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7 business challenges to overcome

6-minute read

One of the challenges of being up and running with a new business is that you may struggle to keep your feet on the ground at the start. But if you can find the time to address a few key challenges, your road to success could be a smoother one.

Key take-outs
  • Be responsive, innovative and visible
  • Make sure you are always striving for customer satisfaction
  • Review the ways you manage finances, suppliers and staff

1. How do I stay ahead of the competition?

Products and services across every industry are changing at a hectic pace, as are the ways they are delivered. Just think of the shift from bricks and mortar shopping to eCommerce, and the number of services we now access through apps. Some business professionals call this ‘disruption’.

 

Opportunities sometimes exist for innovative new entrants to succeed while traditional businesses that are fixed in their ways may start to struggle. The lesson is that standing still may send you backwards.

 

The onus is on you as a business owner to set time aside to find ways to provide customers with more reasons to buy from you or secure your services – and that may mean improving your use of new and emerging technologies.

 

Tip: Search for your product or service area using google.com (with ‘USA’ in the search) or google.co.uk (with ‘UK’ in the search) to see who’s doing what in your space in larger markets.

2. How can I keep my business top of mind?

Think of all the ways you can keep your business in front of your customers, so that you are considered when a product or service is required. This could involve anything from a review of your signage to a commitment to visibility on social media.

 

Make the most of online directories and attend local networking events. And every time you identify a satisfied customer, you might want to consider asking them for a testimonial you can feature on your website and social. Also, remember to tag them to thank them for their kind words – which may help spread those words.

 

Tip: Read our 10 marketing tips for your small business article.

3. How can I improve customer satisfaction?

In addition to building innovation (of products, services and delivery) into your business planning, devote some time to improving the overall customer experience you provide. Ask yourself, "Would I be happy with this product or service myself?" and "What could I do that would overcome any shortcomings I’ve identified?".

 

If there’s an element of your business that’s’ not up to scratch, you may be at risk of a competitor spotting and exploiting your weakness. So, it’s a good idea to get things right before your customers start looking elsewhere.

 

Tip: Take every opportunity to engage with customers to get a real understanding of their needs, likes and any frustrations. Being an active listener could be a great way to spot opportunities for both improvement and innovation.

4. How can I improve cash flow?

Maintaining positive cash flow – when your incomings outweigh your outgoings – is one of the biggest challenges facing small businesses. Setting up a simple system that allows you to easily monitor your cash flow is a good idea, and there are plenty of small business accounting software options that could help with this.

 

You could also consider ways to speed up your working capital cycle, which is the time it takes to turn existing assets into cash. Devising ways to get paid faster, while leaving your own payments to the due dates, might be something to think about.

 

Tip: Read our Planning for positive cash flow article.

5. How can I strengthen my supplier relationships?

Unsurprisingly, your customers will probably want to do business with people they know, like and trust; and you may feel the same way about your suppliers. Think about whether having a sound relationship with your suppliers – which gives you the peace of mind they won’t let you down – could be better than relationships that are based on price alone.

 

That’s not to say you can’t work hard negotiating a good price and payments terms with your favoured suppliers. It could just become a more positive experience when mutual respect is involved, and the need for the negotiation to be mutually beneficial is recognised by both parties.

 

Tip: Read our 6 tips to negotiate better with your suppliers article.

6. How can I optimise my staffing policy?

As the way we do business transforms thanks to the introduction of new technology, make sure you’re not held back by a “we’ve always done it that way” culture – even if this means the positions of your staff members may have to change, as you respond to an ever-changing business climate.

 

Think about opportunities that could be created by new software and technologies to help with productivity, with the potential to move your people into other roles to help you stay ahead of the curve.

 

Tip: Read our How to build a culture of innovation article.

7. How can I put time back in my day?

If you run your own show there’s a good chance you are time-poor – maybe spending way too many precious hours on paperwork, and not enough on building and improving your business. So, you may want to consider all the ways you could streamline your admin.

 

For example, you could investigate apps and software packages that may help you speed up and automate some accountancy functions – and Westpac may be able to help in this respect. With an eligible account you can access our Biz Invoice invoicing tool through online banking. It lets you generate, send and manage invoices from your smartphone, tablet or PC; can help with reconciliations; and sends automatic payment reminders – all of which could put time back in your day1.

 

Tip: Find out more about our Biz Invoice invoicing tool.

 

When you’re busy running a business, you don’t want to overload yourself with too many more ‘things to do’ – so tackling one challenge at a time is probably the way to go. We hope these tips have been useful.


Read more

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Planning for business growth

Looking to grow your business? Start with reviewing your profit and loss statement.

5 signs it’s time to adjust your pricing strategy

Getting those customers but still struggling to grow the business? Your business may need a new pricing strategy. Here are 5 signs it’s time.

Things you should know

1. To be eligible for Biz Invoice you must be registered for Westpac Live Online Banking and hold a Westpac Business One Low Plan or Business One High Plan account. Your business must be registered in Australia. Terms, conditions, fee and charges apply. Before making a decision, read the disclosure documents for your selected product or service, including the Product Disclosure Statement and T&Cs, by clicking the above links; and consider if the product is right for you.

 

The information in this article is general in nature and does not take your objectives, financial situation or needs into account. Consider its appropriateness to these factors; and we recommend you seek independent professional advice about your specific circumstances before making any decisions.