The new year has arrived, and for savvy entrepreneurs like yourself, it’s time to think about how to set yourself up for success in the months to come. As if you don’t have enough to worry about already! At Fundbox, we provide flexible business financing to over 70,000 U.S. small business owners. For most, starting the new year off on the right foot means having working capital to improve their business game. Here are five ways you can be proactive, use that financing wisely, and set yourself up for small business success in 2018. Prepare for Taxes Whether you own a business or work for one, you don’t want to hear the t-word pop up before tax time. As many of us are coming down from an extended period of fun-filled family festivities (Yay! Holidays with the in-laws and their happy dog Cheeto!), taxes are the last thing on our minds. It is especially hard for those of us that know very well (and if you’re mumbling under your breath at the mention of taxes, that means you) that the beginning of March will bring a great deal of stress because we don’t have our financials in order. Though the stress of tax day is as constant as the seasons changing, animals migrating, and the annual Starbucks holiday cup controversy, a little foresight and planning can help you maintain your sanity in the month of March. \tMeet with your business accountant as early as possible to organize business taxes, understand what you could owe walking into tax season, and then discuss what potential business write-offs you might have that could offset related expenses. No one likes to reconcile receipts, but if you do it now instead of putting it off, then you can enjoy the warm days of spring outdoors rather than inside with piles of paper and a calculator. \tIf you don’t have a business accountant but are using a tax reporting software like TurboTax, find a weekend to review where you stand with taxes and use this time to organize your write-offs and receipts. If you think you may need some help or advice getting ready for tax season, contact SCORE, the national small business mentor network funded by the Small Business Administration, to see if they’re offering free tax prep classes. Hire Up The new year is an ideal time to start fresh on business needs that you may have put off in 2017. For many business owners, that means bringing on new employees. Perhaps your business is poised to grow or, you need to hire someone with a particular set of skills. Or perhaps it’s time to say goodbye to a worker who has run his or her course with your company. Whatever the case, January could be a great time to rethink your staffing strategies. Remember: the value of your small business as it stands today, and the potential your small business has tomorrow, rely 100% on the people you invite to join your team. Invest in Business Apps The reality is that many small business owners build their businesses up using a hodgepodge of basic accounting, inventory management (hello, spreadsheets) or email apps—just the right amount of technology to address their basic needs. While this basic, salt-of-the-computer approach can work, if you’re someone who would prefer to hold onto yesterday’s business app because “you’re comfortable with it,” then you should proudly put on your t-shirt that says “working harder and not smarter.” Sorry to be harsh on this one, but there are hundreds of amazing apps designed to make your business run smoother, acquire customers faster, and even access working capital when you need it, and you should be taking advantage of them. Stock Up on Inventory One strategy for entering 2018 with a bang, and hopefully a bump in your business margin, is to concentrate on using your end-of-year sales to stock up on new inventory for the future. Seems like a no-brainer, right? However, you might be surprised by how many small business owners focus on getting rid of that last little bit of last year’s inventory while missing out on the opportunity to capitalize on new inventory with more competitive price points (usually in advance of when the inventory is actually needed). As the well-known billionaire investor Mark Cuban said during a recent interview, “you could start by saving on toothpaste, for instance. It's so hard to make a return on regular investments that … you're better off buying two years' worth of toothpaste when it's on 50 percent discount. There's an immediate return on your money.” Call it the toothpaste rule or something else, but the message here is clear. Always try to line up your product and/or service needs in advance. Look for opportunities to take advantage of closeout sales where you might be able to purchase new inventory at a greatly discounted cost. Don’t Go It Alone You may be thinking, all of these ideas to start the New Year off right sound great, but I don’t have the money to invest in them at the moment. To start your new year off on the right foot, consider a business line of credit. You may apply without jeopardizing your personal credit score, and you can quickly secure the funds you need to grow your business, pay your taxes, hire new employees, stock up on inventory, and more in 2018.