In a previous blog we spoke about how many businesses will be apprehensive about how Brexit will impact them and how A4G are encouraging our clients to plan ahead.

Some years(!) on and we know about as much now as we did then about how the future of the UK will look outside of the EU. There are forecasts predicting that the UK Economy is contracting and heading towards another recession (defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth).

What does this mean for small business? Well, as we saw with the global financial crisis starting in 2008, it is going to create threats and opportunities. At A4G we saw a number of clients take full advantage and were able to prosper, some who were just about able to tread water after taking some tough decisions and sadly a small number that were not equipped to survive.

Whilst Brexit is no doubt a genuine cause for concern, there is very little small businesses can do in relation to these external influences. Time will tell if even any measures introduced by The Bank of England will have their desired effect.

So what can small business do? An approach often adopted by athletes is to control the “controllables”. Even Usain Bolt has limited physical and emotional energy so wasting his time on things that he can’t control such as the weather, track conditions, and other competitors (to name just a few) would empty his energy tank and could even lead to reduced performance. What he can do is work on is he start, eat the right food, ensure he has the best footwear and the best coach.

Applying this to business, here are a few areas that you might not have thought about focusing on:

  1. Know your customers / clients – Get to know them better than any of your competitors. Their spending habits may change but if you understand their needs and wants you will be in a better position to adapt quickly.
  2. Set the tone from the top – Although you as the business owner may be concerned, remaining positive and maintaining staff morale is essential at a time when you need to maximise productivity from your workforce and get everyone pulling in the same direction.
  3. The art of delegation – Don’t miss a massive opportunity because you were too busy completing a task that could easily have been handed to the most junior person in the office. List out your daily tasks and ask yourself the question “Am I the only person in the business who can do this?” If the answer is no; delegate.
  4. Systems – This is one of the foundations of A4G. Documenting all of your key processes reduces the risk of mistakes, improves consistency and facilitates growth. It is also a way of being able to delegate more easily when a staff member has a clear set of instructions to follow.
  5. Outsource non-strategic functions – You are probably already a big user of outsourced services, such as accountancy or delivery services but there may be other functions which are not strategic that could also be outsourced. Consider Human Resources, I.T, bookkeeping and payroll. Some of these A4G can help with so please give us a call.
  6. Key performance indicators (KPI’s) – It is crucial that you understand what the KPI’s are in your business and have some way to measure them. Then you can manage them and make informed decisions.
  7. Management accounts – When times are tough or indeed at any time, a business without any regular and accurate financial information is at an extreme disadvantage, whether it relates to decision-making or approaching the bank for finance. If you do not have regular management accounts, please get in touch.
  8. Cash is king – If you haven’t already done so, please read our blog post about “Keeping the Wolf from the door” to understand the importance of cash flow and how A4G can help.
  9. Adequate protection – Again this is important at any time but you should regularly review insurance policies to ensure your assets are sufficiently covered as well as personal policies such as life insurance and critical illness. Having an up to date will and a lasting power of attorney are also often overlooked.
  10. Get compliance matters completed early – The necessary evils of year-end accounts and personal tax returns have to be completed by law no matter what. Avoid the stress and risk of penalties by getting them out the way early, then focus on the other points above.

 

We understand that being an owner-manager can sometimes feel like a lonely place but A4G are always here to help so please give one of our Client Managers or Principal Advisers a call. You will often have the answers but sometimes it just takes someone to ask you the right questions.

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