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5 steps to make 2018 the best year yet for your business
For many agricultural businesses, winter is a time for catching up from the last growing season and preparing for the next. Start the new year off right with these five steps that will help make 2018 your best year yet:
- Get your taxes done
Don’t put your taxes off till the last minute. With new changes to the tax code, it’s important to give yourself time to make sure you file your taxes correctly. For most small businesses, hiring outside accounting helps to pays for itself, with all the additional deductions a tax expert can help you claim. Check out these articles for further tax tips and information about deadlines:
- 7 year-end tax planning tips for farmers
- Farm Bureau: What do tax cuts mean for farmers and ranchers?
- What the new tax law means for agriculture, from the American Agriculturalist
- Make your 2018 financial plan
Once you’ve put together your financial information for your tax preparation, keep your momentum going by meeting with your accountant to set your 2018 budget and financial goals. Are there expenditures from last year that you could cut? New growth opportunities you want to take advantage of? A tax break to capitalize on? To help ensure your business stays on track, set monthly milestones. Every month, you can check your progress against those milestones and see if you need to adjust course, rather than being surprised by a big deficit later in the year.
- Basic yearly and monthly financial statement worksheets for farms, from The Carrot Project
- A deep dive into yearly financial planning with the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center
- Tackle the organization projects you’ve been putting off
Sorting files isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but good digital and physical organization is worth the work. Good record-keeping helps you make informed decisions about your business. Without easy-to-find information about past production, it’s hard to make good choices about the future. For example, making in-season crop decisions is a great way to keep up with fluctuating input prices, marketing changes and weather, but without organized information, you won’t have all you need to make the best decisions. If you spend hours digging through spreadsheets and emails, that’s hours you’re not spending moving your business forward.
Keep in mind that an important part of organization is making sure everyone has access to the files they need, when they need them, including stakeholders like accountants, investors, or business partners. A cloud-server IT solution makes it easy to make sure everyone has the secure access they need. Learn more about IT solutions like AgCompass.
- Protect your digital assets
Every month brings news of a digital data breach, software security flaw, or hardware vulnerability. Luckily, you don’t need to be a tech expert to protect yourself from some of the most common digital security problems. Following basic digital security protocols for both your business and personal information will protect you from a variety of digital threats. If your business relies heavily on sensitive digital information, you may also consider cybersecurity insurance as part of your business insurance package. Read more about cybersecurity in today’s tech world:
- How to choose the right IT setup for your business
- What small businesses need to know about cybersecurity
- Read more
Technology and business management best practices are always changing. While attending trade shows is an excellent way to stay up to date, it’s not always possible or affordable to attend all the continuing education events you’re interested in. A low-cost and easy option is staying up to date by regularly reading articles from trade journals, business publications, and industry partners. Set an achievable goal for yourself to read at least one article a week.
Expand your reading horizons in 2018 by reading for pleasure, too! Reading fiction or non-fiction books that have nothing to do with your business will keep your mind sharp and introduce you to new ideas. Research suggests we absorb more when we read a physical book rather than a digital copy on a tablet or computer, so put down the device for your reading this year.