If you have more time on your hands than usual due to the COVID-19 crisis, use it wisely, says Sarah Daly.
A lot of business owners are working from home during the COVID-19 crisis. With normal routines disrupted, you may find that you have more time on your hands than usual. This is an opportunity to identify areas where you can save on costs and make other changes that will benefit your business in the longer term. Unfortunately, many businesses will experience declines in activity before the crisis is over, so it makes sense to focus on areas that can be improved now which could help your business recover from the impact.
Here are 5 areas to consider if you are working from home during the COVID-19 crisis.
1. Bring your accounts up to date
If you have not already done so, take the opportunity to review your 2019 accounts. Make sure your documentation is in order and correct any errors that you find. This will save time when your accountant is preparing your annual financial statements. When reviewing your accounts, take a close look at your debtors and creditors. Are you chasing customers with unpaid invoices? Are you paying too much for utilities or paying for things you no longer use? Now is a good time to address these issues. Keep in mind that you need up-to-date information to make good decisions. If you struggle to keep your accounts up to date in a timely manner, you are not alone. This is the reason why many GroForth clients come to us for assistance!
2. Cloud-based accounting systems
Many businesses today use cloud-based accounting solutions which make it much easier to do things like issue sales invoices, keep records up to date, and generate real time reports about how they are performing. An advantage of these solutions is their ease of access. Many have mobile apps which means your business information is at your fingertips 24/7. Another benefit, particularly relevant for growing businesses, is that cloud-based accounting solutions can scale up easily as your business develops. However, as with anything, there are risks to consider — for example, you need have good Internet connectivity as otherwise you may be affected by outages. GDPR and data security also need careful attention, particularly if you are sending data outside of the EU. GroForth works with many of the main accounting solutions providers and can provide advice on what businesses similar to your business are using. Entry level cloud-based accounting solutions cost around €20–€50 per month which can be very cost-effective for some businesses.
3. Cashflow management
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on your profits is likely to be a major worry at present, however it is also important to think about cashflow—the money that flows in and out of your business—as this will impact your ability to keep your business up and running. Now, more than ever, it is vital to control costs, monitor stock levels, keep debtors under control and find ways to improve your working capital.
4. Time management
We find that a lot of our clients complain about not having enough time to focus on important activities like business planning because they often have to step into the breach when problems arise in the workplace. Scope creep is also an issue for some clients. Accounting firms, for example, can find that what looks like a straight-forward engagement at the outset turns out to be much more time-consuming than anticipated. Issues like this can give rise to disputes with clients which again take time to resolve. Almost all of us stand to benefit from improving our time management skills. We previously shared some tips on how to do this in an article entitled “How Learning to Manage Your Time will help Maximise Efficiency”.
Many businesses outsource activities like bookkeeping, payroll, HR and IT support. This is partly for cost control reasons but also for other reasons such as being able to access specialist skills that businesses may not have available in-house. Previously on our blog we discussed the reasons why businesses outsource certain financial management activities and outlined five questions you need to consider when thinking about outsourcing your finance department.
Every business is different and there will be other areas for you to think about if you have time on your hands over the coming weeks. While we don’t know how long the COVID-19 crisis will last, it makes sense to look for potential opportunities that could help your business survive in the long term. We’re happy to have a chat and explain more about our services and how we can help save your business time and money.