By Phil Ellerby

When you run your own business it can be easy to focus on the day-to-day tasks which make you money – and forget about everything else.

But if you want to make more profit, expand and grow; you’ll reap the rewards of taking a step back to think about what you do and why you’re doing it.

At Northern Accountants, we encourage everyone we work with to do this on an annual basis as part of our GrowthPlan initiative, which aims to identify the areas where improvements will make the most impact.

Having asked a handful of our clients for their number one piece of advice to put into practice, it’s revealed some very actionable insights:

Dean Towers – BCS Electrics in Leeds: In my experience as a business owner, clarity and involvement are the most important things a manager needs to get across to the team because without both of these there wouldn’t be a business. For me, every team member must have an input into the business – from the apprentices right up to the team of directors. If everyone does have an input and feels part of the whole thing, you’ll get them on board and interested in your aims – and you won’t go far wrong from then on. By getting everyone involved, they’ll become more passionate about the business – and passion is what’s needed to drive a company forward.

Chris Swink of Swink Design in Batley: As a branding expert, the number one piece of advice from me is to be consistent across all platforms with your brand logo and literature. You need to think about how it will work on social media, in print and online – and it always needs to be have the same feel. There’s no point having a great brand design if you use it inconsistently and you have mixed messages on every different platform.

Gavin Esberger – GME Painting Contractors in Wakefield: Although I’m a painter and decorator by trade, the most important thing I’ve learned in business is the importance of networking, going for a coffee or a drink. The impact of meeting people and talking to them should never be underestimated. This is even more true if you can put yourself near to the right people, the ones you want to work with, and focus on building those relationships up. It’s a bit of an old cliché, but relationships really are key for any business and the sooner you realise that, the more your business will grow.

Dominic Woodward – Trinity Residential Solutions in Wakefield: To be a success, it’s important to spend time focusing on your offering to make sure it’s different to your competitors. Conducting in-depth competitor research is vital if you want to position yourself as being unique, especially in a competitive market. Any business can do this if they think about what they offer that’s unique, regardless of the industry or sector they work in.

Marianne Smith – Doo Marketing in Morley: The best piece of advice I could give is to look after your current clients so that you don’t lose their business to a competitor. As a marketing expert, I think you can do this by communicating with them on a regular basis to make them feel special. Depending on how many different clients or customers you have, it is essential to make sure there’s a planned and systemised approach to keep them happy. This could be as simple as scheduling a monthly meeting, regular client events, corporate hospitality or something else. But it is important to use a method you can carry out consistently and one which rewards clients who you have helped or achieved success with.

Mark Fewings – Arrival Design & SEO in Hull: As someone who specialises in getting businesses onto page one of Google, my top tip is to make sure your local address listings (above) are set up correctly to maximise your chances of being found online. By getting the basics right, you won’t need to think as hard about how to attract new customers because the people who want – and need – your services will come to you after searching and finding you online.

Joe Gregson – Gregson Electrical Contracting in Bradford: My top business tip is to constantly analyse how your business is performing, especially if you work in varying sectors and with different types of clients as we do. By analysing our projects and working methods, we’ve found we have been able to cut out some procedures that were costing us money for no gain. We also use this process to make sure all our teams are implementing systems which enable us to complete projects to the highest standard and as efficiently as possible.

Phil Ellerby – MD of Northern Accountants in Leeds: As an accountancy which tries to help business owners save time and money, we believe being organised and systemising tasks is the number one way to do this. Although every business and industry is different, the accounting process never changes and getting everything right can be a very time-consuming thing to do. Our top business tip to save you time and money is to use a cloud accounting tool like Xero – to ensure your accounts are super organised and access up-the-minute financial data to make your business a success.

Michael Sunderland – DMS Architecture in Castleford: My top tip for business owners is to give staff more flexibility in order to ensure a greater work-life balance and increased levels of loyalty towards your company. By giving a little bit of flexibility back, I find you are more appreciated by the people you employ because they really appreciate it, especially if they are parents with children or staff who have caring responsibilities.

David Cataroche – Beyond Flooring in Morley: My one tip would be to delegate! Don’t be a control freak and think that you have to do every task. Instead, make a list of every task in your business (and I mean every task right down to taxing the van and ordering the coffee) and assign those tasks to individual members of staff. You’ll be surprised how many tasks get completed by delegating to your staff – usually more efficiently and to a higher standard than when you did them!