Business success doesn’t happen by accident, it comes with a plan – a plan that requires you to put into practice ways that will help you future-proof your business for maximum profitability and sustainability.
If this sounds all too hard, it’s not, says Melissa Healy, director of business advisory group DFK Everalls; a plan simply requires you to identify what you want to achieve in business and then create a road map to show how you will get there the most efficient way.
“If we wanted to go on a holiday, we would plan how to get there and think about ways to get the biggest bang for our dollar. It’s the same for business,” Healy says. “At the end of the day, we need to stop thinking that money, profit and success are dirty words. They are necessary to continue to run a sustainable business – and success comes from planning and consistent actions.”
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Healy’s top tips for business success include:
1. Have a clear picture of what you want to achieve
Knowing as much as possible about your chosen industry helps you identify what you need to do now and what to watch out for in the future. You could get the edge over your competitors if you can do things more efficiently and effectively.
“By comparing yourself to the industry you can benchmark for success, set yourself some goals and identify areas of your business that need improvement so you can stay ahead of the game,” Healy advises. From this, you can set your desired level of profitability and map out how you will achieve it.
2. Manage your finances better
One of the easiest ways to improve profitability is to reduce wastage. The first place to look is your business’ finances, Healy says. By invoicing promptly, collecting payments from customers on time can minimise your overdraft and therefore save interest.
“By having that money in your bank account, it’s then available for you to use to be eligible for supplier discounts, too,” she says. “Keeping enough money within your business will also enable it to grow and plan for the future.”
3. Know your customer
Healy says there are three ways to grow your business: understand the best client for your business, know how to find them and then get your message across to them. “You need identify what they want, when they want it and how much they are willing to pay for it,” she says. “The aim is to get them buy more from you and more often.”
4. Talk to your team
Your team on the front line probably has great ideas on ways things can be done better, faster and more efficiently. You can’t do it all on your own so give them the responsibility and authority to make things happen, Healy says.
5. Document processes and procedures
Look at each step of everything you do and how it can be done better, then document it.
“For example, this could be as simple as only starting a task or job when all the necessary information or materials are received by the business – you should only start the task once,” she says.
Templates and checklists will improve the efficiency of your team and save time and money in operational costs. It will also prevent a business from becoming key person dependent, she says.
6. Harness technology and align disruption
Embracing, rather than ignoring, technology is a sure way to stay ahead of the competition and, once again, maximise efficiencies.
“The main advantage of having great IT within your business is that it can enable your team to work smarter and do things more quickly and efficiently,” Healy says.
A review of staff skills and having the “right tools for the job”, such as CRM databases and electronic document management systems, are other must-haves for today’s business, she adds.
7. What you can measure you can manage
Some strategies will work better than others and some may just need tweaking. An income and expenditure budget and cash flow forecast will help you stay on track financially and see if strategies are working as expected.
DFK ANZ is a national association of 15 independent accounting and business advisory firms. Established in 1991, it has built a strong reputation as leading experts, and is listed as number 22 on the latest BRW Top 100 Accounting firms.