To put it mildly, 2016 has been a year of surprises. As the year draws to a close, we offer our top ten suggestions for closing out 2016 and preparing for 2017. Drum roll please!
- Evaluate your goals for this past year. Which goals did you meet and which should you carry forward into 2017? What do you need to have in place to set yourself up for success in 2017? Will you hire another doctor? Offer new services? Take some time on a quiet afternoon this month to set goals for next year.
- Turn your goals for 2017 into a budget. Budgets get a lot of bad press, but having a budget can help you reach your goals. If you want to offer nutritional counseling or work with more birds, be sure to budget for any additional training your doctors or staff may need. Also, include the cost of marketing those new services to your clients and potential clients. Budget for new equipment, small tools, client education packets or seminars. If it's in the budget, there is no excuse not to do it!
- Talk with your accountant before year-end about what last minute steps you can take to reduce your business and/or personal income taxes. Does it make sense to purchase new equipment now (versus a few months from now) to maximize deductions, or is it better to keep a larger cash reserve? While you're at it, schedule an appointment with your insurance agent to verify your insurance coverage is adequate.
- Ensure employee information (home address, personal email address) is accurate for year-end reporting, such as W-2s. Review year-to-date payroll and benefits reports. It will be easier - and less expensive to correct errors now than it will be to fix them next year. S-Corporation owners - remember to have your personal health insurance premiums added to Box 2 on your 2016 W2's. Contact your payroll service for help with this.
- If you award year-end bonuses or hand out gift cards to your employees, remember to include the value on payroll reports. The IRS is tightening its rules regarding fringe benefits, and considers gift certificates to be taxable wages unless specifically excluded by a section of the Internal Revenue Code. Consult your tax advisor if you are unsure.
- Conduct a physical inventory count and update totals in your practice management software as needed. You don't need to wait until December 31st to get organized. Print inventory reports and enlist staff members from each area of the hospital to count the inventory in their departments. Spend time before the end of the year getting the reports from your software to match your physical count.
- Reconcile all bank and credit card accounts, including your petty cash account. Ideally, these are reconciled every month, but if you fell behind during the year, make a point to catch up now. Be sure the expenses paid from petty cash are recorded on your books this year.
- Clean up the practice bookkeeping and organize receipts and files. Look through a year-to-date profit and loss statement and compare it to a report from 2015. Are there income or expense items that are significantly different from 2015? Look closer at these areas to ensure everything is recorded correctly. If you clean up your numbers before your accountant has to, you may save yourself some money! Plus, you will have better information to manage your practice. That's a win - win in our books!
- Pull out the 2017 calendar and schedule practice-wide meetings. Select days for open houses and community events and put them on the calendar. Also, plan for some personal time off and block it out on the schedule. The actual days you take may change, but reserving the time on your calendar will help you commit to taking a break to refresh and restore yourself.
- Do something just for yourself. Whether your idea of relaxation involves a good book, a 5-mile run, or an evening with friends and family, take some time to recharge. Take some down time so you are ready to focus on 2017 and the opportunities it has in store.