The start of a new year is a great time to take stock and assess the health of your business. But where to start with your business health check? We reckon these three areas will yield the greatest long-term returns:
1. Work off excess expenses and operational costs
It’s remarkable how unnecessary costs can build up over time and when you are busy with the day-to-day running of a business, it’s easy to neglect the adverse effect they are having on your profits.
Careful financial analysis is key to managing your assets. It’s vital that you scrutinise all outgoing expenses and work out actual value versus cost:
- Check supplier invoices for over-charging (double billing, incorrect invoice amounts or missing discounts).
- Where possible, replace expensive suppliers – or negotiate a discount and/or better payment terms.
- Try and reduce phone/internet expenses by negotiating a better contract – or, even better, scrap calls all together and invest in a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system which will be far cheaper.
- Assess the return on all advertising and eliminate what isn’t working
- Settle all small bills in upfront, larger payments to avoid late fees and save time and try to secure early payment discounts for all bills – including rent if feasible.
2. Invest in efficiency
Streamlining isn’t all about reduction; reinvesting money into the latest technologies in task/finance/customer relations management and cross-marketing solutions will make your business fitter in the long run.
- Task management apps are great time savers, enabling you to assign, manage and organise tasks, and share files, calendars and progress reports. Try Hitask or Basecamp.
- Budgeting tools such as Expensify and Freshbooks take the pain out of financial headaches such as managing receipts, expense reports and creating invoices.
- A good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is a no-brainer. It will help you to synchronise sales, marketing and customer service saving hours of time and vastly improving your interaction with customers and leveraging the most income out of those relationships. Zoho and Colabo are popular choices.
- Modern marketing apps allow you to discover how your presence is being felt in the wider realms of your industry and across social media. They automatically analyse the success/failure of your online marketing and enable you to tailor your approach. Mention, Follerwonk and Hootsuite are leaders in the field.
- The days of bulky filing cabinets are long gone, so get all your paperwork into the cloud. BYOD (bring your own device) is a rapidly growing trend and cloud services have developed quickly to enable businesses to safely store and share all manner of data online.
Another way to hone your business is to farm out labour-intensive tasks.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business productivity section.
Practically anything can be outsourced now including marketing, web design and accounting. Freeing up this time will enable you to focus on growing and developing your business
3. Work on your self-defence
Cyber security is finally being recognised by small business owners as a crucial investment.
In fact, a recent study has revealed that the number of bots (automated applications that scan websites) online now outnumber human visitors and smaller websites receive a proportionally higher percentage of bots – up to 80 percent of all traffic on websites with 1000 or less visitors a day.
It’s vital in our ever digitised world, to employ appropriate security measures to protect your IT system, equipment and information:
- Review and test existing security regularly. Employ a web scanner to detect vulnerabilities.
- Employ DDoS (Distributed denial of service) protection. Small businesses cannot afford to cease trading for several days whilst under attack or pay the ransoms that are often demanded to stop it.
- Use two-factor authentication solutions such as Google Authenticator.
Whew? The above does seems like a lot but, like any great health program, if you break this business health check down bit by bit, you’ll be through it in no time … and reaping the benefits in no time too!