While summer doesn’t officially end until September 22, the end of August and the Labor Day weekend make it feel like summer is over. Now is a great time to regroup for the approaching final quarter of the year. Ask yourself …
What am I doing about pricing?
Inflation for 2018 is running at 2.9%, and Kiplinger’s predicts it will be about 2.8% in 2019. Have you raised your prices to keep pace with your higher costs for goods and services? If not, do you expect to raise prices or cut expenses to maintain profit margins?
What am I doing about retaining employees?
With unemployment at historic lows, employees can easily jump ship to find a better paying, more satisfying job. So you have to ask yourself what you’re doing to keep employees engaged. Large companies use perks (e.g., Disney and Walmart underwrite college tuition for online studies).
Small firms must get more creative. Consider:
- Support skill-building with mentoring programs
- Recognize achievement with bonuses and other tangible compensation
- Be supportive and understanding about professional goals and personal concerns of employees
But also be prepared to give pay raises and provide basic benefits (health care, retirement plans). Kiplinger’s predicts that pay raises in the coming year will average 3.3%. And of course, the cost of your payroll taxes will rise in tandem, plus the additional cost for the higher wage base for Social Security taxes (the base in 2018 is $128,400, but could be well over $130,000 next year).
What am I doing about my costs?
While the economy seems sound right now, the cost of just about everything is on the rise. Are you prepared to pay more for gasoline for your cars and trucks? Shipping costs? Business travel expenses (projections put hotel costs up 3.7% and airfare up 2.6%)? Premiums on your business owners policy and other coverage? Some costs could be coming down. For example, New Hampshire’s workers compensation costs for employers could lower in 2019.
What am I doing with my business advisors?
Small business owners need a team of advisors and should be talking with them on a regular basis to make sure they’re doing things right. Have you scheduled time with your CPA or other tax advisor to understand the new tax law and what you can do to optimize your tax savings? Have you met with your insurance agent to discuss coverage going forward? Have you talked with your webmaster lately to upgrade your website, obtain an SSL, and be sure you’re mobilely optimized?
What am I doing to grow my business?
As Michael E Gerber said in The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It: “Simply put, your job is to prepare yourself and your business for growth.” Do you have a plan for the next 6 months? 12 months? 2 years? Are you budgeting for growth?
One last thought
When children go back to school, summer vacations are behind us, and the temperature is going down, it’s a great time to refocus on your business to finish up the year strong and be prepared for the coming year. Get cracking!