5 Ways To Move Your Business Forward

5 Ways To Move Your Business Forward


Mon Jan 08 2018

The world of business in 2018 is set to be dominated by talk of everything from advances in technology and how we can maximise them, to the Brexit divorce deal and cyber-security.

For small businesses, these topics will of course be relevant, but they may be overshadowed by everyday questions. From cash flow, sales and staffing, to customer service, and how to maximise sales with the right payment acceptance solutions.

So, if you’re reading this in January, happy New Year and welcome to a hub of practical, empathetic advice aimed at helping you squeeze every possible efficiency and opportunity for growth from your business. Let’s start with five little things you can do straight away…

1. Find advice you can trust and don’t have to pay for

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a very small percentage of small businesses ask for advice even though most want or need it. That seems to be because they don’t know who to trust or how much advice will cost. Did you also know that a lot of business customers who decide to switch providers and partners do so because they’re not getting the service they want or expect?

Online retailer ProSwimwear recently told us why they switched to Barclaycard for their eCommerce payment solution. Hint: the saving of £24K in merchant fees over 12 months definitely sweetened the deal, but it wasn’t the initial driver for switching.

Look for a hub, like our News & Insights section, that brings together free advice on the issues that are relevant to you. For example, from here, you could go and find out about productivity from fellow entrepreneurs, why cash flow is more important than profit from Barclaycard experts, how to protect your business against cyber-attacks without spending a fortune and more. And the thing that ties all those things together? Business efficiency and growth.

2. Find cash flow-friendly ways to fund growth/diversification

Growth might not be top of your business agenda right now, but funding diversification, efficiency and growth are all rooted in the same thing: cash flow. And it’s notoriously something small businesses can struggle with in the start-up and scale-up phases1.

Healthy cash flow can open up a world of opportunity for investment in research and development, employee training, new product launches, upgraded payment technology, and much more.

Barclaycard customer Bombay Burrito recently used the Transfer to Bank facility to launch a new summer menu and keep their quiet season at bay. Owner Maria Savage explains:

“We sell hot curry wraps near to a university. It means summer is our off-season – with students back home and people who are around opting for lighter lunches. To combat this we really wanted to launch a summer menu but had no spare cash to get it off the ideas table and into the restaurant.

“When we got a flyer through about Barclaycard’s Transfer to Bank facility, we successfully applied to transfer £3000 of the credit limit on our Barclaycard Business Card into our Barclays Business bank account as cash. We used this cash flow boost to print new leaflets, pay additional staff to distribute these and to work in the restaurant itself.

“We repaid the money within three months, so we didn’t have to pay any interest. It was the perfect option for us; it meant we didn’t have to wait until October to launch a summer menu! It gave us the breathing space we needed to take positive action for the business and develop new revenue streams - while meeting our overheads and keeping the lights on.”

For Bombay Burrito, the answer to boosting cash flow for business diversification came from a business credit card solution. See if this could work for you, too.

3. Check your merchant services fees – how much are you paying and what are you getting?

By simply calling up your payment provider and asking what your merchant fees are (or checking your contract), you could save money and get more. ProSwimwear switched to Barclaycard and saved £24K over 12 months. But more than that, do you know what you’re getting for those fees? Do you get:

  • Expert, empathetic support?
  • Help to change solutions or implement add-ons so your payment solution helps your business to diversify to other channels and/or grow?
  • Added cyber-security protection as part of the package?
  • Real-time payments information?
  • Comprehensive reporting for easier online business management?

Just as you might not look into switching your energy supplier for your home because there are a million and one other things to do, you might not realise how easy it is to find out what you’re getting for your money from your payment partner.

4. Build cyber-security into everyday actions to construct a secure business as you grow

Sam Nixon, Product Lead at Hacksy, an online cyber-security assistant for businesses, recently shared steps to help shield your business from cyber-attacks.

One of those steps is to build cyber-security in as early on in your business development as possible, so you can avoid potentially costly retrofitted solutions in the future. So that’s taking action to ensure that you are thinking about cyber-security alongside every business decision, from launching a new website, to how you manage till receipts, to marketing activity.

It’s also about understanding that cyber-security is everybody’s responsibility. For example, as you grow and take on staff, make it mandatory for everyone to use password managers. These are tools which generate complex passwords and store them in an encrypted database so people can use strong passwords without fear of forgetting them.

5. Take advantage of business offers and rewards

Lots of companies work really hard to support small businesses by adding great rewards onto products and services. After all, small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy. According to the fsb2,  the number of smaller UK businesses has hit a record 5.7million, nearly 200,000 more than a year ago. It also stated that small firms account for 99.3% of private sector companies, employing 16.1million staff.

So it’s worth keeping an eye out for business rewards from your partners and providers. They can help with things like cash rebates on essential business purchases, like stationary, as well as percentage discounts on things like travel, parking, and membership to small business communities and forums.

Sources

1 http://smallbusiness.co.uk/business-failure-four-ten-small-companies-dont-make-five-years-2533988/ (Aug 2016) 
2 http://www.fsb.org.uk/media-centre/small-business-statistics 

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