With most of us back to work for real this week, the new year is well and truly under way. But what can you do to improve the outlook for you and your business in 2013? We asked our select panel of experts for their views.

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Simon Watson, partner of Lovewell Blake chartered accountants:

1. Have a clear strategy for where you want to get to and how you plan to get there.

2. Manage risk effectively. Look at areas of your business where you are over reliant on external influences such as suppliers or providers of finance and look at ways to reduce your exposure.

3. Have a clear understanding of the current financial performance of your business and its working capital requirements.

4. Strengthen relationships with your key business contacts. Your bank manager, insurance broker, accountant and solicitor should all have a clear understanding of where your business priorities lie if they are to assist the business.

5. Understand your employees. What motivates them and how can you influence them to be more effective?

6. Address difficult issues sooner rather than later. Problems which manifest tend to get worse rather than better.

7. Have a clear understanding of how your products, services and business are perceived by your customers and clients.

8. Critically assess every pound you spend. Are you getting the best price and value for money?

9. Be aware of changes in your market and what your competitors are up to. Many markets are constantly evolving and you need to adapt quickly to change.

10. Don’t be afraid to cease unprofitable areas of your business. An important part of business is making decisions; even difficult ones.

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