COVID-19; Finance & Strategy; Leadership & Culture

Ross Wilson

11.01.2021

After the biggest year of change in a generation, is there still room for more change in your business?

In his latest blog, Ross Wilson looks reflects on the last year and what changes we can consider coming into 2021.

It’s that time of year when we all reflect on what has happened in the previous year and what we might do differently this year. Nobody foresaw 2020 and so perhaps this has thrown our thinking wide open.

The problem with many ‘personal’ New Year Resolutions in my experience is that they are all too easily discarded.  Perhaps that is because they are not particularly well thought out or indeed planned in advance or maybe given the personal lifestyle of the individual they are just impractical.  There is also the challenge that perhaps we have far too high expectations around rapid results from short term resolutions. Most resolutions need a “journey” to achieve them!

‘Business resolutions’ on the other hand tend to be much easier to put in place and offer more measurable results in a relatively short space of time. The impact on individuals and on the business of achieving them can be huge.

I would encourage all businesses to consider implementing resolutions which might help all the stakeholders in the pursuit of growing that ever better and more sustainable business.

Here’s a few things that should be front of mind at all times when thinking about your business, but January might just provide the catalyst to implement them.

  • Creation of ever more regular high quality financial information to help owners and managers with their decision making Not only will this enable vastly improved and quicker decision making, but also improve confidence levels right throughout the business.
  • Having more focus on budgeting and forecasting.  The world is changing so fast these days that annual forecasting is now no longer considered anywhere near sufficient. The rapidly changing landscape as a result of the pandemic has seen many businesses reviewing and adjusting their budgets, at times, on a weekly basis to keep on top of their cash flow. Once things settle down perhaps monthly will suffice, but with the data available through cloud based accounting software there is little excuse for not making it happen.
  • Reviewing and updating the business plan and drilling into the seven pillars of business success.  Again with our ever changing world, we need to review this more regularly and satisfy ourselves that our objectives and plans are still relevant and that we’re not missing opportunities or slipping behind.
  • I would encourage all businesses to understand their customers even better than they currently do and the way to do this of course is to speak with them.  Customers can be a fantastic source of valuable information not to mention provide access to further opportunities. But remember it’s a two way street, so think about how you might be able to help them beyond your usual service.
  • As with customers, understanding the supply chain both in terms of goods and services can create huge value to the business.  Your supply chain is a valuable source of information if you use it wisely. It goes without saying that you should remember to treat your suppliers as you wish to be treated yourself – keep lines of communication open and regular, then if you need extra support you’ll more likely get it.
  • It’s a good time of the year to consider what has gone well and do more of it and to review what’s not gone so well, understand why and avoid it.
  • There is no substitute for building your knowledge of your marketplace and particularly what might be changing.  Embrace change don’t fear it!
  • Have a look at the quality of your internal management meetings. How good is the communication and distribution of tasks. If the answer is ‘not very’ then seek the support of your business advisor to help get the best out of your senior teams.  We’ve seen some incredible examples particularly during the last year of teams that really have come together and delivered way above expectations. ‘The wisdom of the crowd’ springs to mind!
  • I would encourage all business to ensure that they benefit from the commercial experience of their advisors.  After all the advisors deal with all sorts of businesses and generally will have come across

These and other resolutions are easy to implement for the benefit of the business, the business’ health and indeed the physical and mental health of the owners and managers. I think we all know that leading a business can be a lonely place and now is definitely not the time to feel alone.

‘Collaboration’ is on the rise, especially among SME’s and I’ve been amazed to see just how much this can benefit businesses at little or no cost. Gone are the days of keeping cards close to your chest, this is the time to open dialogue with businesses that could complement yours, even if they are competitors. Keep an open mind to the power of collaboration and anything is achievable!

business advice, Business advisory, business strategy, Finance & Strategy, Leadership & Culture