Starting the year off right

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It may be February but it’s not too late to make some new year’s resolutions!

In fact, February can be the ideal time to kickstart positive habits and make the changes you’ve been thinking about for the past few months. The holiday season is now well and truly over, and clients, suppliers and employees have likely returned to their usual schedules.

Make your 2019 easier, starting this month! Resolve to:

  • Go through your shoebox or glove compartment full of receipts and log them in an excel spreadsheet
  • Take control of your finances by employing a part-time bookkeeper
  • Make those difficult ‘collections’ calls that you always put off
  • Spend some time researching cheaper electricity or other supplier solutions online
  • Get your head around how to use Instagram to promote your business

Here are a few key tips for starting the year off right.

Chase unpaid invoices

To avoid cashflow worries following you well into 2019, be sure to chase those unpaid invoices that have stacked up over the holiday break. While late invoices are common for small business, they become an even bigger problem during January – which can make for a stressful February.

Clearly communicate to your clients that their invoices are overdue. With employees on annual leave over January, things tend to get missed, so the business may not even be aware of the slip-up. If you’re not hearing back, check that you are reaching out to the right person in the business as otherwise, your emails might go straight in the trash folder.   

Set in place a plan for dealing with extremely late payments or clients who are in financial distress. Being prepared and knowing your options will help ease some of the pressure during these situations. If your clients are experiencing genuine financial difficulty, you might want to talk to them about a payment plan. You can also consider a short-term business loan to ease cash flow during this time.   

Embrace digital

2019 is the year for small business to embrace the ‘digital makeover.’ This year one hundred small businesses in Australia will receive a $20,000 government grant, designed to increase digital adoption and engagement.

According to Deloitte’s Connected Small Businesses 2017 report, small businesses that have ‘advanced’ levels of digital engagement compared to those that have a ‘basic’ level are 50% more likely to be increasing revenue. They are also eight times more likely to be creating jobs, and seven times more likely to be exporting.

Despite this, GoDaddy research reveals six in ten Australian small businesses don’t even have a website.

Consider investing a small amount in building your online presence. A digital makeover doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can have a big impact on revenue and customer experience. An active social media account or an updated, mobile-friendly website can add a sense of professionalism and reliability, and help you reach and engage new and existing customers. Worried you don’t have a clue where to begin? There are plenty of free courses to help you out at the start?

Prioritise work-life balance

It can be hard to prioritise work-life balance, but research shows it could be more important for small business owners than the average worker.

Whether they are sole traders or employ a team, small business owners work long hours and wear many hats. Challenges include managing cash flow, finding and winning customers, replacing and maintaining equipment, introducing new products, and even pursuing expansion opportunities.

Research by Everymind found that symptoms associated with depression and anxiety were more common in small business owners than the average Australian. A survey by YouGov, commissioned by Prospa, also showed that three quarters (73%) of small business owners felt that running their business impacted their ability to relax during the holidays and 82% cut back on things like exercise, hobbies and socialising to spend more time on their business.

This year be sure to make time for yourself, whether that’s attending a gym class in the morning or catching up with a friend for dinner. Consider scheduling these things into your calendar, just like a meeting, to help you plan and prioritise.

Finally, set a monthly reminder to track your progress on the above and any other new year’s resolutions you set for yourself and your business. This will help you stick to them when life and work are particularly busy!   

More articles like this: 3 steps to Minimise Business Worries this Holiday Season

About the author

Anna Fitzgerald is the Group Head of Corporate Relations at Prospa. She focuses on media relations and driving our government, public policy and regulatory agenda. Prospa is Australia’s #1 online lender to small businesses. Prospa understands small business owners need faster finance solutions so that they can make timely decisions quickly and seize opportunities with confidence.