SME operators are prioritising planning time in the New Year to focus on several common business-boosting activities in the pursuit of success in 2013, according to new research from MYOB.

MYOB surveyed close to 200 small to medium sized business clients in December 2012 to gain an insight into their business plans for this year.

Activities earning the most focus were improving systems and processes, creating customer growth strategies, tweaking pricing and starting a succession plan.

"Hopefully this year we'll see a move away from the record-breaking small business insolvencies experienced in 2012," MYOB CEO Tim Reed said.

"It's encouraging to find SME operators prioritising activities that focus on increasing their productivity, their service offering and the stickiness of their clients.

"There are several strategies to help transform your business so it's in top shape for the year ahead. These include revisiting your business plan with a trusted business advisor, investing in new and improved equipment and exploring ways to re-energise your team."

MYOB's seven steps to boosting your business
1. It all starts with a plan
A clear strategic plan is the foundation of any successful business. A detailed, forward-looking plan covering all key business facets will ensure your activities are geared towards growing your profitability. Review and update your plan this month to ensure it takes into account any new developments or opportunities found last year and those you expect to work on this year. This could be investing in growing your market share, improving your market intelligence so the business is more competitive, or even aspects as simple as setting sales targets.

2. Seek professional advice
The mix of business commitments such as compliance, accounting, payroll, export rules, council codes and employment relations can be overwhelming for many business owners. Take the opportunity now to catch up with business advisors such as accountants and business coaches for advice on the year ahead. This is also a good time to tap into your wider networks to explore what opportunities they think are on the horizon for this year.

3. Review your supplier base
One way to boost business performance this year is to review your current contracts and suppliers, to see if you're
getting your money's worth. Research your suppliers' competitors to find out their service offering, prices and the
discounts they're prepared to offer for placing regular bulk orders, referrals, ongoing loyalty to their business and
so on. Also consider whether a service you currently outsource can be carried out more cost effectively internally,
or whether you can consolidate your suppliers.

4. Diversify your range
Innovation in products and services can be a sure way to stay well ahead of the competition. Offering a new or
improved range to existing customers will help retain them and can also attract new customers. Find the courage
to trim away any non-profitable activities and back the winners. Talk to a professional who can help identify what
strategies, products and services deliver the healthiest returns, re-evaluate your margins and benchmark your
performance against similar businesses.

5. Spruce up your systems and processes
With all the different hats that a business owner wears, getting your systems and processes right is vital to
business success. SME operators are spoilt for choice when it comes to technologies that will improve your
efficiencies, such as MYOB's range of business management solutions that help make business life easier. When it
comes to improving processes consider building a comprehensive operations manual or fine tuning the one you
have, then have staff contribute to discussions on how to improve the way you work as a team.

6. Be where your customers are: online
With more than 80% of consumers researching online prior to making a purchase, being online offers a huge
opportunity to connect with more customers. The latest MYOB Business Monitor survey revealed SMEs with a
website were 53% more likely to experience a revenue rise over the last financial year.

7. Re-engage your team
It can take some time to get back into work mode after a relaxing holiday, so consider ways you can reignite staff
motivation. Perhaps organise a catered kick-off strategy meeting to celebrate the return to work and to run
through plans for the year ahead. You could also have one-on-one meetings on how individual goals relate to
these plans, so your staff understand the important role they play in the business. Getting your team fired up
about projects on the horizon and how they can help the business succeed is a great way to get them back on task
and fend off the post-holiday blues.



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