Love your business this Valentine’s Day!
Federation of Small Businesses' commercial director Dave Stallon shares his tips to ensure you don’t fall out of love with your business
Putting your heart and soul into a business is a great way to get it off the ground, but how do you ensure it stays true to your objectives and targets?
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) suggests keeping the romance alive can often be a case of showing your company lots of TLC and has produced some tips to help you do so…
Keeping your business competitive and responsive to customers’ needs is often a question of securing the essentials that allow you to deliver great service. One of these is fast broadband. 78% per cent of smaller businesses rely on broadband, but one-fifth are unhappy with the speed of their current package.
Similarly, your customers may want to pay by card, to help their own cashflow situation. If you don’t take card payments, perhaps you should treat your business to a card processing facility or mobile card terminal, to accommodate some customers’ payment preferences?
FSB members can access great deals on speedy broadband, card payment processing and mobile terminals. Maybe you should consider treating your business to such assets?
Show it off!
Being proud of your business is a great way to help its growth, particularly if you showcase it at networking events and shout about it online. Don’t allow it to become a hidden gem!
View your business just as you would your car or home. Make sure you have all the right insurances in place, abide by health and safety legislation and don’t flout the law. There are many legal regulations that apply to small businesses and you can get specialist advice about these areas from the FSB’s advice line.
Also, be aware! Half of small businesses (49% have been the victim of phishing and a third (29%) have suffered from malware attacks. Whilst there are precautions that can be taken to protect against cyber attacks, the reality is cyber crime is one of the fastest growing types of crime and will continue to operate in more sophisticated ways. Having cyber insurance in place has become a necessity for every business, particularly small and mid-sized businesses and the self-employed.
You can also protect your business by adjudging how it is perceived by others – current customers, prospective customers, employees, and competitors. This perception is hugely carried and created by your online presence, or digital footprint. Professional business profiling can be invaluable, and this is something the FSB has recently added to its portfolio of services.
Don’t wreck it!
It has been widely reported that HMRC is stepping up investigations into the small business sector this year. If you are selected for an HMRC tax investigation, the process is likely to last 16 months and cost you around £5,000, not including any fines that may be levied.
Tax investigation protection is another critical service you should have in place, if you run a small business or are self-employed – in 2017 – more than ever. The protection FSB provides its members as standard, includes representation relating to corporation and income tax full and aspect investigations, PAYE employer compliance disputes as well as VAT disputes.
Similarly, don’t wreck your business by neglecting business continuity planning. The aim of a business continuity plan is to identify the most important parts of your business e.g. data, premises, staff and set out a clear plan for how to secure and maintain them in the event of a business interruption. This is just as important for a smaller business as it is for a multinational organisation. Should a negative situation arise, it’s important you have systems in place to see you through bad times.
Don’t be too possessive!
Ultimately, your goal should be to build a profitable business that you can exit with the best possible return. Don’t hang on to your business just through emotional attachment and make sure you don’t make it all about you, or it will have little value for possible buyers. Create a succession plan and always focus on the endgame.