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3 things Australian small businesses should think about over the holiday break to prepare for a great 2019

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As a company, we interact with small businesses every day, from the local coffee shop to specialised services such as accounting and personal training. They connect our communities and create employment opportunities in a range of diverse industries and locations.

There are more than 2.2 million small businesses in Australia, with the sector accounting for half of Australia’s workforce and making up one fifth of our GDP. When our small businesses thrive, so does our economy, creating more jobs and revenue.

Here are three tips to help small businesses prosper and grow in 2019.

Prioritise wellbeing

While most of us look forward to spending quality time with family and friends over the holidays – many small business owners are instead ramping up for their busiest time of year.

In fact, 58% of small business owners expect to miss out on sleep due to work demands over the holidays; 63% won’t have a chance to relax and wind down; and 58% will miss out on spending time with family and friends, according to new findings from the Westpac Small Business Report in collaboration with Deloitte.

Making time for sleep and wellbeing will not only benefit you, it’s essential for the long-term success of your business. Try taking a proactive approach by turning off all technology well before bedtime to prioritise sleep and block out ‘me time’ to exercise or catch-up with loved ones.

Keep cash flow top of mind

Not only will many small business owners work harder than ever over the Christmas period, they will also struggle to pay suppliers and staff, with cash flow typically at its weakest in January and February. Our research shows this can result in small business owners sacrificing their own pay to make ends meet, with 30% admitting to sacrificing their own salary to pay staff.

On top of forgoing their own pay, small businesses are also giving up their time to alleviate these cash flow concerns. Four in ten business owners expect to receive late payments from debtors during the Christmas period, and will spend an average of over 30 hours a month chasing outstanding invoices for payment.

Try to limit the nonvalue adding activities like chasing invoices by automating them so you can focus on driving value to your business. Technology such as digital invoicing can help you in reducing the time to cash.

Harness data & keep customers front of mind

Data is fast becoming a more valuable resource than gold. No matter what industry you operate in or the size of your business, it’s essential to make sure you are capturing data and asking the right questions to make it meaningful. Use the new year as an opportunity to learn how to optimise your data and delve into existing data to find areas to improve.

Use the data to understand what, when and why your customers engage with your business. And make time to think about how you use the data to solve a customer’s problem or build their experiences, beyond just a product or service offering.

Ganesh Chandrasekkar is the General Manager for Small Business Banking at Westpac Group. Westpac is helping small businesses with Biz Invoice so businesses can track, reconcile, and send payment reminders, giving time back to spend on managing the business.

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