The effects of the pandemic on local businesses, such as slashed revenues and emergency redundancies, have been costly, but so too has its cycle of lockdowns and the investment made by businesses to accommodate employees working from home and abide by wider guidelines and restrictions.
And now, as many businesses enter unknown territory to navigate Brexit and its impact, it is understandable that many are starting the year concerned about how to better their financial position and get ahead as early as possible.
Experts from Belfast-based accountancy and advisory firm, Baker Tilly Mooney Moore, have shared their advice on management for businesses of all sizes this coming year.
Look to the Future
“Always try to plan for the future instead of trying to correct the past,” says Jamie Treacy, Assistant Manager of Business Services.
Many businesses may be starting the year in a weaker financial position than previous years but the advice here is to start afresh. Set a plan in place to manage any debts, explore where your business needs investment to thrive, examine your business to see if it could be operating in a leaner manner? In addition, many Government schemes are still available in early 2021. Now is the time to set a new plan in place that will ultimately help you end 2021 stronger than 2020.
Prioritize Operational Resilience
Thomas Redpath, Audit Director, suggests that in these uncertain times, businesses should learn from the past year. He says, “Put operational resilience to the fore whilst always adhering to best practice treasury management.”
Unfortunately, businesses couldn’t have foreseen the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic but we can learn from it. Take working from home for instance. Many businesses established a successful WFH infrastructure in response to the pandemic but perhaps this could have been rolled out more easily and cost-effectively if WFH had always been an option. Are there other areas of your business you can make more fluid for contingencies?
In addition, business models are changing too. Is it time to re-examine your key markets and your key competitors to ensure that your business isn’t being left behind in the changing world?
Debra Moore-McDevitt, Forensic and Accounts team, is warning businesses to be vigilant and protected and says, “Never let your guard down against fraud, it comes when least expected.”
Throughout the pandemic there has been a boom in online activity – socialising, shopping – but unfortunately in online fraud too. Most scams are made possible by inputting your personal and financial details through phishing emails impersonating trusted organisations. There is often a delay between criminals obtaining people’s details and using them to commit fraud, meaning the full losses from Covid-19 related scams are likely to not yet have been fully realised. Moving into 2021, it’s more important than ever to be vigilant online, use only trusted sites and research new sites before using them.
In addition, if you are a business that sells online, it is important to ensure that your customers’ data is stored securely and that the information they need to feel secure purchasing online is available to them, such as customer service and a secure checkout.
Embrace New Opportunity
The tax deadline for self-assessment approaches at the end of this month but aside from advising on that Baker Tilly Mooney Moore can offer support elsewhere.
Tax Director, Angela Keery said: “Whatever your plans are for the year ahead, whether that be an acquisition, sale, share scheme, expansion or diversification, the experts can work through issues with you and ensure that you have the information to achieve your objectives in the most tax efficient and compliant way.”
Seek Expert Support
Restructuring & Insolvency Partner, Darren Bowman, offers reassurance and reminds businesses that professional support is widely available to help businesses navigate the unknown territory ahead. He says, “Whether addressing the present or planning the future, seek professional advice, early and often.”
Adapt to a Changing World
Donal Laverty, Consulting Partner, advises that: “As we enter a new year, organisations should recognise that the future isn’t what it used to be and that they need to look beyond Covid-19 to a new normal and a world of accelerated change.”
“Businesses have been buffeted by the impact of Covid-19, but the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have presented a rare opportunity to reflect on how effective your organisation really is. You should take this chance to reflect on what did and didn’t work well over the past year, and to consider changes that you made or could make to your operations.”
For more expert advice and to connect with the team at Baker Tilly Mooney Moore visit bakertillymooneymoore.co.uk