Your small business checklist: 25 things to do before the year ends

Editorial Team

11 min read
Wine shop owner writing on clipboard

With the summer winding down, it’s time to start thinking about closing the book on another year for your business. Pretty soon the weather will be cooling down, the holiday season will come and go, and you’ll be staring down the start of another calendar year.

Before that happens, let’s check in with your business to see if there are any reasonable, attainable goals you can set to help end the year on a positive note.

Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of 25 things your small business can do to round out the year and set yourself up for even more success next year.

Marketing and promotion

1. Try some traditional marketing methods

A trendy modern business like yours might already be crushing it with social media, digital ads, and a fully optimized web presence. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for some of the more traditional marketing methods. Quite the contrary! Conventional marketing methods like cold-calling, print media, direct mail, television, and radio are not only effective, they can help you reach and attract a brand new customer base that may not be plugged into your online presence. Don’t forget, people tend to respond to print advertising more positively than digital.

2. Make your website feel as local as your store

Whether your business is online, brick-and-mortar, or a combination of both, building some localization into your online presence can go a long way toward making your customers feel like they’re getting the local shop experience. Consider including some geographical keywords, like specific cities, in your website and social media content. This can help you grow your local brand identity, while also optimizing your online presence for search engines.

For online stores, consider targeted ads or landing pages directed at specific geographic locations where you know you have a customer base. This will help you keep the customers you have there, while also potentially adding new ones. Remember, you don’t have to be local to think like a local business.

3. Diversify how customers can buy

If your buying options have been the same since you opened, it might be a good time to add a new one like online ordering with delivery or pickup. Luckily, Clover makes adding options like online ordering with delivery or in-store pickup easier than ever.

4. Make sure you have plenty of payment options

If your business only accepts cash and cards, you could be inadvertently standing in the way of winning over more customers. Many of today’s consumers are turning to contactless and mobile payment options like Apple Pay® and Google Pay™. By adding these payment options to your store experience, you can attract new customers, and even help improve cash flow. Don’t forget, a Clover POS system makes it easy by accepting all major types of payments, including contactless.

5. Run an irresistible promotion

Running a promotion is a fantastic way to attract new customers, reward and excite existing customers, and clear out inventory. Also, there’s no better time to run one than the end of the year, as the holiday season kicks up and shopping goes into overdrive. Just make sure these discounts and promotions are attractive to customers and easy to claim. A mobile coupon, for example, is easy to use and can be scanned in-store or online.

6. Collect and review customer feedback

Dealing with feedback is hard for pretty much everyone. For entrepreneurs, though, it’s incredibly necessary for the long term success of your business. While your year is winding down, it’s a good time to collect and review any customer feedback you may have received throughout the year, and see if there are any short or long-term changes you can build into your business. By sitting down with it all at once, you can really concentrate on building solutions to problems and honing in on your strengths.

7. Display positive reviews on your website

Publishing some positive feedback on your website is a great way to boost your business’s reputation. Interestingly, it will also help you generate more feedback in the future. If new customers see published feedback on your site, they’re more likely to follow the pattern and drop a review of their own.

8. Run a (quick and actionable) customer survey

Running a concise but pointed customer survey is a great way to collect data on your customers’ experiences during, say, a holiday shopping rush. Make sure to ask relevant questions about areas where you want complete honesty — product design, delivery, customer support, website experience, returns — and try to design your survey to be actionable. Also, make sure your survey is not too long, as people are more likely to fill it out if it’s just a few questions that don’t take too much time.


9. Update your operating system software

Not to sound like one of the notifications that’s already been popping up on your computer, but you should update your computer’s operating system software if you’re not already running the latest version. The fact is, updating your software helps to keep your entire system safe and secure. Outdated computer systems are more prone to crashes, breaches, and cyberattacks and every time you update your system, you also upgrade your security. Plus, it’s something you can do overnight that doesn’t have to interrupt business hours.

10. Change the password on your Wi-Fi hotspot (or add one!)

While everyone loves a coffee or bookshop with free Wi-Fi, an unsecured network can and will attract hackers. A vulnerable hotspot is basically a gaping security risk and can lead to hackers gaining access to your stores systems and financial data. Luckily, all you have to do to up your security is add a password to your public network and change it regularly. Additionally you can encrypt your Wi-Fi or cloak your private network by disabling the SSID broadcasting function.

11. Encrypt your data, or back it up on the cloud

Encrypting your data (which is essentially just hiding it and locking it behind a password) can add a powerful layer of security to the data and sensitive information of your business. If all your business data is just sitting on a hard drive somewhere, and you’re not using data encryption or cloud storage, now is a good time to look into it for next year. Remember, it’s not just about protecting your business, it’s also about protecting the sensitive information of your customers.

12. Strengthen passwords and/or update your password policy

Strengthening the use of passwords across your team can have a long lasting positive impact on security. If you’re not already, you should require all team members to create strong, complex passwords with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. You can also require regular password updates or two-factor authentication for additional security. In general, passwords should be updated at least once a year. For even more security, every three to five months.

13. Purchase some antivirus software

Antivirus software can act as a crucial line of defense protecting your company from malware and common cyberattacks. There are plenty of options that are affordable and specialized for small businesses.

14. Upgrade to Clover Security Plus

If your business runs on Clover, you can upgrade to Clover Security Plus as a fast and affordable way to upgrade your business to world-class security status. Clover Security Plus gives you end-to-end encryption and tokenization to protect your customer’s data. Additionally, you can access a security score that will help you track your risk reduction. Plus, Clover support experts are always ready to have your back in the event of any security questions or concerns.

Prepping for the holidays

15. Bolster your staff for the holiday rush

For lots of small businesses, the Holiday season is the busiest time of the year by far. If you know your business is going to be hit by a December tidal wave of customers, start preparing now by hiring the seasonal staff you’ll need to get through it. Don’t forget, there’s a worker shortage out there, so the sooner you get the process going, the better. Start by advertising on your social media accounts and asking current employees for referrals. And don’t forget, Clover partners with JazzHR to help you create and post a job listing across several sites and keep candidates organized.

16. Get your employee schedule onto Clover

Juggling holiday employee schedules can be a headache. You’ll have to sort through various PTO requests, overtime, and staffing limitations all while navigating a potentially massive influx of customers. Luckily, Clover has easy digital solutions like scheduling apps and Time Clock, which can simplify schedule management for you and your employees. You can even integrate payroll into these apps for seamless payouts.

17. Add digital inventory tracking to your back room

Keeping careful track of your inventory can save you from delays, disruptions, and product shortages, especially during times of increased demand. You don’t want to be caught in an inventory nightmare unexpectedly, especially during the holidays. Luckily, apps like Shopventory for Clover makes inventory tracking as easy and seamless as it makes every other aspect of running your business. You can even sync your inventory to online sales for accurate up-to-the-minute inventory data.

18. Connect with any of your important customers

Connecting with some valued customers can be especially fruitful during the holiday season. It’ll take some legwork, but taking the extra time to acknowledge and reward your most loyal customers can pay off in dividends over time. With Clover Customer Engagement, you can identify repeat customers, and with the Rewards app you can help make their shopping experience a little sweeter.

19. Offer up a holiday gift card

Who doesn’t love a gift card? Shoppers love them, and business owners should definitely love them, as customers who redeem gift cards are likely to return to make more purchases. Clover makes gift cards easier than ever. You can generate digital gift cards to be redeemed in-store or online, and you can even integrate gift cards into Clover Online Ordering.

20. Establish a clear and easy refund policy (just in case)

Establishing and publishing a clear refund policy comes with significant and important advantages. First and foremost, it’s transparent and helpful for your customers. It will also help reduce the frequency of chargebacks and chargeback fraud. You’ll also be able to connect with dissatisfied customers personally, giving you the chance to learn more about what your business can do to prevent dissatisfaction in the future.

Bookkeeping and finances

21. Run an end-of-year inventory count

Conducting an end-of-year inventory count is a great way to cap the calendar year and set yourself up for the next one. You’ve already tracked your inventory throughout the sales year, but a full count can help you complete a financial analysis for your business and help you make decisions on stock that will set you up to run a tighter and more efficient ship next year.

22. Update all your employee payroll information

The end of the year is a good time to check on all the information you have on your employees to see if it’s still correct. Phone numbers, addresses, payroll information — all that basic employee data can change throughout the year, so doing a yearly check-in can save you from a future headache.

23. Generate an income statement for the year

An income statement that looks back at the previous 12 months is an important annual step that businesses should take. Not only will it help get a sense of your profitability, it could reveal areas of expense that can be cut back on, or future areas of expenditure to explore for your business.

24. Generate a cash flow statement

A cash flow statement reveals how much cash your business has from selling merchandise, investor financing, loans and/or dividends. The goal is to determine how solvent you are at any given moment, and it can also help you forecast your ability to meet expenses or absorb any sudden shocks. Essentially, it’s a good status check on your business finances for the upcoming year.

25. Forecast your sales for next year

Forecasting your sales at the end of the year can be a great way to plan and budget for the next. An accurate sales forecast can lower your unused inventory, reduce labor costs, and increase your margins. It’s also a necessary step for any potential long-term plans like expanding to a new location.

Check off some boxes with Clover

Are you interested in learning more about how Clover can help you accept payments and run your business more efficiently? Talk to a Clover Business Consultant today!


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