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10 Steps to Business Continuity Planning

10 Steps to Business Continuity Planning

‘Business continuity’ is the process of planning out how your company can continue trading – when disaster hits. In essence, it’s your Plan B for how to set up a means of trading, when you don’t have access to your usual offices, workspaces or equipment.

10 key elements to include for your ongoing business continuity plan

Digital communication and cloud technology have given us the ability to access company information, applications and communication channels. For many businesses this will allow you to keep at least some of your usual day-to-day operations ticking over.

However, there are a host of important business areas that you need to consider when developing your company strategy to deal with an emergency situation.

Here are 10 important elements to factor into your business continuity plan:

  1. Location and workspace – Does everyone in the business have a good internet connection for remote working? Make sure you agree on the guidelines for maintaining workflow. Schedule regular online catch ups to check in and agree on the priorities.
  2. Key products or services – which products and/or services will you be able to offer? For the business to continue trading, you need to identify a core set of products/services. Review which product/services will bring in the required revenue and cashflow, and which activities in the business should therefore be classed as essential.
  3. Key staff and resources – who are the core people you need for the company to operate? Based on your decisions regarding essential activities, identify who your key management and staff members are. Think about how much resource is needed to trade, how you’ll get approvals and sign-off and what critical knowledge needs to be shared within the team.
  4. Key contacts and connections – who are your main stakeholders outside the business? And which of these are vital to the running of your business? Make a list of your key suppliers, service providers, property contacts and customers and ensure you can have open communication with all these connections. Also, look at alternative suppliers so you can minimise any disruption to your operations.
  5. IT equipment, data and infrastructure – what equipment, tools and software do you need to continue working? Essential hardware and software will include laptops, tablets or smartphones for your staff, paired with cloud services, video conferencing, communication apps and effective, secure access to your customer and business data.
  6. Plant and manufacturing equipment for essential businesses – if you’re a bricks and mortar business, or a product-based manufacturing business, what equipment do you need to carry on your operations? This will include any machinery, hardware equipment and vehicles needed to manage the essential operations you’ve identified for the business.
  7. Financial management – how will you access your key financial numbers during any outage? It’s sensible to move to a cloud-based accounting system NOW, so you have continuous, uninterrupted access to your financials. A platform like Xero online accounting allows you and your advisers to see those all-important figures.
  8. Cashflow management – how are you going to ensure you maintain a positive cashflow position? We can help put a process in place to run regular cashflow statements. Use forecasting to project your cashflow position forward in time – so you can take proactive action to avoid any cash gaps in the near future.
  9. Insurance – does your current business insurance policy cover you for all emergency situations? Review all your existing insurance policies so you understand what your policy covers. Securing the business in all scenarios should be your focus here.
  10. Leadership – who could take over if you (the owner/MD/CEO), is left unable to run the business? Having a nominated deputy, with a clearly defined chain of command, means you can be confident that the company will be in safe hands, even if you’re indisposed.

 

The following content was originally published by BOMA. We have updated some of this article for our readers.

6 Powerful Reasons To Watch Your Financial Reports

6 Powerful Reasons To Watch Your Financial Reports

Making time to look over your financial reports each month is an important task for any business owner.

If you are not taking time to do this, either because you’re too busy, or perhaps you don’t really understand what you’re looking at and it doesn’t make sense to you, then here are 6 reasons we recommend you should start to.

But before we get our 6 reasons, let’s talk very quickly about which reports to look at. At a bare minimum, and depending on the complexity of your business, you should be looking at the following:

      • The Statement of Financial Performance – also known as the Profit and Loss report (P&L) or the Income Statement – tells you, as the name suggests, how your business is performing over a period of time, such as a month or a financial year. In broad terms it shows the revenue that your business has generated, less the expenses for that same period. In other words, it shows how profitable your business is.
      • The Statement of Financial Position – also known as the Balance Sheet shows the value of the business’s Assets, Liabilities and Equity.
          • Assets include things like money in bank accounts, Plant and Equipment, Accounts Receivable balances
          • Liabilities include things like Bank loans and credit cards, Accounts Payable, and Hire Purchase balances
          • Equity is the difference between your Assets and your Liabilities and includes Retained Earnings and Owner Funds Introduced
      • Accounts Receivable Ageing report (Aged Receivables) – this shows how much money is still owed to the business as at a certain date in time, and is usually segmented as to how overdue they are, or sometimes by how far past the invoice date they are. Generally, you will have Current, 30, 60 and 90 days columns.
      • Accounts Payable Ageing Report (Aged Payables) – this report shows who the business owes money to as at a certain date in time and, like the Accounts Receivable Ageing report, is usually segmented by overdue period.
So why bother?
  1. Understand your business better – by looking at your Profit and Loss report monthly you will get a good picture of how your business is performing month by month and it gives you a better understanding of what makes up your profit. It can be helpful to compare periods, or to look at a month by month P&L, so you can clearly see on one page the revenue and expenses month by month. This also helps identify trends in your data and many also help to highlight anomalies in coding/categorizing or unusual expenses or earnings.
  2. Accurate information for lending purposes – If you are applying for a loan or an overdraft, the bank or financial institution will look closely at both your Profit and Loss report and the Balance Sheet as a lot can be learned about a business by looking at these reports together. If you are unsure what some of your balances are in your accounts, get in touch and we can explain them further.
  3. Get paid quicker and reduce bad debts – by looking at your Accounts Receivable Aged Summary each month you can follow up with overdue accounts promptly which often results in getting paid quicker. The longer an overdue amount is left unpaid the higher the risk of it not being paid at all, so it is important to keep on top of this.
  4. Better relationships with your suppliers – Assuming you are entering your supplier bills into your accounting software (recommended for most businesses to get an accurate profitability figure) your Aged Payables report will alert you to any unpaid or overdue amounts. Supplier relationships are an important aspect of your business and paying on time is crucial to maintaining those relationships.
  5. Better cashflow – having an accurate understanding of how much money the business is owed, and how much money the business owes, can help with cashflow planning to ensure that there is enough money when needed. Additionally, understanding the trends of your business, its profitability drivers, its expenses, etc., can help to plan sales and marketing campaigns so that the revenue keeps coming in.
  6. Better business decision making – Your financial reports tell the story of your business and it’s important that you understand the story that they are telling you. The better you understand what’s going on in your business the stronger position you will be in to make better business decisions that affect the profitability of your business and its financial viability.

If you would like to know which reports are relevant to your business, and you want to better understand what’s going on in your business, then get in touch so we can make a time to go through them with you.

Your business success is important to us and we are here to help you.

 

The following content was originally published by BOMA. We have updated some of this article for our readers.

Keeping Your Employees and Customers Safe

Keeping Your Employees and Customers Safe

Worldwide, there are around 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million victims of work-related illnesses annually.

Those are worrying statistics for business owners. As an employer and an owner, you have a responsibility to keep your people safe – and the potential fallout from failing to do this can be significant.

If an employee or customer were to be injured while on your premises, the outcome is not great.

The company could well face:

      • Expensive and time-consuming legal cases,
      • Costly compensation payments to the injured party
      • Negative reputational impact from the media and social media reporting re the accident.

And of course, there’s the ethical implications of not having taken care of your stakeholders – and the upset, worry, stress and long-term health implications for the person that’s injured.

1.  Your duty of care to your employees

As a business owner or director, you have a duty of care to your employees to keep them safe and healthy at work. This includes providing a safe work environment, providing adequate training and monitoring their safety and well-being on an ongoing basis.

Specific examples of your duty of care to your employees include providing:

      • Safe and well-maintained machinery and equipment
      • A safe and healthy work environment, free from hazards
      • Adequate training on how to use machinery and equipment safely
      • Training on health and safety procedures
      • Monitoring the health and safety of your employees
      • Support to employees who have been injured or become ill at work
      • Taking out the relevant liability insurance in case of staff injuries.

2.   Your duty of care to your customers

You also have a duty of care to your customers to keep them safe when they visit your physical shops and office spaces. This includes providing a safe environment, thinking about accessibility and making sure your premises are reviewed for safety on a regular basis.

These customer concerns can include:

      • Providing safe premises that are hazard-free and maintained to a high standard
      • Taking steps to prevent crime, such as installing CCTV and hiring security guards
      • Ensuring that differently abled people can access the premises safely
      • Providing adequate training to staff on how to deal with emergencies
      • Taking out the relevant public liability insurance in case of customer injuries

3.   Your duty to provide relevant staff training and a continuity plan

Staff should get relevant training on health and safety procedures, so they’re on the ball with safety procedures and can do everything in their power to keep customers safe and free from danger. It’s also vital to have continuity plans in place in case of staff/customer injuries, criminal activity or unexpected emergencies and natural disasters.

To be on the ball with your training safety plans:

      • Conduct regular risk assessments to identify and assess potential hazards
      • Develop strategies and business procedures to mitigate any risks.
      • Implement and maintain a health and safety management system.
      • Provide your staff with the resources and support they need to work safely.
      • Communicate your health and safety policies and procedures to all staff and customers.
      • Monitor and improve the effectiveness of your health and safety measures.
Get your health & safety up to speed

By having a real focus on health & safety, you do the right thing for your staff, your customers, your suppliers and everyone involved in your business. You protect your stakeholders, and also protect the reputation and trust that people place in your brand.

To find out more about keeping your workplace safer, take a look at this government guide

More advice on health & safety in the workplace

 

The following content was originally published by BOMA. We have updated some of this article for our readers.

Three Questions for Business Success. Part 3: Pricing

Three Questions for Business Success. Part 3: Pricing

In this series, we will see how three questions for business success are approached and provide some practical tools and techniques for the SME owner to answer them.

Since businesses have been in existence, these questions that have perplexed most of their owners. Before AI, before the internet and even before electricity.

Who is my ideal customer?

What makes my product or service attractive?

How should I be pricing my product or service?

This article discusses how pricing touches everything from your business finances to your product’s positioning in the market, with considerations like whether it’s a timeless, bespoke, or a short-lived trending product. 

An article in the NZ Herald from June 2024; Big Red, What went wrong for The Warehouse, highlighted the struggles of one of New Zealand’s most famous retail brands, The Warehouse.

A senior analyst at investment house Forsyth Barr posed the question, “I don’t know if they [The Warehouse] know what they are and how they fit into the New Zealand retail landscape, or what they are going to compete on”.

Another analyst, Greg Smith of Devon Funds Management, commented, “They need to recalibrate what is the value proposition”. For The Warehouse, which has used bargain prices as it’s core attraction, now has its competitors like Kmart dictating to Warehouse customers what a bargain actually is.

Given The Warehouse is a large, complex business in a highly competitive market, you might believe that it’s relevancy doesn’t apply to SME’s. But it does. No matter what size of business, the principles of success are all the same.

Who are you selling to, why should they buy it and how much will they pay, are the foundations of success for global conglomerates through to food trucks. In fact, these questions are all linked and once you unlock the first two, then the third is much, much easier to answer.

In this series we will take a look at each of the three questions and shed some light on some approaches to get to the answers. This article looks at identifying pricing.

How should I be pricing my product or service?

We’ve all heard the stories about the person that worked in the retail store, misheard an instruction from the owner about pricing a clearance product, mistakenly priced it double and sold them all in a day.

Pricing touches everything from your business finances to your product’s positioning in the market, with considerations like whether it’s a timeless, bespoke, or a short-lived trending product. It’s a key strategic decision you need to make for your business, and it can be just as much an art as it is a science.

But it’s not a decision you only get to make once.

For example, if you’re trying to find the retail price of your product, there is a relatively quick and straightforward way to set a starting price.

To set your first price, add up all of the costs involved in bringing your product to market, set your profit margin on top of those expenses, and there you have it. This strategy is called cost-plus pricing, and it’s one of the simplest ways to price your product.

Another way is to use your existing customers to give you insight into whether or not you can raise your prices. Start by testing a higher price to a small segment of your existing customers and see how they react. But before you can worry about choosing your product’s sell price, there are a few other important things to consider.

An effective pricing strategy comes down to understanding your costs. If you order products, you’ll have a straightforward answer as to how much each unit costs you, which is your cost of goods sold.

If you make your products, you’ll need to dig a bit deeper and look at a bundle of your raw materials, labour costs, and overhead costs. How much does that bundle cost, and how many products can you create from it?

That will give you a rough estimate of your cost of goods sold per item.However, you shouldn’t forget the time you spend on your business is valuable, too.

To price your time, set an hourly rate you want to earn from your business, and then divide that by how many products you can make in that time. To set a sustainable price, make sure to incorporate the cost of your time as a variable product cost.

At the end of the day, the price you choose should be what your target customers will pay on a consistent basis.

Here’s a “back of the envelope” calculation you can do to sense check where you are. Once you’re ready to calculate a price, take your total variable costs and divide them by 1 minus your desired profit margin expressed as a decimal. For a 20% profit margin, that’s 0.2, so you’d divide your variable costs by 0.8.

Variable costs aren’t your only costs.

Fixed costs are the expenses that you’d pay no matter what, and that stays the same whether you sell 10 products or 1,000 products. They’re an important part of running your business, and the goal is that they’re covered by your product sales as well.When you’re picking a per-unit price, it can be tricky to figure out how your fixed costs fit in, which is why testing different price points is key.

Of course there’s a lot more to it and the variable and nuances can be many and varied – but the point is to not be initially distracted by that and just set a pricing benchmark that will allow you a “compass bearing” on whether you are heading in the right direction or not.

So, it goes to show that if you are struggling to answer the three questions or want to step back from the day to day for a minute to consider these questions – then it’s a good exercise. If a publicly listed company like The Warehouse is struggling to answer them, then you are not alone and shouldn’t see it as a problem but an opportunity to ensure your business has some of the fundamentals of success covered.

 

The following content was originally published by BOMA. We have updated some of this article for our readers.