September is finally upon us, although ‘finally’ might not be the right word, as this year seems to have flown by since coming out of lockdown! It’s been a tough year for many for all sorts of reasons, but we’re looking ahead to 2022 and helping to make sure you start in the strongest possible position.
We’re nearing the end of the third quarter and summer is drawing to a close, children are back to school and we’re approaching the busy festive season at a rapid rate of knots. So as you’re packing away the sunscreen, beach towels and barbecues, it’s important to ask yourself:
‘Am I ready to make the most of the fourth quarter (Q4)?’
Q4 is a crucial time for business owners. It can be the busiest and most important time of year to be prepared for, or it can be a time where your business may be at risk of going really quiet, depending on who you help and how you help them:
For B2C businesses it’s time to ensure you have prepared your marketing and offers for the festivities ahead to ensure you don’t miss out on the seasonal selling opportunities that lie in store. According to a survey on UK Christmas shopping habits during 2020, 28% of people had already started their shopping by the end of September and Christmas is trending earlier each year (known as Christmas creep) so if you want to capitalise on the opportunities to be ready for the early birds, it’s important to prepare your seasonal marketing strategy in advance and ensure your products are ready to go - pronto!
For B2B businesses, the festive season might be slower, but there will be things you’ll know about your market and the way they are likely to behave during the coming season, so you can prepare for this and ensure you stay busy when you want to be. Your marketing may need to be focused on creating seasonal related campaigns, and consider promoting offers with a view to ensuring you maximise opportunities to bring in new business, before any quiet patches that may occur due to operational downtime while staff are taking a break over Christmas.
While the holiday season at the end of the year is always a busy one both personally and professionally due to Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year, it’s also a great opportunity to reconnect with others within your professional network, customer base, and wider business community. Consider how you can take advantage of these festivities and don’t miss the opportunity they present to build relationships. Social media, email campaigns, special offers, sending cards and gifts, are all things you could plan to help with this.
Review your progress so far this year
This is a great time to also review your progress towards your annual goals and start thinking about setting goals for Q4 to ensure you’re on track for the end of the year. It’s fun to think to the future and explore where you might be, where you’d like to be and set goals to get there. And those goals can come in really handy when trying to measure progress and can give you a clear direction.
Celebrating what you've achieved will help keep spirits high as you enter the fourth quarter. This has the added benefit of destressing you and allowing you to focus with a positive mindset. Looking back can also remind you of the challenges you may have overcome and help you to consider your learnings from these experiences. This can be an encouraging process and remind you of your progress.
Tax return time
Don’t forget to think about the impending deadline for your self-assessment tax return to be filed. The deadline is 31st October 2021 for paper returns or 31st January for online returns if you haven’t filed them already. If you’re looking for a new accountant or help to file your tax return, now is the time to do it! Leave it too late and you’ll risk being unable to find anyone to help you at the last minute (good professionals will already be very busy at this time of year and they have limited capacity to take on new clients).
Companies with a December year-end
If you’ve had a great year so far and your cash flow is looking healthy, it may be time to discuss with your accountant about reducing Corporation Tax liabilities. You could consider taking advantage of training, asset purchases and spending out on any other bits and pieces your business may need that would qualify as a cost to be offset against Corporation Tax if your year-end as a limited company is the end of December, and you’re currently in a profit-making position (make sure you speak to your accountant to take professional advice on this!).
A final word
We’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a productive and fruitful Q4. We’d love to hear how you get on! If you’re a member of The Inspire Network, remember to share your news with us over in the Inspire Hub. We’d love to celebrate your wins and hear what you’re up to! If you’re not a member yet, and if you’re interested in joining the network to access help and support for your business all year round, you can find out more by clicking here
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Wishing you a very productive and fruitful Q4!