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Business Matters: Taking the stress out of running a firm

IF you get that Monday morning feeling on Friday night and wonder how February crept up on you so quickly - after all, wasn't it October last time you looked?! - then the chances are that you are well and truly stressed. And if you recognise these signs, you won't be alone!

In a recent national survey, 82% of the British workforce admit to burgeoning stress levels. Some 31% of these workers try to combat stress through exercise while a worrying 16% relax by smoking and 15% head for the shops for some retail therapy.

For the four million people running their own small business in Britain, one of the biggest causes of stress is a cash flow problem in their firms. Fortunately, there are some commonsense steps that business owners can take to help ease the pressure.

First, look at overheads. The past couple of years have not been the easiest in recent times and the temptation is to prune costs when really you should be eliminating them.

Assess existing budgets, bolt-on services and the way that management and staff are layered. Don't fix what ain't broke but you can be assured there is always something there for profitable repair.

Your business actions should reflect the fact that the foundation for successful growth is keeping overheads low while increasing turnover and profitability. You have to know what is superfluous to requirements and deal with it effectively.

It is also crucial to give fresh focus to realistic financial reporting, no matter how much it hurts. The only way to run a profitable business is through an accurate understanding of its financial dynamics. Looking at cashflow and researching the best way to fund a business forms an integral part of this. The importance of invoice finance in helping overcome financial challenges cannot be understated.

With water-tight resolve and direction, a strategically-focused product or service offering, sound financial controls and a strong degree of motivation, there is little reason why 2007 cannot be a reasonably stress-free year for us all.
1 February 2007


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