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making the most of business data

Making the most of business data

Making the most of business data

Are you recording, measuring and analysing enough of the data being generated by your business?

With so many apps and digital solutions now available to businesses, there's a wealth of useful data to trawl through – and plenty of hidden insights for you to benefit from.

Here are 5 ways to get more insights from your business data

1. Track your business finances

Managing your business accounts used to be something you left to your finance director. But with cloud accounting now the norm, every business now has 24/7 online access to detailed information about its financial position and performance. Deeper analysis and insights are usually available at the click of a button, helping you spot the pitfalls and potential opportunities.

Your accounting platform can show you:

  • Profit & loss reports and balance sheets, with real-time data to help decision-making
  • Cashflow forecasts and projections, to help plan your future cash position
  • Budget tracking and spending reports, to stay in full control of your expenditure.
2. Review your credit score

The credit risk rating your company is given by the big credit agencies can have a huge impact on your ability to borrow. A high risk-rating will mean that banks and other lenders will be reluctant to offer you funding. And suppliers will be less open to offering you trade credit.

Some credit bureaus, like Experian, now offer ways to check your business credit score. With a better understanding of your credit data, you can take action to improve your score.

To get in control of your credit position, you should:

  • Find out your current credit score and how this is impacting on your ability to borrow
  • Check out your payment history and take action to improve performance
  • Regularly check this credit data to track improvements or drops in your score.
3. Monitor your sales and marketing data

Steady sales revenues are a must for any business that wants to grow, but how much oversight do you have over your historic and future sales data? Using a sales and marketing platform like Salesforce helps you track your sales, campaigns and customer relationships – giving you a goldmine of data to sift through and analyse:

Key data areas to analyse will include:

  • Which products and/or services are making the most sales, and why
  • Which customer demographic is the biggest spender, and why they’re advocates
  • Which campaigns are delivering the best return on investment (ROI).
4. Track your staff performance

Your people are one of the company’s most important assets. But do you really know how well your employees are performing, or how engaged they are with the goals of the business? Today’s HR software makes it easy to set core skills and capabilities and track how each team member is performing over the course of the year.

As an employer, you can:

  • Set performance and training targets, and see how your employees are tracking
  • Run satisfaction surveys and staff feedback to check in on team engagement
  • Use your data to drive improved performance and happiness in your workforce.
5. Measure your performance against targets

One of the big benefits of tracking your business data is the ability to measure your performance against a given target. Whether it’s a budget target for a new department, or a sales target for a new marketing campaign, you have the performance data at your fingertips. This helps you motivate the team, work towards a common goal and ‘gamify’ your progress as a business.

If you share these targets and performance data with your people at monthly team meetings, this transparency can work wonders for motivation. When your employees, management team and executive team are all aiming for the same goals, you’re a more effective team.

Talk to us about getting more from your data.

Transforming your company into a digital business may seem like the end of the process. But the reality is that getting in control of your data sharing, analytics and performance tracking is the genuine goal for any ambitious business in 2023.

We can help you connect up your app stack and focus on analysing the most important data for business success.

Check Your Business Performance Against the ATO Small Business Benchmarks

Check Your Business Performance Against the ATO Small Business Benchmarks

Check Your Business Performance Against the ATO Small Business Benchmarks

Are you interested in comparing your business performance against the ATO Small business benchmarks? It can be a useful exercise to see whether your business is performing well, on average, or lower than the benchmark figures.

Each year the ATO publishes industry-based data to highlight specific ratios of financial and other types of performance.

For example, you can compare your cost of sales to turnover, total expenses to turnover, or labour cost to turnover. Comparing to average data gives you an idea of how your business performs compared to others in your industry.

It's no problem if your ratios are different – but it can be a helpful starting place to look if you want to improve financial performance or reduce costs. If your ratios are very different from the ATO’s, then it could be worth diving deeper into your financial reports to see if you have problems that can be addressed. For example, a hospitality business might realise that its food cost is much higher than average and then take action to change suppliers and manage wastage.

The ATO benchmarks are based on your business industry code used in your activity statements and tax returns. If you’re not sure what industry you fall under, check the ATO Business industry code tool to find the correct code for your business.

To start comparing your business, you’ll need some information from your accounting software financial reports.

  • Gross sales income
  • Salary and wages expenses, including superannuation
  • Vehicle expenses
  • Interest on credit cards and loans
  • Cost of sales
  • Total other business expenses, including all running costs, administration, contractors, suppliers, rent, freight, training and website fees.

Once you have these totals, either from your software or your last tax return, you can compare your figures to the ATO benchmarks. Compare your business here.

Want to learn more? We can run the numbers for comparison information and then discuss areas you can target to increase profitability, reduce costs and streamline operations. Talk to us today.

Meeting your goals during a global slowdown

Meeting your goals during a global slowdown

Meeting your goals during a global slowdown

Optimism among business owners was high coming into 2022. But a number of factors are now making things a lot more challenging:

  • Global events are pushing up energy prices to astronomical levels.
  • Ongoing supply-chain issues are making it difficult to source raw materials.
  • A scarcity of talent is causing problems when it comes to staffing and hiring.
  • Covid is still around and making trading more complex and difficult.

Faced with these hurdles, you might feel that your goals are no longer attainable. But is this true? Growth is likely to be a challenge, but not impossible.

5 steps for meeting your goals during a slowdown

Moving forward during a period of economic recession is certainly more of a challenge. But what's needed is an updated plan with awareness of the major external threats.

Here are five steps to set you on the right path:

1. Revisit your goals and see how realistic they are

Look at the numbers and make a call on whether they still make sense in the current business market. If necessary, update your goals and make them challenging. But, importantly, make any goals attainable during a time when cash and resources are in short supply.

2. Get the best possible understanding of your financial position

Take a deep-dive into your finances and see how you’re tracking against your budgets and targets. How is your cashflow looking? Do you have enough working capital to fund your growth? If additional funding is needed, where could it come from?

3. Decide if you have the right team for the job

Whatever your key goals, you need talented people on board who share your core aims for the business. Think about whether you have the team you need, or if there’s a pressing need to hire new people. And consider if artificial intelligence (AI) and automation could fill some of the resourcing gaps and help you scale up.

4. Assess the current situation in your sector

You can’t change the big external threats in your industry. But you can do your homework and find out what the immediate threats will be. Are there supply chain issues? Are prices going sky high? Get up to speed and look for ways to minimise the impact and rise to the top of the crop.

5. Update your plan

Once you’ve looked over your numbers, goals and strategy, you’re likely to need an updated business plan. Factor in the threats, set meaningful goals, but give your company a target that’s realistic during a global slowdown. Successful small steps towards a goal are better than one giant leap; a leap where you may land flat on your face.

Getting prepared

The sooner you start revisiting your goals and business plan, the better prepared your company will be for the ups and downs of a recession.

Come and talk to us about your financial position, your core strategy and your concerns about the next six to twelve months. We’ll help you set practical, attainable goals that will push your business forward.

Key numbers to focus on in your business

Key numbers to focus on in your business now

Key numbers to focus on in your business now

As a business owner, it’s always been helpful to have an understanding of accounting – but in the world today, it’s never been more important to have a good grasp on your finances.

With the business world irreparably changed by the impact of coronavirus, the war on Ukraine, and rising inflation, your business is facing a ‘new normal’. Priorities have changed, customer behaviours have mutated and revenue streams have had to evolve and pivot in order to create a viable post-lockdown business model.

To track, monitor and drive your financial performance in this new business world, it’s increasingly important to have a handle on your key financial reports and metrics.

Getting to grips with your financial reports

Whereas in the past, extra cash in the business may have been seen as a surplus that needed to be spent on something, the past three years have shown us that having these reserves is vitally important for the survival and long-term health of businesses.

To truly be in control of this cash, it’s vital that you can dip into your accounts, financial reports and dashboards and ‘see the genuine story’ behind your financial position.

So, what are the key reports to focus on? Let’s take a look:

Budget 

Your budget is the financial plan that's tied in with your strategic plan. In essence, the budget is your approximation of the money it will take to attain your key strategic goals, and the revenue (income) and profits you hope to make during this period. It’s a benchmark you can use to measure your actuals (historic numbers) against, allowing you to see the variances, gaps and missed targets over a given period.

Cashflow Statement 

A cashflow statement shows the flow of money into and out of your business.

Understanding these cash inflows and outflows in detail allows you to manage this ongoing process, allowing you to aim for a ‘positive cashflow position’ – where inflows outweigh outflows.

In your ideal positive scenario, you have enough liquid cash in the business to cover your costs, fund your operations and generate a profit.

Cashflow Forecast

Forecasting allows you to take your historic cash numbers and project them forward in time.

As such, you can see where the cashflow holes may appear weeks, or even months, in advance. This gives you time to take action, whether it’s increasing your income stream, reducing your underlying costs, chasing up unpaid invoices (aged debt) or going to lenders for additional funding.

Balance Sheet 

Your balance sheet shows you your company’s assets, liabilities and equity at a given point in time.

In a nutshell, it’s a snapshot of what your business owns (your assets), what you owe to other people (your liabilities) and what money and profits you currently have invested in the company (your equity).

Your balance sheet is useful for seeing what stock and equipment your business owns, how much debt (liabilities) you’ve worked up and what your company is actually worth. This is all incredibly useful information to have at your fingertips when making big business decisions.

Profit & Loss

Your profit and loss report - often referred to as your P&L. Your P&L gives you an overview of the company’s revenues, costs and expenses over a given historic period of time.

Whereas the balance sheet is a snapshot, your P&L is more like a moving video. It shows you how your finances are progressing by demonstrating how revenue is coming in and costs/expenses are going out (rather than cash coming in and going out, as you see in your cashflow statement and cashflow forecasts).

There is a range of software and apps that you can use to generate the above reports. For example Xero

Talk to us about software and apps to help you with the financial reporting and forecasting for your business

attracting the right talent

Is your business attracting the right talent?

Is your business attracting the right talent?

We all know that business owners are finding it challenging to find good people to join your team.

Have you considered what your employer brand says about your business?

Your employer brand is like the tone of voice for your business. It should reflect you and what makes it unique, while also attracting people who want to work there too!

The right employees are a business’ most valuable resource. With the changing needs of industry, it's important to have an attractive brand that will attract those with skills relevant for your company - and keep them around longer than before!

So how are you attracting great talent to your business?

Start with sharing the full picture

To get good people, you need to tell them what your company is like.

This includes talking about the work environment and company culture. You can do this by describing your work environment in job descriptions. Including that on your website or social media.

Also make sure your careers page has more information about your company, the culture, and the roles available.

And it helps if you can also provide some insight into company life and why your people currently work for you.

Know your Employer Value Proposition

Your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is what makes your company different from others and attractive to potential employees.

Your EVP includes things like your company's values, offerings, and associations.

Having a strong EVP makes it more likely that people will want to work for you, and it can also help reduce turnover if current employees feel aligned with your company culture.

Attracting the right talent

When it comes to attracting the right talent, you need to first understand who your ideal candidate is. Build a profile of your ideal candidate by thinking about their:

  • Work experience
  • Aspirations and goals
  • Values
  • Education
  • Personal activities
  • Personal life and family situation.

Then, create questions to ask potential employees to see if they fit your ideal person. You can also tailor your advertising based on the profile you develop to attract the right candidates.

Plan for the future

What positions do you need to fill in the next 6-12 months, and what skills are required for each?

Build relationships with potential candidates now. This will take time, but it will be worth it.

Make your company an attractive place to work by investing in your employer brand. This includes things like culture, environment, values, and strategic vision.

Doing this will help you save money on recruiting costs and reduce the number of employees who quit.

Business tip: Knowing what your customer wants

Business tip: Knowing what your customer wants

Knowing what your customer wants

Knowing what your customers want helps you meet your growth targets. We’ve outlined a couple of ways to improve your understanding of your customers, through better data, analysis and feedback.

The increase in digital business systems has opened up forensic ways of understanding your customer base. That's a huge bonus when you're aiming to build better connections, relationships and experiences with your audience.

Knowing what your customer wants is a fundamental piece of knowledge for any successful business to get to grips with. And when you're running a modern, digital business there's an overwhelming wealth of customer and sales data and analytics at your disposal – making it easier than ever to dig down into the needs and habits of your end user.

Detailed CRM records and customer notes

A CRM system becomes the heart of your customer management, business development and marketing activity, allowing you to log activity, keep notes and record progress throughout the sales pipeline.

The more information you have about your valued customers, the more you can do to meet their needs and deliver the perfect customer experience. And by maximising your use of this customer data, you can tightly focus your marketing campaigns and do more to make every customer feel understood, valued and (most importantly) satisfied.

Apps such as Active Campaign and HubSpot are very popular, with information being generated from accounting sales data or add-on sales management POS systems.

Drilled-down sales records

Keeping tabs on your sales activity is central to any business model. In an ideal world, you want regular, repeatable sales from a loyal customer base. But sales activity can be hard to predict, especially when you’re setting ambitious sales targets for your team to hit.

Having detailed sales records and data at your fingertips has two key benefits:

  • You know how sales have fared in the past
  • You know how sales may pan out in the future

Being able to run forecasts, based on your historic sales data gives you a stable foundation on which to build your future sales targets. It’s a solid projection, based on real business data.

This data also gives you an encyclopaedic overview of what your customers have been buying.

This sales data helps you understand:

  • Which products/services your customers want to spend their money on
  • Which specific products/services are failing to convert
  • Which points in the year will have peaks and troughs in sales
  • When it’s the right time to invest in more sales and marketing activity

This is all gold dust when it comes to planning out your strategy, assigning your sales and marketing resources and building engagement with your core audiences.

Hitting your growth targets, is far easier when you know the needs of your customers and can accurately target your sales, marketing and social activity.

Why you should have a business continuity plan

Why you should have a business continuity plan

Why you should have a business continuity plan

Keeping your business operational is a full-time job. It’s a balancing act that requires you to keep a multitude of plates spinning, while your executive team and employees support you at every stage of the operational journey.

But what happens if these plates stop spinning?

Sudden unexpected threats can catch you on the hop.

What if an unexpected circumstance comes up that derails your usual operational procedures? How will you cope? What will you do to overcome the issue? And how will you get the business back on target?

The answer lies in having a thorough business continuity plan.

What’s a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan is an executive plan that describes the risks that exist in the business, your strategy for dealing with these known and unknown risks, and how you will mobilise your team to overcome any issues, emergencies or gaps in trading etc.

None of us truly knows what lies around the corner. Most businesses were not expecting the 2008 economic crash, or the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. If you can plan ahead and put contingency plans in place, you'll be better prepared when a worst-case scenario does appear.

How do you formulate your plan?

Every organisation’s business continuity plan will be different. We all have different business models, different company hierarchies and different risks that are peculiar to our own sectors.

But the fundamental basis on which you create your business continuity plan will be the same however your company works.

For example:

Identify the critical areas of your business

Look at your operational business model and think about where it’s most likely to break down under pressure. Are you reliant on a specific supplier to operate? Which are the fundamental departments in your model and what do they bring to the business? Who are your core heads of department and staff, and who could deputise for them in their absence? In short, look for anything that could break down and how this could affect the whole business.

Create back-up continuity plans for each critical area

You obviously need your main continuity plan to cover the entire business. But it’s also important to look at the risks, essential personnel and key operational activities for each separate department in the company. Your finance team will need a very different continuity plan to your logistics and delivery team, for example. So, tailor each continuity plan to fit the needs of your main business areas, and make sure they’re all fit for purpose.

Assign a continuity lead and department leads

It’s a good idea to assign a main business continuity lead role or champion, so the responsibility for reviewing and updating the plan sits under someone’s remit. You’ll also need to have a lead person for each critical department, so every cog in the wider machine is represented.

Make sure everyone knows the continuity plan

A business continuity plan is useless unless the whole company is aware of the plan and knows what to do. Have a central phone number, WhatsApp group and email address set up for any business continuity emergency. And use your internal communications team to provide regular messaging, training and updates on changes to the ongoing continuity plan.

Keep the business operating

Ultimately, your continuity plan exists to keep the company operating in challenging times. It could be that your HQ is flooded out and has to be closed down and moved to an alternative location. It may be that significant employee sickness hits you, leaving only a skeleton staff to run each department. Whatever the circumstances, your plan needs a contingency in place, so you and your remaining staff can continue to trade, make sales and bring in revenues.

No plan can completely remove the threat of the unknown – that’s an impossibility. But with a continuity plan that’s well-conceived and ready to implement, you reduce the potential risks and give you and your team a practical strategy and tactics to work with.

Preventing business owner burnout

Preventing business owner burnout

Preventing business owner burnout

It’s tough going for business owners.

With the labour market tight, businesses are already understaffed. Add high rates of absenteeism, and remaining workers and business owners are under incredible pressure.

When you love your job and always want to do the best for your clients, it’s easy to start overworking yourself and run the risk of burnout.

It’s vital that you take care of yourself.

So here are three ways to start preventing business owner burnout:

1. Start saying ‘No’

Small business owners are experts in saying ‘Yes!’ and then figuring out the details later.

It’s how you grow a small business and build your reputation for being able to solve problems for your clients. However, if you’re overworked and stressed out, it’s time to start saying ‘No’.

Begin by turning down work from difficult clients, or work that’s outside your core business, so you’re focused on where you add the most value.

2. Identify at least one area you can delegate or outsource

You can’t do everything yourself, particularly if you’re understaffed.

Look at your processes and try to identify an area that’s not part of your core business which you can delegate or outsource.  If you look after your social media, it might be easier to delegate this to someone else.  Share the responsibility for office cleaning across the team. Or even subscribe to a meal kit service to take the stress out of cooking.

Plus, your bookkeeping and payroll are two areas that can easily be outsourced and you can always talk to us about this

Usually, the cost of these initiatives will quickly pay for themselves: once you feel less stressed, you’ll be more productive.

3. Hold onto your interests outside work

Running a business can be all-consuming, but hang onto your friends, sports and hobbies even when it gets busy.

Letting your relationships, health, and pastimes dwindle away will undermine your emotional, physical, and mental health.

We can help

Not sure if outsourcing tasks will pay for itself? 

We can work with you to analyse the costs and benefits of any business investment. And we can take on your bookkeeping and payroll. Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

How to coax your people back to the office

How to coax your people back to the office

How to coax your people back to the office

Globally, our relationship with work and the workplace has changed.

People got used to working from home (WFH) during the pandemic lockdowns and enjoyed the freedom it offered.

In fact, 61% of people working from home are doing so because they want to, even though their office is open, according to a recent survey.

But we also need to balance this new WFH ethic with the more sociable aspects of collaborating together at HQ.

What’s needed is a switch to hybrid working, with some time in the office and some time WFH.

So, how do you coax your people back to the office and highlight the benefits of sometimes working in one main workspace?

What turned people off of the office?

The Covid-19 pandemic came along and shook up the work dynamic in a big way. We’d had cloud technology and remote working available for some time. But the pandemic acted as a catalyst for pushing remote working as a viable, everyday work option.

This allowed us all to work. But it also had other repercussions too:

People moved out of the city

Many people moved away from the big cities and out into the suburbs/countryside during the pandemic. With cloud tech and WFH now the norm, some people felt there was no need to be in a city-based office. This removed the commute, saved money on train and travel costs and gave them more time in their day.

A change in property usage and prices

The mass exodus to the countryside pushed property and rental prices sky-high in these greener suburbs – with a huge demand for houses. And, on the flipside, big office buildings in the city have been standing empty, wasting money on rental fees and mortgage payments for companies.

So, how do you entice our people back from their suburban homes and into your office?

Coaxing your workforce back to HQ

People have got very used to working from their kitchen table. So, if you want your team to return to the office, you’ve got to deliver a workspace that offers something more.

Working from the office has to appear like a positive benefit, rather than the poorer cousin of WFH.

Creating a more welcoming environment with added amenity and flexibility will also stand you apart in a tight labour market.

Here are five ideas to try:

1. Make your workspace more inviting

Can you redesign the layout to add different work zones?. Have a hotdesking area alongside breakout tables, informal areas to make the office feel less formal and more like a home-from-home.

2. Offer perks and benefits in the office

If there are perks of being in the office, your team will be more incentivised to work here. Whether that is coffee and fruit or a offering gym memberships or cycle-to-work schemes that add tangible benefits of signing up to working a certain number of weekly hours from your HQ.

3. Have more in-person meetings

In a recent study, researchers found that video conferencing hampers idea generation, so our reliance on technology might come at a cost of creativity.

While Zoom, Teams and Google Meet can be invaluable for collaborating across time zones, it's worthwhile, encouraging your team to meet in-person also. Run more of your internal and client catch-ups as face-to-face meetings and have team huddles on a given morning in the office.

4. Encourage in-person mentoring and education

One thing that remote workers miss out on is face-to-face mentoring.

Try pairing up senior and junior staff members and giving them an assigned mentoring day to work together at HQ. And think about offering extra-curricular training sessions and ‘lunch ‘n’ learns’ to help people upskill and learn new capabilities.

5. Get creative with your ideas

To tempt people back, you’ve got to offer some fun too.

Try a ‘Bring your pet to work’ day, so people can bring their pandemic pooch to the office. Run more charity events where people can get into the spirit and work on their team bonding. Or offer after-work sports and leisure activities, like yoga, five-a-side football, quizzes, cookery classes etc.

Anything out of the ordinary that will appeal to a workforce that’s getting a little bored of working on their own from home.