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11 tips to get your business in top shape for 2014

1.    Paper Cut-Out

Cut down on paperwork – it will save you money, time and space. Trace the paper trail for all your employees and discover if it is really necessary. 

Switch paper communication to email and start saving documents on a central server – it will become a virtual filing cabinet and save shelves buckling under the weight of box-files.

2. Tailor your technologies

Be aware of the latest technologies and invest in those which will give your business an edge. 

Cross media marketing solutions, largely used by big corporations, are now available to smaller businesses and some accounting packages can now automatically generate invoices, as well as email reminders for late payments. 

Investing in an intuitive piece of HR software, will reduce operating costs, provide immediate access to information for analysis and cut down on admin.

3. Call it on calls

Take advantage of the fierce competition in the mobile-phone market to save money on your business usage - negotiate yourself a good deal. 

Or, simply scrap phones and make calls online: VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems offer an alternative to the combination of mobile and office phones that most people use. 

Cheaper than a traditional small office phone system, with many useful features, this internet package allows you to manage voicemails like digital attachments that can be clicked, dragged or forwarded. 

VoIP functions from whatever broadband connection you have and calls can be made to any type of telephone or network.

4. Power to your people

Listen to the insights and advice each employee has regarding their own little patch of your business. They are on the front line and know the processes that waste time and resources. 

Empowering employees by encouraging them to set goals for their part of the company shows that you value their insights and will increase their desire to do well for you.

5. Embrace E-commerce

Business to business communication (B2B) is essential for efficient practice. 

Being able to share data immediately with customers, suppliers and business partners will lead to better customer service, sales and cash flow and will reduce inventory and frustrating lead times.

6. Outsource

In the right context, outsourcing different components of your business, can help you grow and make money. 

If you are expanding rapidly, for example, human and financial resources may be being consumed to the detriment of your core activities. 

Outsourcing some of these areas will enable you to re-focus on the key function of your business.

7. Know your numbers

Good financial analysis is so important to managing your assets. 

Invest in appropriate modelling techniques to break down the key factors of your business performance and make sure, if you have complex accounting treatments for revenue streams, that you are able to see clearly how your business decisions are impacting your profit margins. 

And, it may sound obvious – but be aware of what you are paying in service charges to your bank. Ask for a break-down of what you are paying for and cut out what you don’t need.

8. Be prescient

It always pays to settle small bills in advance. If you have a monthly bill of £20, but decide to pay £120 for 6 months in one go, you will be saving time and potential late fees. 

9. Shore up your social media

Well managed social media platforms are vital marketing tools, but it’s all too easy to set up an account on Twitter or Facebook without really knowing what you want to use them for. 

A poorly updated blog can damage the image of your business. There’s nothing worse than a business blog with the date of the last post tagged ‘Dec 2007’!

If you plan your social media strategy well and consistently update your media channels, you will have a strong voice as a business, and reap the rewards. 

10. Ensure time to insure

You are probably paying a few insurance policies at different times throughout the year. 

If you renew all your policies on the same date, and potentially with the same company, you will save time and have a clear time frame for when you should be reviewing this expenditure. 

This will ensure you can focus on whether the deals you have work for you, and are cost effective.

11. Be in the right place at the right time

Many office tenants are paying too much in rent to be in an area that they think enhances their image. Think carefully about whether your office location really has a positive effect on your business. 

Also, try to reassess how much space you need and if you are using all parts of your office effectively. You may find it’s time to re-locate or downsize to reduce costs.

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