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2017 has kicked off with a bang at 9 Spokes and we hope it's been a great start for your business too. This year, more businesses than ever will rely on technologies and digital communications to manage their business, so it's imperative to keep on top of your data security.
As Compliance Manager at 9 Spokes, I have to ensure our systems and processes are completely solid. We've all read stories about businesses becoming victims of cyber crimes. But most of these hacks are preventable. Here are some helpful steps you can take to secure your business in 2017.
A New Year always creates passion for trying new things for yourself and your business. And it’s no different at 9 Spokes! Some of our talented staff have been tracking trends over the previous year - and they’ve put together a list of what could really get your retail business pumping in 2017.
Thankfully we’re yet to reach that futuristic nightmare where technology and robots make us humble humans completely redundant. To the contrary, the key ingredient in a business is still its people. Put simply - no people, no business.
Your staff play an important role; they provide the expertise, the energy, the personal relationships and the judgement calls which make your business tick.
Measuring your employees' activity is a good way to see how well your business is performing, as well as give you clues on how to improve things. Performance can be monitored on an individual and group basis. Here's how:
Company party - sorted. Christmas cards - posted. Time off - booked. All that's left to do is put your feet up and enjoy quality time with your friends and family.
However it's very much business as usual for one part of your company: your website. In fact, the festive season can be its busiest time!
A recent Guardian article* citing sources including Accenture, Kantar UK Insights and Experian had some interesting statistics which show why your online presence is so important this time of year:
- Traffic to retail websites over the 2015 festive period increased by 270%
- 21% of small business revenue is taken over the festive period
- A quarter of British shoppers say that discounts of only 20-29% encourage them to buy
With so many sales now taking place online - and more new customers to attract - it's important to make sure your website is ready to take advantage of the festive and New Year period. So, we've put together some top tips to make sure your website is up for the challenge.
If you're a small business owner, you're likely bombarded with questions every day.
One of the toughest is always, "how's your business doing?"
There's never a straightforward answer. For a clear picture, you really need a number of different metrics at hand to see how your business is performing. Cash flow is one way to assess a business's health. Another is looking at your business's bread and butter: sales.
A good grasp of your sales numbers will show you how well your business is doing and give you insights into what can be done to increase profitability. Having spent most of my career in sales, my advice to business owners has always been to look at 4 key areas:
As an accountant with over 25 years’ experience, and now as the Chief Financial Officer at 9 Spokes, my role has always been to keep a close eye on businesses’ cash. It’s a crucial job in good times and bad, especially in the lead up to the holiday season. As the saying goes, ‘cash is king’, and poor cash flow is the main reason 9 out of 10 small business fail.
Friends who run small businesses have asked me for advice on how to improve their cash flow. Obviously, selling more products or services is vital, but knowing which metrics to watch out for and optimising the way you manage certain areas of your business can really help with cash flow too.
We all know that running a small business can leave you feeling flat out, but I recommend dedicating whatever time you can spare to fine tuning a few key areas - it really pays off in the long run. Here are four things to keep on your radar:
Having started a business, I know how exciting and tough it can be.
You wear lots of hats - from customer service to book keeper to making sure your staff have their favourite biscuits - and that’s before you consider the biggest job of all: generating cash to make your business run better.
Being wrapped up in day-to-day tasks meant that it wasn’t always easy to take a step back and make key decisions. But when I could, I found that looking at 3 key indicators - cash flow, sales and people - helped me get the overview I needed to focus on business strategy.
As a growing company that’s building a new product, developing a new customer experience and seeking out new markets, you cannot forget the critical factors required to build a business. Factors like the idea, the funding, the resourcing, the strategy and the marketing and branding are all essential, but pale in importance to the people on the team. Simply put, it’s the people on your team who will make the business succeed or fail.
Thursday 9th June, 2016 is the date that a milestone was achieved in my business, 9 Spokes. Today, my business partner and I rang the bell at the Australian Securities Exchange, marking the listing of our company on the ASX. Our journey from start-up to a public company is complete. It’s a moment to savour and celebrate but it is only one of many that mark the journey that we have been on, and the journey we have ahead.
When the going gets tough, it’s important to know what drives you. Not the short term goals, but rather the real purpose behind what you are doing – the ‘why’ behind ‘why you are in business?’
This was best described by the work of Simon Sinek. Since his first TED presentation in 2011, people have started to understand the difference between ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ you do things in your business. All too often we focus on what we do and how we do it. This is enough guidance for most when things are going well, but without a good understanding of why you are in business, keeping focus in hard times can be tough.