Here's how to get ready for the new financial year

THE new financial year starts tomorrow, which means it's the perfect time for the small business community to reflect, refocus and get their operations ready for a successful 12 months ahead.

However, before you look forward, it is important to look back. Is your business on track and did you achieve last year's goals?

Did you meet your performance targets? What obstacles did you face and overcome, and how can you learn from previous challenges and successes?

When reflecting, make sure you consider both internal and external factors, including your finances, sales performance, resources, marketing, customers, employees, suppliers, competitors and industry environment.

A SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) is a great way to clearly analyse and categorise what you need to work on and what you can capitalise on.

Next, it's time to create goals for 2016-17, while ensuring they support your overall business plan.

Make your goals specific and measurable. For instance - improving customer satisfaction by 25%, simplifying business processes or decreasing your operating costs by $5000.

Your budget can have a big impact on your goals, so don't forget to start tackling it early.

Accounting software such as Xero can help you stay on top of your books and cash flow.

You can also try an online budgeting calculator.

With continuous advancements in the digital world, it's important to keep your finger on the pulse and consider how your business could adopt new technologies to stay ahead of competition.

Cloud-based storage, mobile-friendly websites and social media are some possible initiatives to consider. List all of the potential benefits, risks and costs of your goals and objectives before making any formal decisions. It's worth taking your time - what good are resolutions if you don't stick to them?

There are apps and programs that can help you keep an eye on the progress of your business.

It can also be worth seeking guidance from your accountant or bank manager, who can help you stay on track. For all of your banking needs, visit your nearest Suncorp Bank branch or phone 131 175.

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