The holiday season is the busiest time of year for many retailers, but afterwards often comes the post-holiday slump when spending dives. By preparing earlier, it can be possible to minimise downtime and get your business off on the right footing.
Planning is the key to any successful military campaign and business is no different, suggests Peter Baskerville of Southbank Institute of Technology.
“The front line of any battle should never get ahead of the ability of the supply lines to support it,” he says. “It is therefore imperative that managers control the current and anticipated growth of a business by ensuring that sufficient resources are available and ready for deployment prior to growth initiatives being implemented.”
Preparing for battle
He advises business owners gear up for battle by assessing:
• Finances: What financial resources are required for the business to achieve its goals?
• Personnel: What competencies are needed and what is the morale of the workforce?
• Physical resources: Is there sufficient supply of land, buildings and equipment?
• Innovation capital resources: Are there systems in place to support innovation, creativity and problem-solving?
• Social capital resources: Does the business have enough goodwill, brand recognition and reputation?
• Intellectual property: Has the business secured its IP concerning trademarks, customer lists and inventions?
When preparing for expansion, it is important to clarify the direction, obtain buy-in from stakeholders and undertake a comprehensive analysis of internal and external environments.
Operational financial budgets must be prepared to give guidelines and delegation to key players, and owners must ensure that their resources are primed and ready for action.
Clearing the air
Like any army general, business owners should also take time out to review their own personal well-being as well as that of the operation when planning ahead.
Doctors advise drinking more water and less coffee, spending time exercising every day and taking regular breaks away from the desk to improve physical well-being. Other recommendations include improving time management skills, achieved by organising your filing system, email and other systems changes.
Business owners should also have a clear vision for themselves and their business, which can be translated to staff, as well as considering any necessary improvements to performance or skills.
New Year checklist
Getting your business properly prepared for the New Year involves a number of measures:
• Review the business budget and targets.
• Dispose of surplus stock quickly to free up cash flow.
• Chase up outstanding accounts.
• Update the business plan and measure progress against last year’s goals.
• Make sure the financial books are in order.
• Talk to your accountant about tax strategies.
• Survey customers to measure satisfaction and seek new opportunities.
• Thank your employees, partners and clients.
If business is a war, it makes sense to be as well prepared as possible and maximise your resources. After all, there is no point in being ambushed with cash flow problems in January, once festive shoppers have left the store.
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Anthony is a communication consultant at BWH Communication and a freelance writer with 15 years' experience in the stockbroking and media industries of Australia and Asia. He is a regular writer on business and other issues for publications in Australia and Japan. He consults on communication strategy to businesses ranging from private enterprises to professional service firms and publicly listed companies, with a particular interest in entrepreneurship in all its forms.