A new year is always a time of reflection, and for small and medium enterprise owners there are no exceptions. With success coming in different shapes and sizes, consider how you can help support your company in the year ahead to make it your best yet.
1. Don’t lose sight of your goals
It’s all too easy to get absorbed in the day to day and the here and now, but it’s worth taking time to reflect on your business strategy – what did you set out to do, how are you performing, and how can you take your company to the next level? By keeping a tight focus on your goals, you are more likely to achieve them and will ensure you’re properly resourced to take your company forward.
2. Promote your strengths
Remember what it is that makes you special, and your company unique – and keep telling people about it. Understanding and selling your strengths really makes your company stand out, particularly in competitive and crowded markets. So make sure that everything you say and do, from pitches, to your website, to social media activity accurately reflects what you do and what you are best at.
3. Talk (and listen) more to your customers
Most small companies aspire to delivering great customer service but how do you know you‘re really achieving this? Taking time to talk and listen to your customers will give you a better understanding of their wants and needs and what they value about your company. This can ensure they keep coming back and recommend you to others.
4. Check your credit report
This is one of the key pieces of information that lenders and suppliers use to help assess applications for additional funding and essentials like utility deals. You should check your report every month to ensure that it accurately reflects your current circumstances and address any issues with the relevant agencies.
5. Review your payment processes
The time it takes to pay bills and invoices impacts your commercial credit score. Across the UK, the average payment time is still 25 days beyond agreed terms.
6. Speed up your cash flow
Keep a record of your customers’ payment times and act quickly if they seem to be getting worse. Get smarter about chasing unpaid invoices and communicate regularly with your customers to understand their situation. Manage your cash flow with our Ledger Manager software; our ledger control solution shows exactly where your outstanding money is and highlights the top debtors to your company. This allows you to prioritise your credit control and payment collections, which in turn reduces the risk of bad debt, cuts time to payment and improves cash flow.
7. Tighten up your invoice processes
Sometimes companies don’t get paid because invoices go astray, get sent to the wrong place or are made out for the wrong amount. Reduce delays by ensuring the correct attention to detail and good communications between sales and finance teams.
8. Make sure your company is on the map
Do an assessment of key company directories such as Yell and Thomsons as suppliers will use your company information such as location to verify your existence. Get in touch with directories immediately if you don’t appear.
9. Plan ahead for key financial deadlines
Filing annual accounts can be a chore, but being late can count against your credit score. Avoid this by planning well ahead of key dates for 2015 and ensuring you put enough team time into this. Consider filing partial accounts if you are going to be late.
10. Re-examine your mix of customers
It sounds obvious, but relying upon a few large customers is a risky strategy. Keeping up the search for new, relevant and profitable customers is not difficult. It is worth investing in quality marketing lists that will enable you to focus on the best leads.