With the first day of spring officially behind us, it’s important to remember that it’s not just your home that stands to benefit from a good spring clean. Small and medium enterprise (SME) owners are urged to take a moment to revitalise and streamline their business with a thorough review of their operations
This is according to Byron Jeacocks, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited, in reference to The State of South African Small Business in 2017 report, released by Xero in partnership with World Wide Worx, which reveals that 22.5 percent of SMEs cited keeping up with the competition as one of their biggest challenges.
“The business landscape is ever evolving and, as such, it is imperative for business owners to ensure that their processes are up to date and that they have plans in place for the upcoming seasons. This will ensure that they can stay ahead of their competitors.”
Jeacocks lists the 10 key areas that SME owners should focus on during their annual business spring clean:
- Revisit goals: During this time of year it is easy for entrepreneurs and small business owners to find themselves in the trenches, grinding projects and chasing deadlines, which can easily make one lose sight of the bigger picture. Now is the perfect time to revisit goals and targets for the year, and to identify the business’ priorities for the final stretch of the year.
- Analyse the company’s books: After revisiting the company’s goals, the next step is to look at the actual financial numbers. Are there any unnecessary expenses that can be cut? Is the business meeting its cashflow projections or is there a need for a big sales push before the end of the year? Are UIF and VAT contributions being made timeously? Is everything in still in order for tax season? Having a clear view of where the business is versus where it needs to be at the end of the year, will help to confirm the priorities for the rest of the year.
- Declutter digitally and physically: It is difficult to focus and think creatively when there is clutter. Choose one day where employees are encouraged to clean out their desks and drawers, catch-up on filing, and declutter their email inboxes.
- Spend time on neglected areas: In every business there are areas that do not get the necessary attention, these range from servicing of equipment to training and staff performance reviews. It is important to identify these neglected areas and make sure that someone is assigned to give it some attention before the end of the year.
- Question processes and systems: In a small business, systems and processes are usually created organically as the need arises. As the company grows, however, it is important to revisit these processes and systems in order to improve where there are inefficiencies.
- Consider digitisation: Digitising is a good way to streamline business processes to ensure that the business operates as efficiently as possible. It’s also the easiest way to make a positive impact on the environment. While it may not always be possible to go completely paperless, digital documents are easier to find and store securely.
- Update the business website and social media pages: It is crucial for small businesses to have a digital presence, in order to be easily accessible to both new and existing customers. It is therefore essential for all the company’s digital platforms, including its social media and web pages, to be updated and consolidated from time to time.
- Assess customer service processes: Modern consumers have increasingly come to expect businesses to be able to respond to them 24/7, which is why it is important for SME owners to ensure that their customer service team is continuously trained and prepared for any issues that may arise. As this department usually operates under significant pressure, it is also advisable to regularly engage with them to determine how they are faring/coping/managing feeling, and to establish what can be done to make them more effective at their jobs and improve the customer experience their jobs easier and improve the customer experience.
- Get an outsider’s perspective: Sometimes small business owners get so involved in their businesses that they develop tunnel vision and risk missing important areas for improvement. Enlisting the services of a mentor or business consultant can assist with pinpointing areas of the businesses that may require attention or help to improve certain processes that the business owner may not have thought of on their own.
- Start planning for the festive season: Whether this season means that your business will be frantic or experiencing some downtime, it is essential for business owners to start planning early since their business will be disrupted either way. When it comes to businesses that experience increased traffic during this time of year, it is essential to ensure that the business has enough stock and that discounts and promotions are planned early, in order to have time to market it as efficiently as possible.
Jeacocks points out that these are just some of the areas that small business owners can focus on when planning to spring clean their businesses. “It is always beneficial to review and re-evaluate all areas of the business in order to keep up with competitors.”