Just like your family, your business has a wish list for Christmas. Give your business these presents and it will be happy all 2016:
1. Look back at the year past with a critical eye. What did you do right, can you build on these successes? Now consider what did not go so well, identify your significant problems or the mistakes you made. How can you avoid repeating them?
2. Cashflow, always the heart of any business. How did you go in managing your cashflow in 2015? If cashflow kept you awake at night during 2015, first thing in the New Year identify strategies to better manage that cashflow. Speak with your staff and your accountant, there are ways to smooth out the bumps and to reduce the pressure. Solutions can include proactive cash collection, payment of big bills in installments over periods starting before amounts are due and ending after the due date, short term funding options may also be a good alternative.
3. Consider your staff, do you have the right people in the right positions, do they share your vision and passion? What can you do in 2016 to help them to perform better? One suggestion is to encourage each agent to develop an interest and become an expert in one area of travel.
4. Can your business run itself without you having to be in the office? Do you have a manager or successor who can manage the business in your place? Do you have processes and procedures documented that facilitate the smooth running of the business? Businesses that can run themselves have a high value and happy owners.
5. Business structure, asset protection, company and personal income taxes and superannuation. These are complex areas that you need to get right. You should not pay more tax than is required. Speak with your accountant, understand your options, if it is not making sense get a second opinion. You may still not understand completely but confirmation from a second reputable accountant that you are set up in the right structure and managing your tax obligations correctly will give you peace of mind.
6. Business plans, business budgets, cash flow forecasts, do you have them? do you use them? The important thing is to have a plan you can share with your employees. Do your business a favour, at a very minimum set your goals for 2016, keep them simple and achievable and then celebrate when you tick them off the list. A year without recognising achievements is a very long & boring year. The motherhood statement “if you are not going forwards you are going backwards “is one to remember and keep in your mind as you work to improve your business in 2016. Plans Budgets and forecast will all work to keep you and your staff moving in the right direction. If you are not sure how to start or are overwhelmed with the thought of plan, speak with your accountant, ask for help and guidance. It need not cost a fortune, a simple common sense plan is often the best one!
7. Are you considering exiting your business within the next 5 years? If so the time to start planning is now! If you can get all the above points working for you then not only will you be able to exit your business you will get a good price for it. Exiting a business does require expert assistance so speak to your accountant to find what actions are required and what issues are to be resolved.
The biggest gift of all you can give your business is to have a good rest over the holiday season, give your brain a break and come back to work in 2016 full of energy and enthusiasm. If you believe you need assistance with getting your business in the best shape it can be then call 1300 DFK ANZ to book your complimentary Strategic Business Review as an AFTA Member.
David Sharp: David has spent over 20 years advising SME businesses, in particular working closely with many travel agents for advice on taxation, accounting and providing general business compliance. David was involved with set up of travel.com and brings to the table a wealth of both practical and technical skills and experience to assist travel agents to achieve their goals. Matters such as tax effective financial structures, asset protection, succession planning and wealth creation are all part of the process to grow and maintain a successful travel agency.