Over two million SMBs form the backbone of the Australian economy. They are hardworking business owners and staff members that have made a name for themselves by excelling in a particular service valued by Australian consumers.
Despite the success many Australian SMBs enjoy and despite the recent tax benefits by the government, they still experience a number of challenges regularly.
Worrisome as these may be, I believe Australian small business owners can follow a simple set of clear, easy-to-follow, practical solutions for each one of these problems.
1. Timing of customer payments
Every small business owner will encounter an unresponsive customer who fails to pay invoices on time. Delayed payment poses significant risks to small businesses, regardless of whether it takes weeks, months, or mere days.
One late payment could mean an employee’s family misses out on grocery shopping for one week, or it could even lead to late mortgage repayments and other mounting fines.
The most effective way a business can solve this complication is by reducing the payment terms outlined on an invoice to a maximum of seven days.
Small business owners must also immediately follow-up any late payments so that these issues are managed quickly and do not snowball out of control.
2. Cash flow
Cash flow concerns are a major source of anxiety for almost a third of small business owners.
Instead of customers who drag on with late payments, a lack of on-offer payment methods or missing cash collection processes are major contributing factors to these cash flow issues.
Bluetooth card readers, like the Mint mPOS M10 of the Sydney-based company Mint Payments bring many benefits to the way a small business operates, especially on the go.
Mobile Payments solutions turn a smartphone or tablet into a portable EFTPOS machine that can be taken anywhere without the need for telephone or internet cables.
Unlike many older means of payment that can take a number of days to process, Mint mPOS ensures payments get settled into any nominated bank account by the next business day.
The M10 card reader is fully NFC Contactless enabled and also support future digital wallets used by consumers through their smartphones such as Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay.
3. Getting bogged down with administration issues
Small business owners must stay on top of their paperwork and bank reconciliation, or they may fall behind with payments and miss crucial details that could potentially jeopardise the business.
Every so often, small business owners may find themselves stuck behind their desk, staying on top of administration issues when they could be out in the field and maximising their billable hours.
With the help of accounting software like MYOB Essentials, time spent in the office is minimised. These programs can automatically produce and maintain a number of reports catered to the specific needs of each business.
Most importantly, these programs minimise paperwork and give small business owners more time to spend out in the field overseeing the completion of important projects.
4. Transport costs
Australian small businesses are being left to the mercy of petrol bowsers. Since March 2011, increasing fuel costs have been a major grievance for Australian small business owners across.
The cost of unleaded petrol has sharply risen by 18 per cent from 113c per litre in early February to a staggering 133c as of the 26th of February in 2015.
And these alarming figures show no signs of decreasing any time soon.
This is a problem for most small businesses, but it can cause major setbacks for trades like plumbing and electricity, which depend on constant travel between jobs.
Fortunately, small businesses can implement a number of clever strategies to ease the pressures of fuel costs.
The most proactive ways to manage this problem is to adopt fuel-efficient cars that are equipped with hybrid engines and to use GPS systems to properly plan the routes ahead of time which can significantly reduce the driven kilometers.
5. Attracting new customers
Although constantly emerging media platforms provide small business owners with a plethora of creative means to engage with customers, they also present unforseen challenges for people who do not view themselves as tech-savvy.
The creation of mobile-friendly websites and the registering of domains are becoming easier through user-friendly websites like GoDaddy, Wix, and Weebly. Australian small business owners need to showcase the most relevant information so that local traffic is directed to the website.
Small businesses must first register on local classified websites such the Yellow Pages, Google Business or Gumtree. Following this, small business owners need to illustrate the most relevant, attention-grabbing information on their own website.
Clear and easy-to-read information like opening hours, contact details, products, and services are all needed to appeal to both new customers and search engine algorithms. They may seem basic, but these first steps will ensure new customers immediately know how small businesses can be of assistance.
Bjorn Behrendt is the Chief Marketing Officer at Mint Payments Limited. He has a Master in Business with Majors in Computer Sciences and Intl. Management and prior to working for Mint Payments he founded StyleTread.com.au and ParcelPush.com.au.