We have all been there.  Suddenly December rolls around and we all ask – “where did the year go?”  So we stress about getting through the holidays and sometime during the last few days of the year, we think about all of the things we aim to do in the new year about to begin.  That strategy works for some, but few would argue that for most the self-made promises of December lose their appeal by Groundhog Day.  That may work if your life is fairly predictable and you feel that you have a number of good practices already in place.  But if you own a business the need to consider new strategies is an absolute necessity.  Here are six to consider.

Bar chart showing growth based on new ideas

1. Tax planning

Robert Klein, writing for Market Watch, highlights the tax changes that were made for 2013.  If your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds $200,000, you should pay careful attention to some changes in the law that may affect you.  Plan to spend some time for a strategy session with your tax accountant before year end.  It could be well worth your time.

2. Revisit your marketing plan

Marcia Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations writes: “Even if you launched your business years ago, it’s important to revisit and refresh your plan. In recent years, the economy, technology and consumer habits have changed rapidly and dramatically, affecting every aspect of your business. That makes it absolutely vital to re-evaluate your short- and long-term strategies.”  I agree with her contention about rapidly changing consumer habits and suggest you consider her views in Time to revisit and refresh your marketing plan.

3. Preparing for the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Website malfunctions notwithstanding, the ACA is here and the impact might indeed be profound, especially for your small business in Massachusetts.  Yes, we all know how Massachusetts health care reform became the model for the ACA, but it doesn’t mean that the small business owner shouldn’t be concerned.  If you own a small business in Massachusetts it is well worth your time to read PPACA 101 – A Primer on the Affordable Care Act for Massachusetts Small Businesses.

4. Consider corporate contributions

Charitable giving can be a strategic initiative for tax savings.  Contributions do not have to be cash.  Oftentimes old unused office equipment has value and may be donated.  If given to a qualified charitable organization, tax benefits will follow.

5. Find better ways to engage your employees

Deciding to do more than write a check or donate unused equipment can have a profound impact on your employees.  “Engaged employees are there to give” says noted leadership and engagement author Bob Kelleher.  As the baby boomer generation begins to retire, the “Generation X & Y” groups are proliferating.  Many in these age groups want to work for a company that matters in their community.  Consider adopting a cause to support and set in place a system that encourages your employees to be a part of it.  At Genesis, we just conducted our annual fundraiser – The Genesis Battlegreen Run as we have each year since 1996.  Of course, your company needs to have more than a strong corporate identity that identifies with the community to fully embrace employee engagement but it is a good place to start.  Take a few minutes and watch a short inspiring video produced by Bob Kelleher and his team to get his views on what employee engagement is all about.

6. Think about a “Think Week”

Bill Gates goes into a week-long seclusion twice a year for a “think week”.  Not to be confused with a corporate retreat, his getaway is truly that – no family, no friends, no one from Microsoft.  Nobody.  Perhaps it doesn’t work for everyone and maybe 14 days out of the year might be more than a small business owner can spare, but there is wisdom in the phrase that business owners should take the time to work “on their business – not in it.”  Michael Karnjanaprakorn writing for lifehacker.com  thinks it a good idea to consider and I do too.  Read Take a Bill Gates-Style “Think Week” to Recharge Your Thinking.  After reading this article, I am ready for one right now.

Whatever strategies you choose to consider or adopt at year end, it is important that you act on them soon – because before you know it you will be asking yourself that same question – “Where did the year go?”

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If you have questions or would like to learn more, please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at AskUs@genesishrsolutions.com or 800-367-8367.

Genesis HR Solutions is the premier PEO provider for Massachusetts based businesses.