Start Next Year Right: What You Should Do Now to Make Next Year Successful

Posted November 2, 2016

5 min read

This time of year is a common time for funeral professionals to start planning for the New Year. We spoke with Samantha Koeppe, CPA, CFE, Assurance Manager at BDO USA, LLP, a multinational accounting, tax, audit and consulting company that provides advisor services to a range of industries, about what kind of year-end activities and business planning that firms should be taking on. She offers 4 key areas to help your firm plan for success in the year ahead.

1. Get organized.

Organization is one of the key ways for business owners to avoid mistakes that can end up taking them away from the business, holding back business efficiencies, or costing them money.

“Organization is extremely important throughout the entire year, but mostly so at year-end for many reasons,” says Koeppe. Koeppe says there are 4 key benefits to getting organized at this time of year:

  1. Improved strategic planning and goal setting for the upcoming year. “Without clean and organized accounting records, it’s extremely difficult to determine the true standing of the company at the present.” And, going forward, it can be difficult to develop achievable goals without a strong foundation to work off of, explains Koeppe.

  2. Taxes. If the company is not organized in both their accounting records as well as forms and supporting documentation, it will be difficult to determine strategies to minimize tax burden. “For example, there may be incentives and deductions based on expansion both in office space and employment. Without good records, these may be tough to obtain, or may be completely omitted from your tax accountant’s strategy.”

  3. Greater peace of mind. One of the benefits of knowing your business in and out and trusting the numbers is that it will provide confidence and calm when closing the books at year end and looking toward the future. “It will make the process easier and more efficient,” says Koeppe.

  4. Future reviews/audits. As your firm grows, investment structure may change and a requirement for a financial audit/review may result. “In preparing for a potential sale of a firm, multiple prior year audits may also arise. The longer a business owner waits to organize and clean up the books, the more difficult and expensive this process will become.”

2. Look back at your financials.

While many business owners enjoy the process of looking ahead and planning for the next year, be sure to take time to look back at the current year, says Koeppe. “Compare current year Q3 results with prior year Q3 results, and with current year Q3 projections. Are results in line with your expectations? If not, you can evaluate why.”

Koeppe says it’s also important to evaluate and determine which products and services are most profitable—and least profitable. “Is this in line with your strategic vision, or is it time to reevaluate goals and refocus?”

It’s also an ideal time to evaluate your expenses by category. “Obtain benchmarks from the industry, and see how your company compares. Are you spending too much in an area that is unnecessary or that can be cut? Does it make sense to allocate more to expenses supporting sales?”

3. …And then look forward.

After knowing more about the numbers driving your business, then it’s time to look forward.

Based on your current evaluation, does your current strategy need to be evaluated? “If so, determine your big picture vision, then break it down into small, manageable, quantifiable goals. What are your projections through the end of the year and for next year? Are you taking seasonality or other fluctuations into account?” says Koeppe. “Can you take action now or plan to take action to minimize tax liabilities in the future?”

4. See how new regulations could impact your firm.

Strategic and long-term planning is essential for any small business, and some of the questions Koeppe recommends that business owners ask can help in that process.

Part of what has to be built into any planning or projections for the new year is any changes that need to be made based on rules and regulation changes.

Policies and regulations to keep an eye out for in the new year include:

  • JOBS Act: Title III and Equity Crowdfunding for Small Businesses and Startups
  • Minimum-wage increases
  • Department of Labor proposed changes to overtime regulations
  • Paid sick-leave policy changes

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About Samantha Koeppe

Samantha Koeppe, CPA, CFE, is a Manager in the assurance department at BDO, Cincinnati, acting as a business advisor and providing audits, reviews, compilations, and accounting assistance to her clients.

She is industry-focused and is active in the firm’s technology and life sciences practice. In addition to Samantha’s role at BDO, she was selected as one of twenty-five across the Nation to serve on the Early Career Council at BDO. She founded and facilitates Cincinnati’s Women’s CFO Roundtable and is the Cincinnati Champion of the BDO Women’s Initiative and the BDO Green Initiative.

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