GroForth’s Senior Bookkeeper, Geraldine O’Connor shares some reflections on how to prepare for a busy autumn.
For some managers and business owners, the summer months provide an opportunity to enjoy a bit more time outdoors. If, like me, you find a walk in fresh air creates space to reflect on your business, here are a couple of important issues to include in the mix of topics you focus on.
Rising costs are very much front of mind at present whether it’s energy, supplies, transport, staff costs or simply the cost of living. So, the question many of us are struggling with is how to manage the impact on our bottom line. It might sound obvious, but a really critical step is to understand what you’re spending. Now is the time to analyse your costs, both to look for potential savings and to spot problems that left unattended could mean that you run into serious trouble later in the year. If you think you’ll run into difficulty, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your bank. Remember your credit history will affect your future ability to raise finance so it’s really important to address problems as soon as you spot them. Budgeting will be more important than ever this year and inflation needs to be factored in when you analyse and forecast your variable costs. As always, if you need help extracting the information that you require from your management accounts, please contact a member of our team.
Your time is precious—and more than likely it’s also scarce—so a really good question to ask is whether you are making the best use of it. What do you spend most of your time on? The chances are a lot of it disappears every day answering questions from customers and staff. Try to identify if there are any time-consuming or low-value tasks that you can either delegate to a staff member or outsource to a service provider. Remember any time you get back can be used to enhance your wellbeing as well as to work on your business. If you charge for your time, it’s important to quantify what it’s worth. Check out our article on what to take into account when putting a price on your time.
Are there things you can do now that will take some of the pressure off later on in the year? Do you need to update job specifications? Are there ways to streamline processes and work more efficiently? What can you do now to prepare for forthcoming changes like the introduction of statutory sick pay remote working and pensions auto enrolment? If you took advantage of debt warehousing during the Covid-19 pandemic, have you agreed a payment plan with Revenue? If not, now is the time to do so. If you’re a sole trader, check that you have the information your accountant will need to do your tax return.
When is the last time you looked at your sales pipeline? What do you expect to sell next year and how will inflation affect your input costs? Have any prospects fallen off your list? Can you identify new opportunities? The more realistic your projections, the better your forecasts will be.
Are you getting what you need from your service providers? If not, why? Could it be that your provider doesn’t understand your requirements? Have you outgrown them? If they don’t have the skills that you need, now is the time to start looking for alternative solutions. We’ve previously shared tips on choosing the right time to change your service provider.
Working patterns changed during the pandemic, putting pressure on systems and resources in some areas and highlighting opportunities in others. Do your systems highlight opportunities to improve cashflow and increase your profit, flag risks, and produce meaningful reports to help you run your business more efficiently? If you feel you aren’t getting value from your systems, now might be the time to seek advice and/or invest in some training.
We’ve come through a very disruptive period that accelerated the pace of change in many businesses as well as putting pressure on resources. Soon, we’ll be facing into a very busy time for business owners and their bookkeeping and accounts departments with filing deadlines as well as quarter- and year-ends on the horizon. Payroll administrators, too, have some very significant changes on the horizon as remote working, auto enrolment and statutory sick pay come into play. Now is the time to put plans in place and position your business to move forward with confidence in the months ahead.