Year-end checklist for small businesses

by | Nov 3, 2022 | Security, Web, Windows

Smiling woman writing in a journal.

Be aware and be prepared! Whether you’re beginning to start a small business, or you are a fellow small business owner looking for guidance, please enjoy our checklist to help you through some year-end planning.

IT Checklist

Backup data
The best way to ensure your ongoing success through disaster is to prepare beforehand. Backing up data is something that is not needed until it is too late to get it. Don’t wait!

Follow the 3-2-1 rule, which means your company keeps: 3 copies of data in 2 different variations of storage and keeping 1 copy in an off-site location. Variations of storage could be the cloud, or an external or internal drive. The off-site location could be cloud storage, or in a second, physical space that is separate from the main office.

Backup your contacts
In the small business world, a lot of us heavily depend on the contacts we have built up for our business across years. Do not let all of that beautiful effort go to waste, and make sure you have records of your contacts.

At SpireTech, we always prefer to be on the overprepared side rather than under-, so our recommendation is to not depend on the platform the contacts “live on” alone. Export your contacts’ information into a spreadsheet or .csv list, in addition to keeping it in a separate place digitally with encryption and protection. You might never need this copy, but better to have it just in case.

Update passwords
Updating our passwords is a lot like flossing—we all say we do it a little more than we really do. Adding this short task to your annual IT checkup might help you to do it more routinely. Remember that recycling passwords across sites weakens your security.

If your business is growing or it’s just a giant headache to keep track, consider a password manager with encryption and redundant protection.

Cleanup hard drive; remove unnecessary or redundant files
Ideally, a stranger could open any computer on your system, and have a pretty good idea about where they could find what information. Every file should be neatly sorted into specific and clear folders.

Most of us strive for this, of course, but even the best intentions can end in a messy desktop. What a business should avoid is an unclear file organizational system, or one that is cluttered.

Think of it in terms of profit and productivity, if you must. Any employee spending time searching for a file is time that is wasted for your company.

Delete any files that are redundant, outdated, or certainly never needed again. Don’t know where to start? Folders for marketing, media, research, business information, and common procedures are a good place to start.

Reassess hardware, software
Some of these, you may notice, don’t actually have to be done at the end of the calendar year. Many of these you could accomplish during the year. This is one such task!

Periodically, check in with the software and hardware you choose to use in your business. Do they still best fit your business needs? Is there another service out there with better features, one that cost less, or that would be easy to migrate?

What business expenses are necessary is something that will change business to business. Some may choose to pay for a social media planning subscription, others will swear by their accounting software.

Often, a business owner will decide to keep what they are already using—that’s great too. Evaluating software is just another way to further optimize the success of your business.

Write standard operating procedures down.
At SpireTech, we make a point to write down the standard steps to (nearly) every procedure our happy IT family needs. Our goal is to create a system of reference that employees can use to learn, refer to, or check. Or, in the case that one may be acting in someone’s absence; it doesn’t matter, we know what to do.

Can the branches of your company operate independently? Do your employees feel knowledgeable, and know what to do first if they have a question?

Writing down these common procedures saves training time in the future, gives your employees a point of reference before asking you, and provides a structure off of which your business can operate. It can be a pain to do so, but we want your business to survive shifting employees, emergencies, and unforeseen events.

Install updates
Time to finally pass over that “Remind me later” button! Make sure your business is running on the most recent updates for your operating system, applications, software, widgets, and all else. Everything that you use as a business owner is created by a team that also wants to improve their services. In other words, they will improve with time!

Staying on top of updates keeps your business running smoothly while accessing newest features and best capabilities. Do not get stuck in a rut that depends on outdated software, this is a recipe for disaster! This results in weakened security at a minimum. This stuff actually matters! Take it from your local, super dreamy, Information Technology team in Portland.

Evaluate your website
When did you last spend time on the website of your business? Whether this is something else as a business owner you’ve done yourself, or something you’ve hired out, we recommend you take a look at your website every now and again.

The market is a fickle place and staying on top of design trends projects innovation and modernity to people. Consumers will get an impression of your business in the first seconds of visiting your website; do not discount the worth of occasionally updating your look or pages.

Assess your cybersecurity
Do you use a password manager? Were they any passwords on sites that became compromised? Are you still able to keep up with the security needs of your clients?

Cybersecurity is something that the SpireTech team likes to round out for our clients. While we are not cyberinsurance brokers, we take the obligation of protecting personal data and the data of businesses extremely seriously. Not only are we constantly testing our own systems for weaknesses, but we also find and eliminate vulnerabilities in our managed services clients.
If you’re in need of a cybersecurity quick fix for your small business, start with protecting against malware.

General Business Checklist

Year-end Financial Reports
Time to review! Compare your balance sheet, income statement, or a statement of cashflows. Keeping record of such financial statements is a gift to your future self. Check in, and begin to make a game plan if decisions must be made. Don’t allow your business’ bank account to go unchecked: if you aren’t in the practice of making cash flow statements, this is a great time to start the habit.

Meet with your accountant
If you’ve got a business, you probably have an accountant. Do you want to know how you become your accountant’s favorite client? Start the yearly panic in November instead of April.

Create next year’s budget
Start this process now instead of in January. As you head swims with numbers from the year that has happened with your business, use that to inform your decision about the budget for the next year.

Renew licenses, subscriptions used in your business
You may have operating licenses, you may need to renew a liquor license, or maybe you subscribe to great applications or websites. It’s going to have to happen eventually… plan a portion of time to get it done, and then congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Update/check vendor information
Are the services you use still at the same location? Is their website address the same, their phone number? Save yourself some headache later and confirm that you have all of the correct information.

Tax documents
Prepare the 1099s, W-9s, and W-4s of your employees before the Q1 tax rush. If you feel prepared for 2022 taxes already, you win a gold star. Congratulations!

Review year’s goals, set goals for the year ahead
Similar to the year’s budget, take this year into account and make a game plan for the year ahead. Sometimes, a person might have an impulse to ignore a problem in order to avoid thinking about it.
This is only temporary relief; look at the state of your business candidly. If there is something that must change, make a plan.

Reconcile accounts receivable
There is no shame in a making a payment plan; the trouble comes when a business owner forgets or ignores debts completely. Don’t do that.

Congratulate team members on a job well done.
Success in a business is almost never individual! Take a moment to thank the people who have faith in your dream and business. As PNW residents, SpireTech may thank someone with a gift card to Dutch Bros Coffee. Thank your employees sincerely; this couldn’t happen without them.
A lot of these suggestions come directly from how SpireTech operates as a business. Optimizing our employees’ time and productivity is always on our minds, as well as how we can make all of our jobs easier. For our VIPSupport managed services clients, many of these action items are rolled into their monthly If you’re ready to experience the ease of outsourced IT, start with the experts. Book a call with us.