The first quarter of a new financial year is a great time to look at how your business could do better. An objective eye and a willingness to make some changes will help you thrive.
The good news is that you don’t have to go through major change to become more efficient and maximise your true business potential. From harnessing the benefits of customer relationship management (CRM) software and cloud accounting to using social media and seeing the bigger picture, there are plenty of easy ways to give yourself an edge.
CRM helps you understand how customers interact with your business, offering insights into how you can increase sales and loyalty. Lielette Calleja, cloud accounting advisor and founder of All That Counts, agrees.
“You can identify customers, spending patterns and what products or services are of particular interest to them,” Lielette says. “You can build on that information and grow your market by targeting those customers and offering them more products and services that match their interests.”
The consensus among business leaders and those in the accounting industry is that cloud accounting is a must-have for small-business owners. The key benefit is real-time access to information about how your business is performing at any given point. It also automates a lot of the mundane but necessary data-entry tasks that can bog you down.
Chris Hooper, founder of Accodex, told me that he feels cloud accounting is not only more current and accurate, but is “the way of the future”.
“Cloud accounting improves the timeliness of financial reporting and that can be very useful to a business. You want to say on top of your books on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, so you can reflect on financial performance.”
Software is evolving at such a rapid pace that new features are continually making finance processes more efficient for small businesses. Clayton Oates, growth advisor and founder of QA Business, recommends that small businesses make the most of automation.
“Technology has been a real driver in creating new efficiencies that streamline what were once complicated financial tasks,” he says. “Take, for example, consolidating your data, including expenses across your business. Conventionally, there were a number of silos in how small businesses would understand their financial data. With the evolution of tech – and the ability of interconnected apps to communicate with each other and automatically consolidate data – technology can now present you with a holistic view of your business.”
Getting back to basics, defining exactly why you’re in business and clearly articulating your future strategy sounds obvious. But it’s easy to lose sight when you’re caught up in the busyness of doing business.
“Every business owner has 101 things to do every day and it’s easy to jump from job to job. But take a breath,” says Clayton. “Take a step back and get in control of your business’s future by thinking strategically about what your business needs…Think about what you can do now to run more efficiently. Lay out the next 12 months in a map and think about your goals, the steps you need to take to achieve those goals, how to build on your strengths and then move to implementation.”
These are just a few suggestions from accounting and business experts on how to stay ahead of the curve. Every business needs to adapt as challenges arise. Putting strategies in place will help ensure you stand strong and thrives into the future.
Nicolette Maury, Vice President and Country Manager, Intuit Australia