January is a great time of year to reflect on the successes of 2016 and picture the achievements you could reach in 2017. Astute business operators harness the perspective that comes with a new year to define and refine their New Year’s resolutions and business goals. With this in mind we share with you 10 tips to achieve a successful 2017.
1. Review your business plan
This is a good time to take a breath and think about your long-term vision. Is your business on track? Has it expanded beyond your original plan?
Taking the time to update your business plan to reflect your circumstances, current standing with customers, finances, operations and competitors will influence every major decision you make in the next year. Doing so might even give you new ideas for products or services, or identify any gaps in your business.
2. Hiring plans
Consider whether your current staff levels and skills mix will enable you to deliver into your business plan. You could go even further. Do your staff reflect and embrace the culture that you have or want within the business? Employees are the lifeblood (besides cash flow) of the business so think carefully about whether you have the right team on board who are engaged and skilled to support you to deliver into the business plan. Communicate your business goals then encourage them to set their personal goals that will help deliver the business objectives.
3. Speaking of cash flow…
Cash flow can become overwhelming when you’re not actively managing it, especially when the business is growing, because that growth needs to be funded. Use the beginning of the year to identify the timing of when the additional cashflow needs are going to hit by preparing a cashflow forecast that reflects your business plan. Map out a plan of what funding sources you can utilise to get you through these painful growth spurts (these can include prompt collection of debtors, extended creditor terms, overdrafts and owner’s equity).
Start developing a picture of what the cashflows of a successful year will look like now then plan to ensure you have funding sources to identified to see you through. Having the right framework to work with can make this task much less daunting, so request assistance instead of putting it in the too-hard basket.
Open your mind to a range of government grants, both State and Federal that the business might be eligible for. There are many opportunities for businesses to benefit from government funding including the R&D Tax Incentive for expenses invested in innovation in product, service or process, the Export Market Development Grant for expenses invested exploring international markets and Qld Government Digital Grant with round 2 opening in March to assist business grow through investing in digital projects. Research on Grants can be daunting so receiving a Grant Eligibility Review is a great place to start.
4. Start planning the next seasonal campaign
The first few months of the year are a good time to think about the calendar of activities you can do to ramp up the pipeline of new work and to schedule the next period of down time. This helps in managing the timing of key staff taking leave so they are on deck when you need them and taking a break in the quiet times. Consider what your clients’ schedules look like, when is the best time to engage with them to reinforce repeat purchases?
5. Get a handle on your financial health
For most businesses with a 30 June year end, you are half way through the financial year so have 5-6 months to hit your budget for the year ending June 2017. Use this half way point to check if you are on track to meet budget, assess how the year to date result has varied from your original budget and what you can do to impact the end of year results. Sit down with your accountant to forecast out the year end result if you remain on the current trajectory, even better simulate a few key changes to revenue, margin increases, debtor collections and expense reductions to see what is possible to give you renewed focus to hit the result. You will be surprised just how motivating a forecast of your year end result is and the best news is that there is still time to impact it!
6. Your role in the business
Too many business owners say they end up spending too much time in their business, rather than working on larger plans and direction. Now is a good time to consider how that relationship is working in your own enterprise. Do you have enough time to set and monitor the execution of a strategy?
If not, carve out some regular time in your schedule to make that happen on a regular basis, perhaps monthly or quarterly. A good way to ensure this happens is to be accountable to someone, if not a business partner than consider regular catch ups with your Accountant who can help keep you on track to progressing items that are part of the bigger picture. The long-term prosperity of your business relies on your leadership and strategic direction.
7. Do a capital investment review
Plant, equipment, property, tools – these are the lifeblood of so many businesses. If you’re dealing with outdated equipment, consider whether you need to upgrade.
This is a significant financial decision, so you need to couple this move with the financial review mentioned in tip 5. But if you know you need to upgrade towards the end of the financial year, you can start planning for it now.
8. Automate manual tasks
Too much of your work is manual. Did you know that you can automate all types of tasks?
Everything from extracting data reports in Google Analytics to scraping bank data for accounting software can be automated.
Even things like sending follow-up emails to customers can be automated. There are numerous resources to source Apps that can integrate into your accounting software to drive efficiencies, one to review if you’re a MYOB user is the MYOB Add-On Centre. Start by looking at the tasks that take you the most amount of time, and then figure out how to automate them to put your effort back where it belongs.
9. Book some time off
Business owners tend to do a lot, but not many are very good at managing their own time off. Plan well ahead for some holidays during the next year so you can take some time out, recharge and think about the next steps your business needs to take.
And make sure to leave the laptop at home!
10. Plan a strategy getaway for your top leaders
One of the most important weapons on a business owner’s arsenal is strategy and vision. Take some regular time in order to decide what the next steps for your business can be.
But you can’t always do that on your own. You need to get your top team involved. Instead of depending only on yourself, book some time in when everyone’s fresh – and take some time away from the day to day to think about what you could really accomplish in 2017.
Think big. Think beyond the next 12 months, try to describe your vision for the business in 5 or 10 years from now and then use the next year as a way to get closer to your long-term goals. Without that vision, you’ll be lost.
Take some time away with your team and gain some clarity.
If you would like to discuss forecasting for the year ahead, accounting software to help improve efficiencies or require assistance reviewing, planning and setting your business goals and objectives in 2017 speak to your usual Hanrick Curran adviser or alternatively contact Matthew Beasley or Angie Winton on 07 3218 3900.
Thanks to Patrick Stafford for your contribution to the content.
Please note that this publication is intended to provide a general summary and should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal advice.