With the new year fully underway, there are resolutions made by almost everyone, and some of your resolutions surely pertain to your business. Growing your business, obtaining improved terms on financing, leveraging technology more effectively, and dealing with looming tax issues are certainly top of mind. It's easy to feel overwhelmed, and even become distracted from your bottom line, but at the end of the day your income and cash flow are what drive your business forward.
Adding to this whirlwind of news and topics is all of the buzz and attention that trends like Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain tools are receiving. Those tools and trends are great, but they're still developing and might not be a good fit for your business now, or ever. Compounding this, learning new tools and technology can occupy a lot of your time, but there are ways you can help your business without investing endless hours.
Taxes, technology, and leveraging social media effectively are important, but let's take a look at some ways you can improve your top to bottom. The best part? These won't bust your budget, or distract you from running and growing your business.
1. Automate whatever isn't core to your business.
The upsides of automation are, surely, clear to you as it pertains to both you and your business, but a question I'm asked quite often is where exactly to start? Three areas that I tend to focus on automating are
- Emails -- Despite the rise of social media and messaging tools, emails are still are an important part of business, and customizing these for your business can save a lot of time.
- Social media postings -- Hootsuite and Buffer have free versions that enable you to set-and-forget your social media postings.
- Communication in your business -- Slack and Dropbox are both excellent tools to help improve real time communication, and both have free versions you can sign up for today.
2. Secure your business and inventory.
Keeping your business secure, including both client data and inventory, is always a hot topic, but recent information and changes have arguably made this even more important. Ransomware, data breaches, and other cybersecurity risks can clearly compromise your business, but don't forget about traditional security measures.
According to a 2017 study by the National Retail Federation, total losses due to retail shrinkage is approximately $60 billion, with 36.5 percent of that total driven by shoplifting. This is not something you can ignore, and just hope for the best.
Making sure your inventory is organized, installing mirrors to improve your visibility, and putting cameras into place may take a little time, but will pay dividends now and in the future.
3. Review your financials every week.
You should be able to articulate and speak about your numbers, like revenues, profit margins, cash flow figures, and cost of goods sold off the top of your head. Accounting and finance might not seem like the most enjoyable way to spend some of your valuable time, but even if you have a great CPA you need to put the time in.
No one is going to be as interested in your business success as you are. Finance topics to focus on, on top of basic financial statement information, include but aren't limited to the following:
- Do you have a budget, and do you update it consistently?
- Are you current with your compliance requirements?
- What impact will tax reform have on your business, both in 2018 and moving forward?
- Is your accounting software compatible with your other software, or do you have to spend time manually inputting data between different systems?
Improving your business, and your bottom line, doesn't have to break the bank nor occupy every spare second of your free time. Thinking about your business from a high level, and taking some time to address issues that can have the biggest impact on your profits, are great ways to set yourself up for success in 2018.