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Five ways to bring your business up to speed in 2019

BizCover

THE start of a new year is an opportunity to reset your business goals and plan for growth.

But wanting to expand and making it happen are two different things.

In an ever-changing commercial landscape, devising strategies for the latter in order to achieve the former should be at the forefront of every business owner's mind if they want to succeed.

While businesses everywhere face hurdles as new technology rewrites the rules surrounding trade and transactions, regional enterprises can find themselves pushing against headwinds that don't affect their urban counterparts.

The Commonwealth Bank commissioned a business insights survey last year which identified four main areas causing regional businesses grief.

Competition was the main impediment to growth, followed closely by the high cost of essential goods and services such as power and fuel, government regulations and difficulty in finding skilled labour.

Technology though is starting to level the playing field for regional entrepreneurs as "traditional" business practices are replaced by online markets.

Technology has bridged the access gap for regional business owners and brought them up to a level playing field with their metro counterparts.
Technology has bridged the access gap for regional business owners and brought them up to a level playing field with their metro counterparts. Contributed

"Any traditional business that is providing an informational or transactional service will likely be replaced by technology," says Michael Gottlieb, founder and CEO of online business insurance provider BizCover.

"It has also become a lot easier to start a small business with online market places such as Etsy for crafts, Upwork for designers and Oneflare for tradies.

"This also means a declining area is obviously bricks and mortar retail. Rent can be expensive. It is easier for someone starting a business to go to an online marketplace or even eBay to start their business.

Welcome to our Business Class series.
Welcome to our Business Class series. News Corp

"You are also seeing a lot of businesses shutting up their physical shops in favour of going online. It also allows small businesses a bit of flexibility as they are not required to physically man the shop."

It's for those reasons regional businesses can plan to unshackle themselves from the physical restraints identified in the insights survey and chase new customers.

BizCover did just that. It started an online service to simplify the process of comparing and buying business insurance from leading insurers.

It was an idea that disrupted the old laborious model of using an insurance broker (or doing it yourself) to seek individual quotes from insurers. Being able to do a quick comparison online reduces the cost and more importantly the hours spent on research for time-poor small business owners.

"We found a niche within the insurance industry by looking at where the changes are happening and embraced that, and now we are leading the way in that change," said Mr Gottlieb.

BizCover is just the latest start-up Mr Gottlieb has helped develop, having decided nearly 20 years ago that he didn't want to work for anyone else. He has experienced the highs and lows and failures that all small business owners go through.

Here are his tips on how to take your business to the next level in 2019:

 Plan… but not too far ahead

I personally believe in annual plans. Anything longer, there is just too much that can change in a start-up or small business. Successful businesses understand that in order to achieve a goal, you need to set one. If it is an annual goal, break it down into two six-month goals. Further break these six-monthly goals into three-month goals, then into monthly goals, weekly goals and yes, daily goals.

BizCover CEO Michael Gottlieb.
BizCover CEO Michael Gottlieb. Contributed

Be structured with your time

Ensure you allocate a minimum of one hour every day (preferably the very first thing you do once you start work) to do what is most important to moving your business forward. Not what is most urgent. A good tip would be that in that hour you work on the daily goal that needs to be achieved so you can achieve your weekly goal, so you can achieve your monthly goal and so on until you achieve your annual goal.

Become a customer fanatic

Everything you do should be to ensure your customers have a great experience. Some of it is so easy yet too few businesses focus on their customers. If you say you are going to do something, do it. On time with the expected result. Don't over-deliver, don't under-deliver. Deliver as expected.

Given the explosion of information and ease at which services can be delivered through technology, the importance of adding value to your customer has become more relevant today than in previous generations.

Dedicating time to the important things is vital, says BizCover CEO Michael Gottlieb.
Dedicating time to the important things is vital, says BizCover CEO Michael Gottlieb. Contributed

Execute

Successful businesses get stuff done. Strategy is good but execution is what builds businesses. There is usually no alternative to hard work.

Take calculated risks.

If everything you do is working, you are growing too slowly. Ensure the risks can not materially harm your business and then try different things. You will be surprised how often you think something won't work and then it does.

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