Sole trader

The power of being on trend

By Marc Peskett
Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The best predictions for SMEs in 2013 will come from what we know. The great news is, if you’ve been operating your business since the start of the financial year, you already know a lot and have access to information you can use to spot any trends happening in your business.


Identifying the trends in your business will allow you to spot opportunities and make some adjustments and decisions about where to focus your energies for the rest of the year.


Trends in your business can also help you decide how you choose to ride the wave of my top five general business trends that will continue in the next six months and beyond:



1. The ongoing need for SMEs to improve productivity and to stay competitive


For many SMEs, growth and customer relationships are a key focus and having the capacity to perform well in both these areas is essential.


In order to have or find more capacity, you need to focus on improving your productivity and efficiency. Where are the bottlenecks in your business or the areas that just seem to take a little longer than they should?


Are there some quick wins you can put in place here to improve efficiency while still achieving the right quality and outcomes?


There may be some steps in the process that can be removed or reduced without negatively impacting the product or service delivered to your customer.


Investing some time in productivity improvement will enable you to improve your profit margin, reinvest back into the business or pass on cost savings to your customers and remain competitive in general.



2. Innovation will continue to deliver solutions


Innovation breeds solutions that the business can benefit from. Assessing, evaluating, questioning and sometimes completely redesigning products and adopting new processes can uncover productivity improvements but also new products and services as well as new markets for your business.


Given start-up businesses are typically established on the premise of addressing a problem in a new and innovative manner, you should capitalise on that mindset.


In the early years, you should be highly tuned to testing and refining what you do and how you do it, along with gathering customer feedback throughout the process.


Use this feedback to discover your customer’s pain points and consider how your business can innovate to address those issues.


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3. Collaboration brings fast results, but adoption keeps you ahead of the pack


When it comes to improving productivity and innovating, collaboration is an essential ingredient. Sharing information and ideas between your team, customers, suppliers, competitors and others in your networks, allows you to more quickly find opportunities to improve as well as test and gather important feedback about what matters and how well it works.


In order for collaboration to occur, you need to engage people by sharing your vision with them and addressing their vested interest in participating and the value to them in doing so.


Once you have them on board make sure you have a strong commitment to enable your business to capitalise on the opportunities that arise.



4. Technology will continue to be a rapidly evolving enabler for SMEs


The plethora of online communication and collaboration tools, the rise of smartphones and tablets and the continuing rise of cloud applications is making technology one of the greatest resources you have available to you and, in many cases, it’s free or low cost to access it.


The smart use of technology will continue to be one of the keys to business success. Harnessing technology and technological developments also helps you to also spot the trends in your business.


Developments in accounting and financial management software solutions alone over the last few years have delivered powerful real-time access to information about your business delivered to your desktop and mobile devices, allowing decisions to be made and action taken early enough to have a real positive impact on your bottom line.



5. Cash remains king and is still hard to come by


Cash remains the life-blood of every business. Knowing the actual cashflow of your business will help to see you through the next six months and anticipate any trends that may repeat and need forward planning for.


If you haven’t already put a funding plan in place, make it part of your planning to ensure you have the cash that you need, when you’ll need it, to make sure the rest of this financial year is a financially viable one.


Marc Peskett is a partner of MPR Group a Melbourne based firm that specialises in providing business advisory, tax, outsourced accounting and grants and funding services, to fast growing technology and innovation businesses.


You can follow Marc on Twitter @mpeskett


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