Don’t do it alone! That’s one of the first pieces of advice that I often offer to SME owners. During my 20-plus years as an accounts specialist, I’ve lost count of the number of men and women I’ve discussed business with who are exhausted because they are trying to be all things to all aspects of their business.
For example, a lot of people who don’t have a bookkeeper try and do their accounts themselves. If that’s not your area of expertise, it can cause endless and unnecessary headaches. Which is why I always recommend budgeting for expert advice in the areas that aren’t your forte – whether that’s accounting or marketing or administration.
That expert insight will give you clarity around your business to make decisions. As a business owner, your focus should be on how you can market and commoditise your produce better and you won’t get the time to do that if you are bogged down doing your own books.
You might think you’re saving money, but you will be missing opportunities by not focusing on your business. I remember that I once tried to do my own website. It took me quite some time and after all the time and effort, I failed miserably! I broke the links on the site and lost opportunities for sales and connections. Now I’ve very happily outsourced that part of my business and my website works a whole lot better because I leave it to the experts.
Get your accounts into the cloud
When I help SME owners with advice I also often highlight the potential advantages of cloud accounting. Increased flexibility, the ability to back-up and recover your business information, automatic software updates and the cashflow benefits of being able to pay-as-you-go…they’re just a few of the benefits.
Cloud accounting offers real-time access and it automates so many aspects of a business, too. But I think it’s valuable to work with someone who knows the technology, at least initially. They can then train you to manage an option like QuickBooks yourself. Cloud accounting is particularly important if you are an accountant or bookkeeper – if you’re not playing in that space, you are behind the eight ball.
Be resilient and accountable
Being a business owner has highs and lows and in the face of challenges from customers, suppliers and competitors, resilience matters. Never forget that you are the owner and the driver.
You can use different tools and the cloud is great, but it comes down to you as a business owner being resilient and accountable. Know what is going on and continue to educate yourself. Keep reinventing yourself, too, because what you do today may not be in demand tomorrow. Look for the next disruption – it may be that a simple tweak in your business model opens the door to clients you never considered.
Always have an online option
As we get increasingly comfortable with everything digital, small and medium businesses need to have an online option to sell their services and products. And that means more than just providing a website but allowing customers to get a quote online or speak to someone from your business online.
Never under-estimate the value of customer service, but sometimes that can get missed or overlooked when you build an eco-system and everything is cloud based. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do everything on screen and via email because customer service matters. People still want that human and personal touch – it always wins.