A lot remains to be seen as 2022 continues to unfold, but uncertainty seems to be the theme (along with rising prices of pretty much everything). Are we headed toward a recession? As we wait for the economy to shake out over the second half of the year, here are 10 opportunities to look at your business to build toward a stronger tomorrow.
No. 1 — Assess essential costs
The biggest expenses in most businesses are occupancy costs and staff. Assess whether your business is in the right location, or if you are in the position to ask your landlord to renegotiate a rent agreement. Look at available tax credits for your business as well.
As accountants, we frequently forget to assess these things for ourselves, but everything from research and development credits to other small business tax breaks may be available to you. In other areas you might be able to cut back as well, marketing and advertising usually aren’t the best choice, but analyze which campaigns are working for you right now. What other operating expenses do you have that might make a difference in your bottom line if you cut back?
No. 2 — Prepare for delays especially with Federal and state regulations
States are cutting staff and are significantly behind in most administrative processes right now. While the IRS is hiring the backlog is not going to be easily fixed. Prepare for yourself, and your clients that things will take longer. This could be anything from new state registrations for remote staff you just hired, to resolving tax issues. Look at ways to deal with the delays efficiently so your projects do not become unprofitable with the lengthy follow-up and wait times.
No. 3 — Consider accelerating your accessibility
How can you make it easier for customers to reach you? This may mean adjusting your hours, updating your website for easy communication, or looking at new methods of communicating. Accessibility is key. During COVID, we all got used to instantaneous access to everyone via the internet, the expectations now for meeting wait times is much shorter than it used to be.
No. 4 — Consider partnerships
This does not necessarily mean your competitors—are their businesses who offer complementary services to yours? Combining with a partner to give both your service offerings a boost for your customers gives you the opportunity to cross advertise to both your books of business while improving the services available to your customers.
No. 5 — Manage your workforce
The changing landscape of your business may mean that you need to reallocate staff hours. Consider where you may be able to retrain staff to utilize them in areas that they may not have been working in before. Staff development is an important investment when it comes to keeping your business innovative and efficient.
No. 6 — Don’t cut your marketing
(See No. 1) Often, you can ask for price breaks from vendors and find other ways to save, but accessibility and visibility are both important for long-term growth. Marketing often seems less than sexy in the accounting industry, make sure you’re looking at all your grassroots opportunities to reach customers. This strategy often requires more of a time investment than anything else so plan accordingly (see retraining your staff).
No. 7 — Renegotiate bills and contracts
It cannot hurt to ask. I call our cable service provider pretty much every year and ask for the costs to be reviewed. If they offer the service at a lower rate to new customers why can’t loyal customers benefit from the same rate? I always get it reduced. Do not be afraid to call vendors and ask to renegotiate contracts. Often a renegotiation that saves the business for them is worth it.
No. 8 — Leverage bulk buys and discounts
This can be time-consuming but most software vendors offer pricing discounts at certain tiers for numbers of users or pre-payment for months of service. This can require careful planning and a full tech stack review, so leverage your IT team to help and make sure you’re not paying for licenses you don’t need at the same time.
No. 9 — Manage your client list
It can be tempting when we feel finances squeeze to say yes to every new engagement that comes our way. But keep in mind you need the resources still to manage all the new projects. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot, biting off more than you can chew and damaging your reputation in the process.
No. 10 — Innovate
Innovation is creating a better normal. Pivot now and thrive later. Give your business an honest overview and challenge assumptions that you may have. Just because something has worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work in the future. Look for ways you can better serve the community you are located in. How can you expand your accessibility without expanding your physical space? Consider asking your customers for feedback on how you can better serve them.