Ian Ferguson: How Small Businesses Can Adjust To Vat Hike

The Bahamas is embroiled in a heated, and somewhat divisive, national conversation regarding taxation. Many, including the private sector, are concerned about the adverse impact this might have on consumer spending patterns and, ultimately, our already-strained economic condition. While governments must do what is in the best interest of the country at large, discomfort and frustrations in the process can stir much controversy.

The greatest concern for many is how these economic policy actions might, either in the short or long-term, negatively impact the bedrock of our economy: Small and medium-sized businesses. A healthy economy requires small business growth and sustainability. When small businesses are healthy and prosperous, the community benefits through employment.

Now, more than ever, small businesses must take note of every "best practice" to ensure they remain competitive and strong. Here are some valuable points for the small business sector to consider, even as we face the inevitable tax increase and subsequent adjustments.

  1. Bill faster. Your receivables can count for 40 percent to 50 percent of your actual assets. Do not batch invoice; bill as soon as you can.

  2. Simplify your business. Weed out the unprofitable and the hard-to-sell.

  3. Simplify your marketing message. In fewer words, let your identified audience know why you are the better, safer, greater quality option.

  4. Get your business and web site listed in relevant directories. Be sure to use online options.

  5. Learn to delegate. Figure out what you do that turns dollars. Then delegate the rest. This may mean outsourcing certain aspects of your business, such as training, human resources and VAT accounting.

  6. Encourage employees to explore more efficient approaches to their tasks, instead of relying on their standard way of doing things.

  7. Do not forget suppliers. They might not be on your payroll, but they are more apt to do a few things for you at no charge because you really take care of them.

  8. Work faster. If you can condense three four-month jobs into three three-month jobs, you can do one more job in the year.

  9. Reward your team for meeting budgets and timelines. A five percent bonus is cheaper than a 20 percent increase in costs.

  10. Cut overheads by automating most of the non-producing items such as accounting, customer care, voice mail, sales reporting, ordering and record keeping.

  11. Make public appearances when the media needs an expert opinion in an area you are expert in. Give it. You may even want to volunteer to write for the daily newspaper on your area of focus.

  12. Give something valuable away on your web site; at your front counter; when you send out your invoices; when you deliver goods. This should be free to you, but valuable to the recipient. For example, coupons or a "how to".

  13. Highlight offers, features, promotions and news in your e-mail footers, invoices and letter signatures.

  14. Start social accounts with Twitter.com, Facebook.com and LinkedIn.com, and post articles.

  15. Go where your audience is on the web. If your potential audience hangs out on forums, then post to those forums. Become a trusted advisor.

• NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com


DDK 3 years, 11 months ago

Now tell everyone how to explain to their customers the ridiculously high cost of merchandise and how to part with money they do not have in their pocket!


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