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  • Cameron Finlay

Reduce Challenges, Be Proactive



Only three weeks to the new financial year, and despite the past few years of difficulties, businesses still face challenges, including high-interest rates, soaring energy costs, increasing operating costs, supply difficulties, and a government that does not seem to be at all concerned about such difficulties, even about causing a recession.


In this uncertain landscape, businesses need to evaluate their past performance, plan ahead, and take proactive measures to drive growth.


More Than A Twelve-Month Plan


Many plans focus on the next 12 months, which breaks down into the tactics for each quarter to achieve the whole year's goals. Combine this though with your personal goals, which can be ambitious, large-scale aspirations that hopefully spark inspiration. Consider goals like selling the business at a premium price, expanding into new markets or products, or even a fundamental change in the way the business operates.


These insights into your personal long-term vision are above ordinary operating strategies, and require the investigation of possibilities, putting the infrastructure in place, and fully assessing the feasibility of the plan.


Learn From The Past


Planning and improving financial practices requires an understanding of past mistakes and the things that didn’t work for you. Analyse past financial data, and decide what you need to know (like KPIs or Benchmarks) to achieve your next year's goals. Knowing what went wrong gives us valuable information that drives a better outcome in the future. Realise though that the new system may need to be tested and adapted before it works for you.


Effective Record Keeping


The least popular task for most people! Don’t keep records just to do the paperwork for the tax office. Set up your records so that you have the information you need to know every day, (perhaps daily sales, average sale per customer, cash at the bank, accounts receivable and due to be paid to you, sales per staff member or per sq. metre, number of new customer inquiries, etc.)


By diligently maintaining records you can ensure greater clarity and efficiency and will make informed decisions much easier.


Forecasting


It’s difficult to forecast, ‘especially when it’s about the future’ (Yogi Berra). Costs are easy enough (rent, wages, marketing, vehicles, overheads). If we want to make more profit, we have to sell more than last year and at a better margin too. So, we can increase prices, sell more products/services to existing customers, find new customers, convert more prospects into customers, etc. (Each tactic requires its own strategy).


The first forecast is for profits, we also need one for cash flow; when will customers pay, allow for loan repayments and various tax liabilities. This forecast tells us about possible cash crises, which can then be managed because of advanced knowledge.


Stay Informed


It is necessary to be well-informed about economic trends, government policy, and trading conditions. This allows for better-informed decisions and whether strategies need to be adapted to effectively deal with challenges.


Finally …


There are both challenges and opportunities in planning. It is about seeking to thrive in the face of uncertainty, by strengthening client relationships, diversifying revenue streams, seeking useful advice, and being informed about economic trends and conditions.


It is not just reacting to events or immediate financial needs but the proactive shaping of the future of your business. Allow time to plan and develop strategies, and prepare a strong foundation for the next year.



Cam Finlay (Arnold & Finlay Accountants & Planners Pty Ltd)

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