Character building: EOFY Reflections & Priorities
Today (Tuesday 30th June) is the end of 2019/2020 financial year in Australia. It is an understatement to say that this fiscal year has been extremely challenging for employers, business owners, employees, friends and families.
In Australia, we experienced one of the worst prolonged droughts ever recorded followed immediately by the worst bushfire season on record. The drought sent many rural properties and regional business owners into financial stress or bankruptcy. The fires killed 33 people (including three volunteer firefighters), destroyed 3,094 houses and burned 17 million hectares (31 million acres).
Of course, there was no time to recoup as the COVID-19 pandemic swept in and challenged our assumptions on community and social norms, political imperatives and fiscal assumptions. It also challenged our assumptions about the most basic needs – health and safety.
For SMEs this year has been a real test of resilience. The forced and unexpected business environment has been the ultimate test of agility, strategic thinking, and mental toughness. Many small business owners will not prevail. For those who have been able to react quickly and decisively, the challenge remains on how to emerge into the new business environment, changed customer requirements and employee health and safety.
As the new fiscal year commences, I believe SMEs must attend to five key areas:
- Strategy: Revisit the business strategy. Pay particular attention to changes in the competitive landscape, emerging customer requirements and the business’ ability to pivot and reposition. Sharpen up the strategic objectives and the priorities by which success may be determined.
- Clients: Re-prioritize clients based on relative condition after initial pandemic impact. Clients in different verticals have been impacted in many ways. The most robust client before the pandemic may not be so secure now. What are the priority clients advising re their emerging needs and problems that require solving?
- People: What are the skills required in the business? Train your people and hire for what the business will require rather than what is already required. Put in place health and welfare checks and balances for employees and yourself. The recent period has had a significant impact on everyone, and each person responds in their own way. Check-in on a personal basis and listen. Remember to look after your health – physical and mental.
- Technology: remote working and emerging skills will require supporting technology. Explore and invest prudently so that all members have the tools required for the emerging market and business environment. This will range from CRM or ERP upgrades to smaller productivity tools and online training and communication solutions.
- Finances: Success through this period means SME’s are across their financial statements, key indicators, have an intimate knowledge of cash flow and impending costs and have a strong relationship with their accountant.
I wish you all the best in 2020/21, and I look forward to interacting and supporting your needs as and when you ever need support.