December 31 CalendarThe end of the year may seem far off, but trust me: December will be here before you know it. And because there are several things you should mark off your list before then, getting a head start can keep you from having a time crunch when you’d rather be enjoying holiday cookies and punch at year’s end.

Here’s what you need to make sure is done before you close out the year.

1. Choose Your Business Structure

If you read this blog regularly, you know I harp on the importance of having an appropriate business structure. It’s not just hot air! Incorporating or filing as an LLC is truly one of the best things you can do for you company.

Doing so now will help you make a clean break from one business structure (sole proprietor) to the new one for the new year.

2. Get a Plan for Next Year

If you tweak your business plan annually, you can look right now to see how close you were to hitting your targets this year, and start planning for next year. You can wait until December to finalize the numbers, but there’s no reason you can’t get a head start on building out your plan now.

3. Build Your Q1 Marketing Plan

You want to hit the ground running in January with your marketing (especially if you’re in an industry like fitness or health, which really thrive after people make those New Year’s Resolutions). But you need to start thinking and negotiating ad rates now. And if you’ll need extra marketing help next year, now’s the time to start planning out your hiring.

4. Get Paid

Now’s the time to prod those slow-paying customers. You want to end the year on a good note, with no outstanding invoices, so send a gentle reminder or even make a phone call to keep things moving. If you need to make payment arrangements so your clients can pay, break up the remaining amount due over the final quarter of the year.

5. Pay Your Debts

The other side of this coin is that you need to clear your accounts payable out now too.  You want to maximize your business expenses to reduce your tax load, so pick up that pile of invoices on your desk and start paying!

6. File Corporate Amendments

If you’ve already incorporated, consider whether anything’s changed this year. If you moved, changed your company name, authorized more shares, or made a change in the Board of Directors, that needs to be noted in your corporate amendments.

7. Close Out That Inactive Business

If 2014 marked the end of a business for you, make sure to tie up any loose ends before 2015. You’ll need to dissolve your LLC or corporation, as well as pay any outstanding debts. Not doing so could mean you will owe taxes on your now-defunct business next year.

Tackling these items now will save you from a major end-of-year headache, so start marking these to-dos on your calendar now.