A fitter business for 2018 – 5 top tips to start the year

02 January 2018

It’s a brand new year and time to create a fitter business for 2018. After the Christmas break, it can be hard to get your motivation back – but we’ve done the hard work for you by highlighting 5 key ways to improve your business over the coming 12 months.

No successful company stands still – like a shark, your business needs to continue moving and hunting for the next opportunity in order to stay alive. So there’s a need for a constant process of evaluation, refinement and change. With the best tools, strategies and tactics you can stay ahead of the pack and get your teeth into the prize you’ve set your sights on.

So here are our 5 tops tips to start the year with a renewed sense of purpose in your business.

1. Go real-time with your numbers

We’re real advocates for cloud accounting, here at FD Works. Moving your accounts over to the online space, and achieving all the benefits of instant 24/7 access to your numbers is a real game changer for your financial management.

But where an online accounting platform like Xero really adds value is in bringing you the competitive advantage of real-time numbers – the capability to see your financial information as it stands right now, not weeks or months in the past.

Having real-time, current information around your finances brings you real value, including:

  • An instant view of your current financial health – giving you a clear view of income, cash flow, cost of sales and expenses.
  • A drilled down view of spending – allowing you to understand where you’re expending money, and then get proactive about reducing this cost figure.
  • Better control of cash flow – with a real-time cash-flow statement, you can see where the cash holes are, and take instant action to plug them fast.
  • The ability to embrace your numbers – giving you the transparency and detail needed to truly get control over your business finances and make them work for you.

Find out more about getting real-time with Xero

2. Get in control of your cash

4 in 10 small business fail within five years, according to research by Ormsby Street. And a significant cause of these failures is poor management of cash and a lack of positive cash flow.

Good cash management is fundamental to setting solid foundations for the business, whether you’re a sole trader, a new tech start-up or an established family business. Without the lifeblood of liquid cash flowing into the company, you’re soon going to flatline.

So getting a handle on your cash inflows and outflows really is a key part of making your business ready for the year ahead – and giving yourself the best possible chance of getting past that statistical five-year barrier.

Positive cash flow stems from three core principles:

  • Get paid on time – using the most effective payment options available to make sure your customers pay on time every time. Take card payment with aps like iZettle or Stripe and use the GoCardless Direct Debit solution to automatically take regular and ad-hoc payments.

With these three cash pillars forming a solid foundation for your finances, you know you’ll have the financial clout to fuel your business goals and growth plans.

3. Crystallise your business goals

Knowing WHY you’re in business may seem like an obvious thing for any owner, MD or CEO to comprehend. But over time it’s easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of day-to-day trading and to lose sight of your key business goals as a company.

So, before diving headlong into your 2018 planning, take a moment to step back and evaluate what your business is ABOUT, and what you want to achieve.

Looking objectively at your business model and pinpointing the core objectives of the company help you to set the ideal blueprint for the year ahead.

This evaluation process will:

  • Help you to see where you’ve changed and evolved – and compare your current business thinking against your original business plan and objectives.
  • Highlight your areas of focus – and allow you to concentrate your people, resources and effort in the most productive areas for the company.
  • Set clear goals for the coming year – based on the fundamental principles of the company, and with real transparency around WHY you’re in business.

Learn more about crystallising your business goals

4. Work with an experienced virtual FD

As the company grows, it’s important to have some real direction and strategic thinking behind your financial decision-making. And that’s where a finance director (FD) helps to steer the future direction of the company, by providing robust financial oversight.

But in the cloud age, you can access all the critical benefits of an FD without taking on an internal director role – and that’s by partnering with a ‘virtual FD’ on a part-time basis.

With the instant access to business numbers and reporting that cloud solutions allow, you can work with a virtual FD who offers the self-same advice, support and financial guidance. You still have the the quality financial advice needed to drive the company forward, but with some additional bonuses, such as:

  • Commercial expertise and knowledge – with access to a finance professional who understands the entrepreneurial mindset and the business challenges you’re facing.
  • Drilled down strategic support – allowing you to refine your business model, improve financial efficiency and understand your internal drivers.
  • Flexible access to a whole finance team – meaning your financial management is outsourced, freeing up your team for customer-facing activity and growth expansion.

Understand more about the value of partnering with a virtual FD

5. Make bold business decisions

At FD Works, we love working with ambitious businesses and helping them to achieve their true potential. And a key element of supporting our business clients in this journey is giving them the confidence to make bold business decisions.

‘Helping with bold business decisions’ is our strapline and it’s an underlying value within the FD Works manifesto. It’s in our DNA, and it’s a mantra we aim to convey to every single business leader that we partner and work with.

If your aim is to reach the top of your own particular business ‘Everest’, our virtual FDs, finance business analysts and outsourced finance team are with you during each step of that climb.

Well be there to:

  • Point out the footholds – and make sure you spot every opportunity to move the business forward and achieve those all-important key goals.
  • Highlight the perilous crevices – and stop you from stumbling over any financial pitfalls and challenges during your ascent.
  • Give you motivation, guidance and support – so you make the best strategic and financial decisions for reaching the summit.

If you’ve got your business to basecamp and think you’re ready to attack the summit, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch and let’s make 2018 the turning point in your growth.

Learn more about the Everest Principle and take the 5 steps towards bold business decisions.

Who are FD Works?

From organising your data to understanding your business goals and providing actionable insight, our team of accountants take a different approach to finance. We’re based in between Bristol and Bath and work with companies across the South West and wider UK.

Ready to take on your business Everest?

If you’re ambitious and ready to grow, let’s talk

Get in touch