How to ensure small business efficiency: A checklist

Four questions every start-up owner should consider to run a lean, effective and ultimately profitable business

As an entrepreneur who has recently just started  their own business the realisation of how many different hats you need to wear to operate effectively has probably started to hit home (if it hasn’t already).

From marketing to administration, business development to health and safety you need to cover all the angles. As the voice of the small and medium enterprise, the Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) has a few pointers to add to your start-ups checklist to help make sure you make the most of your venture!

1. Have you evaluated the efficiency of your business?

Even before day one, as a small business it is important to understand the most efficient way to utilise the resources you have. This includes managing your time and your skills in the most resourceful way.

By overseeing all areas of the business, you’ll need a wide array of skills to ensure that all tasks are completed on time and on budget. Possessing the right skills and knowledge is essential.

Use the following steps to help operate your business far more efficiently and effectively;

  • Evaluate your start up
  • Identify any skills gaps
  • Determine how you will fill that gap
  • Apply the relevant training and up skilling or recruit new staff
  • Know your employees expertise to efficiently delegate work

A business is only as good as the people who run it and if a jobs worth doing, its worth doing well.

2. Are you able to take advantage of financial opportunities for your business?

According to Theo Paphitis “50% of all small businesses fail in the first couple of years”, so this period is often flouted as the make or break time for start-ups. Profits won’t come straight away but you should be laying the foundations for future success. Having a great idea is one thing but realising this vision requires years of investment in not only the business but your personal skillset.

With the amount of money that is required to start up and cover any hidden surprises that unfortunately do arise it can sometimes be very difficult to take advantage of all opportunities that come your way. But what if you could analyse your accounts and seek out a way of saving the business money from the outset? With the hard work that goes into running a small business, making your money work harder for you is essential!

Accountancy is fundamental to the financial growth of a business. With a thorough understanding of your businesses finances, you are able to produce a financial snapshot in which you can make solid business decisions about the current status or projected future health of your business. When financial resources are scarce, the ability to save money in your finances will enable you to “re-invest” that supplementary money into a more profitable area of the business.

You have to spend money to make money but if you can save money in the process then you’re already one step ahead of the game.

3. Do you have a structure in place to see your return on investments?

As an entrepreneur running your own business, you will be required to look at the bigger picture and make the critical decisions that will drive your business forward. To do this, a secure structure needs to be in place to enable you to assess the progress of your business;

  • What is everyone trying to achieve here?
  • What is working?
  • What isn’t working?
  • What key performance indicators (KPIs) do you have in place to monitor progress?

With knowledge of accountancy and the ability to proactively manage your business through your accounts, you are able to drive the engine room and adopt a pragmatic and objective approach to solving financial issues to add value to your business. The ability to assess the return on investment is essential to track the success of individual areas of the business.

4. Life outside work; do you remember what that is like?

As a small business owner, managing work against external commitments; family, friends, relationships, kids… is a fine balancing act. Only you can realise your vision and make your business work but you will need the support of everyone who knew you before you put your dream in motion. Likewise, they will need you!

Spreading yourself too thin is only going to hinder the operations and growth of your business; you must remember to take some time out, put the laptop away and turn the business phone off. Re-energising and coming back fresh will give you a clear head to make smarter decisions for your business.

Russell Clemence is the marketing & communications director at the Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA), an internationally recognised professional accountnancy membership body whose members work within micro and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or in small to medium-sized accounting practices (SMPs), advising micro and SME clients. www.ifa.org.uk 

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