Small companies, like businesses of any size, can face times of struggle. Financial difficulties and competition from the large corporates can cause periods of uncertainty, however with some support and a plan in place, these threats can be avoided.
Matthew Thorpe, partner at Haines Watts Essex, shares his top three tips to futureproof your small business this Small Business Saturday:
The days of training people with specific skills are on the decline. To combat the fast pace of change that makes predicting what we will need tomorrow, we now focus far more on training people with the right behaviours, rather than the right skills.
The idea of training people in behaviours rather than specific skills means that far more people find their abilities to be transferable across a wider range of jobs and sectors. This gives far greater freedom to many workers and, whilst often viewed as concerning for employers, who risk training then losing people, if truly embraced it can be a great thing. It can push employers to better consider the importance of their employees, and the need to retain fantastic people in the business, even if a specific role is not open at that time.
It has become common for people to leave an organisation, gain wider experience somewhere else, then return with a wealth of new knowledge to the place that trained them. The knowledge and confidence people gain by having varied experience can be incredibly enriching for the employee and the employer.
Whilst the business world is constantly changing and being disrupted, probably at a faster pace now more than ever before, some things have actually become easier. In many cases, managing cash flow and business spending is one of them.
Software is now incredibly user-friendly and accessible from anywhere. For a business owner embracing the technology available to them, this means:
- Invoicing can be done instantly when a job is complete and emailed to the customer with an easy-to-use link to a payment platform
- Online accounting software and their apps give you instant access to your business finances in real time, meaning you can adjust and plan far more effectively
- Comparison websites can automatically monitor and help maintain the lowest cost for outgoings such as light, heat and insurance
- Technology can be used in place of face-to-face meetings, reducing time lost to travel and travel expenses
- Customers can be targeted through social media and online advertising at lower costs than traditional advertising
All of these things and more, used properly, can make managing your business finances quicker, easier and often cheaper. They free up your valuable time to do what you are good at instead of tedious business admin.
Having instantly accessible, accurate financial information allows you to plan effectively, spot issues before they become problems and manage your money in the most efficient and rewarding way.
One of the key issues around technology is overcoming our society’s fear of being replaced by technology. At Haines Watts, we have made it our policy to have open, honest conversations with our team members (or our employees) about the implementation of technology and what it means for them. The key is demonstrating that using technology does not mean replacing people. It is about freeing our people up to do the important, added value work they are uniquely skilled at, which cannot be replicated by machines.
By reducing time spent on simple, box-ticking processes that can be done quicker and more efficiently using technology, employees can invest their time building stronger relationships, a deeper understanding of clients and customers and their needs.