe you’re integrating a new point-of-sale system.
Whatever the task, this is a great time to wrap up any projects that may be lingering in the background. That way you can take time in the 4th quarter to focus on setting yourself up for business success in 2024.
Get Your Financials in Order for Tax Planning
Of course, tax planning takes place year-round. But it’s especially important in the 4th quarter if you plan to make investments in your small business before the year ends.
Here are some small business tips related to tax planning:
- Be organized: It’s key that the receipts and important documentation (cash flow, income statement, etc.) you’ve collected throughout the year are neatly organized for tax season. It’s a good idea to use accounting software (e.g., QuickBooks) to track your finances.
- Be ethical: Report all income and business expenses. Do not mix your personal expenses with business expenses.
- Plan ahead: Learn about any recent tax code changes, and find out how these changes will impact you and your business. Now is the time to get your finances in order and make an appointment with your bookkeeper, accountant, or CPA.
We’ve put together 5 tips for tax planning and things you’ll want to make sure you meet with your CPA on before the end of the year. Following these small business tips for 4th quarter planning will help you finish the year strong and set yourself up for business success in 2024.
The Oregon SBDC Network has 20 Centers across the state of Oregon offering core services to help small business owners in all areas of business. From startup to launch, scaling to succession planning, we’re here to help you build a successful business any time of year.
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