With things usually a little quieter in the first week or two of the year, now if the time for entrepreneurs to get their financial house in order, ready for the year ahead. Anton van Heerden, executive vice-president for Africa and the Middle East at Sage, has some advice on things to focus on.
Plan for 2017
Van Heerden’s first piece of advice to entrepreneurs is to write out a plan for the year ahead, setting out specific goals and strategies to pursue.
“Write down each goal, along with a deadline and a metric for success,” he says.
Ideas for questions to address include:
- Do we want to target new customer segments?
- Is it to time to strengthen the team by hiring new people?
- Are we happy with our product and service lines?
- Are we pricing appropriately?
Entrepreneurs should take the time to forecast their startup’s cashflow for the next 12 months, van Heerden says.
This is a matter of planning for growth, and preparing to address any weaknesses identified.
Most of us already have!
But for any entrepreneurs out there who haven’t, van Heerden explains: “The two most popular benefits to switch to a paperless office are the environment and saving costs. While these two are important, there are many hidden positives that tossing paper can do to help small businesses to re-invent and simplify their endeavour – leading to increased profitability.”
Entrepreneurs should consider outsourcing their payroll management, to ensure accuracy and compliance with increasingly complex labour laws and tax regulations.
The increasing availability of affordable cloud-based accounting solutions makes it an attractive time for startups to automate their accounting system, van Heerden says.
Not only does automated accounting allow for better accuracy and speed, he says, it also frees up time for team members to focus on other tasks.
Reach out to friends
This is a great time of year to get in touch with the people important to a startup’s business, such as clients, suppliers, and stakeholders.
“ A personal phone call or email to wish them well for the New Year is a good way to get on their radar early in the year,” van Heerden says.
New year, new you.
Van Heerden suggests refreshing a startup’s marketing early in the year.
“Why not change the look and feel of your website or your business cards? It is a good way to get people talking about your company,” he says.
Entrepreneurs should not forget to plan and budget for training throughout the year, van Heerden says.
Founders need to stay up to date with the latest trends and developments, and so should plan to attend relevant seminars and courses across the year.
For employees, entrepreneurs should budget for skills development and technical training.
When planning for 2017, entrepreneurs should be prepared for rainy days, often caused by factors out of their control.
“Even the best-run businesses have occasional months where they experience an unexpected gap between the money they need to pay their bills and the money that comes into their bank accounts. Unforeseen events such as productivity lost because of strikes and power outages, expensive machines that break, or a big customer missing a payment date can cause a temporary cash crunch for healthy business,” van Heerden says.
Now is the time to set up a potential line of credit, he says. If problems do strike, entrepreneurs should mitigate them by prioritising invoices, and communicating well with clients with overdue accounts; as well as creditors they can’t pay on time.