With 99.9% of the UK economy made up of SMEs, your small or medium enterprise has a lot of competition. One way to stay ahead of the game is to make sure your business is 2016 ready. With only a few changes in key areas, you can bring your business into the present and secure its position in the future.
Review Your PESTLE Analysis
You might remember this phrase from when you started out – it’s an acronym for an exercise to evaluate the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental impact on your enterprise.
These are the ever-changing external factors that can affect your business; when something changes frequently, it’s advisable to review it fairly often.
It’s important to consider whether there have been any recent changes in government legislation – or if there are likely to be. For example, the EU referendum decision may result in changes that affect the import and export of goods.
Economic changes, such as a recession, are obviously likely to affect businesses of all sizes. Do you provide an essential product or service that people can’t do without? How will you survive in a recession?
An aging population can have an effect on which businesses thrive, as demand increases for certain products and services.
Are there likely to be any technological advances that could leave you out of a job?
Keep up to date on legislation; it’s important to play by the rules and safety laws are frequently updated. Also keep an eye on petitions for changes in the law. If that law is passed, how will it affect the way you do business?
Does what you do have an impact on the environment? Can you adapt what you do in order to be more environmentally friendly? Consider that environmental factors can be subject to additional taxation but you can also qualify for tax relief if your business takes extra measures to be energy efficient.
These are just some basic questions; you will need to ask yourself specific questions that are more relevant to your industry. It is recommended that you review and update the PESTLE analysis every 1-2 years, or whenever there are major changes in one of the categories mentioned.
Move to Cloud Accounting
Many small businesses have now adopted this form of accounting and it has become so commonplace that some young entrepreneurs don’t even remember a time of paper tax returns and physical balance sheets! Cloud accounting software is similar to regular out of the box accounting software, with one key difference; the software, and crucially all your key data, is available on any device so long as you’re connected to the internet. This means you can view and update your accounts from home, down the bottom of your garden or even in the hotel bar when you’re on holiday (if you really wanted to, that is).
FreeAgent accounting is one of the most popular online accounting platforms, due to its ease of use. It simplifies bookkeeping by keeping all the information you need at your fingertips within a user friendly app interface.
Don’t Underestimate Social Networks
Whatever your profession, one thing is certain: your competitors will have a profile on at least one of the main social networks. With the likes of Facebook and Twitter being a staple in most people’s lives these days, it’s one of the best (free) ways to get your name out there. If you haven’t already got a business page set up, do it now, it’s imperative to bringing your business into the present.
One way to utilise the power of social media is to run competitions; as long as you stipulate that in order to participate, the entrant has to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ the business page, ‘share’ or ‘retweet’ the post, and leave a comment too. All of these actions increase the page’s visibility without you having to pay any advertising fees and that means free marketing for your brand!