It would appear there is a great deal of worry about in 2024, with the thoughts of many suggesting it will be a year of increasing financial dangers for us all, both personally and commercially.
The exception of course, will be many of the larger corporate businesses and individuals which have the financial means, or perceived power to ignore the general rules of business and good corporate citizenship. These parties are able to flaunt their strengths which are not available to others in society to seek further advantages for themselves.
When you think about the possible problems facing many in business, it may be tempting to do nothing and hope for the best, or close your business improperly. Unfortunately, these actions are not options for either your positive short-term or long-term future.
Taking a more positive and progressive view of your situation however means there are steps you can take to help your business survive, and/or minimise any financial and emotional damage. It is now time therefore, by trying different strategies, or asking for help, to see whether there are opportunities to survive and then prosper when the good times come again.
Your first course of action is to critically review whether your business has enough resources to survive long enough to stay in business without trading insolvently. If you believe it doesn’t, it is essential that you seek professional help as soon as possible. Such action helps crystalise the situation and the end result may not be as bad as you first thought.
If you believe your businesses can survive without trading insolvently, management needs to be realistic about what they can do to survive. In the first instance, a positive attitude is required and be open to new ideas regarding new business and sales strategies.
Following are a few basic strategies which could be attempted if they are not already being applied within your business. It would be wise before starting any action, to understand with the realisation that we are in for difficult times, especially if you sell on credit. There are three major concerns at this time which you will need to acknowledge as they will affect your future business considerations.
First, creditors in all industries or fields of commerce, are losing their rights, whilst debtors’ rights are increasing. As a result, fraud in all its various forms is on the increase.
Second, as criminology professionals advise us, in bad times, people steal to survive.
Thirdly, seeking redress via the courts is an increasingly expensive and emotionally draining exercise. Worse still, even if you should win the case, the courts seem unable to enforce the plaintiff’s rights for compensation.
In view of these three concerns, it is essential your business makes strategic changes to the way it operates. Therefore, a greater emphasis is required to:
- ensure all your sales contracts and terms of trade are professionally prepared and can be customised for each customer,
- have sales and credit employees consulting together to complete due diligence exercises and regular reviews of all customer accounts as appropriate,
- appoint employees who understand the language and strategies of fraudsters,
- sell on terms of cash, upfront or part payments, or reduced credit limits and timeframes, or with a settlement discount,
- understand the value of NO, when the terms of the sale are at first not reasonable or profitable for your business,
- understand and manage your business’s selling costs,
- raise and send invoices properly and accurately,
- actively work on reducing costly mistakes which provide opportunities for customers to slow pay or avoid paying your invoices,
- follow up all unpaid invoices as soon as possible after raising your invoices,
- don’t delay in sending unpaid invoices to your debt collector as soon as it becomes obvious the customer is not going to pay, etc.
Unfortunately, the above strategies are becoming the norm when doing business these days and will be of increasing importance in 2024. At the end of the day, doing business as it was in the past is over. You need to be ready for new order when so much is still unknown.
At the end of the day, as a responsible business owner or professional, it is your responsibility to be prepared. Excuses will be increasingly irrelevant and of no value in trying to protect your finances and reputation.