by Jamie O’Hanlon

Traditionally, the end of year is a good time to take stock and plan for the coming year and this year is no exception. 

2020 has been a challenging one to say the least, however as with all challenges, there have been lessons learned, a deep appreciation for the support of family, friends and colleagues and every reason to be optimistic about business opportunities in the coming year.

Some suggestions for you and your business as we look forward to next year:

Assess where you are

This is a good time to take stock – an opportunity for you to review where you are in your business and think about where you want to take it next year.

Establish how the year has gone, understand the key income and cost drivers in your business – where have they been this year, where would you like them to be.

Speak with clients, colleagues, friends and family – all stakeholders in the business. Listen to what they have to say.

Engage with your employees. Review their performance and assess what their expectations are for the coming year.

Small steps will get you there

As a business owner, I look at my own needs and demands from the business.

Ask yourself what you would you like to get out of it? Is it a lifestyle business? Do you need to provide a better income for you and your family, start planning for retirement? Focus on your goal and put a plan in place.

When engaging with clients, my own staff looking at ways to improve performance, I always encourage slow steps. A 5 per cent reduction in overheads or a 5 per cent increase in income can turn into a cumulative increase of 50 per cent in 10 years.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Focus on an objective and slow steps, continual reviews and consistency will get you there.

Narrow your focus

One thing we have all learnt in 2020 is to expect the unexpected. We have become accustomed to living with a level of uncertainty. Brexit is an unknown for every business, large and small; the course of the pandemic and the roll out of vaccines, could mean a further 6 months until we return to any level of ‘normality’.

For now, business owners need to focus on a smaller window. For example, we are now working on much shorter-term cash flow models for our clients – forecasting what cash flow will look like over 13 weeks as opposed to the entire year. This narrow focus helps navigate short term challenges and uncertainties. Deal with what’s in front of you and schedule cash coming in and going out over this shorter cycle.

Stick to you promises

Know this is a difficult one right now however it is so important that we all continue to honour our financial commitments. 

Get a strong commitment from anyone who owes you money. Seek promises you can rely on and those promises are returned when we pay our suppliers, keeping much needed cash circulating in the economy.

Find ways to reward yourself

Business is challenging at the best of times and this year has been a particularly stressful one for business owners, their families, and employees.

Reward yourself for the adjustments you have had to make, the tough decisions you’ have had to take. Find a way to pat yourself on the back for getting through 2020!

Look into ways of paying yourself a bonus or book a holiday  when restriction allow. 

This uncertainty won’t last for ever and it’s important to set goals, ambitions. Having something to look forward to makes the hard work worthwhile.

Good efforts by Government

I applaud Government efforts to support businesses during this crisis. Quick decisions were made at a critical time, making short term support and cash flow measures available to individuals and businesses when they needed it most.

Of course, some businesses have had greater challenges than others and for those businesses I would like to see greater supports in the new year – I’m talking about hospitality, pubs and restaurants.

Looking Ahead

If uncertainly continues beyond March next year, I would expect Government measures to continue. And if there are sectors where the need is greater, that is where the support should go. 

Based on our clients’ performance and what I am seeing in the marketplace generally, I am optimistic about next year. 75 per cent or more of our clients are reporting good performances this year, not necessarily without Government supports.

If we have a relatively good year next year, and when optimism returns, these businesses are in a good position. They have the cash reserves to spend and invest again, which was the intention of the Government supports all along.

A word of thanks

On a personal note, a sincere thank you to our clients for your business this year.

I wish you all and your families a Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

As always, my appreciation to the team at Avid Partners for their hard work, commitment and support.

We got through 2020!  Let’s give ourselves a pat on the back, enjoy a well-earned rest and we look forward to seeing you in 2021.


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