The pandemic was tough for almost every business.
But I believe there was a silver lining… 2020 provided the perfect opportunity for us to assess the way we work. We had to change what we do just because we’ve always done things a certain way. For those of you owning a business, you may have had to review routines, your resistance to letting staff work from home, processes, and even the employees you keep because you never had time nor pressure to find a better way.
The dynamic – and let’s be honest, the sheer pressure – presented by the pandemic last year allowed us to reformat and re-jig plans so we’re leaner, smarter and stronger than ever before.
Although the start to 2021 has been a little shaky, hopefully this year will be different. But if you haven’t already, take a look at six key ways in which you can reformat some areas of your financial services firm up to make 2021 your best year yet.
1. Make a Plan.
It’s a bit of a shock to most, but the majority of small businesses do not have a formal business plan. This is because most evolved organically, or you may have been too busy in the business to work on it.
If you’re one in this group, the new year – after a bit of a break with family, reflecting on the last 12 months – is a great time to get your thoughts together. And it is time “out”, but the time taken to build your business plan will contribute to growth. One study found companies that plan grow 30 percent faster than those that don’t.
A plan is also super valuable for established businesses – even more so than Startups. So if you already have a business plan – good! It’s still important to dust it off and update it in light of current conditions. This will give you focus and help you decide if, and what changes need to be made. This doesn’t need to take a lot of time or energy; it’s probably all in your head, but it’s important to write it down to provide you and your business focus when it’s needed. Xero even has a couple of templates available to get you started.
2. Focus on Your Clients
One thing that often gets lost in the craziness of day-to-day business operations is the need to focus on all the customer data you have that may be used to grow your business.
No matter the size of your firm, you can benefit from an assessment of your clients to understand where you win the most business, and opportunities for further growth. Reach out to clients to assess their satisfaction and feedback on your services. You may find quick and easy ways to satisfy a need amongst your client base that will represent new income (and quick sales) from clients. If you receive positive feedback, put it on your website and in your pitch for new business. Here’s a quick reference on how to run a net promoter score.
3. Assess your Business Subscriptions
How many software applications do you have that are under-utilised or not used at all? Or perhaps you find yourself fiddling – spending time trying to extract data from different systems to provide a comprehensive view of your firm or to get something to work as you want it?
SaaS models make it easy to pay monthly software charges on your credit card, but these fees, in addition to the costs associated with clunky workarounds or administration can add up.
If you’re not using systems that consistently cost you money on a regular basis, consider unsubscribing, reducing licenses or outsourcing a portion of your workflow. You’ll not only save the cost of a subscription, but time spent on that process and time trying to remember all your passwords!
Alternatively, it may be time for training or customisation of your selected software so that your workflow and software are aligned to your need.
4. Review Your Employment Model
Are you struggling to use your current team members to maximum capacity? Alternatively, is the financial commitment to a new staff member too risky in light of current circumstances?
The rise in virtual assistants or indeed, local outsourced services like Intello offer small businesses a wonderful boost to resources or experience to help you manage sudden spikes in client demand or busier times like EOFY. The flexibility allows firms to test out the introduction of new services or to expand the client base without outlaying on staff, desk space and software.
5. Get More Secure
Australia’s financial sector is currently the fourth most popular target for cybercriminals.
The time and cost to identify the breech, remedy and reporting requirements – never mind the interruption to services and damage to reputation – are worth much more than the time and investment in simple cybersecurity protections. The most common source of breeches is within your team clicking on malicious links or falling for phishing attacks, so look into your cybersecurity training options that will keep your team alert to the risk of attack in addition to software protections.
6. Remember Your Marketing
70-80% of people research a small business before visiting or making a purchase. (Blue Corona)
Most successful small businesses understand that customers these days need to research a company before they feel confident about making a purchase. One of the easiest ways for people to look into your business is to check out your website and social media profiles, then read the reviews left by other customers. Free social media platforms like LinkedIn are extremely valuable for informing your potential clients on who you are and what makes you different from competition. A great start is to ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with a photo, a bit about you and your Company Page is current. Use this platform to connect with clients and engage on content like industry news to build your profile. This new form of networking is a very effective way to substitute the kind we’re used to before COVID-19.
This set of six activities are homework on your business will help build resistance to any headwinds generated by competition – or a global pandemic! If you need to outsource any or all of your SMSF Administration requirements, consider Intello as a way to save on team members, desk space and software requirements.