Green & Black’s co-founder on 7 ways to future-proof your business

Green & Black's wasn't always the internationally renowned chocolate brand it is today. Co-founder Josephine Fairley outlines the seven ways SMEs can future-proof their business.

An entrepreneur’s glass really is half full – Xero’s new Make or Break 2017 report has revealed that small businesses are optimistic about the future, despite both the UK and US entering the most unstable economic times in recent years.

Encouragingly, a huge 79 per cent of small businesses in the UK and US report that they remain confident about the future despite Brexit and Trumps administration effecting the economy this year, and younger companies are even more confident. For those going through a tougher time, nearly a fifth said they expected 2017 to be a turnaround year for their business.

Here are seven ways entrepreneurs can future-proof their business through turbulent times ahead:

Be brave enough to take risks

Don’t let uncertainty stop you from continuing to operate business-as-usual. Starting a business at any time is a risk, but the research suggested that in the face of uncertainty, the majority (54 per cent) are still taking risks and nearly seven in ten are remaining optimistic and aggressive about achievable targets for 2017.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Research suggests that accountants think changes under Brexit and Trump’s administration will impact on their clients more than small businesses imagine they will. It’s important to prepare as much as you can by keeping up with developments and reading as much as you can about changes.

Forget the traditional 9 to 5

In the midst of uncertainty, small business owners are focusing on increasing their output and productivity by exchanging traditional office structures for remote working and flexible working hours. They are rejecting the idea that work needs to be done in a particular place or at specific times, and that flexibility is giving them more confidence in their future.

Put your physical and mental health first

A huge 78 per cent who head up small businesses believe that their personal wellbeing is closely linked to the health of their business and they make it a top priority to ensure everything runs as it should. Nearly two in three say getting enough sleep is key to recharging the physical and mental batteries and having a positive effect on their business.

See the positives in changing policy

The report found that despite small businesses hating red tape, they realise that complying with government comes with the territory as an entrepreneur – and instead of worrying unduly about policy changes as a result of events like Brexit, they are looking to the bright side, with a fifth optimistic that legislation and red tape will be reduced for their business.

Put cashflow and credit control in the spotlight

The report revealed that chasing payments remains the biggest time-waster for small businesses – a year after Xero found that small businesses spend 10 per cent of every working day chasing payments.  When times get tough it’s absolutely vital that you know your numbers to keep cash flowing and to invoice promptly, so that delays in getting paid aren’t because the general everyday ‘firefighting’ that entrepreneurs are familiar with didn’t interfere with the all-important billing for goods and services.

Take advice from advisors and mentors

Over a third of small business owners have said they consider their accountant to be a trusted business advisor, but over half do not always follow their advice. Surveyed accountants said that they think small business owners should be more worried about automatic pension enrolment, but only one fifth of them are concerned. Advisors will have expertise in areas you don’t and can put you one step ahead. The key to success in business is playing to your strengths – and knowing where to turn for help in areas that you’re not so strong in.

Josephine Fairley is the co-founder of Green & Black’s

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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Business strategy