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Happy New Year, Now Kick Some Goals in 2009

Written on the 9 January 2009 by Independant Weekly

Happy new year, now kick some goals in 2009

Independent Weekly, Page: 13
Friday, 09 January 2009

Some will lose their nerve, others will hang on by the skin of their teeth - but for many small businesses 2009 will actually be a happy new year, say optimistic business leaders.

After a hair-raising 2008, retailers, who plan and order stock about six months in advance, have virtually ridden out the economic woes, says Australian Retailers Association executive director Richard Evans. Mr Evans said while surveys had shown many believed Australia was in the grip of a recession, actual data showed otherwise, with sales figures already on the increase.

"Now what we're saying is we'll probably start seeing some recovery about May with some growth in September," he said. "Our optimism is pretty high." But Mr Evans said retailers shouldn't be breaking out the champagne just yet instead they should be making solid resolutions for the new year.

"In terms of retail, what they should be looking at is their entire expenditure lines, line-by-line," he said. Retailers should also carefully analyse supply channels and contracts, and review transport arrangements, he said.

Small and medium businesses should also be reviewing their business plan every three months to stay on track and focus on increasing loyalty programs and local area marketing.

In franchising circles, operators should look forward and avoid starting 2009 in a negative or fearful fashion, says Franchise Council of Australia executive director Steve Wright.

"It's no good for businesses to behave that way either for themselves or the national econom~" Mr Wright said. "That doesn't mean that they should be reckless. They should be prudent, but they should be proactive, not pessimistic, they should be diligent, not defensive.

"Franchising in past economic downturns has fared relatively better than the rest of the small business community and that's because it has a strong brand that people know and trust, and within franchise networks there is the power of a collective.' Mr Wright said SMEs should look at prudent ways to stay on the front foot, watch their cash flow and map out a game plan for the next 12 months.

"Know what you're going to doll things either get better or worse," he said. "That way you're not reacting in an instinctive way, you're reacting in a thoughtful way ahead of events, rather than events happening to you." Collection agency Dun & Bradstreet has provided the following tips for keeping your cash flow in good order in 2009: Develop a cash flow projection and ensure you monitor and update it regularly Minimise bad debts through an established credit assessment procedure Establish an accounts payable policy at the outset of every credit relationship Establish a deposit policy for work in progress Monitor your customers' use of credit and adjust their credit limits accordingly Closely manage your invoice process and collections practices Rearrange annual payments such as insurance so you pay small instalments frequently. This will help to smooth out lumps in your cash flow cycle. - Fairta

Author: Independant Weekly

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