How to do a small business audit

- June 14, 2017 3 MIN READ

Tax time can undoubtedly be a stressful time for small business owners. In addition to the foray of keeping your business running, you are also now responsible for arduous financial reporting that can be a daunting task for even qualified accountants. But it can also represent a truly exciting time for SMBs – much like the end of the calendar year, it can serve as the perfect time for reflection.

What has your business achieved over the last 12 months? What goals have been scored, what opportunities missed? Here are three areas to help you re-assess at tax time:

#1. Look at how your website is performing year-on-year
Australians spent an estimated $37.8 billion over the internet during the last financial year. With stats like this – there is no denying the value of having a website. However, of equal importance is ensuring that it is both compelling and easy to use.

Looking specifically at the retail sector, Australian sites were shown to be amongst the slowest in the world to load. Whilst this clearly has something to do with network speeds, the structure and kind of content on your website can also have a big impact. Do some speed testing through the lens of a consumer – how quickly do your pages load? Is the content easy to digest, the website easy to navigate? How easy is to locate and purchase your product or service?

And even if your website loads quickly – if the content is lack-lustre, as could be the response from your customers. Communicate concisely exactly what you’re offering and why it’s of value for them. You can use Google Analytics get an idea of your performance, giving you insights into how visitors find and use your site. Analytics can tell you how visitors have reached your site, via what device, and also what type of content they are responding to. You can then adjust your marketing and site content accordingly.

#2. Assess email marketing success
All too often small business’ marketing campaigns are considered in isolation. Success or failure of campaigns are judged around the achievement of one-off business outputs, such as sales of a particular product or a hike in enquiries. Delve a little deeper – what was the response from your last campaign? If it didn’t get a strong response, or conversely yielded a strangely positive reaction – for what reason? You can only understand what worked well if you know what was different, and this is only possible through benchmarking.  

It’s now possible to send meaningful, personalised messages to your customers at the touch of a button. Whilst automation is a magic word for small businesses, it’s all too easy to slip into the mindset of – ‘oh, that’s already taken care of’. Email marketing is a powerful tool for SMBs – indeed email reaches its intended recipient 90% of the time, while Facebook posts only reach about 2% – but it’s important to measure the success of these campaigns. Did emails with an image perform particularly well, if so what image? Was the email sent a particular time of the day or week? Learn what your customers are responding to and adapt accordingly for greater success.

#3. Have customer needs shifted over the last year?
Forces such as digitisation are shifting customer needs and preferences much faster than ever anticipated, so don’t rest on the initial customer information you had when you started your business. It’s important to get it from the source, so seek customer feedback often and keep a record of their responses. Technology like analytics also means you can learn from the data you already collect on a daily basis – look at things like purchasing trends and customer behaviour and benchmark on the last financial year.

There are a number of ways to engage with your customers to better understand their level of satisfaction. You can conduct a large scale survey at regular intervals, through something like SurveyMonkey, or you can simply host a shorter survey on your website. If you host one on your site, it’s best to keep this to one or two key questions that are relevant to the page, as you will be more likely to get feedback. Social media channels are another simple way to get fast feedback, however an often forgotten method is face-to-face or phone contact – speaking to your customer in person can yield some insights you simply might not obtain any other way.

Tax time is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your customers and realign your goals as a business. Instead of thinking of it as a time of stress and mind-numbing reporting, use it as a time for reflection and to adjust your strategies for even better success in the next financial year.

Want more? Read our 3-part tax series here:
Part 1: $20,000 instant asset write-off
Part 2: depreciable assets 
Part 3: income deferral

Industry specific tax deductions

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