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Kick off the New Year with your best foot forward

As you look forward to the new year, it’s important to take stock of your achievements during the past 12 months and to set your business goals. These goals should be SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.

We have put together a few tips to help ensure smooth sailing into 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 2020. 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.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 record-keeping using software. Implementing new software tools and online apps can help you run your business more smoothly, efficiently and give you a 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 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.

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 these ideas help you to grow or diversify your business?

By taking the time to study industry trends and what your competitors are doing will help identify any gaps that could be an opportunity for you and your business. Visit our offices in the Perth CBD to access IBISWorld market research reports offering key analysis and data trends of more than 500 industries. If you’re in regional WA, contact the Business Local service provider in your area to access these reports.

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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