knowing your business

02 March, 2007
With the new year already well under way, Tony Phillips offers some sound advice to achieve business success in the months ahead and advocates future vision
Page 13 
While I sit at my desk writing this, a hard-working electrician doing a job for me has just asked: "What kind of government is it that penalises the working people to give to the lazy?" There is no answer to that except to say, "A British one".
And one question remains unanswered in my mind. Why is it that everyone I speak with - both employers and employees - all seem to feel the same. Yet we, the majority, are still ruled by the minority.Back to business, Neville, my MD, and I were having a brief discussion about our spending plans for the year, starting with the inevitable wish list, followed by what we can afford to make us the best return on capital.Now I know you will say there are many better ways of getting higher returns on capital than investing it in bakery. That may be true, but if we do not invest, we shall end up losing everything. You could say we are on a treadmill and that, if we stop, we shall not succeed and our labour costs will spiral out of control.DON'T BANK ON THE BANKOne point I made strongly to Neville, based upon years of bitter experience, is never trust your bank. When you are doing well, they will give you, within reason, anything you ask for. Then, having built up a good working relationship with your bank or area manager, he or she gets promoted and the next guy can be a right son-of-a-gun.Always borrow for capital equipment on lease or hire purchase. I prefer the latter as it is simple, fixed payments and it is yours at the end of the period. Never buy capital equipment by using an overdraft that is a short-term loan, which can be rescinded on demand by the bank. Remember that old adage: never borrow short to spend long. The way I see it, a fool and his money are lucky to get together in the first place.Always try to be realistic when doing a budget: if you have a boomerang that won't come back, just accept the fact that it is a stick. beware tax schemesI am always wary of schemes that appear to have such great tax advantages to me. But the reality is that you have to make large profits before the tax advantages kick in.With a new year here, a vision of the future is important. Otherwise we'll be going nowhere. So what are the secrets for success? Well we must have the right management team, always be looking to control and cut costs and, I suppose, know the business we are in.The latter may sound obvious, yet in many ways is the most difficult to define. Are we bakers or fast food operators, retailers or manufacturers? We all know we are a bit of each, and while each part of the company is interdependent on the other, which should take priority?In my opinion, if you are a retailer the retail side of the business should always have priority. After all, even if you make the best products in the country, if people don't buy them, you have no money just products. n



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