A strong economic outlook is driving consumer optimism, and as a business owner, you may be similarly inspired to pursue growth. Small businesses are looking towards the future with a bright outlook, according to the NFIB Research Foundation’s latest optimism index survey. The August 2018 report found a record number of business owners — 34 percent — have plans to expand.
As the fourth quarter approaches, consider what you can do now to wrap up the year on a high note.
Fill out the Ranks if Necessary
If you run a retail store or a service-based business that tends to be busier during the holidays, now’s the time to think about increasing your staff.
Review last year’s sales and run an estimated projection for this year’s numbers to get an idea of how strong customer demand is likely to be. That can help you gauge how many employees you need to hire and how to schedule them. Remember to give yourself enough time to fully on-board new hires ahead of the holiday rush.
Check Your Inventory Numbers
The business owners included in the small business optimism index report had an eye on boosting their inventory stock. Ten percent said they planned to increase inventory, the strongest numbers since 2005.
Go back to the sales projections you calculated earlier and compare those numbers to the inventory you have on hand. If certain items tend to be scarce around the holidays, get in touch with your vendors to see if you can pre-order those to avoid selling out when customer traffic peaks. Also, work out delivery schedules in advance so you know when new inventory will arrive.
Begin Your Tax Prep
The next payment deadline for quarterly estimated taxes is right around the corner in January. Yet another good reason to run estimates of sales projections through the fourth quarter is to ensure that you’re setting aside enough money over the next few months to cover your estimated tax obligation.
You can also use the fourth quarter to begin prepping for next year’s tax filing. Start looking for deductible expenses and add up business losses (if any) year to date. If you’re planning to spend capital on something big, such as new equipment, consider whether it makes more sense to do that now or defer your purchase until the beginning of the year.
Consider Financing Sooner, Rather Than Later
One thing small business owners aren’t optimistic about, according to the survey, is an improvement in credit conditions. With interest rates continuing to rise, borrowing may become more expensive.
If you think you may need an equipment or inventory loan, or just a working capital loan to finish up the fourth quarter, check your credit to see how likely you are to qualify. And of course, take time to compare borrowing options from different lenders to find the best fit for your financing needs.