29 May 2018

Let’s Celebrate Small Business!

By Joe Smith
From Monday 28th May to Friday 1st June it is Queensland Small Business week.  So if you are a small business owner I would like to congratulate you for taking the risk (and hopefully the rewards) of operating your own business!
There are over 400,000 small businesses in Queensland compared to just over 10,000 medium businesses and 611 large businesses.  This represents a huge number of people putting some ‘skin in the game’ as well as employing Queenslanders.  The stats show that small businesses employ 44% of the workforce compared to 23% in medium businesses and 33% in large businesses.
In Gladstone, these small businesses are mostly locally owned and put a lot back in to our local community through employment, sponsorship and donations as well as volunteering in local clubs and organisations.  With this in mind, I would urge everyone in Gladstone to Buy Local as your support of small local businesses is essential in getting the local economy back to where it used to be.
The Buy Local campaign is an initiative of Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  It is supported by the Gladstone Observer and Gladstone Regional Council as well as all of the members of the Chamber. You should keep your eyes open for our Buy Local video which is being launched during Queensland Small Business Week and should be on TV screens not long after!
One other item that the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry have recently launched is the Boom, Bust, Recharge report which is the third study to be carried out for the Gladstone Region.  The results from the study are very detailed however one key point to take from the report is that 71% of businesses expect the operations of their business to remain similar or increase over the next 12 months. 
With the support of locals I would hope these businesses can grow which will generate further employment of locals which in turn will put more money back into the local economy.  A detailed copy of the report is available at www.gcci.com.au
If you would like a no obligations chat with us regarding your business, please call or email us at Sothertons Gladstone on 4972 1300 or email sothertons@sothertonsgld.com.au.
We will hopefully be able to work with you to ensure you can celebrate future business success!

22 May 2018

Are you being Served?

By Tina Zawila

Good service.  What is it?  Why is it so hard to find? Who cares?

Ask someone what they love about their favourite cafe, restaurant or shop, and usually their reply will include a comment about the service they receive.  Sure, they might say the coffee (or other product) is great, but this is usually followed by something like “they know my order”, “they’re always friendly/helpful”, “I feel welcome”.  And usually it’s this part of the buying experience – the service – that will either make or break it.  

Good service is the X-Factor.  It can set your business apart and make you stand out in a sea of sameness.
These days as consumers we are spoilt for choice, however we are also creatures of habit.  Generally once we find something, somewhere or someone we like, we will go back time and time again.  This repeat custom to a business owner is invaluable, not to mention that a happy customer will usually tell others.

So why is good service often hard to find?  What does it actually take to deliver top quality service?  What do we need to do?

In my opinion it comes down to one thing – we need to CARE.

If we truly CARE about our customer’s experience, we will provide excellent service.  We need to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and think about how we would like to be treated, what we would want or need, and then deliver just that.   It’s not rocket science.
The phrase “go the extra mile” makes it sound like good service takes a lot of effort, however, it’s often the little things, such as a smile, a greeting, or a genuine offer to help, that can make all the difference.

As a business owner/leader, you need to ensure your team members CARE about your customers as much as you do.  After all, their livelihood also relies on your customers.
Take some time to think about what it’s like to do business with you, identify any opportunities for improvement, and implement changes.  

At Sothertons we are committed to improving business in our community, call us today on 49721300 if we can be of service to you.

15 May 2018

Is Scomo really Santa Claus?

By Steve Marsten

Federal Budgets in an election year is like Santa Claus on steroids. There are things to like; little surprises we weren’t expecting as well as the occasional gift we would like  to give back! Scott Morrison seems to be in his Santa suit a little early.
The Budget provides tax cuts of up to $530 a year for low and middle income earners.  
There is about $25 billion for infrastructure projects that will alleviate transport woes, especially in the outer suburbs of our major cities. Rail, roads and urban congestion are the targets for this funding. Also it is expected that 28,000 jobs will be created!
The budget also will allow older Australians to earn more without their pensions being cut and it commits the Government to a $5 billion increase in funding for aged care including an additional 14,000 high-level home care packages. Also employers who hire older Australians will receive a $10,000 wage subsidy designed to combat age discrimination.
Funded by an $80 billion surge in tax receipts, the budget also promises to deliver a $2.2 billion surplus in 2019. The deficit will be paid down by $126Billion dollars. That should help our credit rating.
The Government is also showing their stripes on their fiscal management by providing Tax cuts for middle Australia that extend for seven years together with efforts to impose fiscal responsibility on debt. Yes - this is definitely an election year budget! However it means we have to elect them twice to get the full measure of the tax cuts.
There are also tough new measures to combat “phoenix” activity. Dodgy operators who deliberately go bust to avoid paying their bills, only to re-emerge from the ashes later will be scrutinised more. These businesses operators who scam customers out of paid-for goods and services, other businesses through lost payments and staff via lost wages and entitlements. Changes will curtail the actions of theses dubious Directors.There is plenty in the budget to absorb and we must remember, this is the Governments wishes not the actual outcome. We need to wait for our colourful parliament and senate to agree to all these wishes before we can bank anything. Lets cross our fingers. For more information on the budget feel free to ring our team at Sothertons on 49721300 or book you place at the Tax and property seminar on 29th May, 2018.

09 May 2018

Free Money? - Small Business Grants Are Available in Queensland

By Joe Smith
I recently attended a seminar run by Advance Queensland which is a state government initiative that focuses on providing funding to businesses operating in Queensland.  There are several areas where businesses can receive funding which in some cases requires a matched investment by the business owners.
One matched funding grant available is the Small Business Entrepreneurs Grant which helps businesses that have been registered in the last four years and have less than 20 employees invest in professional services in areas such as financial accounting advice and tax advice, business coaching and mentoring, strategic planning and other areas.  Please note it doesn’t include the preparation of your financials and income tax returns!  The funding is issued in rounds and it is expected that the next round of funding will be opening soon so keep your eyes open for it!
The seminar I attended was for the Ignite Ideas Fund which supports the development of new or improved products, processes or services to secure investment, launch into global markets and grow businesses.  This fund has grants of up to $250,000 available which is a significant amount and as such there are strict criteria to meet and if met an application is assessed by an external panel to determine if the application is to be accepted.
If you have a highly innovative new product or service that is at minimum a viable product or is at market ready stage then this grant may be of great assistance to you.  Evidence of demand or support from identified customers, industry partners and/or investors is another eligibility requirement as well as having the business skills and financial capacity to successfully deliver the project.  The final box to be ticked for this grant is that the project should have the potential to achieve high growth and benefit Queensland’s economy.
There is also a Digital Grants program with matched funding up to $10,000 that is due to open soon for the next round of funding.
If you are interested in applying or any of these grants or would like more information, please call us at Sothertons Gladstone on 4972 1300 or email sothertons@sothertonsgld.com.au to find out if you may be eligible for these or other grants!

01 May 2018

The Tax Clock is Ticking

By Tina Zawila

Can you believe it’s May already?!  The countdown is on to the end of the financial year.  June will be here before we know it. Are you ready?

At Sothertons, we prefer to work with our clients regularly throughout the year (monthly or quarterly), not just after year end when you need to lodge your tax returns. However, even if you believe you don’t need to meet with us monthly or quarterly, you should meet with us NOW before year end to ensure you have done all you can to minimise tax and maximise your business’ financial performance before the clock ticks over to a new financial year. 

Many tax strategies require action before 30 June, such as the payment of superannuation contributions (which must actually be received by the fund before 30 June to claim a tax deduction in that year), and writing off bad debts (which must be recorded as bad prior to 30 June).  However, modern technology and compliance obligations also means that most business’ submit a lot of data to the ATO throughout the year, therefore, ideally you need to record and report your results accurately to the ATO as you go. 

When we talk about “Tax Planning” with some businesses, they say, “My business hasn’t done as well this year, so I don’t need tax planning”.  However, in the last couple of weeks we have helped clients whose businesses have experienced a decline (in sales and profitability), or are in start up phase, and we were still able to identify thousands of dollars in savings and business improvement strategies.  And the real benefit - is that they can implement these strategies immediately. These strategies also positively improve their cashflow NOW (both were struggling and had tax debts with the ATO), not six months after year end when they would normally see us to prepare and lodge their tax returns. 

Another hurdle for some business owners when seeking advice throughout the year is the accuracy of their financial record keeping. If you can’t determine where you are now, you will find it difficult to predict where you will be by 30 June.  So take the time to review your current record keeping systems to ensure that you have easy access to up to date information.

If you need assistance with your record-keeping, or want advice on tax and business improvement strategies call our professional team at Sothertons today on 49721300 before 30 June sneaks up on us all.