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Craig Pisani is a retail expert at leading audit, tax and advisory firm, BDO. In his guest blog post, Craig lists his top ten tips for SME success in 2013.

Whenever I talk to small business owners about strategies and plans for their companies, the response is often the same: I wish I had more time to think about strategy but I’m always too caught up in my business’s day-to-day operations.

What many SME owners don’t realise is that it doesn’t need to be like this. Strategic, commercial thinking about your company’s future isn’t a lofty or unattainable goal. It’s actually pretty simple.

A well-considered strategic business plan shouldn’t be viewed as an optional extra, it’s critical to your company’s success.

In fact, there are ten simple tips that can help business owners start thinking more broadly about their companies and help them on the path to a successful 2013 and beyond.

1. Hire a business coach

A third party or ‘outsider’ can help you work on your business from an objective point of view. A business coach should be someone who has succeeded in managing a company of their own and can help you realise what changes need to be made to your business’ structure and management.

2. Review your cash flow or budget plan

Few SME owners recognise the importance of a cash flow plan. This sets an objective benchmark for your business and gives you a true reflection of how your company is performing. If you haven’t recently (or ever) prepared one, now is the time to do so.

3. Regularly review your business strategy

Identify what you want to achieve and where you want your business to be in one, two and five years’ time. Your business coach can help you set measurable and achievable (yet ambitious) objectives. These should be reviewed at regular intervals in conjunction with your cash flow statements.

4. Develop a networking strategy

Most businesses benefit from networking and word-of-mouth, however, very few SME owners have a networking strategy. A strategy is critical as increasing your networks can lead to both professional and personal development opportunities. Explore options to network both online and in person where you can reach your key target markets. Your business coach can help you identify such opportunities, perhaps through your local chamber of commerce or professional industry association.

5. Make a commitment to learn more this year

Take the time to identify areas of your business that need work. Identify ways to improve what you don’t understand; consider training courses or continuing professional development through a tertiary institution or industry association. Also take a look at what your competitors are doing and learn from them – there may be scope for you to improve on their ideas, concepts and offerings.

6. Communicate with your employees

Happy and productive employees can be the difference between business success and failure. Are your employees happy? If not, why are they dissatisfied? Your staff members are a great resource and know your business. Utilise their knowledge and ideas which could lead to improved business processes, costs savings and networking.

7. Review your accounting and internal software

Is it helping your business and saving time and effort? Or is it creating stress and frustration? If so, look for a product that is more suited for your business. You need to make the time to find it, or speak to someone who has knowledge of the range of products that are available.

8. Make sure your reporting obligations including accounts, tax returns and business activity statements are up-to-date

Have you completed your 30 June 2012 year-end financials? If not, now’s the time to get on top of it. These are critically important to the success of your business. Talk to your accountant or business adviser today and check these off your to do list.

9. Think about tax planning for 30 June 2013 year-end well in advance

Waiting until May or June is too late. Before you start dragging out boxes of receipts, make sure you speak to your accountant or tax adviser who can identify areas that may save you some much-needed revenue and target your efforts.

10. Work/life balance

Find ways to improve or better manage your lifestyle and take charge of your schedule. It’s important to set time aside to enjoy life and remember why it is you decided to run your own business in the first place.

While running your own company is challenging, it can be extremely rewarding. These tips should help business owners think more broadly about their companies and ultimately set them on a successful path for 2013 and beyond.

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Craig Pisani

Craig Pisani

As a principal in the BDO Private Clients team, Craig has gained significant experience working with a range of clients, both large and small, in a business advisory and audit role. Craig understands how an effective business should operate and advises on all areas of accounting and taxation, including acquisitions and sales, systems reviews and business group structuring. Craig’s industry experience includes preparation of financial accounts, book-keeping and preparation of management accounts for various retail, pharmaceutical, mining, property development, investment, trucking and service entities. While Craig's expertise is in accounting and taxation compliance, his advisory skills extend to superannuation, business succession planning and personal wealth creation. Craig prides himself on his hands-on approach to servicing the needs of clients.

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