As the mid-winter mark passes, now is a perfect time for business owners to contemplate how to take advantage of the burst of new energy the warmer months bring.
MYOB encourages Australia’s SMEs to invest in ‘balcony time’ over the next few weeks to consider how to start a good spring clean that will put their business in good stead for the year ahead.
CEO Tim Reed says, “Business owners of all ages, industries and sizes can find keeping up momentum through the colder months a bit of a challenge. As tempting as it is to bunker down, it’s the perfect time to energise and engage your team with a thorough business clean-up. In the weeks before spring this can renew everyone’s enthusiasm about their work plan during the warmer months.
“When taking time out to plan a spring clean, business operators might ask themselves the following questions and more: Do some systems need streamlining for greater efficiency, so I can hit the warmer months with more time up my sleeve? Could my operations manual do with a thorough update and run-through so everyone’s working from the same page? Could my staff training program benefit from a shake-up to improve engagement?”
Out with the old
A review of the previous year’s performance reports, and an assessment of the processes and systems that took you there will provide clarity around what is and isn’t adding value. Laying last year out should lead you to exploring new ways to address those problem areas.
For example, you might find you need more information to make key business decisions or you need help with keeping up with basics like cash flow, billing and understanding compliance costs. It might be time to ditch old systems like pen, paper and spread sheets and find a new way to take control of your business. Cloud accounting software is increasingly affordable and simplifies many of these business elements.
In with the new
Mr Reed says, “A key revenue generating activity that surprisingly few SMEs take advantage of is a business website. It puts you online where your customers are researching their purchase decisions. Even more importantly, it’s been shown to significantly increase the likelihood of an annual revenue rise. If you don’t have one consider the business return you’ll get from taking 20 minutes to create one – there are easy, affordable website builders out there these days.”
According to the latest MYOB Business Monitor, Australian SMEs with a website were 60% more likely to have seen a revenue increase in the year to February 2013.
“If you already have a business website, consider how you can make it even easier to find. Can you update it more frequently? Provide more visuals of products and services? Link it to your social media profiles? Offer an e-commerce facility? Take a look at websites from your competitors and other companies you admire to get ideas,” Mr Reed adds.
Get advice & support
Isolation can be a real challenge for business owners, particularly smaller owner-operators. There are many dedicated avenues of support for local businesses looking for help and advice.
“Exploring the web for like-minded operators can be a terrific way to plug into the wider business community, regardless of your geographic location or working hours. If you’re not involved in LinkedIn groups or reading industry forums and blogs then consider getting better connected,” Mr Reed says.
“With social media, SMEs can reach a far wider audience than ever before. Of course, that doesn’t mean neglecting opportunities to build relationships the old-fashioned way too. Local business and industry groups are still great avenues for networking with peers, suppliers and potential customers.
“Another key port of call is your accountant. They have an in-depth understanding of your business and can help benchmark your performance against similar businesses. By doing so they identify ways for you to make valuable improvements to your market offering, productivity and bottom line.”
Check-in with your progress
With a new financial year just started, this is the ideal moment to check your business’ progress against your plan. How are you tracking against financial goals? Are there any areas where costs or revenue haven’t matched your expectations? Are there emerging opportunities you can take advantage of?
“Successful operators use a business plan as a living document, regularly referring to and reassessing it,” says Mr Reed. “Rather than making a plan and filing it away, use every opportunity to revisit your progress towards goals and to celebrate key milestones with your team.”
Getting through the rest of winter
Like it or not, we still have some weeks of winter to get through yet. Plan to make the most of the colder weather by establishing a few activities that brighten things up for your team and customers.
Here are some ideas:
- Create anticipation: ‘Christmas in July’ parties are popular with many businesses because they give employees and business partners something to look forward to, helping to keep them focused. A mid-winter shindig is a great way to fight off the winter blues.
- Be mindful of health: There’s no getting around it: winter means flu season and that means sick days and reduced productivity. Focus on providing a healthy environment. Make sure employees working through a flu keep their germs away from the office, whether they work from home or take leave. Consider investing in preventative strategies such as flu shots to help staff avoid getting sick.
- Give customers a reason to brave the cold: Winter can be a slow period as grey weather, dropping temperatures and low tourist numbers means customers are less likely to be out and about. Give people a reason to brave the cold. This could mean anything from providing a warm and inviting environment for visitors, to holding special winter deals or sales to provide extra motivation.
By giving customers a reason to return, keeping your team healthy, focused and productive, and driving your business momentum, you can beat the winter blues and set yourself up for a great spring season.
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Established in 1991, MYOB is Australia's largest business management solutions provider. It makes life easier for approx. 1.2 million businesses across Australia and New Zealand, by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, websites, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. It is committed to ongoing innovation, particularly in cloud computing solutions, and now spends more than AU$30 million annually on research and development. In 2013, MYOB expanded its offerings with the acquisition of accounting solutions provider BankLink. For more information, visit myob.com.au.