For small businesses, the end of a financial year is an extremely important time, with business owners often concerned about an incoming tax bill and the financial outlook of the coming year. However, the flip side to EOFY stress is the opportunity it provides to re-evaluate existing processes and practices.
By using this period to reflect on what’s working well and what can be improved, you can enter the new financial year with some solid solutions for growing your business - regardless of whether you have a tax bill to pay off, or a tighter budget to work with.
During my time at Podium, as well as previously at Google, I’ve worked with thousands of local businesses who’ve demonstrated innovative and cost-effective solutions to grow their business. Here are five areas you can focus on without stretching the budget.
Determine your budget
Before you can effectively make any plans for your business, you need to understand your financial position inside out, then set a budget. According to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) almost half of small businesses fail, and research from the University of Technology Sydney cites financial mismanagement as a leading cause for a business failing. So, setting a budget is not only important for planning for future growth, but also for ensuring ongoing success.
When planning out your budget, first account for any necessary expenses, such as rent, wages, and taxes - it’s a good idea to over-budget for each of these, just in case there are any unforeseen circumstances or pricing changes throughout the year. Once the non-negotiables are accounted for, prioritise expenses that can directly lead to sales, brand recognition, and your broader growth goals.
Take advantage of available grants and resources
After you’ve set out your budget and considered your growth priorities for the year, take some time to explore the grants, funding, resources, and programs available to support your business.
Due to the difficulties small businesses have faced over the past few years, Federal and State Governments have committed to supporting businesses like yours with an array of mentoring and sponsorship opportunities, as well as extra monetary support through rebates and funding.
By taking advantage of these, often free, resources you can start growing your business without touching any of your budget - and since many of the opportunities provide financial boosts, you may end up with extra room in your initial budget.
Once you start - or grow - a business, you quickly find yourself taking on a lot of new roles. However, no one can be an expert in everything, and hiring someone to fulfil specific functions will often be a better use of time and resources than spreading yourself across another job.
Not every role will need to be a permanent hire, though. For example, when first setting up your company’s online presence you might want to hire a website designer or UX specialist, but you won’t necessarily need to keep them around. In these cases, freelancers and independent contractors are a great solution.
If you’re keen to support local talent, platforms like Fiverr can connect you with a community of Australian freelancers, each with their own rates so you can find the right person to fit your project. While their hourly rate might be a little higher than an employee, remember that you only need to account for the agreed upon rate - you won’t be responsible for super contributions, additional taxes or other employee benefits.
When reviewing where your existing time and resources are spent, you may find that there are many mundane and time-consuming tasks that can be automated. Through automation, you can spend less time working inside your business, and instead invest your time in growing and providing the experiences, products, and services that your customers love, remember, and recommend.
Similarly, when looking at growth areas, you can find a variety of technology platforms that will automate multiple functions and can integrate into back-end systems. For example, Podium offers marketing, payment, customer management, and customer feedback solutions that seamlessly integrate with each other.
Prioritise your customers
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your customers. Regardless of a business’ size, industry, or goals, there’s one thing that every business has in common: the importance of satisfied customers. Customer satisfaction is the key factor in both attracting and retaining customers. It’s been shown that a positive consumer experience can inspire a strong sense of brand loyalty, resulting in a relationship that will last almost two years longer than it otherwise would have, and a 306% higher lifetime value.
Each positive experience, and loyal customer, can be used to help your business attract new customers - you just need to ask them for a review. According to Podium data, online reviews influence 84% of Aussies’ shopping choices, while one in four (28%) shoppers will read a business’ reviews while standing outside the storefront before deciding whether to walk in. If your business focuses on them in the new financial year, it’ll be healthier for it.
By examining each of the above aspects over the EOFY period, and focusing on your business’ goals, budget, and customers, you can set yourself up for a successful new financial year.
Dave Scheine, Australia Country Manager at Podium