As I write this, we are in the midst of the turmoil that is Brexit, and frankly, it’s difficult to know what to do and which way to turn in business! One thing I am sure of, however, is that there is absolutely no point in panicking, and equally, there is no benefit at all from burying your head in the sand (never mind the fact that it will probably look ever so silly).
Now is the time to check on all aspects of your business, whether it is a limited company, a partnership or you are a sole trader. It is so easy to find any and every excuse (mostly that we are too busy, and more often than not this is true) to avoid digging into our records, but it is crucial.
For example, have you made a target and have you reached it? Are your figures improving year on year, or are they at least at a good level and keeping your income in line with inflation? If not, now is the time to look at what has been happening and to check how competitive you are in your field.
It’s also vital to know what your costs are, where they come from and to check which have gone up. This gives you the opportunity to see if any can be reduced and if the company can become ‘leaner and fitter’.
Don’t underestimate how handy it can be to have a business which is ‘small, but perfectly formed’. Your ability to keep charges reasonably low – by which I mean, sensibly low, not so low that you can’t afford to live – can be very important. However, whatever you do, don’t start quoting prices which mean you would need to operate a job at a loss. This doesn’t make for a good outcome at any level.
Make sure your charges allow you sufficient time to complete a job. I have known overlooking this to cause difficulties for a number of businesses. You simply cannot be in two places at once, no matter how you try to convince yourself and your customers otherwise!
This leads me on to the matter of cashflow. This is crucial! Remember that a client/customer who orders a lot from you but doesn’t pay is NOT a ‘good customer’ and it simply isn’t fair for you to be fighting off creditors when you are actually owed enough to keep your affairs in good order.
Running your own small business can be hectic and stressful, so keep your family and friends around you and keep talking! Bottling concerns up is not a good idea. Despite the difficulties though, the life be hugely rewarding, and it can make getting up in the mornings feel utterly worthwhile.
This is a taster of some of my personal ‘do’s and don’ts’ – they have been formulated over decades of experience which haven’t been without their ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change it.
So, I wish you well in the coming years. We will survive, but we can make sure we survive well – and don’t forget, here in Wells we have a good business community, and I feel sure we will support each other through the turbulence ahead!