Can you believe it – we’re already reminding clients about the end of the March quarter and tax planning for the 2018 financial year! Where have the last nine weeks gone?In any case, let’s talk new year’s resolutions. People often make resolutions like ‘exercising more’ or spending more time with the family, but you can also create impactful resolutions for your small business. A resolution, after all, is a decision to do something differently to bring about positive change. Even though we are nine weeks in to the new year, here are five ‘resolutions’ that are useful to keep in mind if you want to grow your business.
1. I will build my business village and learn how to delegate
We always talk about building your village – it is such an important one. As a small business owner, your to-do list will never end. There are always so many things to do, and it’s easy to delude ourselves that we need to do all of them ourselves, and end up exhausted and stressed if we try. Delegation is the key to a healthy work-life balance. However, many of us may hesitate to delegate as it takes a lot of upfront effort and requires a loss of control over some of the business operations.
So how do you let someone else do certain tasks, while making sure it’s done correctly? The answer is simple: communication and training. Make sure your contractors and employees are trained to the point where they can take over some of your tasks. The next step is to clearly communicate the objectives and deadlines, so that you don’t end up micro-managing. Make sure all your external contractors such as website and graphic designers, business coaches and social media helpers understand your business message and are supportive of your work.
Focus on the parts of the business that you are fabulous at and outsource the rest! Try to do everything yourself and you could end up ‘half-doing’ it all, burn yourself out and not create a quality product or brand image.
2. I will learn how to analyse the reports in Xero to help me manage my cash flow
Cash is the lifeblood of all small businesses. Poor cashflow management is the main reason small businesses fail within the first few years. A number of things can lead to cashflow problems, and it is important to have some idea of where you are right now, and what your plan is day-to-day and over the next few months/year/five years!
You could be ticking along nicely, have your debtors paying on time, be issuing your invoices regularly… paying your mortgage and have a bit extra to pay for your kids’ dance and swimming lessons. Then out of the blue, you’re hit with a surprise tax bill because you’ve entered the PAYG instalment system, your employee applies for their four weeks of annual leave in one hit, or you fall ill. There are insurances to cover some things, but you need a back-up plan and cash for the rest.
Most business owners are tracking their business cashflow on a daily basis through Xero or Quickbooks. You’re getting your green ‘reconciled’ ticks every day, nice work! But If you aren’t using the reporting options in your software, you aren’t getting any benefit from doing these daily reconciliations. The reports are all there for you to use and analyse! And your accountant can also set up customised ones that focus on certain areas of your business too. Use them – the information is there for you! You’re doing all the work anyway…
3. I will charge what I’m worth
You’re pouring your heart and soul into your business, but does it sometimes feel like you might as well be working for someone else, for the amount of actual cash that you’re seeing hitting your bank account? If you aren’t walking away with some kind of profit after paying your mortgage, your day care fees, and buying food to feed the tribe, there might be something wrong with your pricing strategy. Your rates need to reflect what you’re bringing to the market.
I’ve come across a lot of (women especially) business owners that undervalue their services, believing it is a privilege to be providing a service for someone… anyone! In reality, your clients are privileged to be working with you. You need to start valuing the services you offer correctly. Otherwise, what’s the point? You might as well be working for someone else and not have half the stress and exhaustion you have in running the business. See our article on pricing for more about this.
4. I will learn something new
New year, new skill. “How do I fit that in?” I hear you saying – “I’m lucky to have an hour off each night!” However, it’s important to always be learning – it may be something directly related to your business or something completely unrelated. Learning a new skill will add a dimension of interest to your life that will help to maintain work-life balance. It might also lead to meeting new people – at coffee shops, networking events or even in the Live Chats on your Facebook groups. Learning something new could also be as simple as reading a new book every few months.
5. I will enhance my technology and digital footprint and make promotion a priority
Since small business owners wear a lot of hats, you might not always have ‘marketing’ at the top of your to-do list. While you should focus on delivering your amazing product or service to your existing clients, you shouldn’t forget to market that amazing experience to the outside world also. To attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority! Take the time to create a marketing plan or, if your funds allow it, hire a marketing expert to help you set it up.
Few things frustrate customers more than working with outdated technology. We all know consumers have ever increasing expectations and ever shorter attention spans. If your website is slow, your shopping experience is clunky, your marketing images are low definition, you aren’t active in the social media space, if you don’t have an up-to-date blog, if your delivery is expensive – any tiny point of friction in the experience, and consumers will move on quickly! It’s an important point to add to your list in 2018 – sort out your shopping experience and make it as easy as possible for your clients to get the access they require to your services.
Having trouble with Resolutions 2 or 3 above?
That’s where Accru can assist. We provide guidance to clients on issues such as financial reporting, cashflow and pricing to help them better manage and grow their businesses. Please see our outsourced accounting and business management services, and don’t hesitate to contact me if I can help.