Successful business owners will tell you that the key to their success is having a clear and carefully considered business plan. Ideally it will highlight the steps required to move you towards achieving your business and life-style goals.

This is important document, not only to prepare in the beginning when you are starting out, but also to be re-visited regularly to ensure you keep to it and stay focused on what you want to achieve.

Anyone running a business can find themselves spending a lot more time than they anticipated working in their business, rather than on their business. As a result, few find the time to analyse their current situation, looking at where they are, where they want to go and anticipate what lies ahead.

No matter what industry you are in it is vital to keep an eye on the future and like a good Scout, be prepared! Recognising and staying ahead of any major market shifts or industry changes is now considered a required intelligence in business, and it will give you the edge.

In this regard, knowledge is power, it can help your business maximise new opportunities while minimising upcoming risks, helping ensure your business is operating to its potential, regardless of external factors.

The small business owner needs to continually develop and evolve with attention being paid factors that can really make an impact.

For example:

  • Changes in economic conditions and interest rates
  • Costs of manufacturing and supply
  • Labour rates impacting staff and suppliers
  • Technology and communication advancements
  • Digital marketing and social media
  • Competition from larger corporate organisations or niche players
  • Trends in customer loyalty and demographics

A great place to start is to perform a business SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. This results in both a handy reference report and is a business transforming process that will lead to greater results. The report itself will help you to develop a good understanding of where your business sits in the current climate and what may lay ahead. But the process can also be a great way of finding new potential income sources and opportunities within your business and network.

To be a successful business owner, you need to spend more time working on your business and not just in it performing only day to day tasks. But who has the time, right? None of us, unless we schedule the time in our diaries and then stick to it. A good time management hack is to enlist others (staff/family members) to shield you from all the day-to-day stuff for that scheduled time, even if it’s just for two hours per week you can make great progress towards achieving your goals.

It is vital to invest time to analyse all aspects of your business and finances, and compare yourself to what your competitors and peers are doing. This type of benchmarking will help you to create a regular snap shot of where you are at and what you need to do in order to achieve the success you set out to gain.

Regular contact with your accountant and financial advisor helps you gain an independent and objective view on how your business is performing. This is your accountants area of expertise and considering the potential for business transformation may also represents the best bang for your buck in your accounting spend.

Attendance at industry training and conference events is another common step to business success. These events can not only be a great source of inspiration, but also an excellent networking opportunity.

So how you plan for change today will improve your chances of surviving and thriving tomorrow. Start allocating a percentage of your time each week to working on your business strategy and planning. Discuss these with your accountant and peers.

And remember, opportunities don’t happen, you create them.

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