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Six Reasons To Look at Your Financial Reports

Making time to look over your financial reports each month is an important task for any business owner. If you are not taking the time to do this, either because you’re too busy or perhaps you don’t really understand what you’re looking at and it doesn’t make sense to you, then here are six reasons we recommend that you should start to.

  1. Understand your business better – by looking at your Profit and Loss (“P&L”) report monthly you will get a good picture of how your business is performing month by month and it will provide a better understanding of what makes up your profit.  Looking at revenue and expenses clearly on one page in a monthly P&L or comparing periods, this will help to identify trends in your data and may also help to highlight anomalies in coding/categorising.
  2. Accurate information for lending purposes – if you are applying for a loan or an overdraft, the bank or financial institution will look closely at both your Profit and Loss report and the Balance Sheet as a lot can be learned about a business by looking at these reports together. If you are unsure what some of your balances are in your accounts, get in touch and we can explain them further.
  3. Get paid quicker and reduce bad debts – by looking at your Accounts Receivable Aged Summary each month you can follow up with overdue accounts promptly which often results in getting paid quicker. The longer an overdue amount is left unpaid the higher the risk of it not being paid at all, so it is important to keep on top of this.
  4. Better relationships with your suppliers – assuming you are entering your supplier bills into your accounting software (recommended for most businesses to get an accurate profitability figure) your Aged Payables report will alert you to any unpaid or overdue amounts. Supplier relationships are an important aspect of your business and paying on time is crucial to maintaining those relationships.
  5. Better cashflow – having an accurate understanding of how much money the business is owed and how much money the business owes, can help with cashflow planning to ensure that there is enough money when needed. Additionally, understanding the trends of your business, its profitability drivers, expenses, etc., can help to plan sales and marketing campaigns so that the revenue keeps coming in.
  6. Better business decision making – your financial reports tell the story of your business and it’s important that you understand the story that they are telling you. The better you understand what’s going on in your business the stronger position you will be in to make better business decisions that affect the profitability of your business and its financial viability.

Depending on the complexity of your business, at a bare minimum you should be looking at the following reports:

  • The Statement of Financial Performance, also known as the Profit and Loss report (P&L) or the Income Statement.  As the name suggests, it’s how your business is performing over a period of time, such as a month or a financial year. In broad terms it shows the revenue that your business has generated, less the expenses for that same period. In other words, it shows how profitable your business is.
  • The Statement of Financial Position, also known as the Balance Sheet.  This shows the value of the business’s Assets, Liabilities and Equity.
    • Assets include things like money in bank accounts, Plant and Equipment, Accounts Receivable balances
    • Liabilities include things like Bank loans and credit cards, Accounts Payable, and Hire Purchase balances
    • Equity is the difference between your Assets and Liabilities and includes Retained Earnings and Owner Funds Introduced
  • Accounts Receivable Ageing report (Aged Receivables) shows how much money is still owed to the business as at a certain date in time, and is usually segmented as to how overdue they are or sometimes by how far past the invoice date they are. Generally you will have Current, 30, 60 and 90 days columns.
  • Accounts Payable Ageing Report (Aged Payables) shows who the business owes money to as at a certain date in time and, like the Accounts Receivable Ageing report, is usually segmented by overdue period.

So why bother?

If you would like to know which reports are relevant to your business and you want to better understand what’s going on in your business, then get in touch so we can make a time to go through them with you.

Your business success is important to us and we are here to help you.

The Importance Of Having A Business Coach

There are many benefits to having a business coach and as the owner manager, the buck stops with you and that can result in all the pressures of financial management, people management, strategy and business performance ending up on your shoulders.

To ease this pressure and provide some clarity, it’s helpful to have a business coach. A coach can look at your business objectively as an outsider, will act as a professional shoulder to lean on and can help you to focus on and enhance your business ideas, strategy and longer-term tactics as an owner.

What a business coach can bring to the table

If you want to get the best from your business, you need to get the best from yourself, as the owner. A business coach helps you to work on your own progression, but by doing so also partners with you to improve the future path of your business ventures.

For example, having a good adviser and coach:

  • Allows you to get an independent viewpoint – when you’ve been running a business for several years, it can be hard to see the company in an objective light. A business adviser comes to your business model afresh, and helps you to step outside the day-to-day operations and see the company from the outside in. This is incredibly helpful when looking for improvement areas or new opportunities.
  • Helps you to spot the key issues in your business – with the help of an independent adviser, you’re far more likely to spot the flaws in your business model and the areas where you – the owner – need to work on your own management skills. By highlighting the problems, you can start the process of overcoming these issues and moving forward.
  • Provides business planning and strategy – a key reason for working with a business coach is to improve and polish your planning and strategic skills. Drawing on your coach’s experience, you will learn the benefits of proper business planning and how to utilise these skills to draw up a more robust plan for the future of the company.
  • Assists with goal-setting and targets – you can’t draw up a workable business plan if you haven’t outlined the key goals of your business. Working with an adviser helps you to narrow down your goals, set proper targets and create more momentum and drive in the company. With a clear set of targets for you and your team to get behind, it’s easier to understand your business purpose and measure your performance against these goals and targets.
  • Provides you with a mentor – working on your business is important, but working on your own skills and wellbeing is equally as important. A coach can act as both a mentor, sounding board and confidant, something that’s incredibly valuable when you’re entrenched in the business. Being able to share your worries and ambitions with a coach helps you to take care of your own mental health and wellbeing – all of which is good for both you and the business as a whole. When you’re less stressed, you’re a better leader, decision-maker and boss, so there’s an undeniable benefit to working closely with your trusted coach.

If you want to reach your true potential as an entrepreneur and business owner, we’d strongly advise working with a trusted business coach.

Tax Tips for Property Investors

If you have income from investment properties, now is the time to start gathering your records and reviewing your expenses for the 2021 financial year.

Income to Declare

All income earned from each property must be declared. If you have multiple properties, keep the records for each property separate to make the tax return more efficient.

  • Rent received, whether paid directly to you or through an agent or through an online management platform. Rent includes recurring regular amounts as well as any lump sum amounts paid in advance.
  • Rental bonds returned (eg. if the tenant caused damage or defaulted on rent payment).
  • Insurance payouts received as compensation.
  • Expenses reimbursed by the tenant (eg. if they have caused damage and you have paid for the cost of fixing the damages, or if they have reimbursed you for water).
  • Extra fees received (eg. letting or booking fees).
  • Government rebates (eg. installation of solar utilities).

You will need statements or recipient created tax invoices from agents or management platforms and documents for all other payments received.

Tax Deductions

Deductible expenses for property are different for residential and commercial properties. Not all expenses related to owning a property are allowed as deductions, so it’s important to check what you can claim.

  • Advertising for tenants
  • Body corporate fees
  • Council rates
  • Water supply charges
  • Land tax
  • Cleaning, gardening, pest control and property maintenance
  • Insurance
  • Agent fees
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Some legal expenses
  • Loan interest

Other Expenses

There are some expenses which need to be claimed over a longer period such as several years or decades. These can include borrowing expenses, capital expenditure, depreciation, initial repairs and capital works.

Some expenses cannot be claimed for. These include stamp duty, loans and repayments, some legal expenses and some insurance premiums.

Get Help to Simplify Your Property Records

Tax matters for property investors can be complex. The ATO keeps a close eye on tax returns that involve property investment, as it’s easy to make mistakes. There are other matters to consider such as the period of rental availability, private use of the property, capital gains tax, legal contracts and positive or negative gearing.

The 10 Ways To Lift Your Margin

Improvements can always be made at the margin. Small tweaks to your processes or systems can make a massive difference to the end result. It’s the same with your business margin – a 1% increase in your gross margin on $500,000 of sales is an extra $5,000 on your bottom line.

The best part about improving your margin is that you increase your profit without needing to lift your sales.

Here are 10 strategies to lift your margin:

1. Negotiate better prices with your suppliers.
As they say, ‘the squeaky wheel gets the oil’, so if you don’t ask, you won’t get.

2. Update your pricing model.
Make sure you’re using the most recent supplier prices and that all costs are included in your price.

3. Back cost jobs regularly.
Review exactly what you spent on 2-3 jobs each month and compare the actual cost to what you anticipated the cost would be when you quoted the job.

4. Get rid of slow-moving items or work that has a poor return.
Selling old stock at cost will drop your margin, but if you replace those items or jobs with higher-margin items, you’ll achieve a higher return in the long run.

5. Set budgets and targets with your team.
Give your team something to aim for. Celebrate success when the targets are achieved.

6. Report your results on a cloud-based, real-time system.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure! Regularly monitor your most important Key Performance Indicators on your dashboard.

7. Reduce wastage and re-work.
What processes need to be updated to help reduce wastage and re-work? Or, if the processes are correctly documented, what training do you need to provide to your team to ensure the processes are being followed to reduce wastage and re-work?

8. Review your sales process.
Does your sales team know which produces or services have the highest margin? Do they know how to upsell to those higher-margin products or services? Identify the sales skills gaps in your team and implement training.

9. Make a plan.
There are plenty of areas for improvement in your business. Unless you write them down, you’re unlikely to bring the correct focus to them. Make a plan to improve one area at a time.

10. Involve your accountant.
Not only to help you with idea generation and building a plan, but also to hold you accountable to do the things you need to do.

We can help you lift your margin – contact us today!

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

Super Guarantee Rate is Set to Rise from July – Are You Prepared?

The superannuation guarantee statutory rate has remained at 9.5% since July 2014. However, plans have been in place for some years now to increase the rate to 12% incrementally.

In July 2021, the rate will rise to 10%. From then on the rate will increase by 0.5% each year until July 2025 when it will reach the legislated 12%.

Prior to the delayed 2020 federal budget there was discussion about the possibility of deferring the rate rise because of COVID-19. However, the rate rise had been postponed from 2018 to 2021, so the plans to start increasing the rate each year remain in place – at least for now.

Prepare Now for the July Rate Rise

  • Review your current superannuation costs for all employees, both hourly and salaried.
  • Review any salary packaging arrangements. Is the agreement inclusive of superannuation or is super paid on top of the agreed salary?
  • For salary packages inclusive of super, you will need to check the contract’s wording to make sure you apply the changes correctly. This change may also impact annualised salary arrangements.
  • Calculate your revised payroll costs from July, showing the current wages and superannuation expense compared to the new rate from July 2021. Highlight the increased amount per month or quarter, so you know precisely what the impact will be.
  • Discuss the super rate increase with your employees now. Let them know that this is the first year since 2014 that the rate has risen and that unless the law changes, there will be an increase of 0.5% each year from now until July 2025 when the statutory rate will reach 12%.
  • Remember – short payment or late payment of super can incur hefty penalties – plan now for higher payroll expenses from July, so you don’t get caught short.

If you’d like help reviewing payroll costs and employee agreements, talk to us now, and we’ll make sure you have accurate reports to make planning for the rate rise easy. Getting organised now means that you’ll be well prepared for your business’s increased costs when the first payment is due later this year.

Can Your Business Claim the Loss Carry Back Tax Offset?

As part of the Federal Budget 2020-21 the government announced a loss carry back measure to encourage new investment and work with the temporary asset expensing measures also announced at the budget.

The new law started on 1 January 2021.

Eligible corporate entities that previously had an income tax liability in a relevant year and have subsequent losses can claim a refundable tax offset up to the amount of their previous liability.

The measure allows significant tax losses which may then be carried back to generate cash refunds for eligible businesses.

Who is Eligible?

  • Your business must be a company, corporate limited partnership or a public trading trust in the income year you want to claim the offset.
  • The business must have had an aggregated turnover of less than $5 billion.
  • The entity had an income tax liability for financial years 2019, 2020 or 2021.
  • The entity subsequently made a loss in financial years 2020, 2021 or 2022.
  • Your business is up to date with tax return lodgement obligations for the last five years.

There are specific guidelines about eligibility, integrity and tax offset calculation. We can talk to you about whether you can use the loss carry back measure to benefit your business.

You can only claim the tax loss once in either the 2021 or 2022 financial year so it’s important to get advice about how and when to apply this measure for your business. To claim the tax offset the ATO must be notified before lodging the company tax return that year.

Buy or Lease Business Assets?

There are certain items of equipment, machinery and hardware that are essential to the operation of your business – whether it’s the delivery van you use to run your home-delivery food service, or the high-end digital printer you use to run your print business.

But when a critical business asset is required, should you buy this item outright or should you lease the item and pay for it in handy monthly instalments?

To buy or to lease?

Buying new pieces of business equipment, plant, machinery or vehicles can be an expensive investment. So, depending on your financial situation, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of buying or opting for a leasing option.

First of all, let’s look at why you might decide to buy the item…

Buying: the pros and cons:

  • Pro: It’s a tangible asset – when you buy an item, you own the item outright and it will appear on your balance sheet as one your business assets. As such, by owning these assets outright you increase the perceived capital and value of your business. You can also claim the cost of the asset against your capital allowance for tax purposes.
  • Pro: It’s yours for the life of the asset – once you own the item, you have full use of the equipment for the duration of the life of the asset. Your use of the asset isn’t reliant on you being able to keep up regular lease payments, and if your financial circumstances change then you can sell the asset to free up the capital.
  • Con: It’s an expensive outlay – paying for the item up-front is a large outlay for the business and will require you having the cash to cover this cost. Spending a large lump sum in this way may take cash away from other areas of the business, so you need to be 100% sure that this purchase is the right decision and a sound investment.
  • Con: You may require extra funding – if you don’t have the liquid cash available to buy the item outright, you may need to take out a loan. Asset finance is available from funding providers, but does tie you into a loan agreement that will add to your liabilities as a business – reducing your worth on the balance sheet.

Leasing: the pros and cons:

  • Pro: Leasing has a cheaper entry point – if the item you need to purchase has a large price tag, leasing allows you to make use of the asset without the cost of buying it in full. For startups and smaller businesses with minimal capital behind them, this can make leasing a very attractive option. You may not own the asset, but you can make use of it – and this may be the difference between the success or failure of your business.
  • Pro: You can spread the cost – there is still an associated cost of leasing, but you can spread the cost over a longer period, making it easier to find the necessary liquid cash to meet your lease payments. With this money saved, you can then invest in other areas of the business, helping you to expand, grow and bring in more customers and revenue.
  • Con: You don’t own the asset – there are different types of leasing agreement. Under a capital lease, you do own the asset (once you’ve paid if off). But if you opt for an operating lease, this is a more short-term lease and you won’t own the asset at the end of the contract. Ownership does have its advantages (including being able to sell off the asset if required) so it’s important to consider what kind of leasing agreement you’re entering into and what the advantages/disadvantages may be.
  • Con: You may pay more in the long run – most leasing agreements will attract additional costs and interest on your agreement, so you may well end up paying more than the market price for your asset in the long term. If you can cope with the higher cost, this is fine, but bear in mind that buying outright may have offered greater value.
  • Con: You may lose the use of the asset – if you can’t keep up your lease payments (due to poor cashflow for example) then the owner of the lease agreement may recall the asset. If this item is crucial to your business model, losing this key asset can have a profound impact on your ability to operate. In this respect, leasing is a more risky prospect, but also an easier option for businesses with less cash to splash.

Talk to us about whether buying or leasing is the best way forward

Whether you opt to buy or lease your equipment isn’t always a straightforward decision to make – so it’s a good idea to consult with your accountant early on in the decision-making process.

We’ll help you review your current financial position, assess your available cashflow and look at your regular cost base to decide whether buying or leasing is the right thing for the business.

Update Your ABN Details To Ensure Notifications In An Emergency

Emergency logo in white and red

Did you know that government agencies use Australian Business Number (ABN) details to identify individuals and businesses in communities affected by emergencies or natural disasters?

This can happen any time and any season, so we encourage you to keep your Australian Business Register (ABR) details up-to-date. This enables immediate emergency services assistance and ensures affected businesses are contacted in the event of crisis.

Details to Update

  • Check that your recorded names are correct – If you have legally changed your name, you should update that with the ATO so that the correct legal name is linked to your ABN.
  • Email address – This should be one that you can easily access from your phone or other means during an emergency.
  • ANZSIC code – It’s a good idea to check that this is correct for your business type in case your business services have changed since you registered your ABN.
  • Business address – This is essential to update, so that if an emergency or natural disaster affects your area you are contacted.
  • Telephone number
  • Postal address
  • Additional business locations – You can add multiple locations if your business operates from more than one premises.
  • Authorised contacts for the business – Consider adding more than one contact for the business.

Business, Individual and Company Names

Name changes can’t be updated on the Australian Business Register. If you need to update a business name, a legal individual name or a legal company name talk to us about liaising with the ATO or ASIC on your behalf to update your details.

Update Your ABN Details Now

Changes made to the ABR reflect immediately. It is always important to keep ABN details up to date, but for businesses in disaster prone areas, it is especially crucial as this can make all the difference with getting help quickly. Emergency services can access contact details from the ABR, which means affected businesses can get important updates and assistance from emergency services without delay.

Visit ABR to update your ABN Details or let us submit these details on your behalf.

Five Tips For Running Good Performance Reviews

The concept of boosting business performance

When times get tough it can be easy to let some of your people processes fall away as you concentrate on the basics of the business.

Take the performance review. They can be unpopular, sucking up a lot of time and making employees and managers stressed. So why not skip them? Well, because good performance reviews work. They’re an effective way to track people’s progress, provide feedback, gain insight, support development and align individual performance with company goals, which helps the business achieve results.

It’s imperative however that they are done well. So here are some tips for getting the most out of your performance reviews:

  • Target the right people – not everyone has to have full, formal reviews. Prioritise the positions that have a genuine opportunity to deliver over-and-above results.
  • Focus on the conversation – documentation provides a basic way to articulate expectations, track performance and measure results, but it shouldn’t replace honest, two-way communication with your people.
  • Keep it simple – structure the review around the objectives needed for success in the role, the skills needed to achieve the objectives and a development plan that aims to improve skills, reach goals and help with career development.
  • Get the review cycle right – align full-scope reviews to an annual cycle and schedule regular check-ins at meaningful times throughout the year.
  • Use software – good software will help lighten the admin load and make it easier to chart and really analyse employee performance.

Christmas Parties and Presents On A Budget

A Christmas hat displayed on a beautiful beach

It’s been a financial rollercoaster of a year for most businesses, but Christmas time invites us to pause and celebrate what’s gone right and thank the people we rode with. Here are eight ways to keep your costs down without sacrificing festive fun.

  1. Go alfresco – Enjoy a free venue that’s good for the body, mind and party games….outside! Ask everyone to bring a rug and head to the local park or beach for a picnic-style Christmas bash.
  2. Share the love – Is your business in a large office or shared space? Throw a party with your neighbours. Saves money, resources and creates a valuable networking opportunity.
  3. Plan a potluck – Putting on a huge spread or taking your team out for dinner can be costly. Why not ask everyone to bring a plate? (Nibbles, cookies or fresh bread).
  4. Go locally-made – Support our economy and buy locally-made gifts for staff and clients.
  5. Make it a day thing – Serving a holiday lunch, brunch or mid-afternoon party can be more affordable because guests fill up with satisfying but inexpensive fare like sandwiches, pancakes, muffins, finger foods, crackers and dip. Plus, it’s often easier to fit into people’s diaries during the busy festive season.
  6. Choose a local venue – Keep costs down for you and your staff by hosting your Christmas party close by. That way people don’t have to spend lots on taxis getting to and from the party.
  7. Give the best present ever – Get in everyone’s good books and give them the morning off after the Christmas party. A small gesture that’s worth its weight in gold.
  8. Take the pressure off – If last year was the bash of the decade, don’t worry – people understand it’s been a tough year. Parties thrown on a shoestring budget can be the most memorable because they strip away all the window dressing and put the focus on people and fun.
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