The arrival of the new year provides the opportunity for Kiwi businesses to think of ways they might improve their operations and grow their enterprise over the next 12 months.
Whether it’s plans to increase revenue, introduce a new product, better manage compliance costs or reorganise your operational structure, the start of the year is a great time to put processes in place to set yourself up for a successful year ahead.
With a new Government and new policies presenting both opportunities and challenges to Kiwi businesses, setting New Year’s resolutions may be more important than ever.
MYOB New Zealand general manager Carolyn Luey says the best way to realise your goals is to set them in stone and put an effective timeline in place.
“Setting achievable goals at the start of each year is a great way to centre yourself, reflect on your past achievements and really think about what you want to accomplish over the course of the coming year,” she says.
“To start, you want to write them down on paper. You need to know your destination before you try and get there, so this step is essential.
“You’re also more likely to achieve your goals if you make a written declaration of what it is you want to achieve," she adds.
"Then, put small steps in place to gradually build towards your end game. As they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.”
To help Kiwi SMEs make the most of 2018, MYOB has put together recommendations for the top six New Year’s resolutions small businesses.
Review your business plan
This should be one of the very first things you do each and every year.
A formal plan ensures all of your goals, data and other important information are in the one place.
It’s also a simple way to share your ideas with employees.
If you have a business plan from the previous year, review what you did and didn’t achieve – this way you’ll be able to see how far – or how little – your business has come since last January.
It will also motivate you to work harder and highlights where you may have set unrealistic goals in the past.
Get to know your competitors to improve your own products/services
According to MYOB’s Business Monitor survey of more than 1000 SMEs across the country, only 10% of businesses conducted market research between February 2016 and February 2017.
However, 21% believe their competitors will put a lot of pressure on their operations.
This highlights the importance of competitor analysis.
Spend some time looking at both direct and indirect competitors – how they market their products and services, how they differ to you and where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
After that, look at your own strengths and weaknesses and look for ways to improve your marketing strategy or products and services.
Take control of your cash flow
MYOB’s Business Monitor survey highlights that cash flow puts a lot of pressure on almost one in five small businesses (18%).
The best way to relieve this pressure is to take control of your finances and look at ways to reduce spending.
Before you dive into the new year, project your yearly cash flow and identify times where you might be low on cash.
This way, you can plan ahead and not have to stress about paying employees or paying off debt.
It’s also really important to make sure you’re being paid.
New Zealanders can be modest and we don’t always like to ask for things directly, especially money.
However, being paid on time will ensure a steady cash flow – so set aside some time each week, fortnight or month (depending on when you bill your clients/customers) to follow up any unpaid work.
Invest in research and development, both for you and your team
The latest MYOB Business Monitor reports that one in five businesses conducted employee training between February 2016 and February 2017 – but only 2% applied for government R&D funding.
This year, particularly with new R&D policies, take advantage of government initiatives and spend some time (and money) on developing your skills.
Also, register for industry events – like networking breakfasts – and take members of your team to extend their skills.
Embrace new technology
Technology continues to change business operations in a massive way, so if you haven’t already, do some research and find the latest tech trends that might be disrupting your industry over the next few years.
Perhaps purchase some new tech and implement it into your operations.
Business technology and software are there to support your business – making life easier by increasing productivity, reducing costs and saving time.
MYOB’s Business Monitor survey highlights Kiwi SMEs are well-prepared for tech disruption – with 44% believing technology will change the nature of their business in the next ten years.
Take a well-deserved holiday
This is really important.
According to MYOB’s Business Monitor survey one in five business owners took less than one-week holiday in a 12-month period.
You might be busy, and running a business may take up a lot of your time – but having periods of rest are important to your health and will keep you refreshed.
As holidays can be difficult to manage, ensure both your employees’ and your own holidays are planned well in advance and are scheduled to minimise disruption.