It’s that time of year when lots of people talk about personal New Year’s resolutions, but it’s also a great opportunity for you to reassess your business aims and objectives if you’re self-employed.
We’ve put together a list of seven New Year’s resolutions for the self-employed – read on for what you should consider as you head into 2019.
1. Get on top of your tax deadlines
First thing’s first, meeting the Self Assessment deadline should be a key priority this January. You have to file your tax return online by midnight on 31 January. Staying on top of tax is an essential part of running any business. Make sure you put all the key tax dates in your diary and understand any changes to the rules so you can pay what your owe on time and avoid penalties.
2. Make sure you’re fully compliant
The GDPR deadline was 25 May 2018. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to make sure you’re fully compliant. Under the new rules, it’s really important to be on top of any customer data you hold. Consider your security measures, policies and the nature of any consent you ask for before processing customer data. Complying with other legislation, like health and safety and intellectual property rules is also essential to make sure you’re on the right side of the law.
3. Consider your insurance
If your business has grown or changed in some way over the past year, take a look at your insurance to see if it covers everything you need it to.
•Public liability insurance – this is a key cover for most businesses. It can protect you if clients, suppliers, or members of the public suffer personal injury or property damage and blame your business
•Employers’ liability insurance – if your business has grown so much that you now need someone to help out, this cover’s a legal requirement in most cases. It protects you if a member of staff gets ill or injured as a result of working for you
•Professional indemnity insurance – if you give advice or a professional service to clients, this can protect you if you make a mistake that causes a financial or professional loss Other protection to think about includes business contents for the things your business relies on every day, and business premises whether you work from home or have separate premises.
4. Review your finances
Keeping a watchful eye on your finances is essential to self-employed success. Variable cash flow is a common challenge for self-employed business owners, so it’s good to be one step ahead of your income and outgoings. Things to look out for are:
Getting paid on time
Late payments can be a big problem for the self-employed. If you’re not being paid on time for your products or services, it’ll seriously affect your cash flow.
Make sure your invoicing process is tight, including how you follow up with a customer who’s fallen behind.
Planning for busier (and quieter) periods
Making sure you’ve got your finances planned for the year ahead can help your cash flow. Planning for the busier periods and making sure you don’t overspend should help you save money for the quieter periods.
Pricing Are you charging enough?
The self-employed can sometimes find it difficult to work out what their products or services are worth. Doing your research on what competitors are charging balanced against what you need to live on is a good place to start.
5. Reflect on the year (and set goals for the year ahead)
Whether you’re an builder, architect, events planner, or florist, reflecting on your previous year can be a helpful step to working out where you want to take your business. Questions to ask include:
•Did I achieve my sales goals?
•Did I keep my costs within my set limit?
•Did I get repeat business from satisfied customers?
•Did my business grow?
What’s more, defining and regularly reviewing business goals will help you meet all your ambitions.
If you have big growth plans, for example, writing it all down (including key milestones you want to achieve by certain dates) will help you keep track. This may help you identify areas you’ll need help with – whether that’s from other professionals or by taking on staff.
6. Get customer feedback
You can tell what customers think of your products or services depending on whether they come back and give you repeat business. But there may be things they’d like you to offer, or things they’d like you to do differently, that you just don’t know about yet.
That’s why actively asking for customer feedback is so valuable to a business. You could do this via social media, such as Twitter, a review site like Feefo, or by simply asking them in person.
7. Create your marketing plan
Staying connected to your customers is vital to keeping them interested in your business. If you haven’t already, make a plan for how and what you want to share on your social media accounts. Think about what your customers will want to hear about rather than what you think they need to hear about.
It’s also worth reviewing your website to see if it’s giving your customers the information they need to decide whether they want to do business with you, and whether it works well when viewed on mobiles and tablets.