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Business sustainability in uncertain times


"Focus on becoming sustainable through a period of uncertain weakness, and building flexibility to respond quickly when your particular sustained upturn comes along."  Tony Alexander, Former BNZ cheif economist.  Tony's view 16 April 2020.

For business owners, it is hard to predict when things will return to normal.  Even when lockdown measures ease, there is still a huge amount of uncertainty about then customers will come back and if the marketplace will still support your business.

Many businesses are wondering if they will be able to recover.  The anxiety driven by so much personal and professional uncertainty is still very real.

There have been some unexpected positives.  For many it is a renewed appreciation of our families, friends and colleagues, and a lot of creative baking, more exercise!  But also, perhaps, a renewed confidence in their business and their people.

They are deeply appreciative of how their teams and business contacts have adapted.  This flexibility might be critical as we continue to adapt to a succession of new normals.  Some businesses will be scrambling just to reopen.  Others may see a need to restructure or to extend those elements that worked well for them during the crisis.

Businesses already functioning well with cloud software have found the transition to working remotely reasonably smooth.  Some that were partially operating in the cloud were able to complete the leap with some dedicated IT support (with varying combinations of long hours, and Tim Tams).

What could your business look like from here?

Even as a stand-alone business, you are already part of a network of suppliers, customers, business advisors, and regulators who are increasingly operating online.  Can you streamline your setup for smoother, secure online interaction with them?

Can you streamline?

For example, is your paperwork still largely that? Paper?  Do you lose time to manual coding, data entry and filing?  Has your annual accounts cycle started each year with dropping into us with the proverbial shoebox full of statements, invoices and receipts?  Moving them to electronic format might save time and money.

Products such as ReceiptBank and Hubdoc can help.  They extract the key information and present it in a manageable format for downloading or processing with a connected accounting software.

Places to start:

  • if your suppliers send you hard copy invoices and receipts, ask them to email them
  • add a cheap scanner to your office setup
  • take photos of receipts on your phone or digital camera and save the files

Click and collect?

Not all businesses are suited to online trading, but many have surprised themselves with how they could adapt to this model.  Even businesses which traditionally only work face-to-face have seen opportunities to shift essential products to click and collect or delivery models.

Our Recommendation

After so many years as a business owner trying to get your head out of the clouds, maybe this is the perfect time to put it back there.

As with all business decisions, consider the risks and talk to us about how it will work for you.  We are here to help you assess the easiest but also the most secure options for your business.

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