10 October 2013

"The Ultimate Compliment" Article by Tina Zawila

In business, is there any greater compliment than a referral or testimonial from your clients/customers?  I doubt it.  Surely, it’s the ultimate compliment when your client/customer recommends their family, friends and acquaintances to buy your products or use your services, or when they are prepared to publicly state via a testimonial that they are happy with your products or services and you!
Now imagine what your business would be like if every new customer that comes through your door comes by way of referral from your existing customers – and those referred customers arrive with a positive perception and a willingness to spend their money with your business…does it get any better than that?
So if we recognise the value of referrals to our business, then surely we should aim to attract more referrals and obtain more positive testimonials.  Particularly, as this form of invaluable marketing costs you virtually nothing! 

5 Keys to attracting more Referrals and Testimonials:
  1. Deliver outstanding customer service to your existing customers – offer more than expected and make sure they know that you appreciate them.
  2. Consider giving your customers an incentive for referring their friends or providing you with a testimonial – at least make sure you personally thank the referrer whenever you meet with a new customer/client that has been referred.
  3. Actively ask for referrals and testimonials – the best time to do this is directly after a sale, when the customer/client is happy and most excited about your business.
  4. Develop a system for encouraging referrals and documenting testimonials, ensuring that all referred customers are identified and the referrer recognised and appreciated.
  5. Set the expectation up front – let your customers/clients know that you appreciate and value referrals and that you would love to have more clients/customers that are just like them!
Assisting you in building and growing your business is our passion at Sothertons. 

At Sothertons we can help in developing your referral system or documenting testimonials, contact our professional team on 4972 1300.

08 August 2013

"The Fast and the Furious" Article by Tina Zawila

If you are an employer who provides your employees with the use of a motor vehicle, or if you are an employee who has the use of an employer-provided vehicle, or salary sacrifices a motor vehicle, you need to be aware of recent proposed legislative changes.

On 16 July 2013 the Federal Government announced plans to change the method of calculating the Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) on cars provided by employers to their employees.

The proposed reform will remove the statutory formula method for both salary-sacrificed and employer-provided car fringe benefits for new contracts entered into after the announcement, with effect from 1 April 2014.

Therefore, the more onerous operating cost method will need to be used.  This method is based on the actual business use of the car, which must be determined by a logbook.  A logbook must be kept for a period of 12 weeks to record business kilometres travelled, for each and every vehicle, and for each and every employee arrangement.

The operating cost method also requires greater record-keeping on the part of both the employer and employee.  As this method relies on the calculation of all repairs, maintenance, fuel, registration, insurance, leasing costs, depreciation and the cost price in respect to every vehicle.

The statutory method, on the other hand, applied a set percentage to a specifically determined value of the car depending on the number of kilometres travelled.  Thereby only requiring the value of the car to be determined and a record of the annual number of kilometres travelled (irrespective of actual business or private use).

These proposed changes are likely to see a significant decline in the number of vehicles provided to employees by employers, as the cost will be too onerous on businesses.

The only good news is that the proposed arrangements only apply to “cars”.  Many dual cabs will fall outside the scope of these changes.

Which method of calculating FBT do you use for vehicles?
As an Employer, have you assessed your fleet and the impact on your record keeping?
As an Employee, have you considered your obligation to keep a log book?

At Sothertons we can assist you with all taxation matters including FBT on Motor Vehicles, to help you meet your obligations with the Australian Taxation Office, contact our office today on (07) 4972 1300.

01 August 2013

"Facebook - Private vs Public" Article by Steve Marsten

A legal colleague recently told me how, during a trip to India he leant that young technology savvy students are “focussing” on how to hack into Facebook pages and that in their country its “understood” that despite the perception that “only my friends see my posts” this should be considered a naive thought. Now that was just what he saw with his own eyes. He was told that this is a standard practice and many Middle Eastern; East Asian and East European companies are employing young people who are technology bent, to hone their skills for the very purpose of raking information from Facebook pages. We would be naive to think that other countries are not doing the same!

Now I am not a regular Facebook user granted however, I enquired to a colleague as to the number of “friends on Facebook” he had. Not so many as it turns out however he boasted about his daughter who has 700 friends “and she knows at least 200 of them! “
This brings me to my greatest concern when a friend was telling me that the information she shares is for private purposes ONLY and she shares nothing with the public however I showed her something that I was tagged in on by one of her friends and yet I am NOT her friend on Facebook yet. This startled her and sent her back to the Privacy Settings and Tools within Facebook.
Facebook is updating their site all the time and many things impact on the privacy settings. There is a question as to whether they are providing appropriate “opt in” options for members when changes occur that affect the privacy areas of our Facebook pages.
Now everyone should take a breath and check the following: Check your settings – make sure your defaults are what you want them to be; Review your posts and things you’re tagged in on; limit the audience for past posts; who can look up your timeline by name and finally be careful with Facebook Apps. They tend to be insecure and spam ridden.
It seems common sense to me. Don’t upload anything that may adversely affect your job; your personal life or your reputation.  
Have you checked your settings?
Are you being tagged in inappropriate posts?
Do you know if the apps you have on Facebook are spam free and secure?

At Sothertons we are always willing to discuss Facebook policies with our clients. Feel free to call us on 4972 1300.

24 July 2013

"The Accountant or The Dentist" Article by Tina Zawila

Yes, it's Tax Time!  By now you should have received your Payment Summary from your employer (or employers) and be collating receipts and information to have your 2013 income tax return prepared.

As much as the team at Sothertons love tax, it seems that some of you consider the annual visit to the accountant to be like the six monthly trip to the dentist!  My apologies to all the dentists out there, but you guys get a bad wrap too!
This means that some of you have "put off" the visit to the accountant maybe for more than one year - maybe for several!  Typically at this time of the year, some taxpayers 'come clean' and admit that they have to catch up on a few returns.  If you are in this situation, I encourage you to contact your accountant as soon as possible and make the appointment.  Generally, it's never as bad as you think and you might even have a refund due to you!

I also find it's a good time to "take stock" of your financial position.  Whilst business prepare Profit and Loss and Balance Sheets at least annually, most individuals wouldn't even consider "reporting" on their finances (except for that annual tax return).  However, you are your own "business" and you should know how much is coming in and how much is going out.  You should also know what you own and what you owe (and which one is greater).  This knowledge will allow you to make better financial decisions in the future.  Remember knowledge is power!

So while, January is usually the time of the year to make all those new years resolutions about exercising, eating better etc, make July the time of the year when you pause and look at your finances and make some resolutions to make improvements in the year to come!
Are you guilty of “putting off” the visit to your accountant to have your returns done?
Or, Are you up to date but haven’t considered “taking stock” on your financial position?
Do you know what you own and what you owe?

At Sothertons, we offer our "Tax Worx Package" for individual taxpayers which includes preparation of your income tax return with one of our accountants and a review of your financial position with a financial planner.  Call us today on 49721300 to make an appointment.

22 July 2013

"The Vegemite Story" Article by Steve Marsten

I recently perused an article on how vegemite became successful. It was quite inspiring. It was invented by a Gentleman named Cyril Callister. He was university educated and he wanted to come up with a product to match Marmite which was hard to get during wartime. In 1923 the Vegemite product started rolling off the production line. The problem was, the salespeople hated it and there were more jars returned than going out the door! Several times the business was on the brink and almost went under. The National Australian Bank at the time supported them to keep the doors open.

He went on to sell processed cheese in partnership with Kraft and in a piece of marketing brilliance, gave a small jar of vegemite away with every block of cheese. After a British scientist then discovered that Vegemite cured Pigeons with polyneuritis (or beriberi), the marketing approach changed and focussed on Vegemite as a rich source of Vitamin B – the all-round wonder food! There were some outrageous claims about it curing almost any ailment however by the late 1930’s, the health message had been taken up by the baby health centres.  It has often been the reason that adults whose mothers believed in the product, usually have a more savoury palate than children of today who are less likely to be exposed to Vegemite. And as they say in the classics – the rest is history and we created “the Vegemite kid”!

The keys to take from this story are:

1.       If at first you appear to fail, the product may not be the problem;
2.       Marketing strategy is extremely important; Have a plan B to fall back to;
3.       Are there any key elements of the product that you have not explored?
4.       Employ people who truly love the product they are selling.
5.       Consider other ways to get the public interested in your product.

Have you got a great product that isn’t selling as well as it should?
Have you implemented a marketing strategy that produced outstanding results?
Is your team supportive and do they believe in the product or service that they are selling?

Having a business consultant to bounce your ideas off is a great benefit to anyone in business.  The experienced staff at Sothertons are focussed on growing profits for business owners. Feel free to contact them on 4972 1300.

09 July 2013

"Looking after your loved ones" Article by Tina Zawila

I considered calling this article, Death and Taxes, and then I thought – no-one will read it!!  As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.   However, for many of us, these are topics we would rather not discuss.
Whilst, as an accountant, tax is something I deal with every day, fortunately I do not have to face the other one of life’s certainties very often.   However, I am acutely aware of the difficulties families and loved ones can face, if arrangements, including a valid will are not in place.

So with that in mind, I recently commenced the process of having my own will prepared - although I’m not planning on going anywhere for a while!   Obviously, I engaged a professional to assist me with this process, and I have to admit, he needed a lot more information than I expected, and challenged me with some questions, that I really wasn’t prepared to answer.

Dealing with someone’s assets, liabilities and personal wishes is not an easy task for those left behind.  It is vital that arrangements are documented, and it is so important that we have had conversations with our loved ones and those responsible for our estate, so that they clearly understand our desires.

For a business owner, this process may be even more complicated, particularly if you are in business with someone who is not part of your family. 

Have you got a Will?
Did you engage a professional to have your Will prepared?
Is you will valid?
Do you need assistance in determining your assets and liabilities?

At Sothertons, we are committed to looking after your financial well-being, and we recommend that you aim to be “financially well-organised” and that includes having a valid will in place.  This task is something I have “put on the back burner” for too long, however, I now feel relieved to know that my loved ones will be looked after, and that the process of attending to my estate will be as “smooth” as possible.

04 July 2013

"Marketing to the Subconscious" Article by Steve Marsten

I am one of those people who need a coffee everyday – sometimes two! Recently I called into a cafĂ© that I don’t usually visit to pick up a coffee on Sunday. My coffee has a couple of extra shots so I always expect to pay a little more.  The mature aged attendant rang up $18, which I said – “you have to be kidding me”? She looked me in the eye and said “no that’s what it says!”  Another attendant realising it didn’t sound right rushed over and sorted things out. Apparently she had not rung off the last sale. So the attendant then said standard coffee $5 plus one extra shot $6.05! Plus another extra shot – yes that will be $7.10!” That was one expensive coffee AND it was only a medium cup! On the way back to my car I found myself wondering why I didn’t really enjoy that experience. I am sure it was the fact that she counted out the shot prices.

This ties in with an article I read recently about author – Roger Dooley’s new book. It focussed on Neuro-marketing. Amazingly 95% of our thoughts, emotions and learning occur subconsciously; hence it’s much more important that we appeal to the subconscious instead of targeting the remaining 5% or our rational mind. Roger Dooley sets down three important tips for marketing:

  • State the price to the cent. A precise amount of $95.66 sounds well researched and accurate while a rounded figure of $100 may seem inflated.
  • Don’t penny pinch your customers. Airlines are classics for this. There are separate fees for bags, aisle seats and food etc. Every extra fee tweaks the brains pain centre. Bundled pricing is much better. This is what upset me in the coffee shop!
  • And finally – use a simple font like Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman instead of script like fonts. If you want customers to fill out web forms or take some sort of action, research shows that they anticipate the task will take less time when described in simple font.
Do you use quote a flat fee or split your price?
What has been your experience with “Extras”?
What do you think your customers prefer?

At Sothertons we can help you with all aspects of business management.  We can also keep you accountable and help you turn your ideas into actions to improve business results. Contact the team today on (07) 4972 1300.

27 June 2013

"Add Budgeting to your End of Financial Year 'To Do' List" Article by Tina Zawila

The new financial year is almost upon us!  By now, you should have done” all you can do” to make 2013 a success and implemented your tax minimisation strategies.

Now, it’s time to look forward to the new financial year and set our goals and targets that we want to achieve over the next 12 months. 

A budget is the only instrument that can give financial reality to your goals, objectives, strategies, priorities and plans.  A budget is the numerical expression of your plans for the next and future years.

Your budget process should consist of at least three main parts:

 1. Forecasting revenue (sales) and expenditure (expenses),
 2. Recording actual revenue and expenditure and,
 3. Reporting and acting on any variances (differences) between the two. 

At this time of the year, we generally focus on Step 1, and we encourage you to attend to this step as soon as possible, so that you can move onto steps 2 and 3 as soon as the new financial year ticks over.

A budget which incorporates working capital requirements provides an even more useful management tool.  It provides a clear indication of your working capital requirements, your desired stock levels and expected debtor and creditor balances based on desired credit terms.  Generally speaking, businesses struggle with cashflow more than they struggle with profitability.  Therefore, a budget which considers your cash position helps you prepare for those “ups and downs” that are common within many businesses.

The ultimate benefit is achieved from your budget if you use it proactively – that means that you consider your budget prior to actual revenue being earned or expenditure being incurred.  It shouldn’t be a “set and forget” document, but one that you refer to on a regular basis to monitor your progress towards achieving your goals and targets.

Have you set goals and targets to achieve over the next 12 months?
Did you consider your cash position for those “ups and downs” throughout the year?
Do you have a procedure in place to monitor your budget on a regular basis?

We strongly encourage all business owners to invest the time in creating a budget and then use it proactively.  Contact the team at Sothertons Gladstone on 4972 1300 for professional assistance and advice in creating your 2013/14 financial road map.

18 June 2013

"Hurry! 30 June is fast approaching" Article by Tina Zawila

As we approach 30 June, many business owners are looking for last minute tax minimisation strategies, and time is quickly running out.  Obviously, your own particular circumstances will be key to determining what strategies will benefit you, however, in this article we will discuss some general strategies that you may wish to discuss further with your financial advisor.

For businesses:
  1. If possible, defer business income until after 30 June 2013, particularly if you expect that your income will be lower in 2013/14 than in 2012/13.
  2. Ensure that you have written off any bad debts from your Accounts Receivable list before 30 June in order to claim the deduction in the 2013 year.
  3. To obtain a deduction for employer or self-employed superannuation contributions, they must be paid to, and received by, the super fund before 30 June and must be within the contributions cap (generally $25,000 per individual).
  4. Small businesses (with turnover less than $2million) can claim expenses prepaid up to 12 months in advance, for larger businesses, this is generally limited to expenses below $1,000.
  5. Do a stocktake to determine the value of stock on hand as at 30 June.   Stock should be valued at the lower of cost or market selling value.  Remember, the greater your stock on hand, the greater your profit.
For individuals:
  1. If you expect lower income in 2013/14 due to retirement or any other reason, consider deferring income until after 1 July when you may be in a lower tax bracket.
  2. Consider realising capital losses if you have already realised capital gains on other assets during 2012/13.  Conversely, consider realising capital gains if you have unrecouped capital losses, or you expect substantially higher income next year.
  3. Consider making tax deductible donations to your favourite charities (tax deductible gift recipients).

Have you considered utilising any of these strategies?
Do you need help implementing them?
Unsure if you have seen all the possible savings?

For advice to align your specific circumstances with these tax minimization strategies please contact our professional team at Sothertons on (07) 4972 1300.

14 June 2013

"The Overhead Dividend" Article by Steve Marsten

Last week we spoke about Organisational Structure reviews and how important this is when business is tightening or the economy is slowing. Being adaptable will put you ahead of the game and your competitors. At this time most well run businesses are setting up their 2014 budgets. This is an ideal time to address a key cost centre of your business – the overheads!
While speaking to a client about how difficult things had become in their industry, their Business Manager chimed in to say that the budgets were complete. When asked about the overheads and how they were arrived at, she said that she adds 5% to them all in order to finalise the budget. That’s 5% on last years figures. I asked why?  Did she think that this year is going to be 5% better?

This is obviously the best way to cut the corner and miss out on a serious Overhead Efficiency Dividend for the business. Sometimes it’s even worthwhile having incentives in place for Business or Administration Managers to seek and identify savings from the review and questioning of each and every overhead.

So many things get taken for granted. In one case recently we commissioned a report from Telstra for a business that had 9 in coming lines and 7 outgoing. The report found that only once in 12 months had they actually had all 9 incoming lines in use and they had never used 7 outgoings at once – ever! Once things were streamlined the saving turned out to be over $1,000. You only need a few of these and the Christmas party pays for itself. OK Just joking! However the point is that expenses such as these can and often do provide improvements to the bottom line of the business. Even asking the bank to review their services and ask how these can been streamlined to obtain a better value outcome is so very possible.
We recently identified overhead costs savings of $150,000 for a client. Savings in Overheads fall straight to the bottom line. All businesses should review this area on an annual basis. There are many areas within overheads that can save a business money. Using a professional can often stream line the process and provide a clear action sheet or road map to follow and save.

Have you reviewed your Overheads?
If so, have you saved from streamlining a process?
Do you have incentives in place for your Managers to seek and identify savings?

At Sothertons we can help you stream line the process and provide a clear action sheet to follow and save. Please contact us on (07) 4972 1300 for a consultation today.

05 June 2013

Your Invited to the Sothertons Tax & Property Seminar

Want to make the most of your hard earned dollars?
Want to take advantage of 2013’s taxable deductions regarding your income & investment property?
Need financial guidance?
Want to retire early, but don’t understand the tax implications?

Have you found yourself asking any of these questions? 
Sothertons is holding a complimentary Tax & Property Seminar - Wednesday, 19 June at 7pm, Rydges Hotel Gladstone, that will help you get answers!

Tina Zawila and I will be presenting “What you need to know about Tax & Property for the 2013/2014 financial year” (full details listed below).  If you, or someone you know would be interested in attending please call our office on 4972 1300 or email sothertons@sothertonsgladstone.com.au to complete your RSVP.  Look forward to seeing you there.

04 June 2013

"It's time to be adaptable and flexible" Article by Steve Marsten

No doubt you will have read that the mining boom is slowing in Australia. Essentially that simply means that companies are not investing as much in mining sites; construction and capital outlays on new ventures. Many businesses have benefitted significantly from the recent mining boom and Gladstone is one city that has reaped the rewards handsomely. However its crunch time! Many businesses doubled or triple or in some cases have increased their turnover by 20 or 30 times in a very short space of time and as the economy slows and tightens – management has to adapt quickly or risk going under.

We have been helping several companies who have gone from small to medium or medium to large and in several cases small to large businesses in the space of just 3 years. These usually are the ones that, because they have never experienced such growth before, are the slowest to adapt or act to reorganise the significance of the change before its too late.
Larger business tends to operate with several profit centres and recently we have carried out Organisational Structure reviews or Overhead Assessments reviews. They are two separate yet equally important procedures. Structure reviews look at middle management. This area tends to be one of the most expensive for business. However its only expensive if the managers don’t do their job. Key KPI’s and clarity about what management expects should be communicated to the manager and then followed up weekly so its clear they fully understand what’s expected of them.

In more difficult times managers are asked to review their section costs to find improvement dividends for the company. This often highlights the real experienced managers from the flash in the pans. We are finding in several businesses that in some cases managers can look after more than one division and hence due to streamlined processes, a cost saving dividend can be achieved.

Structure reviews give a fresh look at how to have the most adaptable and flexible management team in place and best practice for your industry. Next week we will talk about the Overhead Assessment review further.
Is your  business being effected as the economy slows and tightens?
Have you looked at a Structure or Overhead assessments review?
Are your managers meeting their KPI’s?
Can you streamline some of your processes?

At Sothertons we can help you become adaptable and flexible within your business with Structure and Overhead Assessment Reviews. Please contact us on (07) 4972 1300 for a consultation today.

28 May 2013

"Focus on People" Article by Tina Zawila

An Australian Institute of Management event I attended recently was “Management Explained” by Devora Zack.  Devora is an international speaker and author specialising in the field of leadership development.

Most managers become managers simply because they were very good at what they do and therefore they are “promoted”.  For example a good tradie, often becomes a supervisor or team leader – however, just because they are good at what they do doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be good managers – or even that they want to be a manager!

Often these new managers are not given adequate training or tools/techniques to deal with the issues arising in a management role such as emotions, conflicts and personalities, whilst still achieving goals, targets and deadlines.

Devora believes that it is important to identify our own “management style” that fits who you really are.  She identifies two styles – “thinkers” and “feelers”, and encourages managers to be true to themselves, and their own style to be successful, whilst recognising the “style” of their team members to be more effective in managing and communicating with them in a way that they will relate and respond to.
Generally speaking, “thinkers” communicate directly, are focussed, productive and efficient and like clear lines of responsibility and authority.  “Feelers” on the other hand, are focussed on friendly interactions, want to build rapport and relationships and like positive reinforcement.

If you try to communicate with a strong “thinker” by using a “feeler’s” language and approach, you may find that they will have “tuned out” at the first “So, how was your weekend?” question.  Similarly, if you approach a strong “feeler” with a direct approach without exchanging any “pleasantries”, they will be thinking about “what is wrong with the relationship, that you don’t care enough to ask how they are?”, rather than focussing on your message.

The key is to “treat others as they would like to be treated”, whilst still staying true to your own management style.  The more we focus on people, the more successful we will be.

Have your managers been given adequate training?
What kind of “management style” do you have?
Is there a particular technique you use within management you find most effective?

At Sothertons we are committed to lifelong learning and we are always keen to share and receive good ideas – call us on 4972 1300 to discuss your thoughts on Management Styles and Techniques.

16 May 2013

"Building a Community" Article by Tina Zawila

Recently I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of breakfast meetings hosted by the Australian Institute of Management.  In late April “The Complexities of Managing in the Regions – A Leadership Forum” was chaired by Kurt Heidecker (GILG)  with an outstanding discussion panel including Kevin Berg (Bechtel), Glenn Schumacher (NRG) and Julie Boyd (Previous Mayor of Mackay).

This was an excellent discussion around the challenges of being a manager and leader in a regional area.  Importantly, whilst it was recognised that working and living in a regional area has its own unique challenges, there are many challenges faced by managers of teams, organisations or businesses, that are ‘global’ and generic.

The key insights I obtained from the experienced and knowledgeable panel included:
  1. Be a role model, make good business decisions - Be the best you can be.  Seek out a mentor for yourself – even one outside of your industry to keep you challenged, focussed and on a path of continual self-development (personal and professional).  It was said that “we all become a little bit of the good people we meet along the way”. 
  2. Create a community with a positive environment - As a manager/leader you should be actively involved with your team/organisation.  Get to know them, and what is going on in the workplace, and where possible interact on a personal level with your team.  Stop. Listen. Understand.
  3. People make the difference - Understand that the success of the team/organisation or business is completely dependent on the skills and success of the people involved.  It is people that make the difference –not machinery, software or technology.  If your team members are not successful, you won’t be.
One of my favourite sayings (and Kurt also shared it on the day) is one by Charlie Jones “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years, except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet”.  

Do you agree with these 3 keys insights on managing?
Is there a quote or saying which you strive to implement in your life?
How do you “build a community” within your organisation?

At Sothertons we are committed to lifelong learning and we are always keen to share and receive good ideas – call us on 4972 1300 to discuss your thoughts on Building a Community.

10 May 2013

"Learning from our Elders" Article by Steve Marsten

I had a great conversation with a retiree recently. He had had a very hard life and he was inspiring for he was still thriving in life. He made me think - for most of us, life offers abundant opportunities for both laughter and tears. The good times we savour. The hard times often go to our heart and deep into our soul. We measure our ability to handle life’s challenges through our strength of character. And yet, where do we learn how to deal with those challenges, those hard times and difficulties? In school, we are taught how to read, add and write.

But what about the keys to living?  Where do we do our bachelor degree in Life? Where are the classes dealing with the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, the failure of a relationship? Unfortunately, those lessons are mostly learned through trial by fire and the school of hard knocks. The message I took from talking to this multi experienced gentleman was that no matter how difficult your life may become, no matter how hard it gets, there is always reason to keep on going and fighting back because you can survive and thrive. Only selfish people would think otherwise.
He had lost his parents to a tragic accident; a daughter to illness; had a broken marriage; and lost several well paying jobs to various economic set backs not of his making. Believing that his life has value is important.
He believes that we have to live life with a sense of urgency so not a minute is wasted. Failure, defeat and loss afflict us all. Expect it, and learn to deal with it. And then learn to get back to life without waiting for an invitation. One way to do that is to trust in the power within yourself, and to believe good things are going to follow—great things will occur when you get up, dust yourself off, and go at life with renewed determination and courage. He remarried at 55 and at 70 continues to work for charities 3 days a week and he thoroughly enjoys life to the max.
What are some lessons you have learnt from an Elder?
What do you think the keys are to living?
Do you need help with some of life’s hurdles?
At Sothertons we support you in [Business] + [Life]. If you need assistance with planning your future or tackling some financial hurdles please contact us on 4972 1300.

30 April 2013

"An Overnight Success"Article by Tina Zawila

“Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing.” 

I heard this quotation recently and it resonated with me on so many levels.  To illustrate the concept, it was used in a sporting analogy – motivation may have got you along to the gym in January, but it is discipline that keeps you going in April and it is discipline that is getting you results.
This too applies in business.  Your motivation, or what we call your “new business energy” may have got you started, but it is your discipline, that is keeping your business going and growing on a day to day basis.

Best selling author John C Maxwell, talks about the Law of Consistency.  By his own admission, it’s one of his “less sexy” laws of leadership and success, however, it is critical.  Many “overnight successes” were not achieved overnight.  Often years of discipline and consistency have been applied to honing skills, perfecting a product, educating the market and building a business.

It is what you do on a daily basis that defines you – it’s not that moment of brilliance, or that one day of hard work – it is what you do day-in and day-out that will lead to your success.

In this modern era of technology, or maybe we should call it the “era of distraction” it is very easy to become “undisciplined” and to get caught up in the minutia, or distracted from the tasks that will bring you the best results when practiced consistently.
Therefore, my challenge to you is to identify what it is, that brings you (or will bring you) the best results and get you closer to your goals, and then do it on a daily basis with focus and dedication.

I look forward to you and your business getting the recognition it deserves as an “overnight success”.

What brings you the best results and gets you closer to your goals?
What strategies do you use to cope in the “era of distraction”?
Is your business generating the rewards you deserve?

Call the team at Sothertons on 4972 1300 to discuss what it is you need to do consistently to achieve results and we will help keep you accountable to ensure your success.

23 April 2013

"Wealth - is it just a state of mind?" Article by Steve Marsten

I came across an interesting scenario recently and I will change the names to protect the innocent. I was having a coffee with a good mate who I hadn't touched base with for a while. Let's call him Tony. With the crazy work schedules in Gladstone for certain industries, this is not unusual nowadays. He is a tradesman working for one of the big companies in town. He is happily married with three beautiful children and his wife works part-time.

I have known them for over 25 years. Tony coaches his lad’s soccer team while his daughter attends dance lessons and his other lad has music lessons, so he is often full on with his life. He has a happiness that fills his everyday life and he constantly speaks of the family. They live in a nice home, both Tony and his wife drive good cars and each year they take a holiday out of the city and get away from it all with the kids.

While having our coffee, one of my major clients walked in with a business associate. He saw me and came straight over and shook my hand. I said Allan this is Tony. We shared a short conversation and then he moved down the back of the cafe to have a quiet meeting with his colleague. 
To my surprise, Tony said - "wow - imagine being that guy?" Now Tony's reaction can be understandable when you realize Allan who is a talented businessman, built his business up from scratch. He built 5 businesses actually all performing incredibly. But he worked incredible hours, smoked hard and drank hard to numb the pain and tension along the way. He too has a couple of young children who probably see him for a couple of hours on Sundays. Allan is a wealthy man but he also carries debts that Tony couldn't even fathom and stresses that Tony would never understand.

It dawned on me while listening to Tony rave about how great a life Allan must lead that, one can have lots of money but still feel poor. I look at Tony who drives a modest car, lives in a modest home filled with love and happiness and who is assessed by his bank as not being wealthy and you realize that: Wealth is not the state of your bank account but the state of your mind!

How do you define “Wealth”?
How do your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances define “Wealth”?
Have you come across conflicting points of view on this?

At Sothertons, we are committed to supporting you in [Business] + [Life]; if your would like to talk about your definition of wealth, call us on (07) 4972 1300.

16 April 2013

"Are you travelling overseas or permanently relocating?" Article by Tina Zawila

These days many young (and even older) Australians are taking the opportunity to travel and work overseas.  Usually when they are making the decision to embark on this adventure the last thing on their minds is tax!  However, it is important to consider your taxation obligations, and understand your tax position before you make the final decision on where to go and what to do.

An important consideration is whether you will remain an Australian resident for tax purposes, or establish a permanent place of abode overseas.  It's also important to know whether you will pay tax overseas on your foreign income.  
Broadly, Australian residents for tax purposes are taxed on their worldwide income, whereas non-residents are taxed on their Australian sourced income only.  Therefore, your residency status is critical in determining your taxation obligations.

The primary test for deciding an individual's residency status is where the taxpayer actually "resides", however, how does the ATO determine where someone resides?  The courts, when considering cases on this topic, refer to "continuity of association" and "establishing a domicile of choice elsewhere".  These are questions of fact based on each individual's circumstances. 
Where you have a spouse and/or children, your "continuity of association" will generally be where your family is.  Therefore it is nearly impossible for spouses to establish that they may have two separate countries of residence.
Your "permanent place of abode" is also a critical factor when determining residency.  Case law highlights that it is not enough to be outside Australia for a lengthy period (the ATO has used a rule of thumb of 2 years), but a taxpayer must also illustrate that they have established a permanent place of abode elsewhere (i.e. outside of Australia).  Generally speaking this means you have to stay in one location and establish a "home", as opposed to moving from one location to another, say every few weeks/months.
If you are considering working overseas, it is very important to seek advice and understand the taxation obligations of various scenarios, to avoid any unexpected taxation outcomes.  
Are you planning a trip overseas?
Have you recently returned to Australia after working overseas?
Do you need help determining your help tax obligations?

Call the taxation professionals at Sothertons on 4972 1300 to discuss your travel plans.

10 April 2013

"Uplifting Service" Article by Tina Zawila

Aloha!  I am writing this from beautiful Waikiki, Steve and I are here for the Annual Professional Investment Services conference with around 200 delegates from all around Australia.  For the last three days we have listened to the best speakers in the financial services industry to bring us up to date with the latest technical developments and innovative strategies.  However, rather than bore you with technical information, I thought I would share with you some insights gained from listening to Ron Kaufman. 
Ron is an internationally recognised leading educator and motivator who is devoting his life to "uplifting service".  Ron believes that how we serve each other shapes us as individuals, families, businesses, communities, cities, nations and in fact the world.  His aim is clearly to make the world a better place by improving how we serve.

Ron defines service as "taking action to create value for someone else".   Seems quite simple doesn't it?  Yet who of us can honestly say we give unbelievable service to everyone we encounter each and every day?  Remember, Ron isn't just talking about "customer service" or "client service" he is also talking about "family service", "friend service" in fact he is even talking about "complete stranger service"!
His definition has some key terms to consider.  The word "action" seems pretty obvious, but without "action" then your good idea about serving someone, is just that...an idea!   

Let's talk about "value"...the key here is that the action you take must create “value” to the other person.  If it isn't valuable to them, then you haven't been of service. 

Finally, the key to the definition are the words "someone else".  Serving isn't about you - it's all about the other person.  What they might need, want, desire, or even what may surprise them!  

Imagine a world where we all go about our daily lives looking for ways to serve each other...
Let's start one person at a time, one service opportunity at a time...
Do you take action when you or an employee has a good idea?
What value do you create for your customers/clients?
Have you encountered an inspirational speaker with ideals that inspired you to implement in your life?

At Sothertons, we are waiting to serve you, call us on 4972 1300 and allow us to create value for you.

"Apps are Forever - Part 2" Article by Steve Marsten

I Pad’s are great tools for the business owner on-the-go, who may neither want nor require a heavy-duty laptop. Moreover the iPad can actually be transformed into a very productive device. As I promised last week we should look at the top 5 apps in business.

Although, considering the spectacular numbers of apps in the marketplace, it can be quite overwhelming to pick the perfect one to suit a specific business need.

Business Owners today can get a ton of work done on your iPads. In putting together this list of top applications for businesspeople, we looked for software that was particularly handy for professionals on the go.
FlightTrack offers a lot of information without saddling you with an overwhelming interface. For each flight, it lists the scheduled departure and arrival times; delay information is clearly marked, as well, and you view the aircraft type, departure gate, and scheduled flight time.
Once a flight is in the air, FlightTrack shows the airspeed, radar and current positioning. Very handy given our local skittish flights schedules.
Convert is a unit converter. It has the most common and essential conversions. It’s easy to use with a pleasing user-interface. Simply tap different units to see additional conversion results. The downside is that it does not retain recent conversions.
Voice Memos - Sometimes you have one of those eureka! moments and need to note down your great idea. If you don’t have a pen and paper handy, fear not- you can use the Voice Memo to record voice memos without breaking your train of thought. It’s great in the middle of the night or when you are on the go.
Docs To Go - This is a great way to create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It’s great for compatibility. It has multiple desktop syncing options though there is no attachment syncing with email.
Mastech - An Australian app issued by Macquarie. It lists personal tax rates, superannuation and social security information. This is very handy from time to time when you are dealing with payroll or tax costs.
Have you used any of our Top 5 Business App’s?
Do you use other apps in business which you find to be effective?
What app can’t you live without? Drop us a line and let us know….
At Sothertons we can assist you with obtaining the Apps that make you more efficient in your business.