As you are no doubt aware, Tax Day is upon us once again. April 18 has become a modern-day Ides of March, the most dreaded day of the entire year. For the last few weeks, your accounting department has probably been putting in long hours trying to make sure all of your ducks are in a row. The ultimate goal is to avoid the single most ominous term in the world of business – an IRS audit.
Being audited is a nightmare. It’s time-consuming, inconvenient, and expensive. Even if you have nothing to hide, the sheer volume of work involved in being audited can throw a wrench into all of your other plans. You have to prove that you’ve followed a series of increasingly arcane rules to the letter, and for a small business that doesn’t leave much time or energy for the things you want to do, like market, expand, and grow.
The IRS may have made audit a terrifying word, but the fact is that auditing your own business, taking a close look at what you’ve been doing and forcing yourself to defend your own decisions, is actually a great way to avoid waste, focus your efforts, and make sure that every move you make is the right move for your company.
Keep doing your best to avoid those IRS audits, but starting this year, we recommend you use Tax Day as a reminder to audit yourself. Look at everything you’ve been doing critically and figure out what should stay, what should go, and where your resources could be reallocated for maximum effect.
To help you get started, here are a few quick ways you can audit your own business and stay on the path to success.
Marketing is probably the easiest part of your business to audit. You have a solid record of exactly where and when you spent your money. Compare that to your customer records. Notice a big spike after you ran those radio spots, but less movement when you took out an ad in that local weekly? Sounds like it’s time to put more of your budget into radio ads.
Online marketing is even easier to track. You can see exactly how well your click ads are performing with a simple glance at your analytics. Are you driving enough traffic to your site? If not, consider trying different keywords or rewriting your ad copy.
All it takes is a little bit of research to get the most out of your marketing plan. And if you’re looking for new ideas, consider trying some of rushIMPRINT’s custom branded merchandise. It’s one of the most proven, effective ways to advertise your business.
It sounds obvious, but you’d be shocked how many businesses fail to properly track their expenses. Sure, there’s an accounting department that keeps painstaking records of those things, but oftentimes the company’s leadership is uninformed or uninterested when it comes to total expenditures.
Don’t let a dollar slip past you that you don’t know about. The IRS certainly doesn’t, and this is one case where you could really stand to take a page from their book. Spend a few days closely examining your expenses. You might be surprised what you’re still spending money on. Chances are you’ll find dozens of places to cut that will improve your profitability and make your whole business more efficient.
It’s easy for an office to fall into the mindset of doing things a certain way because that’s the way they’ve always been done. This path of least resistance creates inefficiencies at an alarming rate. This year, take a look at everything you do in your office, from how you handle break times to office hours to scheduling. There’s no doubt you have a good reason for the way you run your business, but by forcing yourself to defend your own practices, you might be surprised how many little things you find that could be done better.
Obviously, this is just a start. By taking a look at these three areas, though, your audit will be well underway. The key is to leave no stone unturned when examining your own company. It’s just as important to make it an annual event. A lot can change in a year, and what’s best for you today might be a hindrance in 12 months. A yearly self-audit is a great way to turn the terror of tax day into a hopeful future for your business.