Now that we are fully in the swing of 2024, I thought it would be timely to share with you some of the trends, challenges and opportunities for small businesses as we navigate the year ahead.

Doing it Tough

Overall, many businesses are feeling subdued with economic conditions challenging us both at home and abroad. At home we are still battling to bring inflation down and this has obvious knock on effects for interest rates, unemployment levels and low confidence in the business sector. Offshore, we have increasing global conflicts, ongoing shipping challenges and the four yearly cycle of US elections which seem to become more divided and entrenched than anyone is comfortable with.

Many business owners, their managers and staff are doing it tough. Post covid, we are far more aware that many people are more fragile, and the impacts of weather events and other natural disasters are having long term implications for those affected. The previous government’s attempts to spend their way out of crises with very little to show for their efforts has piled on more pressure.

An Optimistic Way Forward

But all is not doom and gloom! At Advantage Business, we get to work with businesses who want to change and transform themselves into robust, resilient and successful entities. How do they do it? Well, it doesn’t have to be rocket science. First, they need to be humble enough to sit down and take an honest assessment of where their business is at. How are things really going in terms of having effective systems and processes, engaging with customers, having motivated and reliable people and, of course, are the financials performing as they should?

There are some simple tried and true principles in building a business, even in tough times. There has to be a long term vision of where you want to take the business. What do you want the business to achieve for you in the next five years? Next, there needs to be a clear annual strategy that measures the progress of systems development, customer engagement and sales, people development and performance, and robust financial systems that are regularly monitored and measured.

Of course, there is more devil in the detail but if you don’t start the journey, then how can you expect to advance? When we see a business that has been struggling or has come from a humble position, it is hugely rewarding to see owners fully engaged, making positive change and reaping the rewards for their efforts when they have previously floundered. The first decision they made was to begin the journey and then to commit to making the right changes. Times may be tough, but that is no reason to accept the status quo of a business not performing at its best.

Enjoy your business journey!