End of Year Checklist for Businesses

As the end of the year approaches, every small business has things they need to do to prepare for the upcoming year. Reviewing your business’s activity and strategizing on what changes should be made can help further drive your business’s success. This process may seem overwhelming, so here are five things to start with when compiling an end of year checklist!

Finances

Towards the end of the year is the perfect time to review your business’s finances. Completing a profit and loss statement, balance sheet or cash flow statement could be a great way to get started. These documents help pull together the big picture of a business’s financial fitness. With this financial information, you can assess which times of the year your business performed the best and worst. Knowing this can help when strategizing next year’s goals for each quarter.

Employees

While revenue plays a significant role in business, it’s also important to reflect on your team and how they’re doing. This could be a good time to provide employees with feedback, as well as ask for any in return. Getting employee input on processes or projects may bring up ways to increase efficiency. Also, remember to audit personal employee information, as it is important to ensure this general information is always up to date.

Marketing 

Now is also a good time to review marketing efforts and impacts from the past year. Reflecting on past actions can help strategize and prioritize the best marketing efforts that can produce the biggest return on investment. For example, your business’s online presence is crucial. Ensure that your website and social media efforts are working the way you need them too. If they aren’t, then this is an opportunity to think about how to improve these channels and implement any changes. 

Achievements

Although taking note of administrative information is important for annual planning, it is also important to reflect on past wins and achievements. Celebrate and share these successes with your employees and customers. This could be a great way to end the year on a high note and get excited about your company’s future and goals. 

General Housekeeping

This could be a great time to make sure all the little things are in order. Conducting an audit over digital data could be one way to get started. This can mean filing information to ensure everything is organized or even backing up data. Additionally, conducting a physical inventory  could provide insight on which products sell and which don’t. General housekeeping can offer a fresh start when the new year begins.

Along with completing an end-of-year checklist for your business, remember to also check in with your OKFB agent and review your Commercial Insurance policy. Many changes and updates can happen in a year, and as your partners in business, we want to help ensure you’re covered. Check out our Businessowners Insurance policy, specifically tailored for small businesses, as well as our commercial policies to ensure your business is protected.

Secure Your Packages & Home

An uptick in online shopping can also mean an uptick in package theft. To help keep your packages and home safe, here are a few helpful tips. Consider these tips while you’re online ordering this summer to be sure your packages and home are safe. 

Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Package Theft

  • Consider having packages delivered to your place of employment, rather than your home. By doing this, you won’t have to worry about a package sitting unattended on a front porch all day. 
  • See if it’s okay to have your package delivered to a relative or friend if you know they will be home during delivery. Be in touch with whomever is going to receive it, so you can give them a heads up and coordinate getting it promptly from them. 
  • Check in to having your items held at a local post office for pickup. By doing this, you can get the package whenever you have time and it will be waiting in a secure location. 
  • Some stores offer a “ship to store” option. This is a good option for getting the package delivered close to home at a nearby store – for easy pickup when you have time.
  • You may be able to stipulate that your package requires signature confirmation for delivery or ask the carrier to leave your items in an area out of view. 

What Smart Home Devices Can Help Secure Your Home? 

  • Secure package dropbox. You can purchase and install a heavy-duty, secure dropbox to go on your front porch. Then you can leave delivery instructions for your carrier to deposit the package in the dropbox – the carrier can use it, but thieves have a hard time penetrating the dropbox. These boxes have been invented in recent years due to the uptick in packages being stolen from porches.
  • Smart doorbells. These advanced doorbells normally feature cameras and can detect motion outside a front door. If connected to WiFi and a smartphone, the doorbell camera can show you at any time and from anywhere what is happening live on your front porch.
  • Smart door locks. There are many options for smart door locks, including some that unlock with a fingerprint scan, a mobile app, a keypad, or even a voice command. Smart door locks provide advanced options and can free you from a traditional house key. Some will even let you provide unique visitor codes to guests or delivery drivers.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These devices can help keep your home safe from fire and fumes. Some new versions of smart detectors can include advanced features that send alerts/alarms to your smartphone or that go as far as contacting local firefighters if there is an issue while you’re not at home.

These tips and smart devices can help improve the safety of your packages being delivered and your home as a whole. Having the right amount of home insurance coverage can also help ensure your home and valuable assets stay protected. Contact an agent today to see how much coverage you may need.

Safety Tips for Severe Weather

A storm can be thrilling to watch, but knowing when to take action and seek shelter could save your life in the case of a severe storm. As we go through another storm season, keep these safety and awareness tips top of mind when bracing for severe weather. 

Understand Storm Alerts 

Weather services label storms with a “watch” or “warning” to describe the potential threat to an area. A “watch” means conditions could potentially lead to the development of a storm. A “warning” means a storm has already developed and has been spotted nearby. Most times, a warning warrants taking shelter immediately. 

When assigning watches and warnings, the National Weather Service typically uses county names to inform people of the location. This means that knowing the name of your county and surrounding counties will be helpful in identifying when a storm may be approaching your area. 

Prepare your Home 

There are many precautions you can take to protect and prepare your home for storm season. Consider the following preparations if a severe storm prediction is in your area and you have time: 

  • Identify your sheltering place. If you don’t have a storm shelter, take cover in an interior room with no windows that is on the ground level. 
  • Charge your phones and computers before the storm is near in case you lose power.
  • Bring the pets inside to ensure their safety.
  • Bring in any outdoor furniture that could be blown around or damaged. 
  • Close and shutter windows.
  • Unplug high-dollar appliances and computers in case of a power surge. 
  • Have an emergency plan and ensure all members of the household are aware of it. 

Stock up on Supplies

Make sure to have non-perishable emergency supplies, like batteries, first aid supplies, a flashlight, a portable weather radio and a three-day supply of water and food. While you’re stocking up on emergency supplies, it’s also beneficial to compile a grocery list of non-perishable food. One can never be sure of the extent of damage a storm may cause, so being prepared for the worst-case scenario is the best case. 

What to Avoid

Avoid using corded phones, electrical equipment, and even doing the dishes or taking a shower during a storm. Lightning can travel through lines, electrical systems and plumbing. According to the CDC, about one-third of injuries caused by a lightning strike happen indoors. Also, be sure to stay away from windows, doors and concrete walls or floors. Most are reinforced by metal bars or webbing, which could allow lightning to travel through. 

What to do During and After a Storm

As a storm is passing through, try to stay calm and alert. Make sure to take cover in your designated shelter if your area is under a warning. Be mindful that many facilities and hospitals will not be able to offer public shelter during severe weather at this time due to social distancing practices. Have a place in mind that you know you can access for safety. If your power goes out, use your phone or radio to listen for updates on the location and severity of the storm. 

After a storm passes, watch out for downed power lines, fallen tree branches and other debris that could be around. Once you’ve checked for damage and feel safe, be sure to check in on friends and loved ones that may have sustained damage as well. 

Preparing for storm season is the best thing you can do to ensure your safety. Talk to your agent to make sure your personal property is covered in the case of storm damage.

Assemble a Roadside Emergency Kit

From unpredictable weather to unexpected emergencies, there are many things that could leave you stuck on the side of the road when traveling from point A to point B. No matter how short the distance you’re traveling, keeping a roadside emergency kit in your vehicle can help give you peace of mind. Follow these steps to assemble one of your own, and make sure to take routine inventory. 

Emergency Supplies

A first aid kit is essential to have in your vehicle in case of an injury while on the road. Consider assembling your own kit or buying a pre-made kit. Use the American Red Cross guidelines to ensure your kit includes all the essentials. Some other emergency supplies you may want to keep in your vehicle include:

  • Bottles of water
  • Nonperishable food items
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Matches
  • Phone charger

Vehicle Tools

Your vehicle will need its own toolkit in case of a roadside incident, like a flat tire or dead battery. You may be able to buy a vehicle toolkit or you can compile one of your own with these necessary items: 

  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Work gloves and rags 
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Hazard triangles or warning lights 
  • WD-40
  • Tow rope
  • Fire extinguisher 

Severe Weather Supplies 

Extreme weather events can happen suddenly and pose some serious risks if you’re unprepared. Should you find yourself facing freezing temperatures, ice or tornadoes while on the road, you’ll want to have these items stored and ready in your vehicle: 

  • Warm, waterproof boots
  • Hat, scarf and gloves
  • Antifreeze
  • Ice scraper
  • Shovel 
  • Road salt or sand

Keeping these items in your vehicle will help ensure you’re prepared for roadside emergencies, but you’ll also want to make sure you have auto insurance that offers you the protection you need. Contact your OKFB agent to discuss your auto policy and see if you may be eligible for our roadside assistance policy addition.