The 1st of July has whizzed past, and we’re already a month into the new financial year. The end of a financial year is a busy time for all businesses. In today’s world, the start of the new financial year has been overshadowed by pandemic-related stresses and lockdowns in some parts of the world, and we’re still dealing with an operating environment that has a higher level of uncertainty. In times such as these, it’s even more critical to have a clear plan that helps us navigate these chaotic times and help us and our business teams to align on the key goals, objectives and critically, the vision that carries us forward into an optimistic future.
Keeping that in mind, it is now the right time to assess our business plans and preparations for the new financial year. What is it that you want to change in the new year? How can you be better prepared for the new financial year?
Here are a few ways you can make a strong start to the new financial year.
For starters, take a good look at your business operations. If you have tasks piling up or paperwork getting lost, you need to organize your business properly. By having better systems in place and automating low effort high impact tasks will help your teams punch way above their weight and produce better business results.
Being organized can also free up precious minutes helping you do more in the same period. Instead of trying to locate information in an endless ocean of paperwork, consider investing in a digital filing system. There are several digital document management systems available in the market. These can help you streamline and automate manual processes of collecting and retrieving information. A document management system can also keep your paperwork from going missing. Missing documents can create serious legal repercussions, especially if your business undergoes an audit.
Digitizing documents can also increase productivity and employee satisfaction at the workplace. A major portion of work time is spent in data management and record-keeping. Going paperless can save a lot of time and increase efficiency. Document management systems also provide quick, easy, and efficient access to information. You can customize the way you file your documents. It also makes it easier to prioritize information that you need regular access to. Many document management systems are cloud-enabled which means that you can access all information even when off-site. You no longer need to carry data physically, and you can efficiently work remotely.
Organizing your paperwork is not enough. You should also focus on organizing your time. Effective time management helps you focus better on your goals and gain perspective on your priorities. Figure out a system that keeps you on track. Many people use planners and digital alerts on their devices. You should consider using a system that works for you.
If your business is not well-organized, it could also impact your revenue and customer satisfaction. For instance, your customers may not receive their orders on time if you have a disorganized order processing system.
An unorganized workplace can also take an emotional toll. It can cause you, your employees, and even your customers to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Sorting through unorganized paperwork or not knowing where to look for information can create a stressful workplace. Implementing a solid organization system can greatly reduce the stress at the workplace and allow you more time to enjoy life outside work.
Identify and resolve operational problems
In the days leading up to the financial new year, try to identify your operation problem areas. Are there any problems that keep cropping up again and again in your business? An operational problem can manifest in many ways. It could be a temporary setback, interruption in production, or simply wasted efforts.
The first step is to be aware that a problem exists and use this opportunity to improve your business processes. Once you have identified an issue, you may quickly implement a quick fix. However, understanding the root causes of a problem can help you find the right solution that has long-term sustainability.
The market is inundated with software, apps, and platforms that help businesses address common pain points. For instance, if you face issues with cashflow forecasting or accounts receivables every month, consider investing in accounting software addons for your instance of XERO or MYOB or SAGE or Netsuite. Accounts receivables automation is not only about chasing payments. It also involves reconciling payments back into your ERP, debtor management and integrating a payment portal to minimise the time it takes for a payment to hit your bank account. Investing in the right app for your existing accounting software can automate your AR process, ensuring that there are no cashflow impacts due to growing debtor days.
A business always has multiple processes and tasks. Seek out the processes that are the most time-consuming or inefficient. Are there any tasks that are slowing your business down? Understanding how a process works can provide valuable insight on how to reduce inefficiencies. Try to eliminate steps in the process that add no value. If there are bottlenecks in the process, you may want to consider balancing the workload. More complex problems may need to be systematically analyzed to evaluate machine, methods, labor, and the physical environment.
After you have identified the root cause of a problem, you should look for a solution. Sometimes the solution could be as simple as rearranging the workplace. In others, you may need to invest in a particular solution to prevent the problem from occurring again and again. It is always wise to create an action plan for implementing the solution. Ensure that you monitor progress so that it can be applied across your business.
If you are considering investing in any tools or solutions, you can seek advice from other business owners. They would be able to provide first-hand reviews, helping you narrow down the right solution for your business.
Ready yourself for new changes
The modern business landscape is changing at an incredible rate. New innovations are reshaping entire industries and market conditions change as consumers evolve and grow. Legislative changes can also bring about several unprecedented changes in the work environment of a business.
While it may be daunting to undertake new ways of business operations, it is often for the better. In particular, legislative changes usually come into effect for good reasons. Instead of resisting change, you can save both time and money by working in tandem with news laws and regulations. Consider changing your workflows or updating your processes as needed. These changes could just be the catalyst needed to transform outdated business processes and user into new, novel thinking. The more you stay on top of the changing business landscape, the better your business would become in navigating turbulent periods.
Sometimes, it may be difficult for you to understand how new legislative changes may impact your business. In such situations, it is wise to seek advice and information from outside the organization. You can look for legal counsel or market and industry experts to make the transition easier for your business. Having the right information can help you implement the best business solutions and communicate changes in your organization in the best possible manner.
Businesses should act swiftly when legislative changes are announced and not wait until they come into effect. Being unprepared can lead to non-compliance, which in turn, could put your business in legal trouble. By putting new systems or procedures in place you can ensure that your business prevents any delays in normal operations. You also get sufficient time to educate or train your employees on the new changes. By making your employees aware of the upcoming changes as early as possible, you ensure better compliance with the new laws.
Change is inevitable, especially in business. When you and your staff become comfortable with change, you can help your business adapt quickly and easily to the new changes.
Create a strong, connected workforce
Developing engagement in the workforce is essential to long-term business success. Employees’ attitudes towards work could significantly impact the success of a company. It is in your best interest to encourage positive employee engagement at the workplace.
Where do you begin? Connectedness is a critical marker of employee engagement. A more connected workplace reflects a better organizational culture, which leads to more satisfied employees, greater teamwork, and less employee turnover.
The first step in building a connected workforce is to ensure that you value your people and lead them through a shared vision. Irrespective of their position or job title in your organization, every employee’s contribution matters. Your staff is likely to be more motivated and productive if are able to value their contribution. Beyond routine tasks, your staff needs to feel that what they are doing impacts a larger whole. Many employees are still working remotely, and motivation can significantly enhance their productivity.
Having a connected team helps workers stay aligned with the strategic priorities of your business. As a result, you get coordinated teamwork, making your business more agile. Business agility is extremely important in the fast-paced, evolving business landscape. It helps you adjust to market changes and internal changes with the same ease. Business agility allows your business to innovate and deliver more effectively, turning business disruptions into a competitive advantage.
The next step is to determine if your employees have the necessary tools and resources to get better at their job. You may want to consider investing in research and technology tools that help your staff keep up with the changing workplace. This will keep your employees connected and also give them the tools and learning opportunities to maximize employee engagement and retention.
Developing workplace connectedness is an ongoing process, and there is no single solution that suits all businesses. However, effective communication and regularly checking in with your employees can be the starting point. Employee surveys, celebrations, company updates, or getting the entire workforce at one place for a leadership address are some options you can explore.
If many of your employees will be working from home in the new financial year, consider creating an online reward and recognition culture. You may consider investing in employee engagement software to boost engagement and foster connection within your teams.
Find your purpose
One of the critical aspects of being a business owner is to be able to articulate how your products or services add value to people’s lives. When you provide the “why” of your business story, it allows your employees and customers to connect with you on a personal level.
Figuring out the purpose or the “why” requires asking the hard questions. Some questions that can help you understand the purpose of your business are:
- What is the inspiration behind your business idea?
- What is interesting about your founding story?
- What is the USP of your business?
- What problem is your business trying to address?
- Why does your company exist?
- Does your business support a specific cause?
- What are your beliefs, personally and professionally?
In the 2009 Tedx Talks, author Simon Sinek introduced the “Golden Circle.” According to this concept, there are 3 layers to your business story:
- the What
- the How
- the Why
Every organization, big or small, know “what” they do. These are products they sell or services they provide.
Some organizations know “how” they do it. These include the things that make them unique or makes them stand apart from their competitors.
Very few organizations are aware of “why” they do it. Making money is a result of what they do, it is not the primary purpose. Your business purpose is why your business exists in the first place. It is something that your business strives for beyond selling more products or services.
In this day and age, your brand needs more than a USP to stand out. Why? The reason is that there will always be companies who will claim to do it better, cheaper, or faster. Merely telling your customers why your product is better than your competition is not enough. Your brand needs a purpose. Your business purpose is the soul of your organization, something that your brand stands for.
A business purpose gets to the core of why a business does what it does. It helps guide business decisions by creating a framework that allows your company to achieve its mission and vision. Laying out your business purpose can help guide your business into the future.
Set a BHAG
BHAG or Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal is a term coined by Jerry Porras and Jim Collins in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. BHAG is a long-term goal for your business, something that you hope to achieve in the next 10 to 25 years. This goal is guided by the core values of your company and your business purpose.
However, BHAG is so much more than just a goal. It is an audacious challenge, something that may sometimes feel like it is impossible to achieve. The biggest upside to having a BHAG is that gets you out of thinking too small. Setting a long-term goal that is audacious also creates a sense of urgency. However, your BHAG should be aligned with your company’s underlying strategy and everyone on your team should be on board with it.
Are you confused if your business decision will benefit your company? Are you confused about which direction to head towards? All you need to ask yourself is whether it will get you closer to your BHAG.
Your BHAG will also influence your recruitment strategies as you only want the best people to achieve this audacious goal. This clear goal will also help attract the right people to your company who would love to be a part of realizing this goal.
The most important reason you need a BHAG is that it transforms you into an amazing, visionary company. A good BHAG is audacious, so big that it may not be possible to achieve. If you feel that you are capable of achieving 100% of your BHAG, then it is not audacious enough. Only if you aim for the stars can you land on the moon.
The new financial year is the perfect time to develop your BHAG. You should reassess your business ambitions and start introducing changes that align with your unique BHAG.
You have your BHAG, but how do you achieve it? For starters, you need to break down your goal into actionable steps. This is where you need OKR.
OKR (Objectives and Key Results) is a goal system that helps your organization define its goals and track the outcome.
The concept of OKR was created by Andy Grove but it was made popular by John Doerr, one of the earliest investors of Google. Besides Google, other companies like Twitter, LinkedIn, Spotify, and Uber also use OKR.
The OKR formula consists of two components:
- What you want your business to accomplish?
- How are you going to get it done?
With OKR, your goal is not just what you want to achieve but you must also include a way to measure achievement. OKR must not be confused with KPI (Key Performance Indicators). KPIs measure the health of a business initiative but are not goal-oriented by nature. It is possible to use both in your business, but you should be clear about the difference between the two. OKR is tied to business goals and objectives while KPI is tied to an employee’s day-to-day work.
OKRs comprise three to five high-level objectives, with three to five measurable outcomes for each objective. After you have established your objectives you can track the progress of each key result individually. Your key results should focus on outcomes related to business priorities.
The OKR goal-setting framework requires you to look at business improvement with a new perspective. The process starts with leadership setting audacious objectives for the company, prioritizing areas that must be improved. Functional teams then write their own objectives and key outcomes to contribute to one or multiple objectives.
Team OKRs must be aligned with the company’s mission. It should focus on business improvements that a department would deliver in a specified period. When you develop a result-oriented focus in the whole team, it helps team members prioritize their routine tasks. They also get a better understanding of how their work can play a major role in achieving organizational goals.
In the upcoming financial year, setting the right OKR and then tracking your progress consistently can help you think about ways to improve your business operations to achieve your lofty goals.
Review and update your strategic plan
All businesses need careful planning to achieve success. Growing a business means making several decisions along the way. Unfortunately, not every decision proves right and there may be a few mistakes along the way. Use the last remaining days of the current financial year to review the ups and downs of the year gone by. Review the current financial year to figure out what could have been done better and how you are going to address them in the new year.
One of the most common New Year’s resolution that millions of people make each year is to “lose weight.” Maybe, it’s time for your organization to lose weight as well in the new financial year. It is time for your business to become leaner and more agile.
Are your employees wasting precious time doing mundane tasks? Can they use this time to do more meaningful, productive work? If you answered yes, then you should consider automating your business processes. Business process automation is the best possible way to make your organization lose the unwanted weight and become leaner and more efficient.
In manually executed business processes, there is always a significant wastage of resources. With business process automation you can minimize operations cost, increasing your profit margins. Automation ensures that wastage is eliminated and resources are optimally used. There are several business processes that can be automated, saving time and effort. These include account receivables, customer support, onboarding, help desk support, and many more.
You should also evaluate your business’s current strategies to see if they are aligned with your short and long-term goals. You can do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to understand what you are doing well, address what you are lacking, minimize risks, and plan for success. A SWOT analysis can help you evaluate where your company stands in a competitive market. You can also determine what steps you need to take for further strategic planning, helping you draw a future roadmap for the company.
SWOT is an important tool for assessing the health of your organization. It allows you to identify not only where your company stands, but also where you need to improve. This gives you the ability to be a proactive player in the market while remaining competitive. Using SWOT can help you review and update your strategic plan for the new year to do things differently.
Build a strong relationship with your existing client base
Relationships take time and effort to build and maintain and the same is true for customer relationships. Whether you respond to emails, answer queries, or reply to social media comments, keeping communication channels open can make all the difference with how customers engage with you. It also impacts your ability to build relationships with them. Once you have established a relationship with your existing client base, it is crucial to maintain and improve upon it. It helps ensure that you stay at the forefront of your customer’s minds and your brand is also cemented as their first preference for a product or service.
Your customers purchase and use your product or service. As such, they will have a unique insight and will often see things that can be overlooked by your own team. This unique insight enables your customers to be incredible when it comes to feedback. By utilising the feedback you get tailored advice to your product or service. You will also find that customers become more invested in your success. Customer feedback helps you customize your products and services to the specific needs of your customers. You can ensure that you provide the best solutions to their problems. The better your offerings meet their needs, the more your business will grow.
Organizations that develop strong relationships with their customers, create loyal clients, positive word of mouth and increased sales. The higher the level of customer engagement with your company, the higher the value your customer receives, and the better the relationship.
Optimising your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) could also help you identify potential sources of efficiency and growth in your business. You might consider investing in upgrading your existing one in the new financial year. Well implemented CRM software helps you better understand your customers in the way the platform organizes and displays your customer’s data. The better you know your customers, the stronger the relationship you can create with them. CRM platforms help you with better messaging and outreach, most of which you can automate, helping you offer better, more efficient customer service. Furthermore, it allows your teams to collaborate more easily and reduce siloes.
Derisk your business cashflow
Chasing after payments and debtors is something that’s not very high on any business owner’s list of favorite things. One of your business goals in the new financial year should be to reduce the risk in your business cashflow.
Whether your goal is to be economically secure and stable or to maximise your business value, many business owners, and people generally, are looking for ways to reduce their reliance on a few major customers or products. In the early stages of a new business, the founder usually takes on many tasks himself. As the business grows over time, the goal is to delegate secondary tasks one by one to others. Doing so helps founders focus on the 20% of tasks that will generate 80% of the results to scale the company.
How do you derisk your business cashflow and find alternate source of growth? You can do so by identifying the most likely potential sources of new business for your business based on your existing strengths and weaknesses or by applying portfolio analysis to your existing business
This helps you identify the most likely sources of growth:
- New customers
- New markets
- New products
- New partnerships
- Long term deals with your biggest customers
- Long term deals with allied businesses
When you have derisked your main source of business & cashflow by adding or prioritising new opportunities with high growth potential than your business can be ready to start the new year with even greater optimism with a potential to exceed all your goals.
The start of a financial year is without a doubt a stressful time for business owners. However, it also offers a golden opportunity to assess how you can run your business more efficiently in the new year. Use this time to review your processes and take measures to improve your business. You will be surprised at how small changes add up in the long run.