10 point plan for SMEsHere's our 10 point plan to get your business in shape:
1. Use your business plan
Most businesses start with a plan, but often it goes into a top drawer as the day-to-day work takes over. Now is the time to work on the business, not just in it. They key to making this happen is to establish a system of review that will deliver accurate data in a usable format.
2. Get into the numbers
It is vital to understand the numbers in your business. This means frequent bank account reconciliation, chasing late payments, regular preparation of financial statements, forecasting and using financial ratios to measure the performance of your business. Remember if you can't measure it you can't manage it. If you don't know how to then you it's important to find somebody to help you.
3. Remix your marketing
It might not be your passion but it is important to clarify your expectations from any marketing activity within your business. Look closely at your existing clients and understand who your target audience are, define them and market to others like them. Have a clear message and tell it simply. Diversify your marketing activity - avoid putting all your budget into one activity as this will limit your potential. Ensure consistency of brand image - fonts, logos etc so you are instantly recognisable across all your materials.
4. Make sure you get paid
Most business fail because they run out of money. Always assume that the worst will happen and make it a primary objective to get paid for every job you do. One way to increase the likelihood that your customers will pay their bills is to run a credit-check on them. Check out Dun & Bradstreet or Veda Advantage. It is also possible to insure against bad debt.
5. Think mobile
New technology can revolutionise doing business on the road and mobile workforces can respond faster to customers, work more flexibly and cut office overheads. The success of 3G phones means that a large number of companies now have staff permanently connected to email and the internet through their mobiles. As this trend develops, companies have to look at the handsets their staff are using and at the quality of their mobile broadband.
6. Don't be a computer fraud victim
If your business is in financial services, you are a prime target for computer fraudsters. The key to being protected is using adequate, updated and suitable security software. Your IT provider or software seller can give you details of what is required to keep your business safe.
7. Save on rent
Recent years were great for rental bargains in office, industrial and retail property markets. Whilst rates are set to rise, property cycles are slow, meaning there will still be opportunities in the coming year to save your business money on rent.
8. Cut your energy bills
The Total Environment Centre have a useful checklist of measures which increase a buildings energy efficiency. This can be used by SME tenants looking for energy-efficient buildings which are cheap to run.
9. Get a tech plan
The majority of SMEs have computers and internet access but very few have a digital strategy. Creating a digital strategy allows you to address digital business challenges before they become problems. For more information on how to create one, start by discussing the issues involved with your IT provider.
10. Get help from the Government
The Government provides a range of grants. Visit the Australian Business Funding Centre, a Government website all about grants for SMEs.