We’ve heard this before: the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global health and financial crisis that has caught many off guard. While the threats to human life are very real, the damage to the health of businesses is really just starting to show. In the coming weeks and months, many businesses will be in a fight for financial survival.

The seriousness of the disease and the lack of a vaccine (at the time of writing this) have prompted governments around the world to impose strict measures to contain the virus. These restrictions in people’s movements and the temporary lockdown of non-essential services have definitely taken a toll on businesses and families across the country.

While there has been a lot of talk on how to avoid contracting the virus and how businesses can operate safely to adapt to the current conditions, this article will focus on helping you manage the financial survival aspects of your business during COVID-19. Read on for our tips on cushioning the impact on your business.

Update Your Financial Records.

The first step in planning your financial survival in such a difficult environment is getting a crystal clear and up to date understanding of the financial position of your business. This means updating your financial records and keeping them in order as frequently as possible. Knowing things such as your cash position and assets that can be sold quickly will go a long way in helping you make informed business decisions. Good records build a solid foundation for a successful business. They’re also really important when applying for loans or government grants, subsidies and assistance.

Examine the Financial Health of Your Business.

Following on from the first item, it is important to get a good grasp of your business’ current financial health through a careful analysis of your books and statements. By looking at key financial figures, you will get an idea of how your business is doing. You can see fundamental factors such as the liquidity and solvency of your business which will help you decide on the best steps forward as you deal with the crisis and the aftermath. Chat to us for help with these financial pieces.

Improve your Cashflow.

A lot of businesses across the country are facing cash flow problems at the moment. If you are one of them, you’re certainly not alone. However, the key here is not letting the problem worsen or become unmanageable.

Preparing a cashflow forecast should give you some forewarning before issues even arise and will allow you to address them early on. By quantifying your forward bookings, forward orders, and work in progress, you will get to identify future cash flow and plan accordingly.

You can also take the following measures to boost your cash flow:

  • Identifying the demand for your products or services, so you’ll know where to focus on and where you can reduce stock orders
  • Cutting back on unnecessary expenses
  • Urging your debtors to pay you, negotiating on a payment scheme that will work for both of you
  • Seeking payment extensions or debt re-structuring
  • Invoicing as soon as you deliver the product or service
  • Seeking external investors or lenders
  • Taking advantage of financial support from your government

Increase Online Sales Where Possible.

With the government implementing stricter restrictions to prevent the further spread of the virus, you should find ways to move your products and services online – if you can – and continue to serve existing and new clients. The situation that we are in is forcing business owners to re-imagine their business and re-evaluate their business models. You’ve got to adapt and be resilient. It’s those businesses that will survive.

Survive 2020 by Managing Your Financials

It’s safe to say not many of us factored a global pandemic into our 2020 business plans. Although there is no foolproof strategy to get through what’s proving to be a turbulent 2020, the tips for financial survival shared here should be able to give you some guidance on minimising the risks to your small business.

Want some more help? Our team of advisors love to help businesses. We’ll help you develop a plan to weather the headwinds of the coming months, while saving you time and money along the way. Contact us today and we’ll work through it together.

An eco-friendly business offers plenty of advantages: lower costs, increased profitability, marketing opportunities and the biggest one of all, a better environment for everyone.

Long gone are the days when businesses who actively chose recycled photocopy paper were ‘different.’ Today’s businesses are striving to become greener, and they are proud to show it. We take a look at some of the ways you can do to also become an eco-friendly business.

What is an Eco-Friendly Business?

An environmentally sustainable or eco-friendly business is one which focuses on using resources more efficiently and reduces waste. Often a business is seen as being green if it sells products made from recycled materials. But there’s more too it that simply the products they sell. Every business can improve their level of eco-friendliness regardless of what they sell or where they are located.

Like with everything, going green is something best done from a place where you know where everything stands. This requires you to identify what your business’ current environmental practices are, such as:

  • waste – what is recycled, reused, composted or sent to the landfill?
  • consumables – how many do you use, can you reduce their usage, is there a better viable option?
  • workplace – what strategies are in place to reduce waste, electricity and water usage?
  • promotion – how are eco-friendly practices encouraged by your team members? Does this work? Where are the areas for improvement?
  • policies – are there any workplace or business policies in place regarding being a green business? Do they need revision?

Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, you can begin making real changes.

Easy Ways to Operate an Eco-Friendly Business

Keeping in mind the areas you’ve identified where you can improve your business’ eco-friendly practices, consider which ones of these suggestions would fit:

  • use natural light where possible – not only does is save electricity usage, and therefore save you money, but natural light is also kinder on our eyes. Position desks and workstations near windows.
  • go paperless – invest in some cloud storage to keep your documents in rather than printing out and putting in a filing cabinet. This also refers to invoices, where Xero for instance, can invoice digitally.
  • work from home – thanks to COVID-19, many businesses had their employees working from home where possible. Why not continue this trend at least part time, cutting down on commutes and resources used to get to work.
  • meet digitally – virtual meetings have been around for a while but are on the increase. Instead of driving to meet at someone’s office, meet digitally instead.
  • choose reusable products – single use products are costly in resources and price. Invest in reusable products such as mugs, refillable hand sanitiser containers and printer inks.
  • buy sustainable – this means identifying suppliers which are committed to practicing sustainability and using their products or services.

Here at MBP Advisors + Accountants, we strongly believe we are an eco-friendly business, we even won the ICNZB Award for Most Sustainable Bookkeeping Business in New Zealand. . That’s because we are dedicated to being paperless, efficient and environmentally conscious. We plant a tree for every single ream of paper we use and we actively fund environmental initiatives in our local communities. However, we’re always looking for ways we can do better. We’d be keen on learning what your business does too, so let us know in the comments below.

We started 2020 with optimism and hope that this year was going to be better than the last. Then, COVID-19 happened and brought sudden massive changes worldwide. Businesses worldwide have been forced to look for ways to boost sales in during a global pandemic and regional lockdowns.

It has disrupted the way we interact, shop, work, and transact. Businesses of all sizes have been plunged into darkness, with some even having to shut completely Meanwhile, others managed to find dynamic solutions to shelter their businesses from the harsh impacts of the pandemic, including reimagining their products and services, marketing tactics, and delivery methods.

In this article, we put a spotlight on the most creative and innovative ways that small businesses have adopted to increase sales during the pandemic and prosper in the new business environment.

Businesses Migrate Online

Lockdowns and temporary business closures led to a sudden boost in online sales. In fact, the stocks of ecommerce companies such as eBay, Wayfair, and Shopify have risen in recent months.

If your business operations heavily rely on face-to-face customer interaction in a brick-and-mortar store, you might need to pivot by migrating online or solidifying your existing ecommerce presence.

This is what some small breweries in Ireland have done to reshape their service delivery and stay relevant amid the mandatory venue shutdowns. They have collaborated to establish an online shop of craft beers that are delivered to their customers’ doorstep. By teaming up, they were able to cut down the cost of setting up the site and increase profits through non-contact sales.

Sell Education Online

Due to travel and social restrictions, people have been forced to stay at home for extended periods of time. To fight boredom, many have resorted to online learning platforms.

Yoga and gym instructors are also pivoting online by offering fitness programs or courses. The brilliance of this strategy is that it provides a passive income stream because you can market existing content and profit from it. Alternatively, other fitness gurus offer live sessions that customers can subscribe to.

Tap Into Email Marketing

The majority of business owners have an email address and most check their inbox every day. This makes it a good communication channel to reach out to your potential or existing customers. Whether your approach is to provide topic-focused informative content or a sales pitch, email marketing is a strategy that you need to consider to boost your brand awareness.

A US-based photography company has ramped up its email marketing campaigns, with content ranging from discounts and free giveaways to sales announcements and online contests. As a means to improve targeting, they have segmented each type of content to get the maximum conversion for each sector in their audience.

Host Online Webinars

Because large, in-person gatherings are on hold for the time being to prevent spreading the coronavirus, many have shifted to social media live streams and webinars.

You don’t need to be a keynote speaker or polished presenter to host such online events and drive profit. You can showcase your expertise through ticketed webinars and online workshops that can help your customers improve their skills or knowledge relevant to your industry.

An email marketing and sales platform company further expanded its catalog of webinars amid the pandemic to share more actionable insights and valuable tools for small businesses. Through this strategy, it has witnessed increased brand awareness and online sales.

Explore Video Marketing

Many consumers are more visually inclined, which makes video an effective format to attract customer attention. According to a Hubspot report, 80% of marketers claim that videos have directly increased their sales. So while most of your customers are in lockdown mode, video marketing is definitely worth considering.

A digital transformation agency has mastered the use of video on its website and social media accounts to boost consumer trust and keep people longer on the site. By turning its site into an immersive video experience, the company was able to engage people and establish its brand as a leader in the industry. You can also adopt a similar strategy and use video content as a persuasive tool for consumers who are in the research phase, as many people prefer watching instead of reading about products and services.

You can check out Loom.com which has a great free plan to get you started.

Keep Pushing Sales Boundaries!

These are tough times for many. Yet, we hope that sharing these successful ideas will bring some positivity and inspire you to get back to the drawing board to find new ways to keep the sales going during these trialing times.

Wondering how you can transform your business? Reach out to us for information on how we can help you with a new strategy or learn more about our solutions.

Creating a content strategy for your business to use on its website and social media, gives your brand much needed consistency. A high level of consistency will positively grow your brand’s image. A positive brand image will build loyalty among your followers. Loyal brand followers will not only support your business but make those very important words of mouth recommendations for your business.

Do you see where we’re going with this?

Today we’re going to walk you through understanding what a content strategy is and why it’s important, plus how to create a kick-ass one for your business.

What is a Content Strategy?

A clearly defined content strategy defines what the world, or your target market, sees of and about your business. It’s a set of standards which define your business’ branding, including the obvious logo and colours, as well as messages and writing style.

An effective content strategy will be a living document. It will evolve as your business does, adapting to changes when you make them. At the minimum, it’s a good idea to review it every 6-12 months.

Inside your strategy document, you’ll find specific details on your:

  1. target audience
  2. writing style, including language, grammar and punctuation
  3. tone and voice
  4. competitors
  5. images, fonts and colours
  6. types of content

We’ll discuss more on what’s included in your content strategy shortly, but for now, let’s take a look at the reasons it’s important to have one.

Why Your Business Needs a Content Strategy

If you’re on the fence about whether it’s worth the time to develop a strategy for your business’ website and social media content, then this is for you. We strongly believe that a business with a strong brand presence doesn’t happen by magic. It takes hard work to maintain a consistent face to your audience, but one which is made easier with a content guide.

Creating a content strategy will help:

  • create a consistent message – consistency helps grow trust with your audience, building positive relationships. This consistency will be seen not only on your website and in your social media posts, but also in your newsletters and in printed media.
  • help your team – if you are a relatively new sole trader, chances are that you are doing everything yourself, making keeping things the same easy. But as you grow, outsourcing parts of your content is most likely going to happen. Whether you hire a copywriter for your blogs or someone to create social media posts, if they don’t know what your content style is, they can’t replicate it.
  • helps your target audience – if your brand image and wording stays the same, people will instantly recognise your business’ work. People like things to remain the same, and when you’ve gone to the effort of tailoring your brand to suit your audience, why keep changing it?
  • make your content better – if you know how to communicate with your audience, then you’ll get very experienced in creating content just for them. Practice makes perfect after all.

Ready to get on and develop one for your business? Well, next on today’s agenda, we’ll cover how to create a content guide for your business.

Creating a Business Content Strategy Guide

We’ve explained the benefits of developing a content guide and touched on what you’d expect to find inside one. So, it is time we looked at each aspect in detail and walked you through how to create your own content strategy.

As mentioned above, there are six different types of things you’d expect to see inside a strategy guide:

1. Target Audience

Also known as your buyer persona, this area will clearly state who your target audience is. This will include information about their demographics, problems and interests. You’ll also list their likes and dislikes, income and where they’ll find and follow your brand. What they find important about your business, the benefits they’ll receive from your business, their pain points and their values.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to nail out your target audience. Start by describing your ideal customer in words or/and images if that helps. List their characteristics and the benefits they’d personally receive from your business.

2. Writing Style, Including Language, Grammar and Punctuation

Will you write using formal language or slang? Are bullet points okay? What about quotes? Will you use emojis, paragraphs and words in foreign languages? Knowing what your writing style is will ensure that not only do your words remain similar, but so does your use of commas, hyphens, lists, bold and italic text. All these things ensure consistency remains in your messages with your audience.

Chances are you’ve already got an understanding of your writing style, and most likely it is something you already do naturally in your communications. After all, in the early stages, you are your brand. Make a list of the words you want to use and describe what your content will look like on the page.

3. Tone and Voice

The voice of your brand needs to sound the same no matter when it is used. Your audience needs to think that they are hearing from the same person every time they see your brand. This includes text within your website, email communications and social media. A brand voice is like a person, so you can give it attributes such as being friendly, kind and approachable. Your tone are the emotions or feelings someone gets when reading your text and what they will believe your business represents.

Make a list of words that people will believe your brand is (creative, religious etc) for the voice, and for the tone, how they’ll think you are (clever, caring or smart etc) to help you with this one.

4. Competitors

Here you’ll list your main competitors, what their marketing strategies are, their top selling products or services and what their brand demonstrates to their audience. You want to be 100% certain about how your competitors present themselves so that you don’t copy them. Yes, that is right – don’t copy them! You want to stand out from your competitors, not look and sound the same as them.

Spend time researching where they advertise, the types of engagement they receive and where their content is found.

5. Images, Fonts and Colours

Here it’s all about your visual brand. Your logo, the colours you use, the shapes and fonts of your brand. To create this, you could copy and paste from your brand guide if you’ve got one. Or simply list the different aspects within this section of your content strategy guide.

6. Types of Content

For this, you’ll want to write down the types of content that you want your brand to share. Will it be content your suppliers have created, or 100% original works written by you? Are you going to write blogs or case studies and how often will they be added to your website? Will you link to other businesses with complimentary offerings? Then there needs to be a list of the types of content your business will never discuss, share or link to. Once again, a list will suffice here, as will specific examples of the types of approved and unapproved content other businesses may have created.

 

By now you should be ready to get cracking on creating a content strategy for your business. Remember this is just one specific task which can help propel your business.  Our business development services can provide the additional support and advice you’ll need on growing your business. Get in touch with the team at MBP today and together we’ll get your business moving forward to where you want it to be.

If you’ve been to one of our business development events before, you’ll likely be familiar with the bucket analogy we often use. Put very simply, your business is like a bucket with holes in it: when you earn money, the bucket fills up. Running costs such as direct costs (COGS) and business expenses create holes, causing the bucket to empty. You need to keep the bucket filling fast enough so it doesn’t completely empty out, or you need to reduce the number of holes in the bucket. Some business expenses (holes) are mandatory, you can’t run your business without them. Others are controllable – and you can reduce the amount of money leaking out by managing these costs better.

It’s important to understand the different types of overheads, in order to know which ones you can control, and therefore manage better to keep your bucket fuller. Most people you speak to will tell you there are two types of overheads: Fixed and Variable. But I propose that a third type exists, the Optional ones – and my advice below is based on these 3 categories…

First, let’s clarify what a business expense is: Business expenses (also known as overheads) are indirect costs that don’t directly relate to the product or service you provide, but they do support your activity. For example, direct labor and materials wouldn’t be considered overheads but things like office rental and stationery would be.

Now let’s look at the different types:

Fixed Business Expenses

As the name implies, fixed overheads don’t change. They’re the non-negotiables you must incur in order to stay in business and they aren’t overly affected by changes in activity. Common examples include rent, insurance, phone, petrol, etc. Most fixed overheads don’t fluctuate all that much from year-to-year either, so the best indicator of what you can expect for the year ahead is to look at what you paid the previous year.

Working out your total fixed overheads for the year is a pretty quick calculation, but the trick to keep your head above the water and ensure you earn enough to cover your fixed overheads is to divide up the total amount by 11 months instead of 12. Why? Working on an 11 month year allows for the seasonal effects of Christmas/NY and Easter when you’re typically a lot quieter and work is hard to come by. After you’ve done that calculation, you then know how much Gross Profit you need to earn each month to cover your fixed overheads.

Variable Business Expenses

Variable overheads are the ones that do change month-to-month, reflecting changes in output. A few examples include advertising, sales activity, gear for the staff, etc. While they are variable, and you can’t strictly control them that much, you’ll generally know enough to be able to budget fairly accurately if you look at your previous year – and this will help inform your decisions re optional overhead spend.

To work out variable overheads, again do the 11-month calculation and then add this amount to the Gross Profit figure you need to earn each month.

Optional Business Expenses

This is where things get interesting and the bit I really want to talk about because these are the overheads you have the most control over. They’re the overheads you don’t need to spend to keep your business running, but they’re things you want to do.

Without question, you can always spend more money in your business – new carpet for the office, a better website, replacement tools for the staff, another office support person, health and safety improvements, business mentoring and coaching… There is literally no end to how much money you could spend.

But there aren’t endless jobs, nor endless amounts of time to do those jobs, which means there isn’t endless money to pay for these overheads either. So what do you do?

You have to budget. Make a wish list. Prioritise the things you really want to do and work these into your budget. The combined total of your fixed, variable and optional overheads must be covered by Gross Profit. So you have to realistically work out how much Gross Profit you can earn each month, then deduct the amount you need to spend on Fixed and Variable Overheads. Whatever’s left – if anything – is what you have available to spend on your Optional overheads. Or you could keep it and help increase your Net Profit… the decision is yours.

And finally, whatever you do, don’t spend more on business expenses than what you’re earning in Gross Profit. Do that and you’ll be back looking for a new job within months.

Need Some Extra Guidance?

If you need some extra guidance or training on exactly what to look for, the team at MBP have a range of solutions to help. Our Financial Awareness Coaching can help you to develop the skill to manage your business finances like a pro. Also, keep an eye out on our Facebook page as we share updates on the timings for our Know Your Numbers and other key business education webinars.