SMBs must begin planning for 2014

The silly season is already creeping up on us and 2014 is only a few short months away.

The Christmas period can be hectic for many businesses, with many staff on leave, and a shortage of resources to adequately plan for the year ahead.

Andrew Graham, national head of business solutions at RSM Cameron Bird, said many industries are still experiencing difficult times and need to make sure they plan accordingly.

“Business owners need to have strategies in place to end the year and start the new one in the best shape possible. This will also ensure that business owners can make the most of the holiday period,” Graham said.

Here are 14 tips from RSM Bird Cameron on preparing for 2014:

Review the products and services you sell

Tailor the mix to appeal to changing customer needs for the holiday and new year season, and start planning for other times in the year when your customer’s needs change, like Easter.

Review pricing structures to ensure competitiveness and profitability

Put formal procedures in place to monitor and proactively respond to competitor pricing changes.

Review stock levels

Make sure you can satisfy customer demand for profitable product and service lines. Identify slow moving stock that can be liquidated as ‘bargain buys’ or bundled with other products as a value-add.

Review sales, marketing and promotion plans

Make sure plans are optimised to help achieve the best results not only during the holiday season but well into the new year. Ensure staff are aware of the targets for each week and be proactive in monitoring and addressing shortfalls.

Review staffing plans and confirm acceptance of the rosters by all staff

For non-retail SMBs, annual leave plans need to be balanced and finalised as early as possible to ensure the business continues to operate effectively. Consider a shutdown period if the Christmas and New Year period is traditionally not busy to use up staff annual leave balances during this quieter time.

Review fraud and theft protection systems

Ensure all staff are reminded of their responsibility to be vigilant as customer traffic increases and the pressures of Christmas expectations can motivate increased customer and staff theft.

Review debtor lists and actively chase all overdue accounts

Any amount not collected by December 23 is unlikely to be collected until February or later. Collecting money owed to you is critical particularly over this period when the cash cycle tends to tighten.

Review the use of finance products for effectiveness

Overdrafts, premium funding, lease facilities and cash flow funding products can all be excellent tools to help match a business’ cash supply with planned outlays, and could be especially useful in managing cash flow throughout the holiday season.

Complete a GST health check

SMBs could be in danger of losing time and money due to unreliable or outdated business systems that are causing them to report GST incorrectly.

Set effective goals

The start of the year is the perfect time to review goals set at the beginning of the financial year. Take the time to ensure you’re on track to achieve them, and plan for action in areas that aren’t working. Consider things like retirement planning, present and future investments, maximising your superannuation scheme, and reviewing assets.

Update your business plan

Make sure your business plan is updated regularly to reflect changing market and economic conditions. Remember that a solid business plan is critical in meeting financing requirements as many industries face increased scrutiny from government and financial institutions requiring a much higher quality of management reporting and strategic planning to support funding applications and reviews.

Strategically plan end of year gifts and entertainment

This will strengthen relationships with your key customers, prospects, suppliers, and business partners into the new year.

Carefully plan end of year staff parties

It’s important to reward and recognise your staff’s efforts for the year. Remember your workplace obligations to provide a safe environment for the event in relation to alcohol and discrimination.

Remember you deserve a break too!

Plan to take advantage of any public holidays or other time off you have available to protect your own health and wellbeing and reduce the chance of illness disrupting your business activities.

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