So with a new tax year fast approaching, here are some resolutions to consider that could help your business flourish over the next 12 months.
Start tracking your time
Even if you think you’re working as efficiently and productively as possible, it’s a good idea to review exactly what you do day to day – and where the main interruptions are. Track all of your working time – including all your phone calls and coffee breaks – so you can identify how long you spend doing non-work-related tasks; review whether you’re procrastinating (and if you need to address this); and see which parts of your routine are least productive.
You’ll also be able to discover how profitable each project you work on is, as you’ll see how much “unbillable” time goes into each one, compared to the amount of time you can charge for. That means you see which projects are costing you money and what kind of work you should consider focusing on in the future to maximise your profits.
Review your customer base
Tracking your time can also be a great starting point for reviewing your customer list. By looking at all time logged against a customer – including unbillable time like chasing invoices or extra support requests – you may find that some of your customers take up a great deal more time than others for about the same amount of money, or even less. In those cases, you may want to think about whether those clients are ones you love going the extra mile for, or if the time you spend with them may be better spent finding and working with new clients instead.
However, remember not to take the great clients you currently have for granted. Keep them feeling special and valued because happy customers tend to be more willing to recommend you to their friends – and positive referrals are one of the best ways to grow your business.
Set up a bookkeeping habit
Bookkeeping may not be the most exciting part of running a business, but it’s one of the most important. You need up-to-date accounts to see how much money you’re making and how much tax you need to pay, and in order to do this, you need to have a good, robust system in place.
Try to make managing your books an integral – but manageable – part of your working week. At FreeAgent, we believe that just spending an hour a week to review your bank transactions, log your expenses and manage your invoices will help you stay on top of your finances and see at a glance how your business is performing.
With the government’s Making Tax Digital legislation due to come into effect over the coming years, you may also want to look at upgrading to online accounting software, if you haven’t already done so. This will ensure that you’re well prepared for submitting your tax updates digitally – and could also free up your time so you can spend it on improving other parts of your business instead.
Review your marketing
The start of the new tax year is a great time to reevaluate your marketing efforts and discover what you can be doing better in the year ahead. For example, it may be time to start thinking about advertising in local media, or signing up to attend a few trade shows full of potential new customers. Or you may just need to tweak your SEO and online presence in order to more effectively target a specific customer base.
Before you get started, take time to make sure you’ve worked out your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and perfected your elevator pitch. That way, you’ll start out on the right foot when it comes to spotting new marketing opportunities.
Emily Coltman FCA – chief accountant to FreeAgent.