With last month marking the financial year end for many firms, business owners have been looking forward and using the start of their new fiscal calendar as an opportunity to take stock and reset their focus. Here at eCapital Commercial Finance we share our thoughts on the key areas that owners should consider addressing to give their business a kick start for the next twelve months.
- Revisit the underlying business plan
It would be fair to say that business owners have had a significant amount to contend with over the last two years from a global pandemic, a skill shortage of talented people, severe inflationary pressures , deep rooted supply chain issues and rising interest rates . And all of these economic malaises set against a backdrop of continued uncertainty!
Yet we all know that UK businesses are resilient and despite these substantial challenges, they continue to remain upbeat about the opportunities in front of them. The beginning of a new financial year is a prime time for them to revisit their business plan – is it still relevant when everything else is considered? Does it or should it need to change? Do businesses need to stop doing something, pivot and/or change their course of movement? Wherever the answers lay, having a clear direction embedded within their business plan will consciously focus their actions.
- Optimise the funding available
The cost of running a business has been greatly affected by the precipitative events of the last two years and with the associated economic, social and political fall out across Western economies. With operational cost pressures increasing across all business touch points, it is essential that UK SME’s have access to a flexible and reliable source of funding. As the economy emerges from the aftermath of the pandemic, many firms will already have loans that have been part or fully utilised and are now in the process of being repaid which can often cause an additional strain on cashflow. Business owners need to look further afield once more at the range of funding options open to them to ensure that they have the working capital that is needed to meet new and ongoing liabilities whilst having sufficient funds to invest in future growth.
- Set realistic but challenging goals
Now is the time to make sure that businesses know where they are and where they intend to be in the near future. The importance of setting realistic and appropriately mapped out business goals should never be played down. These should be easily identifiable short term goals of up to 3 months, if a business is particularly feeling the impact of the current economic tailwinds and conversely if the business is on a surer footing and can continue to see a healthy supply of new revenue, then it may be in a stronger position to consider a longer term objective, say 1-3 years. Above all, businesses need to make their goals realistic but challenging at the same time.
- Focus on Marketing
Engaging with and retaining loyalty from its customers should be high priority for all businesses. Businesses should invest time wisely and in resources to get to know who their customers are, why they continue to purchase or transact with them as a business and to assess their ongoing buying behaviour and demand preferences. This will ensure that customers perception of the business, together with its market positioning and strength of product offering, remains both attractive and competitive. Is the business’s website up to date and functional and is fresh content being added on a timely basis to create additional value and to strengthen and reinforce its customers propensity to buy?
- Think digital
Businesses and consumers have massively increased their adoption of digital technology in recent years, whether this has been to streamline the purchase of goods and services, communicate with colleagues and customers, or promote their business online in more refreshing and innovative ways. Businesses need to ensure that they actively keep pace with these changes and reach out to their customers in the most responsive way.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Effective communication, both inward and outward is extremely essential and none more so than over the past the couple of years. Displaying an empathy and compassion towards all of its customers, suppliers and employees amidst the highs and lows of running a business is vital. Keeping those lines of communication open and transparent will continue to build the confidence and respect that are key to long term relationships and future success.