October is a great month to support your business goals with a review of contracts, controls and culture.

Review key business contracts

Often business contracts come with responsibilities. Understanding your responsibilities will ensure there are no surprises in your business operations.

How to review key business contracts

  1. Review all key contracts in the business – such as leases, hire purchase agreements, staff contracts, insurances, rentals and utilities against business needs.
  2. Make a list of any compliance requirements for each contract – put key dates in your diary.
  3. Assign responsibility to staff to make sure each compliance requirement is met – include it in your financial policies and procedures manual template – use the one we've provided below if you haven't already.
  4. Negotiate changes or improvements with the supplier.
  5. Keep all key business contracts filed together in a safe and easy to access place – consider keeping copies offsite, such as cloud computing.
  6. Where compliance requirements are assigned to a staff member, regularly check they're meeting the requirements.
  7. If there are words or terms you aren't sure of, ask for them to be explained.
  8. Think about any potential problems that may arise in your business, such as decrease in sales or cash flow – consider the impact on your major contracts and then discuss these with the supplier.

Review controls in your business

Good controls will protect the monetary and non-monetary aspects of your business.

How to review controls in your business

  1. Make a list of all of the areas, including physical assets such as cash, you think have potential risks such as fraudulent activity – use our financial policies and procedures manual and IT policies and procedures manual to help you.
  2. Review how each of these are protected by policies, procedures and physical security.
  3. Identify those which need improved controls.

When reviewing controls, keep in mind that:

  • nearly every area of your business should have some control elements in place
  • small businesses are often at risk of employee fraud – good controls minimise risk
  • non-monetary items within your business such as IP and brand names with patents and trademarks also need to be protected
  • controls should be reviewed regularly to make sure they're effective

Review innovation and continuous improvement culture

Focus on innovation and continuous improvement in your business. Encourage everyone in the business to work towards better business practices and improve business efficiency and performance.

Improvements can add capacity to your business with little or no additional costs.

How to review innovation in your business

  1. Review how many new products or services have been introduced in the business over the past two years.
  2. Review key performance measures such as staff productivity, introduction of policies and work in progress cycle times, and compare to previous years to gauge improvements in business processes.
  3. Prioritise the areas or processes that will experience the biggest impact from improvement.
  4. Measure the outcomes of changes.

In the search for continuous improvement, remember that:

  • continuous improvements can eliminate the need for large-scale quantum shifts and result in long-term innovation
  • it's important to take regular time-out to reflect on your business activities and ask questions such as 'What can we do to improve the business,the way we serve our clients and to increase the value of our offer?'
  • you can easily get staff involved with a suggestion box or planning day