Related: An end-of-year checklist for motivating employees.
Entrepreneurs and businesses are constantly are in a state of flux as they adapt to the market, so there's some degree of critical decision making you need to do for your company all year (even every day). But because December serves as a month with so many year-end considerations, and since people already associate the switch to a new calendar with fresh beginnings, it fits flawlessly as the time to make actionable decisions. Mull over these six and take action where necessary, ideally before the ball drops. Ask yourself:
1. Whether your current staff is satisfactory in size and productivity
It's common to need more employees as you expand, but sometimes you can still make things work or improve quality and productivity by having current employees switch roles or take some voluntary overtime. Need more help, but have a tighter budget? Check out freelance sites such as Freelancer or Upwork to find a potential contractor who may be more affordable.
2. Where you are going to seek funding
Angels, VCs, loans, grants, donations, lines of credit, asset sales -- all are viable options. Each one has its own equity, tax, legal, and cash flow considerations, however, and you need to understand whether you can manage those funds appropriately to pace your growth. Where is your business today, where are you going in 2017, and how much capital (and what kind) do you need to get there?
3. What operational processes need adjustment
You can usually determine whether certain processes need tweaking by analyzing specific metrics, such as units produced or software efficiency. But don't ignore your people -- think about internal opportunities just as much as external ones. Processes that leave workers unhappy and lead to turnover aren't good, even if your business is crushing it, so always get feedback on what you can do to improve or be more efficient.
4. Whether to maintain or change your legal structure
Acquisitions, mergers, and sales all can affect how your business is best organized, as can taking on or losing business partners, founders, executives, or investors. For example, changing your structure from an LLC to C-Corp may also yield specific tax and legal benefits. Do some research to understand what a change could mean for your business and if you need it -- it also wouldn't hurt to have a brief chat with a tax and legal adviser about your plans.
5. Whether current technologies need to be upgraded or switched out
The infrastructure you have might be sufficient and secure now, but if it can't meet those criteria through your new goals for the upcoming year, changes might be in order. For companies that are anticipating high growth, new technology or infrastructure considerations are a conversation you need to start having now.
6. Whether to modify, end, or extend current contracts
Employment, utility, rental, supply, and any contractors you've hired might need adjustment based on new regulations, what you can afford, and the new objectives you've put in place. Try to identify any opportunities or redundancies that could improve business efficiency.
Remember, you don't need to make these decisions all by your lonesome. Lean on your mentors, advisers, and experts to make the most informed decisions, so that you'll start 2017 off with a bang.