No matter where in the country your business is located, spring’s arrival brings with it a renewed sense of optimism and energy. This makes it a great time to do some actual “spring cleaning” in your office, warehouse, or retail space. Also, if you are like many small business owners who spend every waking moment focused on day-to-day operations, spring is the perfect opportunity to step back and take a look at your business with a fresh eye.
Invest quality time in re-evaluating your business goals, re-assessing your financial picture, and rejuvenating your approach to increasing productivity and profitability. While you’re at it, consider committing to best practices that will help you and your team create an organized, more efficient operating environment all year long.
Polish your business plan.
Did your year-end tasks include dusting off your business plan and taking stock of your progress? If not, now is the time. It’s a good business practice to revisit your plan at least once a year and assess what strategies and tactics have been working and where you might need to shift gears.
When reworking your tactics, it’s important to focus not only on the state of your company, but on big-picture issues like market trends, the competition, and other factors that may affect the future of your business. In addition, consider whether or not your expectations and ambitions are different than they once were and how you might need to alter your approach to achieve your goals.
Keeping your plan up to date will help you stay on track in terms of sales targets and growth milestones and ensure that you’re well prepared when you need financing or new investors to support expansion.
Spruce up your staffing.
While you’re assessing your current and future business priorities, take time to re-evaluate your company’s staffing needs. Some roles may no longer be necessary, some may need to be redefined, or you might want to hire people to take on new responsibilities. Make any changes at a pace that allows your business to continue to operate smoothly, and check out these tips for attracting great talent.
No matter what business you’re in, your team is your key to success. If your business is about to enter a busy season, make sure they are motivated and ready for things to pick up. Focus on sustaining a company culture where your employees feel appreciated, and remember that hiring also picks up during this time of year. If you are not keeping your employees happy, they may look for an employer that will.
Freshen up your website.
Maintaining an up-to-date website is critical for attracting and retaining clients or customers and helping you grow your brand. If your company website is due for an upgrade, now is a great time to address what needs attention. It doesn’t have to be a major overhaul, but it may mean reworking the content to reflect shifts in your products or services or opting for a cleaner design that’s easier to navigate. Consider adding marketing content such as blogs, white papers, or videos. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and SEO optimized so it will show up well in online searches.
Declutter your Inbox.
When emails go unread and begin to pile up, it can become a legitimate roadblock that prevents you and your team from being productive. While most of it may be junk mail, it’s possible you’re missing important information that is buried at the bottom of the pile.
One surefire way to declutter is to dedicate an afternoon when you and your staff sort through email, organize or delete messages, and follow up on anything outstanding. If this is unrealistic or seems too daunting, allocate the last 15 minutes of each day to emptying your Inbox. Not only does this make your email account more organized, it can make your entire communications process feel more manageable.
Ditch the documents.
If you’re a document-heavy organization, make a clean sweep of your file cabinets and storage containers. Determine how long you need to hold on to paper receipts and tax documents, and toss what isn’t essential.
You may want to consider getting rid of the file cabinets and going paperless, or at least relying more on alternative storage options where it makes sense for your business. A customer relationship management system that offers cloud storage will allow you to access information from any device, in any place, and at any time. Investigate switching from manual accounting and payroll processes to a software system that will eliminate much of the paperwork associated with budgeting, sales, inventory, and human resources. This will ultimately help you create a better financial forecast and streamline workflow.
Add shine to your technology.
Take a look at how your company uses technology and where you can use it better. If your budget allows, replace old computers and any defective hardware. Keep in mind that malfunctioning equipment can disrupt productivity and result in lost business if it breaks down at the wrong time.
This is also a good time to invest in replacing outdated software systems and exploring various technology tools that can improve your processes and profitability. For instance, integrating computer tablets into your customer interactions can save your team time in processing sales and tracking transactions.
Dust off your inventory.
For many small businesses, spring means gearing up for a new or high-volume selling season. Take time to assess what inventory you have on hand, what you can eliminate, and what you need to order. Toss any damaged or expired goods. If applicable, clear your winter inventory by offering end-of-the-season discounts.
You may want to upgrade the options you are offering your customers, look into using different vendors, or expand your product range. If you run a seasonal small business, make sure you’re well stocked for spring’s numerous holidays and special occasions.
Clean up your A/P and A/R.
While it’s still relatively early in the year, clean up any past due invoices to avoid tarnishing your credit report and making it difficult to secure future financing. Be sure to make credit card payments on time and consider setting up automatic monthly payments in order to eliminate the risk of paying late fees.
It’s also a good time to review your past due receivables and take action to collect the money owed. Don’t hesitate to ask for payment, especially on accounts that are more than 90 days past due. Be persistent in your collection efforts and, if necessary, reconsider how you bill your clients.
If cash flow issues are making it difficult to keep current with payables, it may be time to take a fresh approach. Summit Financial Resources works with small business owners to maximize the value of their assets to help fund fluctuations in cash flow. Our asset-based lending programs enable us to look beyond your company’s current circumstances, find value in the investments you make in the course of doing business, and bank on your success.
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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.