25 September 2018

Focus, Discipline and Distractions?

Most business owners will tell you that no two days in business are ever the same.  Every day brings
a new challenge, and hopefully every day takes you one step closer to achieving a goal. 

As a business owner you need to value every minute of every day.  You need to be able to respond quickly to your clients and customers and solve new problems as they arise.

However, it is easy to become distracted.  When a business strays from its core business, loses sight of what customers want, or the owner takes their eye off their cash flow and profitability, it can be a slippery slope to disaster.

So how do you protect yourself from becoming distracted?

1.    Have a Plan!  Too many small businesses do not take time to plan.  And I’m not just talking about an overall business plan, I’m talking about a financial plan (aka a Budget), monthly/weekly/daily sales targets, a plan for capital investment and human resources, a marketing plan, and the list goes on.  However, these plans do not need to be lengthy documents!  A tool we use with our clients is a “Plan on a Page” – everything you need to know about your business on a sheet of A3 paper!

2.    Take Control of your Attention.  The key to taking control of distractions is to know what they are.  Plan (yes, there’s that word again) your day, and then monitor how closely you stick to that plan.  What tasks did you choose to prioritise? Do these tasks serve your clients/customers and/or improve your business performance or position?  Were there unplanned tasks during the day?  Did you take longer on some tasks than expected?  What distracted you? 

Technology can push information into our lives whether we want it or not, and at a time that may not be convenient – and the list of things that demand our attention is long – social media alerts, emails, phone calls, text messages.  While technology is an important tool, today’s “always on/always available” digital culture means that we end up working in a reactive mode, allowing others to dictate our work.  To overcome this, we must be strategic and plan how/when we use technology to our advantage. 

Making changes to how we work to be more focused, disciplined and less distracted takes time and effort, however, the rewards are worth it.  If you need help planning and prioritising call the professional business advisors at UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300. 

19 September 2018

What to watch out for when working from Home. By Steve Marsten.

Image result for work from home
More Australians then ever before are making work-from-home claims this tax year, and the ATO is gearing up to catch common blunders like phone and internet deductions. The Tax Office believes that a high proportion of mistakes, errors and “questionable claims” is prompting them to increase scrutiny on work-from-home expenses.

They don’t necessarily take into account the fact that more and more small businesses are allowing staff to work from home and more business owners are establishing businesses from home.

Where applicable - taxpayer’s can claim costs incurred as a direct result of working from home, but the ATO is watching for those who blur the line between private use and work use expenses.

While there is a rising trend of employees working from home, and while extra costs related to working from home are usually deductible, the ATO believes they are seeing some taxpayers either over-claiming or claiming private costs. This is according to assistant commissioner Kath Anderson.

In many cases there is mounting evidence that taxpayers don’t know what they can and cannot claim. Hence, often taxpayers who chance their arm by undertaking the preparation and lodgement of their own tax returns risk not understanding how the law applies to their deductions and the level of risk that they exposing themselves to where they have not sort professional advice or assistance.

We often see some taxpayers claiming expenses they never paid for; expenses their employer reimbursed; private expenses and expenses with no supporting records.

It’s important to realise that the ATO is carefully monitoring various claims. It’s near impossible, for example, to claim ones entire amount of expenses like their internet or mobile phone, not just the work-related component. Claims for the work-related portion of expenses like phone, internet, and depreciation of your computer, printing and stationary are all allowable though it’s important to understand that supporting documentation and diaries can be useful to galvanise the claim.

Additional costs of running expenses like electricity for heating, cooling and lighting can also be deductible, but you need to be able to demonstrate that there were additional costs incurred by working from home.

You see, you cannot work from home and sit in front of the TV or at the kitchen bench doing some emails; it’s unlikely that you are incurring any additional expenses. However, if you have a separate work area, then you have an arguable position that allows you to claim the work-related portion of running expenses for that space. For more information feel free to call the team from UHY Haines Norton CQ on 4972 1300.

11 September 2018

Will Technology Save or Ruin your Business?

By Joe Smith

There have been reports over the past few years of how technological advances will result in some jobs becoming extinct and things such as robots will take over tasks that are normally undertaken by humans.  And an extension of this could be that some businesses could be facing threats if the services that they provide can be delivered by some type of technology.

While I believe that this may be true to a certain extent, I also believe that businesses who keep their finger on the pulse with advances in technology in their industry will be better situated to maintain and grow their business as opposed to businesses who do not keep up with technological advances.  This is in line with a quote I read recently saying “technology won’t replace businesses but businesses who use technology will probably replace businesses that do not”.

I have recently been working with a client implementing the use of Deputy Software in their business.  This is employee rostering management software that is cloud based and has replaced a manual rostering process and employee database.  I was delighted to hear recently that after using Deputy for a couple of months the savings in e
fficiencies as well as staff hours far outweighs the investment in using the Deputy software.

So business owners should ask themselves the question – is it worth investing a few dollars in new technology where the potential is that I could save two, three or maybe ten times as much in costs or make my business significantly more efficient and attractive to potential new customers.

Further to this, software such as Deputy also directly feeds into Xero which in this case can streamline the payroll process for your business potentially saving yourself or your team a significant amount of time and stress! 

So I would suggest that business owners have a look at Xero and their add on partners to see if any of the software available there could be used in your business.

If you would like more information on how you use software to make your business more successful and sustainable please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au  

04 September 2018

Do your assets belong to the bank?

By Tina Zawila

I spoke to an excited young couple this week who are about to buy a property, with the help of the bank of course.  I have also been helping an established business owner divest a property to pay down debt and simplify their portfolio. 

So what do both of these cases have in common? 

The impact of the bank’s security over their properties.

In the first case, the young couple have been offered finance to purchase the property, and they’ve even been told to ‘keep’ their cash deposit for property improvements, and instead the bank will simply take security over their other two existing properties (one of which is unencumbered) for this new debt.  This means that their three properties will now be inextricably linked.  Now this might all seem OK today – after all, it helps the couple get the property without having to use their savings, and it really doesn’t matter to them that the bank has linked the security over all of their properties… or does it?

Let’s move onto the second case, which ironically has similarities to the first case, just fast forward a decade or two. The client decides to sell a property which only has a small loan over it and plans to use the net proceeds (after paying out the loan) for other purposes.  However, when the bank finds out that there is a contract to sell, they put everything on hold, while they decide if the property can be sold, and what will happen with the proceeds.  You see, this property is also held as security over other properties (similar to the case I described above), and if it is sold, the proceeds must be used to extinguish bank debt on the other properties.  Leaving the client without any say in how the proceeds can be applied.  Essentially, the owner of the property does not have control over the asset.

Now I’m not saying that the bank in either of these cases is not acting in the client’s best interests, or within their rights, terms and conditions.  I’m just saying that the client should be acutely aware of their financial structure and the control (or lack thereof) that they have over their assets.  If possible, think ahead, plan for the unexpected, what if you need/want to sell a property in the future?  Most importantly seek independent advice, particularly if you are not sure of the implications of a finance offer.

The team at UHY Haines Norton can assist you in understanding and improving your financial position, call us today on 4972 1300 if you need advice.