Spring cleaning is not only for households. For small business owners, springtime is a reminder to get things in order. From an aesthetic standpoint, cleaning up a messy office not only injects a sense of order that might desperately be needed, it also provides a sense of accomplishment. From an operational standpoint, small business owners can clean up their books from 2013, store receipts, tax returns and other important documents electronically, and close out old inventory to greet the arrival of warm weather.
Clean Up 2013 Receipts
Unfortunately, April 15th, Tax Day, is a rite of spring. As many entrepreneurs are meeting with their accountants during the upcoming weeks, it is important to close out the books on 2013. Make sure you have all the receipts you need for write-offs. Some of them may be stuck in your pocket or buried under catalogs in your inbox. Now is the time to look for them. You don’t want to be frantically searching for receipts from major purchases on April 14th. It is easier to find things when the pressure is off. You may have forgotten the receipt from the computer you bought last February. Neglecting to do so could cost you thousands of dollars in business expenses that you could have deducted and saved yourself substantial dollars on your tax bill.
Store Things Electronically
Companies are gradually getting the hang of using clouds to store data, including financial records. While most accountants recommend holding onto tax returns and receipts for seven years, if you are using cloud storage, you can easily file things away and – if organized properly – easily retrieve them if ever needed.
Technology makes it very easy to organize data. If you are not tech savvy, assign someone on staff the project of creating an electronic filing system. This is important, for instance, if you intend to apply for small business funding in the near future. Banks typically ask for three years’ worth of financial records in their loan application forms. Knowing where this information is can substantially speed up the process.
Close Out Old Inventory
There is no doubt that retailers had a rough winter. My company’s recent analysis of sales in January and February, when much of the country endured record cold weather, found that revenues declined 13% overall. For instance, it is possible now for consumers to find great deals on winter clothing – not because people didn’t need it, but rather because consumers did not go shopping. Now, as the calendar nears the first day of spring on March 20, it is difficult to sell such items without marking them down. Psychologically, people are ready for warm weather – especially after a relatively rare St. Patrick’s Day snowstorm hit several states.
Move the old merchandise out, and start plugging spring-related goods and services. The candy aisles are brimming with Easter candy. Small companies, such as landscapers and painting companies, are already reaching out to potential customers. Now is the time to get homeowners to commit to hiring your service. It’s time for a fresh start, and turning the page on the long winter of 2014 is a great way to take it.
Rohit Arora is co-founder and CEO of Biz2Credit, an online resource that connects 1.6 million small business owners with 1,200+ lenders, credit rating agencies and service providers such as CPAs and attorneys via its Internet platform. Since 2007, Biz2Credit has secured more than $1 billion in startup funding, small business loans and business lines of credit for entrepreneurs across the U.S.