Guidelines to improve your business in 2011
22nd December 2010
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Business Fit Club give the following guidelines to start the New Year well:- 

In the current testing market conditions, it is essential that all businesses, 

particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, are properly prepared 

for 2011. Sound business and financial planning is  consequently vital to 

ensure the future well-being of your business. 

The following steps can help you and your business  to weather the 

current conditions and create a solid base for your business in 2011.  

Cash flow management 

Looking after cash flow is essential in an economic slowdown. You will 

soon encounter difficulties if you allow outstanding debts to accumulate, a 

problem which is all the more likely in lean times.

Make sure you have a clear policy for invoicing promptly and collecting 

debts and that customers are aware of it. Above all, ensure you enforce 

it. Pursue outstanding debts with letters and telephone calls and ensure 

that your terms of business allow for adding interest on overdue 


Look after your customers  

In difficult times it becomes harder to attract new customers. Therefore, it 

is more important than ever to maintain customer loyalty amongst your 

existing ones. You should be having more regular meetings with them to 

establish what your customers’ current requirements and issues are. You 

must then make sure that you adapt your business offerings accordingly. 

Also consider ways of developing and rewarding customer loyalty, such as 

selected discounts (especially for early payment),  regular mailings or 

loyalty cards. 

Avoid reducing prices 

If revenue begins to taper off, it can be tempting to cut prices. This can 

be a mistake. In a recession unless you are careful your costs will 

increase and as a result you may be forced to raise prices to cover this expenditure to ensure profitability. Cutting prices can also have the 

negative long-term effect of devaluing your image in the marketplace.  

Instead of reducing prices seek to improve customer service in areas that 

do not massively increase your costs. For example,  adding additional 

services or including extra items which perhaps are on your slower selling 


Remember that suppliers might raise their prices as well, so try to 

negotiate a long term discount with them. Alternatively look for more cost 

effective alternative suppliers. 

Maintain you marketing efforts  

The marketing budget is often the first casualty in a recession, but smart 

businesses continue to market through a downturn and position 

themselves to take full advantage of the upturn as soon as it starts.  

In tough times the marketplace becomes more competitive - you may 

need to market more vigorously, not less. If you do not have a strategic 

marketing plan, now is the time to draw one up.  

Many businesses are proud to announce that all of their work comes from 

“word of mouth”. This strategy is excellent, but it is dangerous to rely on 

this alone, especially if something goes wrong and  a bad news story 

circulates about you. It is also somewhat limited to the group of people 

who your clients mix with.  

Instead, we advocate that you have between 8 and 10 different 

marketing strategies to create a comprehensive and  cohesive plan for 

attracting the prospects that you want for your business. 

Look after your employees and any outsourced support 

While job cuts may be necessary in some circumstances, you should 

always try to retain your key employees: their strengths will help you 

through an economic downturn, and you will need them when business 

picks up. Keep staff informed about your plans and day to day issues so 

that they continue to me motivated. 

Many businesses nowadays work with outsourced businesses to provide 

elements of production or service delivery. In these situations, you must 

ensure that you maintain close liaison with them to ensure that they are 

“in tune” with your requirements and that service quality in every sense is 



There is no escaping the fact that business conditions are tough. 

However, there is strong evidence that businesses that are focussing on 

the key elements detailed above are maintaining profitability and will be 

well placed when we come out of the recession.   

More and more of the larger companies are extending the time they are 

taking to pay invoices.  This particularly impacts  on smaller companies 

and can have dire consequences on cash flow.  

What can you do to improve the situation? 

Most business owners think about cash flow on a day to day basis rather 

than thinking much further ahead.  Once you have a  spreadsheet that 

tells you what will be happening with the money in 2 or 3 months time 

you will be far more in control of your business and your money. 

You must continually review your terms. Can you invoice quicker or 

reduce the terms on your invoice? You must implement a credit control 


If you are not happy collecting debts yourself, outsource this to someone 

who is!  Think about other areas of the business where you can outsource 

and cut back on your fixed costs or merely free up  your time as the 

business owner. 

Scrutinise your costs on a regular basis and see if there are areas that 

you could save money. Ask yourself – what sort of return are you getting 

on your marketing activities – do they need to be reviewed?  If they are 

working well they may need to be stepped up. 

Release cash that you may have tied up in redundant stock. You may 

need to think “outside the box” but the longer stock hangs around the 

more likely it is to become obsolete!

Business Fit Club 2010

About the Author

Helen I

Member since: 10th July 2012

I love Abingdon and am passionate about promoting the businesses and events that are centred there. I want everyone to realise how great they are and how we should all be using them!

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