Start 2019 off with a Bang! What to Review in your Business

It’s a fresh new year and you’re ready to tackle it head on. With every new year, it’s always great to take some time out to reflect on the year passed to see if there is anything that could’ve been improved.  It’s the perfect time to review processes and procedures and determine what needs to be optimised, what can be added and if necessary what processes can be made redundant.

While there’s a wealth of things to consider, we’ve come up with key ideas as a starting point for your review.

From customer feedback to forecasting; from planning holiday leave to reviewing employee benefits, these are all important tasks that can make a real difference to the success of your business in 2019.

Of course, it’s also the perfect time to consider if your business could benefit from engaging a professional travel management company.  

Involve Your Staff in the Process

Before you get going with your review, make sure you talk to your team and get them contributing ideas. They’re your biggest asset, so it pays to have them engaged and involved.

Janet Culpitt, CEO of Be Seen, Get Known, Make Money, suggests, “Your staff are your team of ambassadors, representing you. Treat them wisely and with respect and you will reap the rewards. Start this by involving them in your annual business planning, so they plan things like their leave and time out in advance allowing the business to plan around that.”

Set up a brainstorming session for the team to contribute ideas and goals freely.

Plan Your Time Wisely

We all know the saying, “time is money.” Time is a valuable commodity but is often difficult to balance with other competing tasks and issues that arise daily.

Andrew Keily, Partner at Bentleys Queensland explains, “Effective time management is one of the secrets to success in business. Having a structured approach to managing your time will enable you to achieve objectives, keep a sense of control, and improve the quality of your outcomes.”

The key elements of effective time management he says are:

  • Planning – set goals and develop plans to achieve them
  • Prioritising – address tasks in order of urgency and consequences 
  • Delegating – share responsibility for outcomes and use the resources available to you

Consider time monitoring apps like Clockify so team members can monitor their time spent on projects, client relationships, or administrative tasks. The free tool allows you to export a report with breakdowns of times spent in different areas so your team can prioritise time in future.

Financials, Forecasting and Budgets

Setting practical targets for earnings and expenditure is key to ensuring continued financial stability and growth. These should be reviewed regularly over the course of the year to keep yourself and the business accountable.

Cesar Uylangco from UP Financial Planners confirms this sentiment and suggests, “When setting your budgets and forecast for a one year goal, you need to make sure you’re setting realistic objectives with some perspective of stretching your capabilities as a business assuming you have the capacity in place. It needs to be attainable with some effort towards growth.

For example, if your business made $100,000 in sales this year, then by setting a forecast for $110, 000 sales in 2019 this is only a 10% increase which is a nice stretch target and one would assume be attainable with the right infrastructure or team in place.  For longer term planning perhaps a more audacious view is acceptable.

It’s very important to create an action plan that you can successfully work towards and give the best possible chance to meet new targets. It’s also necessary to review your plan frequently which, depending on your business, may need to be weekly, monthly or quarterly. It's about segmenting your goals and being clear about your niche market and target clientele within each review periods of your plan.  Often this is where you’ll find a disconnect with businesses where goals are set but the clarity and process for achievement sought falls short of the target.  There is no point in setting up for failure before you even start so make sure you are prepared for growth if that is what a business seeks.”

Cesar goes on to say, “I would also suggest finding a mentor or colleague to help hold you and your business accountable to what you have planned out. If a suitable mentor or colleague cannot be found, then perhaps look to your team.  I have already started sharing my business objectives to key team members for 2019 so that we are sharing that journey of growth and development together as well as the rewards when we achieve our plans.  An open business relationship is important within your team if you decide to take this option so that constructive ideas and critiques are easily exchanged for the benefit of the business."

Marketing: Stay Ahead of The Game

Now is the perfect time to look at your marketing strategies and determine whether any messaging needs to be freshened up to keep current with the ever-changing business landscape. It’s also a good time to review the processes you have in place to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Jo Adams, Business Development and Marketing Manager at Bentleys Queensland offers some sage advice when looking at how to stay ahead of the curve with your marketing messages.

Jo says, “An important first step in developing a winning marketing strategy is defining and understanding your target audience.  In the words of global entrepreneur, Richard Branson, “You can never go too far wrong by thinking like a customer who’s new to the business”.

Make sure you’re staying in touch with the wants and needs of your current customers and potential customers. Technology, innovation, globalisation and social trends can change the way customers perceive and consume products and services. It can also change the way that customers think about your business. Stay ahead of the curve by regularly surveying your customers on how they feel about your performance, trends, and challenges they face in their businesses. Keeping your finger on the pulse will help to make sure your marketing messages are current and will help you to stay relevant in your customer’s mind.

According to Think With Google some of the major trends for marketing in 2019 will be:

  1. Representation and inclusivity in creative
  2. Building a data-driven culture at your brand
  3. The rise of personalised storytelling

Look At The Bigger Picture

When looking at your business operational performance over the past year Andrew points out, “A common challenge for business owners is the tendency to spend more time working in your business than on your business. This leaves you at risk of losing sight of your strategic goals, missing growth opportunities or repeatedly doing things in old, inefficient ways.  It’s vital that you schedule time regularly to step back and look at the bigger picture. “

Andrew believes reviewing your financial and operational performance is one of the most effective first steps for refreshing and strengthening your business strategy.  He recommends to:
 

  • Look at your sales and expenses data from the previous 12 months. Have either or both improved over this time? Do you know the reason/s why? Pinpointing the levers for improving your financial performance enables you to do more of what gets results.
     
  • Contemplate the activities or tasks that take you or your team the most time – do they deliver measurable benefits? If not, focus on finding other ways to get these tasks done. This could mean investing in a new system or process, outsourcing a task or changing the way that you provide information to others. Time is money – so finding efficiency is akin to discovering a new revenue stream.

Value Staff Development

It’s the perfect time to look at staff development training. Investing in your staff in terms of focusing on key staff for potential leadership roles is important to keep staff motivated.

If staff are able to see potential to develop their career with a clear pathway to work towards then the benefits for your business are substantial and can translate into improving your bottom line.

Forbes have outlined 7 Learning and Development Trends to Adopt in 2019:

  1. C-suite and HR work together better to align goals
  2. Develop competencies for future organisational goals
  3. Emphasise communication skills
  4. Increase the gamification of training
  5. View training as an employee benefits and bait for talent acquisition
  6. Weigh learner-centric against content-oriented training
  7. Digital and mobile content delivery are more critical than ever

Make sure your business is ahead of the curve and start your staff development planning today.

Office Health

Statistics showed in 2017 the average employee took 9.7 days of sick leave per annum. This was a slight increase from the previous year. With sick days on the rise it’s worth looking at ways to keep your workplace clean and free from seasonal germs!

Giving your desk and computer a weekly wipe over is a great place to start with keeping any germs at bay. Make sure you clean thoroughly (including emptying any crumbs out of the keyboard important for those who regularly eat at their desks. You’d be amazed at what gets caught in between the keys.)

Ever thought of introducing a Green Smoothie day? A blend of green leafy kale, spinach, mango and banana is bound to keep Vitamin C and energy levels at all-time highs!

Book In Employee Leave

Let’s face it, who doesn’t like booking a holiday? Whether it’s a local or international vacation, holidays are important for so many reasons. They help to reset and renew your energy levels, allows for some stress-free time, gives you valuable family moments and breaks up the monotony of regular routine.

Making sure your employees book holiday leave in advance is not only important for employee efficiency but it’s also a way to ensure you’re able to operate effectively and productively as a business all year round with adequate staff.

Employee Benefits Program

Facebook and Google are well known for their exciting and dynamic employee benefits program. From accommodating parental leaves, generous health cover, to endless supplies of snacks and the option of bringing your dog to work available at Google, through to complimentary lunches, flexible working arrangements and fantastic health packages at Facebook.

There’s no doubt an Employee Benefits Program can be a powerful tool if used correctly by employers. The key however, to a successful program is implementing initiatives that offer some form of substance and value to your employees.

Heidi Mayhew-Sanders, HR Director at Bentleys Queensland says, “Research shows that that by 2025 millennials (those born after 1980) will make up 75% of Australia’s workforce, and the ‘average’ employee will have 17 jobs and 5 careers across their working life. This generation values inclusion, are goal-focused and place importance on striking genuine work-life balance. It’s likely that the future workforce will increasingly seek to work for organisations that provide them with the flexibility to design their career on their terms and that offer them benefits that make them feel appreciated.

An employee benefit program is one tool that businesses can use to attract and retain strong talent.  This type of program allows employers to offer perks that appeal to the type of employee they are looking to recruit.  Benefits such as participation in volunteer programs, access to facilities (like inner-city parking on weekends) and the option to “purchase” additional annual leave through salary sacrifice are examples of employee benefits that millennials find appealing. One of the best things about employee benefit programs is that – when done well – employees will be motivated to work with you to make the program stronger and of greater appeal. It’s a win-win”.

Some suggestions for innovative and unique employee benefits could include:

A late morning leave pass – This is a nice way to create a few leave passes over the year that employees can take advantage of to start a little later in the day. It’s a great way to reduce staff sick days and gives them some time to get things they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to get done.

Bring your dog to work day – If having Donut the Dachshund come along a couple of days a year to your office is something your workplace can handle, then it could be worth a try. Dogs are featuring more regularly in not just workplaces but in places like hospitals too as they provide some wonderful benefits for patients and employees alike. Stress relief, increase in happiness and generally helping to create a more active and connected workforce are just some of the ways our fury friends are contributing to increasing general wellbeing in our workplaces.

Make Business Travel Easier

Does booking your own business flights and travel for work consume quite a bit of your time? If so, it might be worth considering delegating this to a travel management company.

Not only is it convenient to have a professional plan your trip from beginning to end including accommodation, transfers and everything else in between, but when you get stuck at an airport at the end of the day with flights cancelled, they’re able to help quickly re-arrange flights to get you on your way as smooth and hassle free as possible.

Having your very own travel management company take over your business travel commitments will not only free up your time to focus on other areas of your business but can help to improve your bottom line. It can essentially save you money. 

It means you’ll have a direct line to a dedicated travel Manager who has access to expert technology and a greater choice of travel options through stronger partnerships with suppliers to get the best deal for you. And just as importantly, after hours’ assistance. This is invaluable when you’re stuck in a quiet regional town and it’s after business hours.

 

Start Like You Mean To Go On

There are so many benefits to getting things in order to ensure your 2019 is an even bigger and better year than last. Even if you just manage to review some of the options (and continue this momentum over the year), you’re already off to a great start and might just be one step ahead of the rest!