5 business resolutions for the New Year

happy_new_year_fireworksEach year, we all make New Year's resolutions we hope to keep, from weight loss plans to savings goals - but how about business resolutions to help you maintain cash flow and boost productivity? With that in mind, here are five resolutions to kick off 2013.

I will... invigorate my business plan

At the beginning of each year, take the time to review and redevelop your business to ensure that the goals are still relevant and that you have adequate financing and timelines to achieve those goals.

According to Business Victoria, established businesses should update their plan regularly to provide direction for growth. Whether it's updating your firm's 'elevator pitch', company vision, product line, competitive advantage or marketing strategy, you should always have actionable and realistic milestones.

Read more on writing a business plan  and five fatal planning mistakes.

I will... reduce the risk of 'bad' customers

Before extending credit to a potential customer, you should always get in the habit of vetting their credentials to verify that they're who they say they are and not, for instance, a fraudulent or previously bankrupt company. Taking on such a 'bad' customer  can pose significant risk to your business as it may mean they are unable to pay you on time or at all. You can reduce your risk by obtaining credit reports through an independent agency or by speaking with industry contacts.

Also read: Effective risk mitigation for SMEs .

I will... reduce my risk of bad debt

Start off the New Year right by vowing to prevent debt write-offs in 2013, as unpaid invoices  can hurt your business cash flow. Apart from lowering your risk of taking on bad customers, you can also consider instituting upfront payment policies or instalment payments to provide incentives for paying on time.

You should also ensure your payment terms are clearly communicated to customers and that they know of the consequences should they fail to pay.

I will... trim excess fat to keep expenses within my budget

Cost cutting is never an enjoyable task, but if you ended the year over budget and are being forced to cut into this year's budget, consider these four areas  your business can reduce expenses and some of the most common budgeting mistakes firms make.

I will... improve my bookkeeping practices

Last but not least, take the relatively quiet month of January - when your customers are still on holiday - to streamline your bookkeeping practices, which will make your life easier come tax time. Some tips you can consider? Taking your accounting to the cloud, improving your record keeping, changing your accounting software or outsourcing your bookkeeping functions, where necessary.

By resolving to tackle these various areas and looking for ways to improve efficiency in your business, you are setting yourself up for a prosperous and productive 2013.

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