Improvements are always welcome, but the new year offers a unique opportunity to start with a fresh perspective. At the start of a new year, actively review all areas of your business. This will help you identify areas for improvement and prepare for potential challenges in the coming 12 months.
1. Actively consider your business formation
If you’re currently operating as a sole trader, consider that 2024 might be the ideal time to transition to a limited company.
Firstly, a limited company, in contrast to a sole trader, functions as a separate legal entity registered at Companies House. This structure offers the significant benefit of protecting your personal assets.
Moreover, switching to a limited company can notably enhance your business’s credibility in the market and assist in protecting your business name as your brand grows.
Are you planning to access funding? Importantly, as a limited company, you could enjoy increased borrowing power and potentially gain access to more funds from lenders and investors.
However, it’s crucial to remember that limited companies may not be the perfect fit for every scenario. Therefore, it’s highly advisable to consult with your accountant for tailored advice.
2. Revisit your goals and objectives
If you set goals for your business in 2023, use the new year as an opportunity to review them and assess your achievements against your intentions.
Common goals often include:
- Increasing profit margins by a specific percentage,
- Driving up sales to reach a targeted figure,
- Enhancing customer satisfaction and implementing a system to record satisfaction scores,
- Growing your business’s market share by a set amount,
- Improving brand awareness and establishing a method to monitor it.
Actively review each goal to determine whether you have met it or are on track to achieve it. If a goal remains unmet, consider making necessary adjustments. For instance, if you aimed to improve profit margins but have not succeeded, you might review and cut down your business costs.
3. Embrace Artificial Intelligence
In 2023, Artificial Intelligence (AI) prominently emerged as a major trend, even securing the title of “Word of the Year” from the Collins Dictionary.
Subsequently, the end of 2022 saw the launch of the groundbreaking generative AI tool ChatGPT, which captured global attention and sparked significant discussions about its potential to transform society and the workplace.
As AI continues to evolve rapidly, the new year presents an ideal opportunity to explore how AI tools can enhance your business. A key advantage of AI lies in its ability to increase productivity and efficiency by automating and improving various business tasks, including content creation, transcription, and customer service communications.
However, it’s equally important to recognize potential downsides. Concerns about errors and inaccuracies, as well as issues related to privacy, bias, data storage, and cybersecurity, are critical aspects to consider.
4. Enhance Your Tax Strategy
Take various tax planning actions to reduce your tax bill and increase your cash flow. Here’s how you can do it:
- Claim allowable expenses: Deduct costs directly related to running your business from your taxable income. This includes expenses like stationery, phone bills, business rates, and energy bills.
- Make pension payments: As a sole trader or limited company director, pay into a pension to benefit from tax relief.
- Claim the Employment Allowance: If you’re an eligible employer, reduce your annual National Insurance liability by up to £5,000 with this Government scheme.
- Claim research and development tax credits: If your UK business is investing in innovative science and technology projects, you could qualify for R&D tax relief rewards.
5. Boost your sustainability
Despite the Government’s delay in some net zero plans in September 2023, sustainability remains a critical issue for businesses.
Moreover, adopting sustainable practices offers not only environmental benefits but also a commercial edge. Importantly, many consumers now consider a business’s environmental and social impact before making purchases, so sustainability can lead to increased sales.
Additionally, businesses face legal obligations to adopt environmentally friendly practices. For instance, England and Wales enforced bans on certain single-use plastics in October 2023, following similar regulations in Scotland in 2022.
Therefore, to enhance your business’s sustainability in 2024, focus on reducing energy use, minimizing waste, utilizing sustainable materials, and adopting greener transportation methods.
6. Get Ready for Basis Period Reform Changes
If you operate an unincorporated business with an accounting year-end different from 31st March or 5th April, be aware that the Government’s basis period reform will impact you.
As part of HM Revenue and Customs’ Making Tax Digital initiative, aimed at streamlining the tax system, this change will shift the calculation of business profits from the accounting year to the tax year.
Consequently, 2023/24 will act as a transition year for this reform. Therefore, most businesses will need to prepare accounts for their current accounting year-end and also create transitional accounts up to 5th April 2024. It is advisable to plan for this with your accountant in 2024.
Boost Your Business Today
Taking the time to plan ahead provides you with a detailed roadmap for the upcoming months.