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Kick off the New Year with your best foot forward

As you start to wind down and look forward to the New Year, it’s important to take stock of what you have achieved during the past 12 months and set your business goals. These goals should be SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

We have put together a couple of tips to help ensure smooth sailing into the year ahead.

Get on top of your finances

Take some time over Christmas to get finances in order by reviewing your financial position. Follow up on any unpaid invoices or outstanding debts to safeguard your cash flow into 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 you avoid future financial problems. Download our free cash flow forecast template to help you get started.

If you have been time-poor this year, consider implementing a bookkeeping system or tool to help you manage your finances. That way when things pick up in the New Year, you’ll be ready to focus on other important things. There are plenty of ways to digitise or automate your record-keeping using software. Implementing new software tools and online apps can help you run your business more smoothly, efficiently and even give your business that competitive edge.

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 - make sure you revisit your business plan. Does it need to be updated or changed? The season is 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 assist you to remain focussed and concentrate your efforts in the areas of your business which will have the greatest impact.

Don’t neglect your responsibilities

Make sure you comply with any existing or pending laws and regulations that will affect your business.

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.

Stay on top of the latest trends

When did you last look at what your competitors are doing? What are the current trends in your industry and could they help you succeed if you implemented them?

By taking the time to study industry trends and what your competitors are doing, you will identify any gaps in your business and industry that could be an opportunity for you and your business and enable you to streamline your business for the New Year. Visit our offices in the Perth CBD to access IBISWorld market research reports that provide you with key analysis and data trends of more than 500 industries.

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.

More information

For general business advice and guidance contact our free small business advisory service.

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