As you dive into the new year in small business, it’s important to take stock of your achievements during the past 12 months and to set your business goals for the next.

We have put together a few tips to help ensure smooth sailing in the year ahead.

Get on top of your finances

Take some time to put your finances in order by reviewing your financial position.

Follow up any unpaid invoices or outstanding debts to safeguard your cash flow for the start of the new year. Cash flow forecasts can help you identify when you may have extra cash available or experience shortfalls, providing you with warning signs that may help avoid future financial problems. Download our free cash flow forecast template to help you get started.

If you have been time-poor, consider implementing a bookkeeping system or tool to help you manage your finances. So when things pick up in the new year, you’ll be ready to focus on other important things. There are many ways to digitise or automate your business tasks to save time and effort. Implementing new software tools, online apps or using artificial intelligence (AI) can help you run your business more smoothly, efficiently and give you a competitive edge.

The start of the new year is also a good time to meet with your accountant to discuss any tax planning strategies you may wish to put in place prior to 30 June. Starting these conversations now will give you time to plan and maximise your tax planning efforts to help you maximise your tax return.

Review your business and marketing plans

As a business owner, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day running of your business and lose sight of your overall goals and customer needs. A lot can change in a year so make sure you revisit your business and marketing plans. Do they need to be updated or changed? The start of the year can be a great time to explore new opportunities to grow your client base and identify solutions for any problematic areas of the business. Forward planning will help you remain focussed and concentrate your efforts on the areas that will have the greatest impact.

If you don’t have plans in place, download our free business plan template and marketing plan template to help get you started. Remember that when updating your plans for the upcoming year, set goals that are SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. You can also access free market research and industry data to help guide your planning by contacting the SBDC.

Don’t neglect your responsibilities

Make sure you comply with any new or updated regulations that will affect your business. The business landscape is regularly changing, and each year sees new rules and regulations that business owners need to follow. A great way to keep up to date with these changes is to sign up for the SBDC’s fortnightly e-news.

Know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to customers returning unwanted goods or unsuccessful gifts. To avoid confusion, familiarise yourself with Australian Consumer Law and display a refund policy to inform your customers that you have a clear process when customers return goods.

Make sure your business is protected

Your business may have a wealth of intellectual property (IP) – consider the things that differentiate you from your competitors. By protecting your IP you can stop your competitors copying or stealing your unique ideas. If you’ve developed a new product, service, process or idea, consider registering it with IP Australia.

As a business owner you can also protect your business when buying, selling, leasing or hiring business assets using the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR). If you’re involved in building and construction, trading valuable second-hand goods, automotive services and selling goods on consignment, the PPSR is particularly beneficial to you.

It’s important to protect your business against cyber security threats. It’s easy to overlook updating your software when you are busy working on other projects, but failing to do so can make your business vulnerable to a cyber-attack and scammers.

Stay on top of the latest trends

Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming part of everyday life. For business owners, AI has the potential to help you get things done in less time or increase the quality of your output. Read our articles AI made simple: An introduction for small businesses and 5 ways to use AI in your business to find out more.

Learn something new

There are plenty of free and low cost ways to understand and put into practice the latest approaches to running a small business – from revisiting fundamental business skills including financial management to expanding your digital and strategic skills. Adopting a growth mindset and investing in lifelong learning, no matter how long you have been in business, is key to adapting and thriving into the future.

Check out upcoming workshops from the SBDC.

More information

The start of a new year is a great time to review and reset your business. Take advantage of our free small business advisory service to start off the new year with your best foot forward.

Starting and growing
Legal and risk
15 January 2024