18 December 2012

"The Santa Clause Effect" Article by Steve Marsten

This is the time of the year we talk about goodwill to all men and we let our budgets head into deficit a little to make sure our children and partners and extended family receive beautiful gifts and we have the roast turkeys, hams and pork all on the one day. So no one is thinking about stock markets, property markets or the economy too much.
The stock market has a history of going up in December.  It’s often referred to as the Santa Claus effect. This year is no different. The market has done quite well during the month going up 5% over the past month.
Most western economies have regular patterns to them and there is a model known as the Economic Clock. The Economic Clock demonstrates that - as an economy moves through its economic cycle, there is a time to buy certain types of investments and a possible time not to buy. It’s not a signal about what to buy to become quickly rich rather it identifies that the return to a specific type of investment. Currently it shows Australia’s economy crawling out from the bottom of the market – a hesitant uneven economy; interest rates falling and property stabilising. It’s just after 6 o’clock – heading towards 7! THIS is the start of the potential bull market.
 Over the past 12 months the US market has performed considerably better then the Australian market. The difference is that the US government is not trying for a surplus. They run the world’s largest deficit and will increase spending in another “quantitative easing” likely in the New Year. This stimulates their economy. Our economy has not had this luxury and hence our market is subdued. Nevertheless, we are building a strong economic footing for the nation. Also for the faint hearted it may take some time before they will jump into market given that, to them, it may be still considered iffy! However the signs are there. That’s not to say the market won’t fluctuate – of course it will, however the trends are looking up.

So eat, drink and be merry this Xmas but save a little something to start the wealth building in the New Year and see your investment advisor as soon as you possibly can in the new year to take advantage of what looks to be a good market year.  From the team at Sothertons – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

11 December 2012

"Can your business survive the flu?" Article by Tina Zawila

It’s an odd time of the year to come down with “the flu”, but that’s exactly what happened to me last week.  I was fine when I went to work Monday, but by the afternoon, I had taken an early mark and headed home.  I thought I’d be right after a good night’s sleep and be back at work Tuesday morning, but that wasn’t the case.  In fact, I didn’t return to work until Friday, and even then it was only for a few hours.
My business had to operate without me for the better part of a week, without any prior planning and during arguably one of our busiest months of the year.  Fortunately, I have a business partner who was able to pick up the urgent parts of my workload, and a great team that could just “get on with the job”.  But it got me thinking...
What happens to your business, when you are unable to be there?
Some of the leading business and finance writers refer to the concept of businesses that operate without the owner/investor working in the business.  Robert Kiyosaki author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” calls it the “automated business”.  Jim Collins in “Good to Great” identifies that great businesses have leaders, not owners who are operators/technicians in their businesses.
So take a moment and think about the unexpected...if you weren’t able to come in tomorrow, what would happen to your business? 
·         Is your team capable of operating the business effectively without you?  
·         Are there systems and processes for the team to follow that are not reliant on your input? 
·         Are there customers/clients that only you can look after, or work that only you can do?
Your answers to these simple questions, should either give you a warm feeling of security, or prompt you to create a project/action list to address these potential weaknesses.
By taking some simple steps you will not only set your business up to run without you while you take that much needed, and well-overdue holiday, but you will also add significant value to your business when it comes time to sell.
Savvy, potential business investors look for opportunities to purchase “automated businesses” – businesses that are not reliant on the current owners.  These are truly “walk in, walk out” operations and generally allow the transition from previous owner to new owner to be as smooth as possible.
So take a moment, as we approach this holiday season, to consider how your business would operate without you, and start your action list to improve any gaps.  If you need advice or support during this process, or assistance with implementing your action plan, call us at Sothertons on 4972 1300.  We are here for you in [Business] + [Life].

04 December 2012

"Is Giving Your Gift?" Article by Steve Marsten

Well it’s three weeks until Christmas! Its the time of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, holly wreaths, decorated trees with heaps of presents, mistletoe, seasons greetings, seasonal music, cold beer, a dip in the pool with 20 others and Santa Claus are all associated with this holiday. These all bring warm feelings to those who celebrate it. Add to that rich Christmas cake; plum pudding with sixpences, beautiful leg hams, roast turkey, pork, pork crackling and backyard cricket with the extended family – and that’s how I remember Christmas.

It’s also a time to reflect. One thing I have focussed on is taking stock of where we are at - as a family; as a business and as a community. The key point of Christmas I feel – is the giving and the goodwill.

If you have had a good year – stop and think about how you got there. Consider the support of your spouse; your family members; your business partners and your team that you work with. Consider the support you have received from your customers and clients. Consider the support from your “raving fans”. What are you most thankful for?
When things go well – what do you give back? We too often forget that even in ”well off communities” – there are those who still do it tough.

Gladstone has done fairly well and I feel we live in a bubble compared to other parts of Australia. We are VERY lucky to be here than in other parts of the country right now.

You don’t need to be rich to give. Often people feel it’s about the dollar. It’s not. Time is actually the most valuable thing we possess or have control over. Whether you donate time or money – giving is beneficial. There is research supporting the old adage that “it’s better to give than to receive”. A Gallup survey on volunteers found that 52% of volunteers do it because they like doing something useful and helping others. Another 38% enjoy it because they “feel good” about themselves and while 2 % of volunteers reported they were in poor health this compared to 34% of non-volunteers.
I was reading an article in a health magazine that suggested “giving” as part of your exercise program/regimen.  So besides feeling good about yourself for doing something for others, “giving back” is actually good for your physical health.

In the lead up to Christmas take time to recognise the support of your team; your clients and customers; your business partners and your spouse and family.