To reach a destination, you need a roadmap or a plan. After all, a goal without a plan is but a wish.

For any small business owner, making informed decisions, dealing with unforeseen challenges, and positioning their businesses for sustained growth requires planning. Doing so helps companies adapt to changing to meet shifting market dynamics or adjust to absorb unexpected expenses comfortably.

With that in mind, here are 10 financial planning tips for your small business to consider for 2024:

1. Determine Realistic Goals and a Budget

Think about what you want your business to achieve this year and identify goals you can realize. Be specific. Having a goal of growing your business over the next 12 months is fine, but put numbers to it.

Financial planning tips for small businesses in 2024

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For example, if your goal is to grow your business by acquiring 1,000 new customers, pick dates and milestones to target throughout the year related to that goal. Also, develop a budget that supports those goals and includes all anticipated revenues and expenses you’ll have throughout the year. Regularly review and update your budget to keep track of your performance and operations.

2. Establish a Plan to Achieve Your Goals

Drill down into the details of your goals and establish a thorough plan to reach them. Consider all factors, like revenue targets, profit margins, and expense reduction measures. Determine deadlines for each portion of the plan and establish how you’ll measure progress. 

Your plan is like a blueprint or roadmap: it’s a visual representation of your strategic plan and a communication tool to share with partners and employees so everyone understands what the business’s main objectives are.

3. Know Your Tax Obligations and Tax Return Deadline

Depending on your business’s structure – a corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship – there are different tax obligations and tax return deadlines. Make sure you know yours.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) states corporations must file their returns within six months of the end of each fiscal year. For example, if a corporation has a December 31 year-end for its 2023 fiscal year, its filing deadline is June 30, 2024.  

Meanwhile, for a self-employed professional or sole proprietor, the deadline to file your tax return is June 15, 2024, but if you owe the government money, it must be paid by April 30, 2024. Also, for side hustlers or people with a side job, be aware your side business is taxable

Business partnerships must file their returns by April 1, 2024, if all partners are classified as individuals throughout the partnership’s fiscal year.

The CRA also offers free mobile apps for business owners to download to keep on top of when to file a return, view accounting transactions and more.

We recommend you talk to a tax expert or accountant to ensure you file your tax return correctly and on time and take advantage of all the business-related deductions you can claim to lower your tax bill.

4. Review Your Equipment and Inventory

While it’s necessary to conduct regular maintenance and cleaning on your business equipment, machinery, appliances, office equipment and computing systems and keep track of your inventory, it’s also worthwhile to audit your equipment and inventory.

Does any of your equipment or machinery need to be upgraded or replaced? What about the software your employees use? Also, consider office supplies and other inventory you need to run and manage your business. Take stock of what you have and what you’ll need in the months ahead, and determine the cost required to stock up or replace aging equipment and upgrade software.

5. Review and Update Your Business Insurance Policy

Reviewing and updating your business insurance policy annually is critical for protecting your assets and livelihood. 

Although you’ll receive an email notification between 30 and 90 days in advance of your policy’s expiration date, it’s vital you consider how your business has changed and grown and how your coverage may need to be enhanced or modified to suit your liability risks in the days and months ahead. A Zensurance broker can assist you with assessing your insurance requirements.

6. Assess Your Employee Needs

Ensure that the skills and expertise of your current workforce align with your strategic goals. By assessing employee needs, you can identify any existing skills gaps and avoid overstaffing and understaffing issues.

Furthermore, identifying high-performing employees and addressing their career aspirations and development needs helps ensure your key talent is motivated and engaged and can increase employee retention and reduce turnover.

7. Review and Negotiate Partner Contracts

Regularly reviewing your business partner and supplier contracts ensures that the terms and conditions align with your business’s strategic goals and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with your partners.

Assessing partner contracts can reveal opportunities for cost savings, allow you to evaluate your partners’ performance, see any legal or financial risks associated with those agreements, and possibly open the door to negotiating with them for better payment terms.

8. Have an Emergency Fund

Build an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses or maintain operations when business is slow. Having a financial cushion helps prevent relying on credit cards and lines of credit during challenging economic times.

9. Regularly Monitor Your Cash Flow

Keep a close eye on your cash flow, as it’s crucial for day-to-day operations. Manage invoicing and payments efficiently to avoid cash flow gaps. Identifying the root causes of cash flow issues helps prevent the unpleasant experience of finding yourself in a cash crunch.

10. Invest in Technology

Invest in financial management tools and accounting software to streamline internal processes and reduce the risk of errors. Is your small business using artificial intelligence (AI)? If you’re not experimenting with AI to determine how to use it, you should. Most of your competitors probably are.

Also, think about enhancing or establishing an e-commerce platform and expanding your reach to net new customers while providing as many convenient digital payment options as possible.

Invest in Financial Wellness: Get Business Insurance

A comprehensive business insurance policy is the backbone of every business owner’s risk management strategy and an investment in protecting your financial wellness and assets.

Get the low-cost coverage you need quickly from Zensurance. Fill out our online application for a free quote. Our knowledgeable brokers will shop our partner network of over 50 insurers to find a policy that suits your requirements and budget.

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About the Author: Brandon Bowie

Brandon Bowie is a Team Lead, Professional Lines at Zensurance.