marketing planning meeting

Positioning products with risk in mind

Less splurging more sharing

Understanding current attitudes to risk will help you to position your products perfectly.

The pandemic has swept in a wave of caution and altered what we see as safe or risky, not just for our health, but also for our finances.

For many customers, certain investments and purchases are just not as attractive when the fluctuating economy translates to low job security. The end result? People are saving more and splurging less.

The drive to save more means we may see much more conservative spending patterns for a while yet, with less disposable income around for non-essential products. While this doesn’t spell the end of luxury brands, it does increase the desirability of affordable luxuries.

Funding what we need in a less risky way

In tough times, it’s wise to be wary about increasing liabilities. The reduced appetite for risk means that many businesses are rightly cautious about extending debt. Increasingly though, small businesses will look to establish new ventures and finance new purchases in a lean way and with lower debt.

For customers, the ongoing popularity of buy-now-pay-later services is allowing them to purchase conservatively and spread the outward flow of cash to suit their budget. A big rise in the uptake of subscription services is another way customers are reducing the upfront spend on the goods they want.

This trend towards conservative spending and innovative financing means that it’s more important than ever to think about how your products and services are positioned, and examine flexible and affordable ways for your customers to buy them.

Consider your customer

  • How can you help your customer make purchases at lower risk or lower cost?
  • If your customers feel the need for austerity, are your products best positioned as essentials or luxuries?
  • Could your products or services be discounted as packages that are bundled or shared between couples or families?

Consider your business

  • Could you combat low spending by partnering with other businesses to reach different customers?
  • How can you fund new activities and investments in a leaner, more flexible way?
  • Would shared models of asset ownership work for your business rather than automatically making new capital purchases the default option?

Tips

  • Review your business lending and investment arrangements with an eye to risk, and seek professional advice about any changes you need to make.
  • Aim for lean, low-cost methods of financing any new business activities: run a trial before committing big money towards new ideas.
  • Consider how your brand is best positioned in the spectrum between necessity and luxury.
  • Investigate offering customers flexible buy-now, pay-later payment options.

Notch Above Bookkeeping are Platinum Certified Xero bookkeepers and BAS Agents. We help small businesses across the east coast of Australia to prepare their BAS returns and streamline their bookkeeping processes, payroll and accounting records using cloud technology. Call us to find out how on 1300 015 130 today.

Source: Xero

#remotebusinessbookkeepers

#cloudbusinessbookkeeping

#xeroplatinumbookkeepers

masked grocery shopper

Understand customer mindset to respond to buying patterns

Volatile demand

Responding to fluctuating buying patterns all comes down to understanding customer mindset.

As the government restrictions to protect our health eventually ease, people will adapt to the changes at different speeds.

Those variations will, in turn, have big impacts on sales for small businesses.

For those supplying household basics, spikes of panic buying are still happening at times – and threaten to reemerge whenever lockdown restrictions return. In contrast, if you’re a small business owner helping people plan their international travel, things are likely to be quiet for some time to come.

When customers purchase can fluctuate and change at short notice, because planning horizons have shifted – all the more so while the risk of the crisis escalating again remains. Where once they might have scheduled a car service, beauty treatment or a B&B room weeks in advance, they now book only a few days out, due to shifting restrictions. For some businesses, like restaurants, it’s exactly the opposite, with limited spots being snapped up well in advance. It’s all part of the volatility of the times.

Experiencing recovery in different ways

As the recovery gathers pace, economic progress won’t always seem orderly, predictable or linear. In some small towns, for example, it may feel like not much has changed since before the pandemic. In cities, however, it may take longer for a new rhythm to become apparent, and this might change the forecasts you make for sales in different parts of the country.

On the international front, some countries aren’t likely to pass out of the pandemic crisis phase at the same rate as Australia, so supply shortages of foreign-sourced materials may continue even if our nation is thriving again.

Making your customers feel safe

You may notice in your own local community that people of different age groups choose to socially distance for longer than others. Older people, for example, may remain more cautious about gathering in large groups. If they’re a big part of your customer base, you might need to think about how to reach out to them.

Ultimately, we may hope that instances of panic buying and hoarding will disappear, but we can expect some levels of volatile and patchy demand to continue for small businesses for a while, as communities recover at different speeds.

That’s why it’s important to stay on top of what your customers need and how they’re changing their spending. Coping with volatility is much easier if you have up-to-date data and insights, and keep a close eye on changes you can see in your customers’ buying patterns.

Consider your customer

  • How will you monitor the volatility in your customer buying patterns and get access to more accurate demand data?
  • How can you create flexibility in your booking procedures to match the shorter horizons in customer forward planning?
  • If customer demand dips, can you try bundling some of your products with other complementary offerings, or find new referral partners and offer commissions?

Consider your business

  • How can you best respond to rapid rises in customer demand?
  • If customer demand falls, will you consider clearing stock, pivoting to new product lines, or diversifying your range to spread your risk?
  • If your production needs to fluctuate, could you reduce some fixed costs and make them variable?

Tips

  • Monitor customer demand changes frequently.
  • Minimise new overheads and examine ways to convert fixed costs to variable costs.
  • Develop plans to scale production up or down in quicker ways than you used to.
  • Shorten lead times for product development and production where you can.
  • Streamline order fulfilment in advance of customer demand surges to help get products out the door when sales shoot up.

Getting cash flow savvy

Cash flow management can seem somewhat elusive, and even impossible to forecast at the moment. But, with help from your bookkeeper, you need to make your best assumptions to work out on a weekly basis over the coming two or three months, how much cash is coming in, and how much cash will need to be paid out.

The Government’s stimulus has focused on assisting businesses with cash flow challenges get through the toughest times. But when JobKeeper and other stimuli end your business may require additional finance or significant changes to accommodate a reduced turnover and become cash flow positive. When you know you’ve got enough cash to keep going, you can then focus on longer-term plans.

Stay on top of your numbers with Xero’s short-term cash flow tool

If you’re using online accounting software like Xero, you’ll have access to features designed to provide the visibility and insights you need to manage your cash flow. Xero’s short- term cash flow tool visually projects your bank balance 30 days into the future, showing you the impact of existing bills and invoices if they’re paid on time. This not only provides clarity, but helps you work out which invoices you should follow up, and see how your cash flow will change if you pay a bill next week rather than this week.

Now more than ever, having financial visibility is key. The team at Notch Above Bookkeeping can be a helpful source of advice on your specific circumstances. Contact us on 1300 015 130.

Source: Xero

#remotebusinessbookkeepers

#cloudbusinessbookkeeping

#xeroplatinumbookkeepers

Distributed work

Changing how, when and where you work can free up time, deliver new talent and boost morale

The pandemic has been referred to as the world’s “greatest working-from-home experiment”.

For those of us with the means to do so, the sudden switch has spurred the speedy adoption of digital technologies, including cloud-based file storage, and workplace collaboration apps. These tools have turned living rooms into home offices almost overnight, as we learn how to be productive away from the workplace.

Conference calls on webcam give us a peek into the lives of our colleagues, and teams are trying new ways to stay connected online whilst working apart. For some small businesses and their staff, this rapid transition has proven challenging, while for others, it’s been a welcome change.

Embracing a flexible workforce

As restrictions slowly ease (or, in some cases, threaten to return), you might decide to keep some of that flexibility in place. Working remotely could prove to be more cost-effective and convenient and, importantly, your team may prefer this arrangement.

Staff may also find it much less stressful to balance their work and family commitments if they can work remotely, even if it’s only for part of the week. Allowing flexibility isn’t just a boost to morale; it’s a smart way to reduce unexpected leave, and send a clear signal of trust.

Finding new talent in new ways

Importantly, the distributed work trend is not only about where work is done, but also who does it. More businesses are embracing the growing network of freelancers and contractors, which provides hard-to-get niche skills plus flexible surge capacity, all without growing your headcount.

If you’re recruiting for your business, you’ll have a broader talent pool to hire from if remote working is an option. Highly specialised global talent becomes accessible online, bringing the benefits of national and international expertise to your workplace when you need it.

It’s the perfect time to embrace flexible working, along with the tools that make it so effective. The benefits extend from bringing you closer to your customers to helping you save on the cost of under-used office space and giving your team the gift of better work-life balance.

Consider your customer

If your customers change where they work, will their buying patterns change?

Can you help your customers who are working from home with training on in-home technologies, office set-up, or digital collaboration tools?

If your staff prefer to work different shifts remotely, or work in different Australian time zones, can you extend your hours of customer service availability?

Consider your business

As working patterns change, do your staff have to work from nine to five, or would shifting rosters and job sharing make more sense?

If you’ll have fewer staff onsite, can you repurpose your floor space with fewer work stations or more room for meetings, using a smaller footprint to save on leasing costs?

How can you improve your team structure and role descriptions in light of new working patterns?

Tips

  • Review the current balance of staff working onsite and remotely. Reach out, check what their preference is, and think through what is most productive for your business.
  • Update your technology to allow for effective work to happen away from the office.
  • Make sure IT systems and in-home devices used for work purposes are secure from cyber attack.
  • Before hiring new staff, consider whether freelance or contract options give more flexibility.

With a few handy tools in your arsenal, remote working can be transformed into a smooth and stress-free process for you and your team. Many apps from the Xero app marketplace are designed to do exactly that.

Notch Above Bookkeeping is a team of Platinum Certified Xero bookkeepers and BAS Agents. We help small business owners across Australia (especially medical specialists such as dentists, orthodontists, optometrists and anaesthetists) to prepare their BAS returns and streamline their bookkeeping processes, payroll and accounting records using cloud technology.

Call us to find out more about our Xero remote business bookkeeping on 1300 015 130 today.

Source: Xero

#remotebusinessbookkeepers

#cloudbusinessbookkeeping

#xeroplatinumbookkeepers

Xero Payroll

Future proof your small business with cloud technology

The next chapter for small business: How to thrive in a changed world

A couple of months ago, Xero introduced a study that they commissioned through Forrester Consulting.

The study explores the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and identifies some strategies that have proven successful in helping small businesses survive and even thrive.

Today, using the insights gained from this study, we want to take a closer look at how small businesses have weathered the storm brought about by the pandemic and how the behaviours of consumers have played a role in their response.

Consumer spending behaviours before, during and post COVID-19

Forrester Consulting asked more than 1,000 consumers about their spending behaviours before, during and post COVID-19 and uncovered three key findings:

  1. Consumers significantly reduced, or even stopped spending their money with small businesses altogether, since COVID-19 hit. But, they do expect to pick this up again once the situation improves.
  2. Although they are spending less overall, consumers have actually increased their spending through digital channels. Digital spending during COVID-19 has increased significantly across all product categories that were surveyed, including goods we don’t usually buy online, such as groceries, and
  3. Consumers aren’t just buying more from these digital channels, they’re also more interested in using virtual communities to engage with small businesses.

The small business response to changed consumer behaviours

So, the overall spend is down, but the digital spend is up and consumers are feeling more engaged than ever with their virtual communities. How have small businesses responded to this change in consumer behaviour? Well, it appears that they’re mostly aligning their practices with these new consumer behaviours.

One of the most significant findings from the study is that small businesses have really increased the speed at which they’ve adopted digital at the front end (consumer-facing, such as online stores) as well as the back end (business operations, such as cloud hosting).

Perhaps not surprisingly, the businesses that are more proactive in using digital technologies report earning a much higher proportion of revenue online, as opposed to through physical stores. And perhaps even less surprisingly, the businesses that are thriving through this period are the ones that started their digital journey before the pandemic hit – they were more prepared and resilient than the businesses that shifted to digital because of the pandemic. However, it is clear that it’s not too late for others to catch up. What’s more, the research suggests those that rely on their support network of advisors – be it accountants, bookkeepers, financial advisors and/or technology advisors – are more likely to perform in a changing environment.

A shift in mindset towards digital

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the speed and frequency at which businesses have embraced digital technologies. The types of tech investments or adoption that used to take years, now only take a couple of months – even a couple of weeks in some instances.

Before COVID-19 hit, 32% of the 1,000+ small businesses that Forrester Consulting surveyed reported using cloud solutions. Merely six months later, that number had increased to 49%. That’s an increase of 17% – a rousing endorsement that small business owners believe that embracing the cloud leads to better outcomes.

And small businesses are adapting their practices beyond just accepting digital payments. They’re taking it a step or two further. They’re investing more in online marketing and ad spending and using more digital services to improve their operation and increase their agility to be more resilient in their operations.

They’ve started creating e-invoices and embracing value-added services like spending analytics to understand where they are spending, how much they are spending, and how they can better manage their expenses going forward. Many are also recording and submitting their tax digitally.

It’s clear that the trend towards cloud technology has accelerated, and this acceleration is going to continue post-COVID. Small businesses that are open to change, are embracing this trend, and are supporting their customers’ buying preferences through this disruption, are the ones that are thriving.

If you’d like to learn more about how COVID-19 has impacted small businesses, read the full study to learn more about its recommendations, top actions to take and to dive into the details.

Notch Above Bookkeeping is a team of Platinum Certified Xero bookkeepers and BAS Agents. We help small business clients across the east coast of Australia to prepare their BAS returns and streamline their bookkeeping processes, payroll and accounting records using cloud technology. Call us to find out how on 1300 015 130 today.

Source: Xero

#remotebusinessbookkeepers

#cloudbusinessbookkeeping

#xeroplatinumbookkeepers