I’m back in the business this week after an enjoyable break in Budapest. A really wonderful city stacked with history, some very traumatic, and a very cool modern bar and restaurant scene. It has been great seeing some new places again after the Covid-impacted years. I am already missing the goulash!
Back in the business, what is very clear is there is a high degree of concern as to what 2024 is going to bring for small businesses. I’ve been working with many of our portfolio companies over the past few months in finalising 2024 planning and I wanted to share the common themes I’ve picked up on that if you action, you’ll be steps ahead of your competition.
Prepare to be 9 steps ahead of your competition in 2024
1. Generating new sales is the highest priority for all businesses
This sounds obvious, but concern is that previous tactics need additional strategies, example concerns being over reliance on recommendations and referrals is becoming an issue, and a specific awareness that lead generation and sales conversion skills are missing.
2. Pricing and products
Alongside sales generation a huge focus is on pricing and drilling into the unit economics of products and services and understanding where the current margins are being driven from. Tweaking prices and product stacks, introducing new service lines, exploring new markets etc. are all now firmly on the table and being pushed ahead.
3. Customer payments are definitely slowing down
Where this is happening, swift action is essential and we have been working to help create fully or semi-automated payment collection solutions, improve preemptive processes to mitigate any losses and essentially make sure that these companies pay our clients first.
4. Supplier review and management
With the Autumn Statement confirming that the Government has revised its prediction on a return to 2% inflation now being extended to 2025, this is definitely going to further place pressure on current supplier costs. Coupled with a knock-on effect for any customer receivables management issues impacting on credit terms, now, more than ever, is the time to make sure the best deal on costs and payment terms is secured.
5. Recruitment strategy
Further to number 4 above, ongoing cost of living pressures and inflationary pressures in the economy mean staff are simply trying to earn more. That leads to a litany of issues that need resolved:
- Paying key staff in the right way to avoid losing them to competitors
- Ensuring you compete for new quality staff
- Investing in training and staff welfare to keep you team happy, productive and effective
- Associated staffing costs are also increasing – this week we heard the term medical inflation to describe a specific hike in health insurance policies of as much as 30% in some cases
6. Funding strategy
The lending market is active, but competitive. It is essential to be ready for making any application for funding to further your 2024 strategy, and we have been working on credit score reviews / improvements and comparing different products to ensure that companies gain the best deal and the best suited lending.
7. Budgeting and cashflow planning
This remains always important, but the quality of the planning, the accessibility to that plan on an online or shared basis and the ability to regularly meet, assess and re-evaluate the plan are the current focuses. Most companies are also now armed with a range of plans; covering a range of assumptions and scenarios to best prepare for how the year may start – confidence in strategy is essential.
8. Cost cutting
Every business is trying to shave costs via normal good governance, but unfortunately some companies are also looking at more severe cuts in staffing redundancies. This can be an especially stressful and draining exercise and we have been assisting and connecting HR and legal experts as necessary. We’ve also been looking at alternate methods of maintaining a good cashflow (and avoiding the redundancies where possible) with our Strategy Boost programs.
9. Geopolitical pressures are increasing uncertainty
The ongoing war in Ukraine, the conflict in Gaza, continued fallout from new regulations post Brexit and a pending election and possible change of government in UK means 2024 will unfortunately extend a period where external macro factors are impacting hugely on the SME sector. Companies are definitely increasing budget for increased professional cover where they trade across the EU for example, and more and more are investing in multi-currency solutions to avoid costly FX impacts far beyond their control.
If any of these are applicable to your business right now, I want to assure you, you’re not alone in experiencing concerns.
If you have anything that you would especially like to talk about that’s concerning you, reach out to myself and our experienced team here at Nuvem9 for some friendly, impartial advice on how to boost your business – and stay boosted.
In the meantime, take care and keep well.
CEO @ Nuvem9
P.S. Have you heard how we’re boosting ???? our clients’ revenue yet? We’ve been running a Business and Sales Boost BETA that’s gone down a real treat in 2023. Want to boost your sales? Let’s talk business and revenue-boosting strategies.
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