As businesses return from the busy Christmas and New Year period, many owners are reminiscing on the year that was and considering the year to come. In 2017, we heard many stories in the press – and directly from our own connections – that it had been a challenging year for business owners.
Brexit, business rates, the value of sterling and many other factors have all played their part, but despite all this, there is still reason to be joyful, thankful and optimistic for 2018.
We caught up with Menzies’ Advisory team to get their thoughts on the year ahead and perhaps inspire some New Year’s Resolutions that you may well keep deep into 2018.
People – Remember what you have
Ed Hussey – HR People Solutions Director
My New Year’s Resolution for businesses, is about the retention of, and investment in your staff. 2018 might be the perfect time for you and your business to take a fresh look at your people and policies. By ensuring your team are being treated fairly and know exactly where the business is heading, you can start to benefit from a well-motivated and focused work force.
In a recent article published by HR Review, I ran through seven key ingredients to consider when reviewing your current employee policies and how to minimise the risks to you and your business. At its core however, is the need to be open-minded, a good listener and create a rewarding environment, where individuals feel valued.
Reporting – Do more with better data
Phil Wright – Director and FD Solutions Advisor
Sometimes in business – like in sport – it can be the smallest of margins that can be the difference between success and failure. In a feature I wrote earlier this year, I challenged businesses to look for and make the marginal gains. Why? Because as cyclist Chris Froome proved once again in this year’s Tour de France, the sum of these small gains can add up a much greater result.
So, in business this could be applied in a variety of ways. For turnover growth, perhaps it’s a small price increase or a improving new business conversion. A small increase in gross margin may be achieved with stronger supplier price negotiations, achieving prompt payment discounts or small internal improvements to increase efficiency and reduce wastage. Alternatively, when considering overhead costs your business may be able to agree reduced rates on its premises, negotiate a rent-free period if you’re moving, right down to getting a more structured purchasing strategy such as buying in larger quantities of office consumables, less often, to get bulk discounts and reduce down delivery charges.
So, my New Year’s Resolution for your business is simple; identify and implement the 1% improvements in 2018.
International – The rules of business are changing
According to 75% of SME owners the rules of business are changing and according to our SME Benchmarking report. 6 out of 7 sectors saw cash flow as their top risk for the year ahead, while a further 64% of business owners say they lack access to the necessary business support. Add Brexit and GDPR to the mix, and we have a mountain that looks too tall to overcome in 2018!
Now more than ever, businesses need to stay flexible and be prepared to adopt new ways of doing things so being aware of the variables affecting the day-to-day running of your business is an important first step to managing change and to confidently evolve your business for the future.
Why have one New Year’s Resolution when you can have EIGHT! Be quick to think and act (Rule 1) and consider how you can start winning at business in 2018.
Systems – Look up to the cloud
Oliver Finch – Associate Director and Outsourcing Advisor
2017 continued to amaze me at what technology can achieve for businesses of all shapes and sizes. XeroCon London was awash with exciting new developments and opportunities for businesses to embrace the cloud to create a financial reporting system that empowers the decision maker.
During 2017, our Outsourcing team partnered up with Xero to analyse how and why streamlining processes can improve the way your business operates through time savings and data-based insights. We identified six key benefits that if absorbed into the business through the right toolsets can drive a business forward.
So, for those businesses still wondering how to embrace all that 2018 could offer, my New Year’s Resolution for your business is to ask yourself are you getting the full picture on your business finances?
Marketing – Driving forward in the right direction
Mark Perrin – Partner and FD Solutions Advisor
Getting the right returns on investment starts with not how much money you have in your marketing budget, but how well you know your customers (new and existing) and their needs.
In an earlier feature, we looked at the steps to identifying your ideal customers through profiling. When many businesses start, there is a temptation to sell to anyone who wants to buy their product. After all, this demand is a reflection of the ideas and ambitions that has potentially taken years to develop and you’ve shown that you’ve got something people want. Getting this identification right through a process of data and behavioural analysis will allow your business to take positive steps forward and mitigate risks that might normally spell trouble in 2018.
In 2017, we saw just how important knowing your customer was as household names such as BHS and Monarch were forced to cease trading, while RBS (and other major banks) announced major plans to scale back their high-street presence. But in all this doom and gloom, there remains an opportunity for businesses to thrive in 2018 by identifying, creating and informing the world that there is a need for your products, services and business.
So, for those businesses looking to go one better in 2018, my New Year’s Resolution for you is to ask yourself; how can I increase sales, increase profitability and reduce risk?.
The answer? Businesses that ignore their existing customers do so at their peril. In my experience, most SME’s can improve their bottom line by helping these clients and customers identify new needs and deliver solutions that enhance the relationship and decrease risk.
Despite the challenging business conditions, a new year gives you and your business the chance to review what’s working and start planning the changes that will matter most to your clients, your staff, your operations and most importantly your bottom line.
Here’s to a purposeful 2018.
About Menzies Advisory services
Menzies FD and Advisory Team help to bring your business needs into focus. With the support of a trusted advisor, our Brighter Thinking approach empowers you with the tools and know-how to illuminate opportunities and make valuable decisions.