Each year, there are many New Year’s resolutions articles focused on both individuals and businesses, with most of the items focused on stopping doing something, or starting doing something. Instead of resolutions, here are some practical tips that can helps small business owners better position their business for a strong new year, from financial, to operations, to technology.
Get a Full Financial Checkup from Your Accountant
Small business owners surely know how much debt they have, their revenue and other key data, but keeping on top of the financial health of a business takes greater insight. The best way to increase your knowledge is to use a professional accounting firm to periodically or more frequently oversee your books. This allows the firm to go deep with data, including financial analyses, benchmarking, trends, and issues that could be costing the business money.
Many aspects of your business likely changed over the past year, some more dramatically than others. Now is a good time to seek advice to help evaluate which of those changes you may need to keep, and if there are any you don’t want to, then justify the costs to yourself.
Go Universally Remote
Most professional services firms, such as accounting firms, lawyers, consultants, architects and engineers, were at different levels of cloud adoption prior to the pandemic, ranging from a few programs to perhaps a majority, but most still relied on at least some legacy programs that were installed on the business’ servers or desktop computers. In terms of cloud adoption, where was your firm on January 1, 2020, and where is it now? If you still rely on mailed in checks having to be processed in-office (by at least to people to maintain controls), or you have to process or print invoices, payables or paychecks from the office, then you haven’t made it all the way to being 100% in the cloud. Doing so will free your staff and employees, and ensure non-interruption of core client services if future events require staff to be away from the office, whether for a day, a week, or long-term. Cloud-based systems also have much greater data security and safety when compared to data stored in a firm’s servers, which can be damaged by disasters or computer failures.
Get Smart(er) with Intelligent Automation
Professional services firms also have the most to gain from management systems that can automate many most operations functions, including accounting, billing, client communications, projects, time and expense management, e-payments, reporting and more. These time-saving functions can reconcile accounts in seconds, automatically produce and distribute advanced reporting, and streamline AP and AR. The most advanced systems on the market, like BQE CORE AI, also offer artificial intelligence features that proactively keep business or firm leaders on top of financials with the ability to instantly access period comparisons, profit by service, top performers, cashflow cycles and issues, productivity bottlenecks. Open source allows direct integrations with third party systems and even voice-enabled systems like Amazon Alexa.
Reinvest in Marketing
Even if it were a non-pandemic year, now would be a good time to revisit how your business’ marketing efforts have performed over the past 12 months. However, we are still in an environment where Covid is still impacting operations, and over the past year many businesses have had to scale back dramatically in this area. As we now envision moving out of the pandemic, having a plan to increase your marketing efforts could see strong results, particularly for businesses that once relied on greater in-person transactions. The new economy will be more heavily reliant on mobile technologies, so include these options where applicable to your model, including social media platforms and other e-commerce tools.
Consider Making Your Covid Operations Permanent
This is a tough subject, because it greatly depends on the nature of the business. For many in the restaurant and hospitality industries, 2020 did not bring many redeeming qualities. But for those that managed to survive through the year, the way that business is practiced in 2021 and beyond will continue to be shaped by 2020. This also goes for professional services firms, such as accountants, engineers, architects and others whose practices were able to move all or nearly all of their workflow processes to remote workflow models. Yes, there were still challenges for these firms, but certainly not so much as other businesses felt.
As the economy continues to move through the pandemic and eventually reopens fully, businesses should still continue to implement the practices that helped them survive or grow more efficient. Yes, that means continuing to have a broad embrace of remote working, but not all workers will want to remain home. Businesses with workflow that can be done remotely, need to continue in the cloud, where from the office or at home.
Businesses who can’t exist only remotely have still found ways to push through the pandemic by limiting menus or services offered to only those that are proven profit makers, allowing pre-order for pickup, and also by turning to more gig economy workers. Some may argue about the impact on the labor market, but from a business perspective, if the practice continues to make sense financially, managers must continue it. The same is true of new logistics processes that have been developed, or vendors that might have helped you cut your budget.
Get ready for a much better 2021 by preparing your business for success.