Give yourself a present this Christmas

Get outside for a walk!

Owning and working in a small business can eat up all your spare time. Exercise or time for yourself is often the first thing that is abandoned to fit in the many other things you have to do in a day. And while many of us finish the year with lofty goals for exercise in the new year, these can be hard to achieve.

Is this you?

Here’s an idea… Instead of setting goals that are vague and big, set smaller more specific goals that are much easier to achieve. Make a point of getting outside every single day and getting ‘a little’ exercise – it doesn’t have to be a gym membership, a bootcamp or going running. Even just a walk around the block will be a step in the right direction!

A study in the journal Preventive Medicine found that just by minimising sedentary activities and replacing some of them with light-intensity activities can achieve benefits for your health. So start small and stick to it. Soon you’ll be benefiting from the short time away from work, more time to think and the fresh air.

  • Start walking – Walking has multiple health benefits both physical and mental. Find out about walking groups in your area or join a friend a couple of days a week.
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift – When the option is there to take the stairs, use them.
  • Replace your daily drive with a bike ride – If your exercise is part of your daily commute it becomes integrated in your day rather than another thing to achieve.
  • Walk ‘further’ to the office – if biking is not an option perhaps you could park a bit further away from the office or get off public transport one stop earlier.
  • Go out for coffee – You may not achieve it every day, but if you find a great coffee shop a couple of blocks away, you’ll have a reward to look forward to.

For a healthy lifestyle, the adult recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days per week. This will not only increase your quality of life but also your sense of wellbeing. So give yourself a present this Christmas and go for a walk.

Happy Christmas!

Dividends and Paying Yourself as a Director

As the director in a limited company, dividend payments are the usual way for you to take money out of the company – and see a financial return on your investment into the company.

Dividends are payments made to the company’s shareholders when the business has made a profit. What’s not re-invested into the company can be paid out as dividend payments to your shareholders, of which you’re one. But what’s the most effective way to do this?

Dividends as a part of good wealth management

As a company director, the company’s finances aren’t your only concern – you also have to make sure you’re managing your own personal finances in the best way possible.

Good wealth management is essential as a director, and that means taking an informed, long-term look at the ways in which you’re paid, the financial vehicles you’re using and the tax planning you’re carrying out across the year.

To make your personal finances work effectively:

  • Split your finances into business and personal wealth – it’s vital to create a clear divide between business cash (money in your limited company’s bank account) and your own personal cash (money in your personal current account and investments). Any profit you create is not ‘your money’ until it’s paid to you by the business.
  • Ensure you’re being tax efficient – Once a dividend is paid to you – and that money is now yours – you’ll be liable to pay income tax on that income. The rates of income tax in most territories will be higher than the rate of corporation tax. So it’s usually a good idea to keep your profits in the business for as long as possible, minimising the amount of income you’ll have to pay when you file your annual personal tax return.
  • Pay your dividends at the right time – the timing of WHEN you pay a dividend is important. If you pay a large dividend at the end of the tax year, it may take you over your tax allowance for the year. And if your total dividend income is too big, you could end up paying more higher-rate tax than you need to.
  • Look at other ways to be paid – dividends are not your only option when it comes to getting paid as a director. You could put yourself on the payroll and take a small ‘living wage’. Or you could have your profits paid out as pension contributions into a personal pension scheme. So it’s sensible to consider all the tax-efficient alternatives.

Planning your directors’ pay

If you want to get the most from directors’ pay, come and talk to us. As your trusted wealth adviser, we’ll work with you to maximise your earnings. This includes helping you forecast your earnings and profits, planning out your dividend payments from the company and setting up your finances so you’re being as tax efficient as possible.

Have you got a strategy for a financially stress free holiday period?

Holiday breaks are a time to spend with family, friends and have a chance to recharge for the year ahead. But, for a business owner this time can be stressful without careful cash flow planning. Even if you do continue to operate through the holiday shutdown season, your customers’ financial behaviour may not remain the same.

It can be pretty disappointing to work hard all year only to find that once you have paid staff, overheads and creditors, you have little or nothing left in the bank to cover your own time off. The budget and forecasting process ensures you know your numbers and are prepared.

Why is cash-flow planning particularly important at this time of year?

Staff leave needs to be covered in addition to your normal fixed overheads like rent, creditors and tax compliance. If you are closed over the period, you will not be selling and your sales may take time to get started again in the new year.

Here are some simple strategies that can help:

  • Decide your Christmas and holiday break dates – confirm with staff, customers and suppliers so that you can motivate customers to get organised early.
  • Budget and plan for annual leave – pay rates may be higher than standard ordinary hourly rates, also factor in statutory public holidays.
  • Decide on a leave payment strategy – will you pay out leave at the beginning of the Christmas break in full or continue to pay as usual throughout the break?
  • Review your work in progress (WIP) – plan to complete jobs or services that can be invoiced and paid before Christmas (remember if you don’t invoice and collect payment before Christmas, your clients are likely to go on break as well and you may not see the money until mid to late January).
  • Put together a capacity plan – depending on the type of goods and services you deliver, there is generally a rush to get everything done before Christmas, whether it’s the kitchen bench-top installed or the beauty treatment before the break.
  • Stocktake – do you need to order in goods now to be able to complete work in progress? Check that there is stock on hand available now to see you through.
  • Making an arrangement with the Tax Office – if you find you cannot make payments, it is possible to apply for a payment arrangement. There are costs associated with this, however it may provide a solution that gets you through the holiday period. Talk to us, we can help.

Need financial support?

If you can’t make ends meet, now is the time to organise short term financial relief like an arranged overdraft or loan, rather than hoping it will come right.

“Alleviate Your Stress” and contact us for help with cash-flow forecasting or assistance in applying for short-term finance to get you through the break.

Understanding Your Profit and Loss Statement

Your profit and loss statement (P&L) helps you understand your business performance and profitability over time. It’s sometimes called an Income statement and its main purpose is to list income and expenditure.

Whereas a balance sheet is a snapshot in time, the P&L shows transactions over a specific period of time. This can be a month, quarter, financial year or any other period, and it can be a stand-alone report or a comparative period report.

Together with the balance sheet, these two reports provide a comprehensive understanding of the financial position and performance of a business.

The profit and loss statement has two main sections: income and expenses.

These may be further subdivided depending on the complexity of the business and reporting requirements.

  1. Income or Revenue

    Income primarily includes main business activities such as sale of goods or services. Other income such as interest received, capital gains or income from secondary business activities is also reported.

  2. Expenses

    Expenses are usually divided into two sections: direct costs, or cost of goods sold, and expenses. Cost of goods are those that are directly linked to the provision of services or sale of goods. For example, if you buy widgets from a wholesaler and sell them at a marked-up value, the cost of the widgets is a direct cost, not an overhead expense.

    Other types of direct costs might be importing and freight costs, contractor costs or certain equipment. Some direct costs are fixed, that is, they are the same from month to month, or they could be a fixed percentage of sales; others vary in value but are still related to the income producing activities.

    Overhead expenses are all the other expenses required to run the business, regardless of the level of income: for example, rent, utilities, bank fees, bookkeeping fees, professional development costs, vehicle costs and staff costs. Many of these costs form the basis of working out your break-even point, or how much it costs just to open the doors for business.

    There are some expenses which may be reported as a direct cost in one business but an indirect cost in another type of business, for example, merchant fees or contractor costs.

The Bottom Line

Total income minus total expenses results in the net profit (or loss), is often called ‘the bottom line’. Often business owners are just interested in looking at the bottom line, but a true financial picture requires an understanding of several reports and an ability to see the big picture that the reports are illustrating.

The P&L is a vital tool to analyse for trends over time.

  • What does your P&L tell you about relationships and ratios between sales and expenses, seasonal changes and annual trends?
  • Have all your direct costs been allocated correctly?
  • Have you recouped all billable expenses from customers?

Financial statements help you understand the big picture for your business. With deeper understanding of your business operations and performance you can make informed decisions about your business finances.

Get Strategy at the Heart of your Successful Business

Businesses that have clear objectives or goals, robust accountability and a shared sense of purpose should always outperform those that just show up and go through the motions.

Strategy lies at the heart of most successful businesses. To achieve this you need to resource and execute with purpose. Few businesses have a strategic plan or a robust planning process. Changing this situation should be a top priority! Here are two top tips for business owners.

1. Process Creates the Plan

Getting strategy at the heart of your success will require you to carve out some time, get a process started and shake things up. There’s no better time to review and tweak your business model, future-proof compelling services and to get your strategic building blocks in place.

Just as every good strategy has key elements, every good plan needs a step-by-step process. In fact, the process is often just as important as the plan itself. A strategic planning retreat with your core team is a great way to start the process – find a spot offsite to get the creative juices flowing such as a beach, a park, or vineyard and set an agenda.

2. Key elements of an effective strategy

The key elements in a good strategy normally incorporate:

  • Vision – this is a statement that identifies what a company would like to achieve or accomplish.
  • Values – these are the fundamental beliefs upon which your business and its behaviour are based. They are the guiding principles that your business uses to manage its internal affairs as well as its relationship with customers.
  • Objectives – short term, long term. These should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound)
  • KPIs – stands for Key Performance Indicators. These are measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives.
  • Actions – what needs to be done to meet the objectives? Make this simple and clear.
  • Owners – delegating tasks to specific owners to ensure follow through and accountability.
  • Deadlines – when your actions will be complete to ensure you make progress.

It doesn’t need to be much more complicated than that, but do invest the time and effort in doing this right. A proactive, value-add strategic model will need fresh thinking, debate, research and open conversations. Enjoy and embrace the process and you should end up with a good outcome.

Great planning requires a guide, facilitator and/or professional expertise to be as robust as possible. We can help your business and guide you through the steps.

Putting strategy at the heart of your business activity should not only give your business greater direction and focus but lead to stimulating, profitable opportunities too. It’s time to get started!

Finding Work-Life Balance

Looking for a little more work-life balance?

Sometimes it seems impossible when you are in the thick of it. The following ideas might help provide some light at the end of the tunnel.

Prioritise – Work often dictates to us, rather than the other way around. Create a list of all the things that need doing and categorise them. For example, work out the tasks that are ‘important but not urgent’ and ‘urgent but not important’. Task or project management tools like Trello can simplify your workload and and help to prioritise your time.

Delegate – Letting go can be an opportunity for others in the team to shine. Alternatively, bring in a contractor to help clear the load and you may find they bring in new ideas, create opportunities or streamline the process. Don’t limit yourself to what’s on at work – think about what would help at home too, such as a meal kit delivery to simplify the end of the day.

Book it in the diary – We are all guilty of putting off an exercise class or a coffee catch up because work takes over. These events are important for your mental and physical health and may give you space for creative thought or the ability to think with more clarity. Plus, you’ll return to work feeling more productive. Book it in and consider joining a group so you are more committed to turning up!

Use the technology to help you – ‘Always on’ technology such as smart phones are designed to make life easier but we’ve ended up busier than ever. So choose the apps and tools that can reduce the stress. Whether it’s for communication and meetings, or your filing and accounting. An app could save you time and allow you to get on with other things.  We can help with the right accounting software solution to reduce the paperwork.

Share with your network – Are there individuals in your network who face the same challenges or can help you achieve your goals? Set up a monthly breakfast to catch up, support and learn from each other. You’ll go back to work with new inspiration.

Do what you love – At the end of the day, your work is ‘part of’ your life not separate from it, so if you enjoy it, you’ll feel you have more ‘balance’.

Get in touch to talk about how we can help you achieve balance in your business.

Tradies and Mental Health

“For most tradies, the first thing that comes to mind when you mention “work” and “health” in the same sentence is OH&S and staying safe on the job. That’s not surprising when you consider that the trades sector is one of the most dangerous industries in Australia. It’s responsible for more than half of all worker’s compo claims, yet makes up under a third of the workforce.

Staying in shape and eating right probably comes to mind too when talking about health. Indeed, heart disease is Australia’s leading cause of death and almost everyone is related to, knows someone, or may have first-hand experience with heart problems.

And yet, there’s one health condition that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. This is despite the fact that that one in five people experience it each year and one in two experience it in their lifetime.

What is this incredibly common health condition that so few people talk about?

Tradies and mental health

That figure just mentioned? One in five Australians experience a mental issue each year and one in two do so during their lifetime.

Yes, mental health issues like depression and anxiety are incredibly widespread, yet mental health isn’t something most tradies talk about during smoko or after knocking off. That’s even more surprising when you consider the many serious mental health concerns faced by people working in the trades sector.

Consider the following:

Ideas to promote mental health at work

Think of looking after your mental health as another form of looking after your general health. Indeed, one of the best things you can do is to help raise awareness. Here are some great ideas to get you started.

1) Organise show bags or a display

Mental health organisations like MensLine Australia will gladly provide material to promote their helpful services. You can order promotional cards, postcards, flyers, posters and tip sheets, which will be mailed to you at no charge. Simply hand them out at work or put them on display. You can also download and either print or forward all items in PDF form.

2) Have a breakfast, morning tea or lunch

Why stop at just putting out some flyers and posters in the lunch room? Make an event out of it.

For a start, you’ll probably get a better response (it’s a simple fact of that people are more likely to turn up to something when there’s free food involved).

However, there’s another benefit that goes beyond just getting bums on seats. One reason why so many men struggle with their mental health is that many blokes might feel embarrassed, ashamed, or ‘weak’ if they open up. An event like this suddenly normalises talking about mental health and helps remove the stigma about this topic.

3) Arrange an activity like mindfulness

Mindfulness. Yeah, right. When do we break out the incense and New Age music?

You’d be forgiven if that was your first impression, but in actual fact, mindfulness is probably nothing like you imagine it to be.

In its simplest form, mindfulness (also called mindful meditation) is a ‘grounding’ technique. It helps deal with frustration, stress, anger and worry. It also helps improve focus, concentration and self-control.

As with so many things in life, don’t knock it until you try it. More professional people than ever are recognising the value of mindfulness, among them elite athletes and the armed forces of several countries.

Find out more about how easy it is to try mindfulness.

4) Arrange a screening or invite a speaker

A video (or series of videos) screening over lunch is a great way to help promote a helpful message. There are admittedly so many videos online that it might actually be hard to know where to start. One good way to go about it, is to do a search online for “tradies mental health”.

Video is surprisingly easy to share these days. Even if there are just a few of you who are watching, a tablet will often do. If you’ve got access to a TV (such as in a lunchroom) that allows for device streaming, then why not try that?

You can step things up to the next level if you know someone who can give a talk, or if you’ve managed to organise a speaker. Unlike video, you can ask questions afterwards and it comes with the benefit of live interaction.

Of course, if you’re battling with stress or worry, or just need to talk it out with someone, you can contact MensLine Australia at any time.

MensLine Australia is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with professional counsellors providing information and support for all emotional health and relationship issues.”

Article sourced from MensLine Australia https://mensline.org.au.

Automation can ease your business workload

Small and medium-sized businesses are spending on average 120 hours a year on admin tasks, according to recent research into productivity at UK SMBs.

If your people are spending 120 hours wading through tedious and unproductive admin, that’s bad for the business and for your overall efficiency. Fortunately, technology and software automation can go a long way towards automating the low-level admin tasks.

Better productivity through automation

Automation is an important way to ease your business workload, with a host of different business apps and cloud solutions offering ways to automate your admin.

With ‘smart business tools’ increasing in number and choice, software is utilising automation algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cognitive solutions to help remove the mundane admin tasks from your workflows.

Core processes that will benefit from automation include:

  • Automated bookkeeping – Just take a photo of your receipts, expenses and invoices and ‘optical character recognition’ (OCR) technology will digitise the output and pull it through into your accounts software. No data entry, no human error and no lost receipts! We can do the rest to ensure your records are accurate.
  • Automated credit control – chasing up debts and late-paying customers takes time. Automated credit control apps track your debtor numbers and automatically sends out customised chaser emails as soon as an invoice is late. This reduces your credit control time, speeds up cash collection and cuts your aged debtor figure.
  • Automated payment collection – the easier it is to pay you, the faster your customers will pay. Automated card payments and cloud-based Direct Debit solutions allow you to automatically take payment from a customer as soon as an invoice is due. Some solutions will even automate the invoice matching and bank reconciliation process.
  • Automated reporting and forecasting – the better your reporting and business intelligence, the easier it is to make informed decisions about your company strategy. Accounting platforms and fintech (ie. financial technology) tools now offer automatic, real-time reporting and forecasting, giving you access to the important numbers and metrics, fast.
  • Automated digital marketing – digital marketing is key to raising your brand’s profile. Marketing platforms offer important time-saving ways to schedule and post social media content, or email automation that sends a pre-programmed cadence of emails to specific target audiences within your wider customer base.

Talk to us about embracing the power of automation

If your admin is starting to hold you back, come and talk to us about how automation can pick up some of the heavy lifting as well as giving you the metrics you need for decision making. We can review you business processes and identify the automation opportunities, helping you choose the best apps to drive your business efficiently.

Invoices – What should you include?

When you’re running a small business or working for yourself as a contractor, getting paid relies on sending your invoice. And because getting paid, and on time, is essential to staying afloat, it’s important to make sure that you’ve got all the important information included. Setting up your invoices correctly will ensure you get paid quicker. Here’s what you need to cover.

If a customer asks you for a tax invoice, provide one within 28 days. Your invoice needs to contain the following:

  1. The words ‘tax invoice’, ideally as a heading.
  2. Your business or trading name.
  3. Your contact details- these aren’t technically required for invoices for under $1000, but it’s a good idea to include them in case the recipient needs to get in touch.
  4. Your ABN or ACN.
  5. The date you’re issuing the invoice.
  6. An itemised list of what you’re invoicing for, including the price for each item or service. Make sure that you clearly indicate whether GST is included in the total price.

If you are using accounting software simply fill in the templates or you can see some examples of invoices on the ATO website.

A well set out invoice will make it easier for your clients and customers to pay you. Accounting software will make the job easier by providing the format for your business and increasing your efficiency. Talk to us about your invoicing to ensure you make it easy for people to pay you.

3 Best Payroll Options For Small Businesses

In any business, it is quite important that the payroll process is done right – regardless of their organizational size or the number of people they employ. However, many business owners and bookkeepers spend a crazy length of time on managing payroll and tax compliance.

The major tasks included in any payroll process are computing deductions and employee benefits, producing pay slips, calculating and filing employment taxes, complying with regulatory requirements, processing or depositing payment directly to employee’s bank account, voiding payments if need be, producing reports, and even printing checks.

With the key purpose to simplify and automate the process of paying a company’s employees, a wide number of payroll software are developed. We have rounded up some of the best payroll software solutions that let you focus on other aspects of running your business:

Xero

Contemporarily, more than 180 countries are using this exquisite cloud-based software:

  • Bestows a clear view of the business’s financial position by performing a range of functions including invoicing, inventory management, bank reconciliation, expense management and payment of bills, project tracking multi-currency capability, & much more.
  • Let you easily track working hours and approve leave with controlled access for employees by providing a range of tools.
  • Provides two-factor authentication along with entire details of the transaction such as dates, users, actions performed and notes to minimize the fraud.
  • Manage all the tasks you have to do to automatically updating your accounts to keep track of all your Payroll and business finances in one.
  • Serve ease to employees regarding viewing their payslips, submitting their timesheets and applying for leave by offering an exclusive Xero Me mobile app for both iOS and Android user.

QuickBooks

QuickBooks is a renown accounting software package developed and marketed by Intuit. It is the most popular online payroll software solution, especially among the small and medium-sized businesses.

  • The key feature of this intuitive software is that it is a mobile-friendly payroll application that effectually works across smartphones, tablets, and computers.
  • It keeps everything organized in one place – making your financial organization easy.
  • This robust accounting software makes sure your staff are properly and accurately compensated.
    With powerful invoicing and custom reminders, it keeps full track of what you earn and where your business stands.
  • Connect your bank account to automatically import and categorize transactions.
  • Ability to interface with outside programs to sync data automatically.

Gusto

Gusto, previously known as ZenPayroll, is the most user-friendly solution out on the market right now.

It provides new hire onboarding and reports them automatically to the government.

  • With its employee self-onboarding, it gives your employees access to their information, paystubs, and W-2s.
    Known as a modern HR solution to help you manage your team without all the paperwork, emails and spreadsheets.
  • One of the major reason behind its popularity is its automatic tax payments – which simplifies the management and administration of all the basic payroll and tax compliance.
  • Along with superb user-experience, it has many convenient features such as benefits management, automatic payroll runs, and top-rated customer service.

To speed up the payroll process and ensure accuracy, we, at Flawless Figures use these advanced powerful cashflow software. We look after the whole process from start to finish including sending payslips to employees, checking timesheets, commissions, payroll tax, superannuation & much more to help you grow your business. So no more worries about the errors, or legal mistakes – just opt for our services and have your entire focus on growing your business – saving valuable time and money.

 

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