29 April 2014

"Keeping up with the times and technology" Artcile by Tina Zawila

At Sothertons Gladstone, we love Xero!  Xero is beautiful online accounting software for small-medium businesses.  Whilst we have been using it with selected clients for the past 18 months, we are finding that many more of our clients are becoming interested in this software, and new clients are walking through the door looking for a Certified Xero Advisor.

Xero assists business owners with all of their business record-keeping tasks including GST and payroll.  It is “in the cloud” which essentially means it’s online and can be accessed on any device (with an internet connection), from anywhere in the world. 
One of the newer features of Xero is the ability to save documents into your accounting software.  For example, you can scan a copy of your business telephone bill and save it as an attachment to that transaction in Xero.  You could even take a photo on your smart phone of that EFTPOS receipt for that small purchase you just made, and upload it into Xero to make sure you don’t miss any of your deductions.
Some of our clients are embracing this new technology and often ask “Do I need to keep the paper copy?”  The ATO website now confirms that you can store and keep paper records electronically, and you don’t have to keep original paper records once they have been imaged onto an electronic storage medium.  The ATO will accept the imaging of business paper records, provided the electronic copies are:
·         A true and clear reproduction of the original paper records
·         Kept for five years
·         Capable of being retrieved and read by the ATO at all times.
This is great news for small business owners struggling with mountains of paperwork to be stored somewhere just in case the ATO ever comes knocking. 
If you are looking to simplify your business accounting and record-keeping, talk to the professional team at Sothertons today on 4972 1300 we would be happy to show you how easy it can be!

28 April 2014

It’s planning time! Article by Tina Zawila

Well Easter has been and gone and the year is moving at a rate of knots!  It’s now time to take control and seek out a visit with your business and/or investment adviser for tax planning. We are getting in early this year and encouraging people to plan ahead, to ensure they are in the best tax position possible before the End of the Financial Year (EOFY). Planning ahead also allows more time to manage your cashflows and the impact of any tax payable.

This time of year we see people in cashflow distress due to poorly managed tax liabilities.  We see taxpayers holding off on the lodgement of their 2013 Tax Return until the latest time possible (around May 2014), because they have a significant tax liability.  After they recover from 2013 tax liability they are struck in July with a huge April – June 2014 PAYG Income Tax Instalment, as the ATO issues the instalment based on the recently lodged 2013 tax return with a higher level of income. As business and investment advisers, we understand the immediate stress this causes people. Planning is the answer.

Recently we assisted a couple who were having financial difficulties with their rental properties due to the downturn in the property market in Gladstone and reorganised their tax position to obtain the current years refunds quicker and appease their bank at the same time. They looked ahead, saw a potential financial roadblock and faced up to it early.

It is important to plan your cashflow early to have adequate provision for any tax required to be set aside and expenses you wish to bring forward.  You should incorporate this in your overall tax plan for the EOFY.  There is nothing worse than seeing people undertake major expenditure or make a lump sum payment in superannuation before the end of year so that they can save tax, however, leave themselves short of cashflow to meet their existing taxation or bank liabilities.

At Sothertons we are introducing savvy investors and business owners to strategies that assist in cashflow planning, tax minimisation and cashflow control. Call Steve and Tina today on
07 4972 1300.

15 April 2014

"How safe is your job into the future?" Article by Tina Zawila

Recently, we came across a paper titled “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?” by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne (with credit to the Oxford University) dated 17 September 2013.  The paper is 72 pages long and utilises mathematical processes and equations to substantiate the argument.  The crux of the paper is to estimate the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations in the next 20 years.
So what does it say?
If you are in the following occupations, you are less likely to “lose your job” because you can’t be replaced by a computer:
·         Recreational & Occupational Therapists, Mental Health, general Healthcare and Social Workers, in fact any physician, surgeon, dentist, psychologist, should feel pretty secure that their chosen career path will still be needed into the foreseeable future.
·         Surprisingly, we will still need Athletic Trainers (a computer yelling at you to perform just won’t get the same results apparently), and Make-up Artists, Theatrical and Performance workers are less likely to be replaced by computer technology.
However, which occupations should be looking for a career change before it’s too late?
·         Bank Tellers, Legal Secretaries, Bookkeeping, Accounting and Payroll Clerks, Real Estate Brokers and Telephone Operators are all likely to be obsolete within the next 20 years.
·         Interestingly Umpires, Referees and Other Sports Officials are also at the top of the list of being replaced!
So what does this mean?
All of us need to continue to stay relevant and valuable in our chosen occupation; we need to recognise where technology is taking us and how it may impact on our careers.  We then need to adapt, change and embrace technology to utilise it to our advantage rather than have it replace us.  More than ever before we need to be flexible, and continue to learn, grow and improve ourselves.
Contact the professional team at Sothertons on 07 4972 1300 to find out what is happening to your occupation or in your industry and how you can stay ahead of the game.

08 April 2014

"Don’t wave goodbye to your pay with pay wave…" Article by Steve Marsten

As we head down the slippery slope to a cashless society, I had the privilege of speaking to a retailer who told me of a recent sale of coffee where a lady told the cash attendant that she would wave her card (on the Paywave monitor). However she placed her bag down next to the monitor and while she looked inside her bag for her credit card, the attendant said “that’s Ok madam the card has registered!” and the transaction was complete. She looked up in horror and asked “How did that happen?” A fair question I thought.

So apparently numbers were crossed check and it was all good. However there are a few things we should be conscious of:
1.       The chip feature in these Wave Card offerings come switched on, and can't be switched off. The consumer has no choice - the card simply comes with the functionality. The companies deem the consumer to have consented. They achieved this simply by changing the Terms that are imposed on cardholders.

2.        The chip performs transactions up to $100.

3.       No authentication is performed of the authority of the person to use the card (i.e. no signature, no PIN). This is the case whether you're borrowing money in a credit-card transaction, or taking the money directly out of your bank account in a debit-card transaction.

4.       A receipt may be offered, or it may have to be requested.

5.       Importantly, the vast majority of people will never discover when rogue transactions have occurred until its too late. When a consumer discovers a suspect transaction, they have to go through a process to try to get the money credited back, but have very little information available to them, and of course no evidence.

6.       And as was discovered recently, Banks actively try to discourage applicants, e.g. by saying it will take 60 days to investigate, and by requiring a signed document by fax or post. Though I have noticed banks are trying hard to rectify this issue.
At Sothertons we continue to keep our clients aware of the pros and cons of new technologies. Contact us on 4972 1300 for ways to protect your credit cards.

"Online Small Businesses Making it BIG!" Article by Tina Zawila

I read an article recently on Gabby Leibovich, co-founder and director of Australia’s biggest online shopping business Catch of the Day, and the statistics astounded me.  The turnover of this business has doubled year on year, and we are not talking small numbers, its revenue in year 1 was $7 million and by year 4 it was $60 million.  Not bad for a business without a physical shopfront!

Catch of the Day has about 3 million unique members and each week more than 15,000 Australians register as new members.  On average, an item is sold across their group of online stores, every two seconds, and the group receives about 12,000 orders for products and services a day.
Certainly, this is an amazing growth story, and it all started with Leibovich selling goods at markets in Melbourne and from his family garage via eBay.
An online business gives budding entrepreneurs an opportunity to enter the market with minimal start up costs and they don’t even need to leave their home to do business with their customers!
Even though these small businesses can be established with relative ease – you can just start up a Facebook page and be on your way – to be really successful, you need to spend the time working ON your business to give your small business the best chance of longevity and profitability.
From the start you should have clearly articulated your vision for your business.  Why you are in business, who are your potential customers, what do they want and how can you reach them?  
Don’t try to go it alone.  Make sure you seek advice from professionals such as your business advisor, and do your research on other businesses/entrepreneurs who are successfully doing what you want to do.  Make sure you can rely on your suppliers, and that you have sufficient capital to fund any upfront costs such as stock purchases.  It’s also important to know how many customers/sales you can fulfil say within a day or a week, so that you can meet and manage your customer expectations.
If you have a vision for your small business, talk to the professional team at Sothertons on 4972 1300, to turn your ideas into reality.