There may be fewer fireworks, but the new financial year still presents exciting opportunities for your small business.
Taking time to think about the position of your business and the areas you’d like to focus on will help you prioritise and plan for the year ahead.
Here are 6 things you can do to help you and your business to thrive in 2022–23.
1. New financial year, new you – revitalise your business plan
Having a business plan that you review regularly is one of the most important things you can do to keep your business on track. And now is the perfect time to get yours up to date.
A good plan is like a handrail – it guides you along and can offer support when unexpected bumps come along. Plans don’t prevent unexpected things from happening and (sadly) none of us can predict the future, so plan ahead to avoid or minimise any risks.
Set some time aside to read through your business plan.
When did you write it?
How has your business changed?
How have you changed?
Work through the plan and update the different sections as you go. If you don’t already have a business plan or are writing one for the first time, Business Victoria’s How to write a business plan guide is just what you need.
Here are some things to consider while you’re updating your plan:
- Check that your vision statement still reflects your business’s position. Your vision statement should state where your business is now and where you want to be, and your priorities or goals may have changed since you wrote it.
- Run a new SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. It’s likely that these will change over time. As you learn more about your business and gain more experience, your approach to dealing with them will change too.
- Write an action plan for the year ahead. You can use this one-page action plan template to get started.
- List 3 things in your business you want to work on over the next 12 months. They could be opportunities or weaknesses you’ve identified during your review.
- For each, list the most important actions you can take to help you achieve your goal.
- Set an achievable timeframe and put some dates in your calendar to come back and review your progress.
- Consider talking to a business adviser. Business advisers can help you plan for the future and identify opportunities for growth and support.
For more help in planning your year ahead, Business Victoria’s free Business Planning Tool offers a whole range of information, resources and tools for every stage of your business journey. You can even find opportunities to build new skills.
2. Make sure your financial plans match your business plans
Now that your business plan is nice and shiny, it’s time to make sure your financial plan looks just as good.
After you’ve updated your business plan, set time aside to prepare a budget for the year ahead and review your financial strategy. Making sure your business planning and financial planning are aligned is essential for reaching your goals and building your business.
Now it’s time to organise your financial tasks for the coming 12 months.
- Different tasks need to happen at different points during the year. Use Business Victoria’s month-by-month financial calendar to make sure things get done in time, and that important parts of your financial planning aren’t forgotten.
- Work through your financial tasks for July and beyond. July’s financial planning calendar provides information to set your business up for the financial year, focusing on business planning and preparing a budget, cash flow and staff performance.
- Set time aside each month to complete some ongoing tasks. Put some time in your calendar and work through this helpful list of regular financial tasks that you can dedicate time to each week or month that will make your life easier at tax time.
3. Give your website a whole new lease on life
An online presence is a key part of any small business – in fact, it can be your best salesperson. Whether you’re selling goods or services, attracting and connecting with clients or providing important information about your business, a strong website makes a big difference.
Here are some things to think about:
- Make sure all your website-related information is in one place and up to date. This could include information about your web hosting and domain names (including contact details for tech support and billing information).
- Check who has access to your accounts, and set reminders to update your passwords regularly.
- Review the contact information on your website. Make sure your phone numbers, email addresses, social media accounts and opening hours are all correct.
- Make sure any information about your products and services is up to date. If you list prices, make sure they’re current.
- Think about the ‘look and feel’. Once your information and details are good to go, think about the website overall. You could consider refreshing things like your biography or ‘about us’ section; adding new photos or videos; updating the website’s style or adding new testimonials from satisfied clients and customers.
- Ensure that your social media channels reflect the updates to your website, whether it be a change in branding or information. You can read more about social media resolutions in the next section.
Business Victoria has a guide with 10 tips to make your small business website a success.
While you’re at it, you can also familiarise yourself with the new ‘.au’ domain names that may be available for your business.
Once your website is up to date, do the same for your Google Business Profile. Keeping your profile up to date will help you be found in local searchers and ensure that customer can connect with your business.
Check your listing and make sure the information is complete and correct. Be sure to check:
- your opening hours
- phone number
- business type
- links to other information, such as menus
Once your Google profile is up to date, make sure you have a plan to respond to feedback or reviews. This can be a great way to show current or future customers that you genuinely care about their experience.
4. Spice up your social media profile
Get your social media ready for a strong year by taking some time to refresh your accounts and think about your content.
To start things off, make a list of the platforms you’re currently using. Visit each of them.
Are the details up to date? Is there information you could add? How frequently can you change the photos for a bright new look?
Things to check include:
- contact information
- bios or ‘about’ sections that describe your business
- profile and cover photos
- your business logo
- any videos you feature (to make sure they’re still relevant)
Once your accounts are up to date, you can start thinking about refreshing the content you post to them.
To help you think of new content ideas that will hit the spot with your audience, try these 7 undercover ways to find fresh new content ideas from a leading content strategist.
Another way to switch up your social media this year is through influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is a form of word-of-mouth advertising that relies on engaging people with large followings to refer their audience to your business … and it’s a strategy that can work for businesses of any size. Read the ultimate small business guide to influencer marketing and get started today.
Once you’ve got great ideas for what to post, you need to plan when you’ll be posting – and where.
It’s always good to coordinate things like social media posts, posts on your website and emails to your customers so that you get the best bang for your buck.
A content plan lets you organise when things will go live and helps you identify good opportunities to post things – such as to coincide with a sale, a special event or a new product.
Planning things out takes away the day-to-day stress of thinking about what to post and will make it easier to keep your accounts active, without taking up too much of your time.
Business Victoria offers a free content marketing plan template, and this list from Hubspot offers a range of free and paid options for tools you can use to keep on top of things.
5. Find new ways to expand your networks
‘Networking’ may be one of those words that send shivers up your spine, with mental images of awkward conversations and handing out business cards. But in reality, they’re very different – and can be a great benefit to you, and your business.
Not all networking has to be done in person. There are great online and virtual options you can try, as well as face-to-face opportunities.
At its core, networking is all about building relationships with people in your industry or with other areas of common ground, and these relationships can be a great way to get new ideas, share your insights and find support.
Where to find networking opportunities
Your local area
Try searching for virtual or in-person business networking events in your area or within your industry. Some good event websites include options like Eventbrite, TryBooking or MeetUp.
You can also speak to your local council about local networks and events.
Chambers of commerce
You can often find networking events and other opportunities to connect with other business owners through a chamber of commerce or an industry association.
Chambers of commerce exist at local levels, as well as state, federal and international – so search for some options that are relevant to your location, business and industry. You can also ask other business owners or contacts if they have any suggestions.
Most industries in Australia are represented by industry associations, who can provide valuable support and guidance to businesses, as well as opportunities to connect with others. Search online for industry associations relevant to your business and find out about the free and paid opportunities they offer, and what events they have coming up.
Face-to-face isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t always possible – especially with people who live interstate or overseas.
Social media groups also offer great opportunities to network with other small business owners.
- Business Victoria’s Facebook group ‘I am a business owner in Victoria, Australia’ is an important networking community with over 28,000 members.Joining the group is a great way to get support from the Victorian business community. You can share your own insights and gain tips and advice from your peers.
- Search for other groups that may be of interest to you – some may be based around your local area, while some industry-focused groups could have members from across Australia or around the world.
- Connecting directly with businesses and business owners or leaders using social media can be very effective.Search your social media channels for accounts and people you like or admire. Like and follow their channels, see what content they post and engage with likes and comments. (You’ll also pick up some great social media marketing ideas along the way!)
If you’d like to connect with them directly, reach out via a direct message or email to introduce yourself and your business. Let them know what you admire about their work – a compliment always makes for a good introduction.
- LinkedIn is a particularly good social media channel for networking. Being active on LinkedIn can have benefits for you and your business in many ways. In addition to building your own network, you can use LinkedIn to connect with customers, establish and build your personal brand and learn from other business leaders.
6. Make time to look after yourself … and the wellbeing of your business
You’re the most important part of your small business, so it’s important to take time to look after yourself.
Investing some time in ourselves helps us stay mentally and physically healthier and it’s good to make this a regular part of your day – rather than a luxury.
Here are some simple things you can do to look after yourself:
- exercise regularly, even for short periods a few times a week
- find time to do positive things for yourself that you enjoy
- spend time with the people you find most supportive – use the tip above to build your professional networks
- eat well and have a good sleep routine
- take breaks during the workday that also involve some time away from technology
- try short but regular deep breathing and/or brief mindfulness exercises
- make a list to prioritise your tasks for the day
- schedule or prioritise tasks for times of the day when you focus best
There is also a wide range of services and resources available to support you.
- Business Victoria is supporting small business owners, their employees and trusted advisers with helpful tools and services through Headway – the small business wellbeing initiative.
- If you’re a small business owner or employee, the Partners in Wellbeing Helpline provides free and confidential support from trained wellbeing coaches, financial counsellors and business advisers.
- You can also register for Mindarma, a free digital wellbeing tool designed to help people grow skills to protect their mental health and build resilience. It’s developed by leading researchers and supported by the Black Dog Institute.
- Creating a safe and mentally healthy workplace helps you and your employees. The WorkWell Toolkit provides you with step-by-step advice and easy to use resources to put this into practice.
- Business Victoria’s Workplace Wellbeing hub has more information on these services and is a one-stop place for information and resources about wellbeing and mental health for business owners, employees, advisers and supporters.
- Productivity by Business Victoria.
This article was written by Business Victoria.