Caitlin Sykes

Your Business editor of the NZ Herald

Your Business: Using end of year to plan ahead

Wrapping up the financial year while doing daily jobs adds to pressure but it can also be a good time to reflect.

Natasha McDowall.
Natasha McDowall.

Two words seem to sum up the sentiment for many small businesses at this time of year: time poor.

Dealing with all that's required at the end of the financial year along with business as usual can mean busy days and long hours.

As Annie Quested of Wellington-based plumbing and gas fitting firm Raygas puts it: "I do everything that is office-based and am also out in the field quoting so, as you can imagine, just managing the day-to-day is a full-on job.

"When you add end of year, things become really hectic."

Being organised helps.

Natasha McDowall, a partner at accountants Tael Solutions, says having the right systems in place pays off at year's end.

"We work closely with all our clients to ensure that by year end we only really need information for the last couple of months as we have drafted accounts for the part-year to either September, November or January depending on the client."

The firm provides new customers with "Tael tools" - information to help them organise their business and personal records.

An end-of-year newsletter is also sent in March to remind them about bad-debt write offs, stocktakes, holiday pay accruals, fixed asset register reviews and other year-end tasks.

Craig Colman, who runs a Palmerston North design, web, print and marketing firm, says he sets aside time throughout the year to plan and look over what is happening in the business, both financially and with regard to customers.

"This helps us keep our direction and figures on track so there are no hidden surprises at this time of year."

And it's not all about looking back. Planning ahead is also something small business owners do around the end of their financial year.

Emma Lowe, who runs Monowai Estate in Hawkes Bay with her husband Marcelo, is busy harvesting grapes at this time of year, so they made a decision to shift their financial year end to June 30 - a quieter period for the business, offering more time for getting organised and for reflection.

"When we get the accounts back we sit down and look at things like costs and how they compare to the year before, and also look ahead to see if we are growing volume-wise or value-wise," says Lowe.

"That's the time of year when you've got all the numbers in front of you, so we can see what we could be doing differently and how that could change the figures going forwards."

- NZ Herald

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