Marketing’s a funny subject. Everyone’s a marketer (which is true) but everyone views marketing differently.
When it comes time to sell your business, enlisting the aid of professionals is usually advisable. Even the most fiercely independent “I can do everything” business owner will achieve a better overall result by seeking assistance in this important transaction.
How much should I charge?
This is one of the most difficult questions any small business owner has to answer and often it has to be answered many times each day – very stressful. While it is a difficult question, it is also one of the most important for the continued viability of your business.
While there are many factors that can cause a business to fail, a common feature is the failure to maintain appropriate accounting records. As the new financial year approaches, now would be a good time to take a serious look at your systems and see if they can be improved.
Do you own negatively geared investments or rental properties? Would you appreciate extra cash throughout the year to help meet interest and other expenses you have to pay throughout the year?
Any small business that employs people other than the owners will be faced with the issue of what to do when one of your team members decides to move on.
In a recent article, I mentioned how my use of Trello as a To Do list management tool had increased my productivity. It has also, coincidentally, assisted in my constant battle with procrastination.
Time management – we all need it in all areas of our lives.
No doubt you have, from time to time, had to grapple with the pressures of the number of hours in the day and the demands for your time.
SYSTEMS – every successful business has them and, while they are operating properly, ensure the business continues to operate efficiently.
“Come and buy my widget! My widget is the best because it has A, B, and C and, as well as all that, it’s on special this week.”
At J&T Accountants & Advisors, we generally try to stay away from political commentary – we are accountants, after all! However, a federal election (and particularly one of this year’s magnitude, with a full-Senate election) is a big event in the life of Australia, and will impact directly on business confidence for months to come.
Our illustrious PM has decreed that innovation is going to be the saviour of the Australian economy. Over the years, Australians have certainly shown an ability to come up with new ideas. The fact that sometimes those new ideas have to leave Australia to be developed is a sad reflection of our inability to recognise the value inherent in those ideas.
I’ve been thinking this week that maybe the small business sector should adopt the 1977 Queen classic We Are The Champions as our official anthem.
With only 13 weeks of the financial year left to go, astute taxpayers are starting to think about what can be done to reduce any tax payable with respect to the 2015/16 year. Of course, the really astute taxpayers have been planning since July 1 but most of us leave it to the final quarter.
It looks like it’s not only the big, mean multinationals that have been avoiding paying tax in Australia. The exciting news of the week (for accountants, anyway) is that some Australians (possibly as many as 800) have been taking advantage of the same loop-holes and hiding income in overseas tax havens.
Retirement is all about enjoying the fruits of your labours and reaping the harvest of your many years of hard work.
Whether you are at the beginning of your working life, well established or already enjoying your retirement, professional financial advice can make a difference when it comes to achieving your financial goals and meeting your future lifestyle needs.
There are many reasons you may want to see a financial planner for the first time.
Which reasons apply to you?
Well all that April “foolery” is over for another year and the pranksters can claim victories and acknowledge failures while storing away some ideas for next year. While many of the successful pranks were just spur-of-the-moment events, others required considerable planning and resources to be effective.
Planning for your retirement is one of those activities in life that can be ignored for as long as you want to ignore it. No one else will know and anyway, retirement is a long way away.
Paying yourself first is a well-used recommendation for anyone wanting to create a nest-egg outside their superannuation fund.
How difficult is it for a small business to recruit? Assuming the business owner has a clear idea of exactly what are the desired characteristics of the ideal candidate, the process of advertising, reviewing applications, shortlisting, interviewing, conducting background checks and finally appointing is time-consuming and therefore costly.
A recent report from AMP highlights some concerning statistics regarding the growth in household debt in Australia since 1988.
Everyone is busy! It really doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, anyone with a purpose in life has things to do, places to be or people to see.
Having had to deal with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) for more years than I care to even contemplate, I note the changes that are currently taking place in form and content are really quite significant. However, like many things in today’s society, the pace of change is such that we barely have time to keep up with the changes and certainly have no time to consider whether the changes are “good” or even desirable.
As we prepare for the arrival of a new year, it is an opportune time to consider the importance of preparation in our business and personal lives. I will limit my comments here to the business context but I hope the parallels with preparation in our personal lives is not that difficult to see.
Is Santa bringing you a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) this Christmas?
Are you aware that if any of your children have a failed relationship, their share of your family wealth could end up going to another family?
Researching popular Google searches reveals that investment property tax is frequently searched in Australia. This is hardly surprising – Australians are keen property investors and they dislike paying taxes (of any sort).
Ironically, most people are now comfortable with using internet banking to access their accounts (and maybe even their money!). The convenience and efficiency of online banking has won over a vast majority of the population, and rightly so. The banks have convinced us that their security is top-notch, and we’ve bought it.
For those who plan to have a comfortable (or more than comfortable) retirement, the financial decisions made between first job and retirement are critical.
There’s no doubt that shark attacks have been big news recently. The impact on the victims ensures that the news bulletins will automatically give the events significant coverage.
Australian Tax Office – three words that, for most working Australians are associated with feelings of dread. We know that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) is responsible for relieving us of the opportunity to spend at least a third of our income (always a disappointing outcome).
During my 30+ years in business, it has always been known that referrals are the best form of advertising. The idea of having existing customers and other business contacts promoting your business by referring friends, family and clients to you is obviously a great option for growing your business.
What are you passionate about? Does it have anything to do with how you earn your income?
It’s probably a bit un-Australian to be passionate about anything - except sport of course - so the concept of being passionate about earning income or accumulating wealth may be foreign to many. For those, it’s a case of “It’d be good if it happens but buying a lotto ticket is almost too much effort”.
Current tough business conditions are leading to some remarkable business decisions around the prices being charged. It seems that businesses in many industries (particularly the building and construction industry) are focusing on achieving turnover at margins that appear to be unsustainable in the long term.
As a business owner, doesn’t it give you a lift when the phone rings and the caller says something like “My friend John suggested I give you a call”.
We’re pleased to announce the biggest release since the native version of our Xero Android app. Every pixel of the dated Android 4.x ‘Holo’ look is gone! Xero now follows Google’s ‘Material’ design guidelines. We’ve revisited every single screen with an eye on consistency and #beautiful design. We think you’ll find it a vast improvement.
Helping our customers get paid faster and automating administration are mantras at Xero. We’re always looking for ways to help simplify invoicing, make Xero more efficient, or reduce the effort required to get tasks done.
I often get asked how small businesses should approach technology. My advice is always the same. To safeguard your business and improve operating efficiency, stay up to date. Small businesses have always been nimble – it’s our greatest strength. Constantly evolving tech is letting us to be more nimble and competitive than ever.
One of the greatest advantages of small businesses is their agility.
The ability to make quick decisions is what makes us so competitive. We’re nimble. Whether it’s launching a new product, responding to customer requests or changing a business’s focus altogether.
Social media is changing, advancing and evolving, so it’s difficult for employers to know where they stand legally.
Having spent years as a fitness instructor and in financial services, there are many lessons I’ve learned from keeping in shape and living a healthy lifestyle that can be transferred to managing your finances.
The cost of travelling overseas can quickly add up so it pays to know some tips and tricks so you can avoid being ripped off on exchange rates and unnecessary fees as well as get a better deal on your flights.
As someone who constantly has the travel bug, I’m always on the lookout for ways to get more out of my money so that I can afford to squeeze in more trips each year. Here are things that I’ve discovered from my travels over the years.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has been unusually proactive in pursuing underpayment claims in the courts recently. This may have been prompted by several widely reported cases of large supermarket chains mistreating and underpaying their staff. Regardless, this impacts small to medium size employers who may have genuinely underpaid staff due to naivety or a human error and who are now prescribed to the same serious consequences.
It’s no secret that providing employee perks to your staff is a key way to keep motivation and happiness levels high, and to increase productivity across the business. However, for many small to medium size businesses, it can be difficult to compete on a level playing field with large companies. Big corporate players have access to the funds to spend on developing programs at a much higher scale than SMBs can afford.
David Koch is best known as ‘Kochie from Sunrise’, co-host of an Australian television breakfast program. But he also runs a small business, a boutique media production agency called Pinstripe Media. It’s a family business that’s been up and running for well over a decade. In fact, David and his family started the business around the same time he was hired to work on Sunrise.
You’re still likely to know someone who will tell you how much better things used to be before “technology”. This term covered anything from mobile phones to computers to fax machines to maybe even television sets. Whatever “it” was, it was to blame for making the modern world far too busy and far less human.
At this time of the year, accountants in business are invited to participate in a number of surveys which are designed to provide a comparison of an individual accounting with similar businesses around Australia.
Of all the weddings that were celebrated last weekend, undoubtedly the wedding of the Deputy Mayor of Auburn in the western suburbs of Sydney received the most attention (from the media at least).
Everyone is a sales person and failing to recognise that is sure to be a limiting factor for your career or your business.
Although it is unusual for employees to think this way, even those whose primary role is not sales in the traditional sense must, if they hope to achieve success, be alert to opportunities to promote their skills and value to the business to internal customers - the business owner and other team members. This is not always easy for some personality types but overcoming any natural reticence to self-promote will lead to increased success.
Most businesses spend a lot of time, money and energy trying to attract new clients. This is perfectly natural and a logical approach to take for any business trying to grow or even remain constant. After all, existing customers will stop buying from your business for a number of reasons. Typically they move to another town or reach a different stage of life so your offering has no attraction.
Customer expectations have changed rapidly for retailers, and the pressure to provide great shopping and checkout experiences is more critical than ever. In the last 5 years, it’s become clearer that you’re not just competing with the shops in your community – you’re competing on a global level with every online business. There’s even a new app that will send competitors’ coupons to your customers when they walk into your store.
I’m a big fan of simple marketing strategies that are easy to use and produce a noticeable impact on your sales results when you use them consistently.
And that’s why I love thank you cards
Thank you cards are easy to use, very affordable and work like magic.
Discounting is one of the most popular (and arguably among the most effective) ways to drive sales. According to a study by Software Advice, a POS system research site, discounting is the top “pricing strategy for retailers across all sectors, used by 97 percent of survey respondents.”
Talk to any credit control expert and they’ll tell you the sooner you follow up an overdue invoice the better. You’ll not only get paid sooner, but you’ll also send a clear signal to your customer that you take your payment terms seriously.
Whether in a large corporation or a small retail store, implementing a new piece of software can be a daunting task. One of the largest mistakes an organization can make is overlooking the training investment required with new software.SoftwareInsider recently conducted a survey of potential software buyers and asked what the most important buying factor was when choosing a product. Here were the results:
Whether you’re on vacation, attending a conference, or simply working from home, being out of the office can feel stressful.
In the world of inventory management all mistakes are costly. Errors throughout a business’ supply chain almost always filter down to place unnecessary burden on the bottom line.
For any operations manager, it is extremely important to be aware of the common mistakes to look out for when overseeing inventory as well as to know how to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Have you been told that you should use business networking as a tool to grow your business? You should; it’s an awesome way to expand your brand’s reach and find new clients through referrals, particularly if you’re just getting your business off the ground. But, there is SO much more to be gained from business networking - both professionally and personally - if you put the effort in.
When asked what inventory management is, business owners often say it’s about keeping control over stock levels: optimising how much inventory your business holds, to minimise costs associated with inventory handling, obsolete stock, and logistics. While inventory management assists with all of these things, its benefits to a business extend far beyond this. With the software available today, a good stock management system can help with making better sales, customer retention, business data analytics, security, and cash flow.
Often we’re asked for recommendations on what devices to roll out to field staff. While we prefer not to recommend any one device, the following article may shed some light on how to go about making an informed decision.
Cloud computing is quickly becoming a viable and effective tool for manufacturing businesses. While there is still room for improvement, the advances already made offer some great inventory management solutions. Many businesses are using it to some degree, although there remains a lack of understanding across the board as to how deeply it can be implemented. Most ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) packages now include cloud modules, and concerns around reliability and security are steadily being overcome.
Let’s set the scene. Close your eyes. Imagine.
A staunch, somewhat broad gentleman exhibiting a sunken in face, dressed in the latest season Hugo Boss navy suit and donning a pair of the most expensive Ted Baker shoes, opens the door to the office. His shoulders are drooped as if he were carrying the weight of the world on them. It’s 8:00pm. He walks down the hallway pretending to have purpose – trying his best not to let the onset exhaustion show.
Many successful inventors sometimes talk about “BBB time” – time spent in Bed, in the Bath or on the Bus (or other form of public transport). This is when most new ideas come to them, because they’re relaxed and unfocused. Their minds are running on automatic, free to roam far and wide without the constraint of work or other distractions.
“Female customers? Make it pink.”
I once heard this sage advice in a product marketing meeting. It was said partly in jest – but only partly. Does that make it insulting, offensive, and sexist? Or was it a helpful insight into gender biases amongs consumers?
If you employ people to provide services to customers, it’s vital to manage the hours invoiced to customers compared to those you pay to staff. Reason being, the differential is potential lost income to your business and precious profit.
Setting a price for your product or service can be difficult to get right. We think we’re rational when we assess the value of something. But there’s actually a lot of factors, including the prices of competitors and our own emotions. Understanding behavioural science is key to setting the right prices and improving your profitability.
Flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere are increasingly becoming the driving forces behind many career goals. FlexJobs (a leading job search site) has reported a 26% increase in remote jobs advertised from 2013-14. Workers are looking for companies that allow them to set their own schedules, work from home or while travelling, and not stay tied to one company.
According to Greek mythology, the temple of Apollo at Delphi was inscribed with the words “Gnothi Seauton.” This translates to “Know thyself” – and it’s a useful maxim for business owners today.
I was driving to work the other day - it was still dark, it was cold, it was pouring with rain, and traffic was at a standstill. Looking around, I could tell people were grumpy, fed-up, and exhausted before their work day had even started. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, too; man, if I could be anywhere else but here right now… damn you, work, for getting in the way of a nice relaxing life…!
I’ve always appreciated the freedom and flexibility mobile tech allows me to have. From staying in touch with my kids overseas to running the family business on the move. In fact, right now I’m writing this on a plane.
And I think it’s the same for most people. With instant notifications and endless apps across phones, tablets and computers, we’ve never been more connected. In one afternoon, I can Skype family, send off a string of emails and tweet a photo from the footy. It’s all so normal now.
It’s been three months since we launched Tracked Inventory in Xero. It’s proven to be a great tool for small businesses who want a real-time view of the products they sell.
Our customers are impressed with Inventory in Xero. They’ve found it to be an easy way to keep track of their stock.
Summer has finally arrived in the UK and Brits all over the place are no doubt collectively yearning for a beach holiday. But for small business owners, that heady feeling of freedom is often replaced by worry at the prospect of leaving their business at such a critical time.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time!” How many times have you heard (or used) that statement to explain or justify a decision that has served your business well but is now holding it back?
Knowing what to change and how to change it is as important a business skill as knowing when to change and, most times, the owner has a choice to act now or to wait.
A cash flow forecast is a key management tool for businesses. This video will show you how you can use the Cash Summary report in Xero to quickly create a cash flow forecast in Excel for your business.
Opening additional retail stores is always an exciting endeavor. When implemented correctly, expanding to new locations enables you to tap into new communities, create more jobs, increase revenues, and more.
In other words, opening additional stores can catapult your business to higher levels of retail success. But in order to achieve that success, you need to plan your expansion thoroughly. Rapidly sprouting up new stores can do more harm than good if you don’t think things through.
Sales drive a small business forward, but too often they’re a sideline rather than a focus.
From owning and selling a small business to being CEO of a billion dollar company, I’ve seen sales from every angle. Here are my suggestions to grow sales by creating a small business where sales are a focus and customers keep coming through your door.
Having a big name retailer move in on your turf can be quite daunting. Retail giants not only carry the name recognition that draws huge crowds, but they also have resources and connections to drive down prices and offer tremendous deals.
No matter how innovative, sought after or profitable your small business may be, without cash in the bank, you’re going to face some serious struggles.
Typically defined as: ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.’ (1)
Success means a lot of different things to different people. Success may mean wealth, or it may mean happiness. It may mean fame, and for others it may mean power. But can revenue be a true predictor of success?
What is it that makes us truly successful? Renowned psychologist, best-selling author and happiness guru Dr. Robert Holden believes our definition of success has changed over time.
While many of us were brought up to believe that success will make us happy, Robert says we’re now looking at success differently. “In fact, I think many of us today believe happiness actually increases our chances of success,” he says.
Running an agency is hard.
It’s the ultimate service-based business where time quite literally equals money. Waste a single second, and you're eating into your margins.
Or even worse, a project that you thought would take 4 weeks takes you 6 weeks. The delay in your deliverable means a delay in a paycheck from your client, and you risk becoming a cashflow negative business.
“We have this big myth in the technology industry that we like to impose on everybody — disruption is going to happen and it’s going to destroy you. But this pattern of change actually takes time.”
Getting your inventory management strategies working in harmony can be a daunting – but far from impossible – task. The key is recognizing what strategies best suit your business needs and having the tools to implement them effectively and efficiently. If you’re a small business looking to take the leap, or a start-up wanting to get the basics right, there are some critical strategies to consider.
Thinking like a freak means looking at common, everyday problems through an out-of-the-box lens. This process lets you question every step involved in your current systems and processes. It also means re-examining whatever conclusions you arrive at. How can you be sure you’re actually performing at the highest level if you’re not willing to deconstruct the way you’re currently working?
“Um… I dropped it really, really hard…” I said as I dropped a baggy full of pager pieces on the desk.
The stunned look on our technology specialist’s face was priceless. She poured the beeper’s remains onto her desk. Sifting through shards of plastic, bits of metal and a crushed battery, she smirked and asked, “Stressful day?”
As a founding member of the Fast Company magazine team, Polly LaBarre has seen her share of successes—and failures—in the business world. Now the cofounder and director of Management Lab, she helps businesses and entrepreneurs succeed. She starts by asking them a single question: Are you capable of changing as fast as the world is changing?
Secretly, my ultimate goal is an empty inbox. I create folders and subfolders and diligently file emails away as soon as possible, or delete anything I no longer need. The thought of my inbox growing massive in number kind of scares me - an irrational fear that if it grows beyond a certain amount, it’s too late to be saved, and I’d just have to give up and let it run wild. Some might call it OCD, I just like to call it ‘organised’.
If you’d asked anyone 10 years ago about how important technology was in running a successful café, they probably would have responded: not at all!
But today, we are increasingly seeing small businesses embrace technology to grow and be more relevant to their clients.
Raw data describes the facts and figures that a business processes every day. Over time, every business hoards a certain amount of data and it only becomes information to a business after it has been processed to add context, relevance and purpose.
Have you ever thought you were doing something good for yourself only to find out it was having the reverse effect? Like having a caffeine-hit only to end up in an even bigger slump, or dry-cleaning that expensive jacket and having it returned ruined. Unfortunately the same can be said for many Australians who keep their savings in a high-interest bank account.
The end of the first home saver accounts (FHSA) scheme means Australians who have put their money into the FHSA have lost a great vehicle to build up their savings.
We’re quickly approaching EOFY, the moment that businesses often dread. Time consuming, admin heavy tasks begin to really start to gather momentum, which often means reconciling the entire year’s payroll. However, it shouldn’t be a burden or a time of concern. Instead, it’s an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and begin a new financial year with a clean start to payroll and perhaps a focus on what you’re really in business for.
One week to go! This time next week it will be “Happy New (Financial) Year” time but most people won’t be as excited as they will be on December 31. There’ll be no fireworks, no all-night parties and (probably) no New Year resolutions.
The interaction of the various levers that our political and economic masters are attempting to use is creating some interesting outcomes. Depending on your position, this will affect your financial situation now and maybe into the future.
I've learned a number of valuable marketing lessons over the last few weeks and I thought I'd share three of these with you.
In more than 20 years of writing for and about a wide variety of companies, I’ve noticed something important. The businesses that flourish are the ones that truly understand their customers – who they are and what they want.