The recession is ‘officially’ over and the economy has recorded 0.1 % growth. Business confidence is reported to be growing, but there is still a long way to go for recovery. Now is the time to ensure your business is ready and can manage the expected upcoming growth.
Deborah Wyatt, Business Link Director provides some top tips for local businesses in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Finance – Ensure your cash is flowing
- Your overdraft – how long is it for, what are the interest rate and charges? Evaluate if this is the best way to finance your cash flow. Banks will look to cut overdrafts where they can.
- Don’t let other businesses put your cash flow in jeopardy. Watch out for unusual buying patterns as they may be having problems with suppliers elsewhere.
- Reduce your customer payment terms to 10 days.
- Margins – focus on profit not just your turnover
- Review your energy bills and look to switch suppliers to save money.
- Highlight where savings can be made with your suppliers
Planning – is your Business Plan fit for purpose?
- Focus on what you want to achieve in the next 12 months.
- Contact Business Link to arrange a FREE Business Review
- Keep an eye on invitations to tender. The public sector and, increasingly the private sector, demand companies demonstrate commitment to quality, equality, health and safety and the environment, so prepare policies in these areas prior to a bid.
- Set measurable goals for the coming month
Customers and markets- Having an organised marketing plan will help focus your business into recovery and growth
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate to your existing and lapsed customers
- Define your unique selling point – communicate key benefits and features.
- Tell your existing customers about new products and services.
- Cost effective marketing –In tough times, it’s tempting to cut your marketing activity, however, it’s proven that those who invest in marketing during hard times emerge the strongest when good times return, so use your creativity to implement low cost marketing techniques.
- Your online profile – ensure your website is working for you and its easy for your customers to do business with you.
- Upload new content regularly, give customers a reason to return to your site
- Media coverage – ensure your local media contacts are aware of your successes
- Branding – Your brand creates an identity and personality for your business. Be consistent and ensure your key message and contact information is on all communications.
- Network – Attend events, seminars and trade shows. Take business cards and make sure you follow up useful contacts with an email, letter or phone call and add them to your database.
People and skills
Economic instability can affect employee morale. Effective management is essential to promote a positive outlook and steer a business through difficult times.
- Ask employees for their ideas on cost-cutting in their department
- Praise employees for a task well done
- Contact Train to Gain to see how you can develop your staff and increase confidence. Companies that don’t train staff are 2.5 times more likely to fail
Finally, be ecologically-friendly. This can strengthen your brand and credentials as more and more customers want to deal with businesses that are environmentally responsible.
If you would like to discuss any of these areas, contact Business Link for a free, impartial review of your business.
Please call 0845 600 9 006 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information visit: www.businesslink.gov.uk/southeast/growyourbusiness
In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Business Link has supported over 23,000 businesses over the past year, by providing business information, advice, events and support. In addition over 1,200 new businesses have benefited from the Business Link service in 2009. Nationally businesslink.gov.uk had more than 14 million visits, proving to be a favourite site for business.