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Why SMEs shouldn’t freeze spending during tough times

Rising interest rates. High inflation. A war on talent and a shift towards hybrid and remote working that increasingly requires investments into digital tools. That’s not to mention heightened customer expectations or compliance burdens. It’s no wonder many businesses are feeling overwhelmed by the financial pressures they are currently experiencing. However, within every challenge lies an opportunity, and savvy and agile businesses of all sizes tend to be at the forefront of finding and maximising these chances.

Fabian Calle, managing director, small and medium business, SAP Concur Australia and New Zealand, said, “Businesses have a number of core priorities that they are continuing to focus on, particularly during turbulent economic times. These include controlling spend and maximising profitability, driving sustainable growth, empowering their businesses with data, and increasing efficiency while optimising performance.”

In line with these priorities, it’s crucial for business leaders to not completely freeze spending during challenging times. In fact, this is the ideal time to strategically allocate resources and uncover opportunities that are often overlooked during economic downturns.

Fabian Calle said, “When businesses freeze spending, they might inadvertently stall growth, miss opportunities to connect with customers, and lose market share to more proactive competitors. On the other hand, smart spending can lead to streamlined operations and a focus on efficiency. During hard times, customers’ needs and preferences often shift, and being able to adapt to these changes through having the right data on hand can make a substantial difference.”

Identify gaps in spend and visibility

Identifying, tracking, and closing gaps in spending and visibility through automation is a strategic approach that can help businesses control spend more efficiently. Automation streamlines financial processes, reducing manual errors and ensuring that data is captured more accurately. This, in turn, empowers businesses with real-time insights into their financials, enabling them to quickly identify areas where spending can be optimised or reduced. By meticulously tracking expenses and revenue, business leaders can make swift and informed decisions to reallocate resources as necessary. Having control and visibility is particularly vital during tough times, as it equips businesses to be more adaptable and resilient. In an uncertain economic landscape, being able to make data-driven decisions on resource allocation can be the difference between weathering the storm or facing insurmountable challenges.

Leverage real-time data

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Access to real-time data is a significant change for business leaders aiming to stay on top of spend numbers. With the ability to monitor financial transactions and expenses as they occur, businesses can have an up-to-the-minute understanding of their cash flow and financial position. This immediacy is essential for identifying trends, spotting gaps in the market, or addressing any unexpected expenses that might arise. Being able to react to financial data on a daily basis, rather than waiting for end-of-month reports also provides business leaders with the agility to make prompt, informed decisions. This is especially important when managing tight budgets or navigating fluctuating market conditions.

Avoid the costs of inefficiency

Ultimately, following inefficient processes reduces the bottom line. For example, automating inventory management helps in maintaining optimal stock levels, avoiding overstocking costs or lost sales due to stockouts, and increasing revenue and profit margins. Similarly, automating invoice processing can minimise late payment fees and help businesses take advantage of early payment discounts. When implemented correctly, automation becomes an invaluable tool for trimming the excess costs that arise from operational inefficiencies.

Invest tax returns into smart automation

With tax returns around the corner, it’s the ideal time for businesses to be proactive and consider how smaller investments into automation can help control spend and get the most from a return on investment (ROI). Continual investment into the business and its operations can have positive long-term effects, helping the company to rebound faster once the economy recovers.

Fabian Calle said, “Engaging in thoughtful spending during challenging periods reflects forward-thinking and the ability to adapt, which are essential traits for business survival and success. By optimising operations, employing cost-effective technologies, and tailoring products or services to meet changing demands, businesses can not only sustain themselves but can sometimes even thrive during downturns.”

 

Also read: Top 3: what your SME should be budgeting for in 2024

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