20 November 2018

Making the most of your Business Conference

By Steve Marsten

Well it’s that time of year when I go to conference. We often look for the best business conference that is available and affordable. These are often overseas – not because we want to go overseas, though a change of scenery is always appreciated but because they tend to offer value for money.

Now clients ask me what value do I really get out of a conference other than the Gala dinners (which I rarely attend) and the beer and wine? Now I take this time away from my business very seriously. I know many people go to conferences because it’s a junket and there’s no real plan to actually assess the value and what the real return is of the investment they’re making.

We have found that there are a number of good Australian business conferences that attract quality speakers. We always have a plan in place based on the agenda and a strategy to identify valuable business lessons.

So here are several reasons why I attend a good business conference.

  1. It helps motivate me to carry out the work I do. Too much time behind a desk can wear you down and I know some have said – just “google it”. There is a lot of information on the net but not all that is written is useful and truthful. It’s important to get out and about and hear from people who are doing what you do but differently or creatively or more innovatively! This is what can reignite your enthusiasm.
  2. Learning industry and business trends and how they’re implemented. Well organised conferences specialise in finding compelling subject matter and top-notch speakers for their sessions. Attending events and learning about the latest trends and how they’re being used in your industry augments your knowledge base and gives you something valuable to bring back, and possible apply, to your own business and share with colleagues.
  3. Evaluate and meet new vendors. Most professional conferences include vendors whose reason for being there is to connect with you. They help educate you on their latest and greatest products and services. You may find new tools you were unaware of, tools that could provide a solution to problems your business, or your customers, are facing.
  4. Develop ideas for content based on sessions. As business communicators, we are often tasked with the job of developing marketing and public relations content for our businesses and clients. In addition to providing educational value, conference sessions can spark new ideas for content.

Take time out straight after the conference to prepare your action sheets and assess the good, the bad and the ugly of your conference. For more information on getting the most out of conferences, call the team at UHY Haines Norton on 07 4972 1300.

13 November 2018

Be Uber Aware of Tax Requirements

By Joe Smith 
Most of you will know by now that Uber is coming to Gladstone – it was only a matter of time before they expanded their operations outside of the major cities!  And while many people will be interested in earning some extra cash, they should also be aware of their requirements for tax purposes.

The ATO classes Uber and any other ride sourcing as taxi travel.  This means that anyone wishing to operate a service through Uber must get an Australian Business Number (ABN) and register for GST regardless of how much income they earn from it.  There is no threshold that applies regarding ride sourcing and the requirements for GST registration.

As with any other business, full records of all income and expenses should be kept.  Then the expenses should be apportioned as only the percentage that relates to your business activity can be claimed as a tax deduction.  As well as this, GST can only be claimed on the portion of expenses that relate to your business activity.

Business Activity Statements (BAS) will also be required to be lodged on a monthly or quarterly basis and payments made to the ATO as required.  And then you will have to declare your business income on your tax return for each financial year that you operate a ride sourcing service.  My advice here would be speak to an accountant before you begin operating.

The key thing with this and any other business is that you put funds aside to cover any amounts due for GST and tax.  Not all of the money that you receive from your business operations is yours to keep.  And with the ATO constantly improving their IT and data matching abilities they may be able to identify exactly how much income that you earn! 

The ATO can also check vehicle and boat registrations which they can use to identify any differences in the income you earn and the lifestyle you lead.  And keep in mind that they can also check Facebook, Instagram and other social media too.

If you are thinking of starting a business and would like our assistance please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au  

06 November 2018

Fighting Fair

By Tina Zawila
Maybe it was just a coincidence that this Halloween, the ATO visited Gladstone?  For many the thought of the ATO showing up on your doorstep may be a little frightening, however, the purpose of their visit was to provide an update on their activities and to gain feedback on how our region was coping with the significant changes in our economy.

In particular, the Chair of the Tax Practitioners Board advised that the ATO will be focusing on several areas this year, but in particular he noted work related expenses claimed by salary and wage earners and the black economy.

Now you may think that the black economy has nothing to do with you, as we typically associate the black economy with the big end of town – the giant corporations who don’t pay their fair share of tax.  However, the facts are, that the black economy represents 3% of our economy at A$50billion, of which corporate tax losses from multinationals is only A$3billion.  You may also think of drugs, illicit tobacco, counterfeit goods, unregulated offshore gambling etc, however, it is actually understated business income that represents a significant portion of the black economy (A$10-$20billion). 

We are all aware of the cash economy and unconsciously many of us participate – how many of you ask a tradie or a retailer “how much if I pay cash?”, expecting a lower price?  The problem with this common practice is that it promotes an unfair playing field where the businesses who do the right thing are at a commercial disadvantage.

The Black Economy Taskforce gathered evidence from many sources including contractors who are outbid on contracts in various industries because they don’t make cash payments to their workers and contractors.  Many of them are completely frustrated that their ability to earn their income was being undermined by people who were just aggressively under-pricing and cheating. 

The Taskforce final report argued for a “near non-cash world”, however the government didn’t quite embrace that concept.  They did accept many of the report’s recommendations including things like an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000, a ban on electronic sales suppression tools, making businesses report payments to contactors in high-risk industries, and extending ATO audit and compliance programs.

So we can expect to see an increase in ATO audit activity regarding cash transactions, contractor payments and “sham” ABN’s used by people who are engaged as contractors when they should be employees. 

If you need further advice or assistance with tax compliance or reporting obligations contact the professional team at UHY Haines Norton on 49721300.

24 October 2018

A Positive Outlook for Local Businesses

By Joe Smith 
I was recently involved in the judging process for the 2018 Best in Business Awards.  Over a couple of days around 50 local business owners and managers were interviewed and asked about their businesses covering several areas as part of the judging processes.

I have to say that after this process I see a bright future for businesses in Gladstone as some of the stories the businesses owners had to tell were very inspiring!  Most business owners would agree that recently business conditions have been very challenging.  However, in these challenging conditions there are lots of businesses who growing and employing more staff which is a great thing for our local economy. 

These businesses have been adapting to the environment in many different ways and have been coming up with some great ideas on how they can run a better business.  Whether it being diversifying their business and offering new products or services, or by changing their business operations so that they can work more efficiently and win more work, these business owners are making changes that have worked for them and made them more successful and sustainable.

There were also some young and new to business people interviewed who have taken their ideas and knowledge and turned it into fast growing businesses.  And in some cases they have gone from only employing themselves to employing over 10 locals in just over one year!

While this is all very exciting, we need to ensure as a business community we offer the support required to these businesses whether it be offering the best professional advice available or possibly acting as a mentor to someone new to business so that we can help work with them through the ups and downs as well as the sometimes crazy growth periods that a new business can go through.

If you are new to business or have an existing business and would like our assistance please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au  

16 October 2018

Are you playing with real money?

By Tina Zawila

I came across the term “Financial Abstraction” recently which refers to the theory that our relationship with money changes depending on whether we are dealing with cash (notes and coins) or digital currency – credit cards, debit cards, pay pal, or any other electronic payment method.

Did you know that according to a recent study by Dunn and Bradstreet people spend 12-18% more when using credit cards? 

Think about the last time you carried cash in your wallet, did you pay more attention to how you spent that cash compared to when you tap and go with your debit or credit card?  I know that I am more conscious of where and how I hand over cash to pay for even small purchases, compared to when I am using my card. 

When we pay for something electronically, we do not have the physical transaction and loss of something tangible from our possession, therefore, our mind is tricked into thinking it was harmless, even though we are still spending our cash even if we can’t see it.  The pain of spending is minimised when we transact digitally.

Research indicates that our financial habits are changing as we move towards virtual transactions where money is more of an idea and less of a physical reality. An interesting statistic is that it is estimated that there are trillions of dollars in the global economy every day, yet only 4% of money is in coins and currency, the rest is all digital. 

Electronic payments are referred to as “frictionless” – making it easy for you to (mindlessly) spend the money you can’t see.

Now I’m not saying we all need to cut up our cards, close our pay pal accounts, or cancel Apple Pay, but I am saying that maybe we need to pay a bit more attention to those impulse, non-essential purchases to avoid the traps of personal debt.

Maybe you could experiment and withdraw your “play” money in cash at the start of the week and limit your spending to the cash in your wallet?  I wonder if you would spend less than the week before when you were tapping your card?  Could you save an extra 12-18% on those discretionary expenses and re-direct these savings to something you really want?

If you need advice with managing your money or personal budgeting, call the professional team at UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300, we have tips and tools to help you achieve your financial goals.

11 October 2018

Never burn the bridge with your departing customer

By Steve Marsten
It continues to amaze me how some people in business get so upset when they receive news that their customer or client is changing suppliers. No matter how long a business relationship has lasted, there are always issues that crop up that will demand its termination. While some issues may be resolved amicably, others may not. Regardless of how each of your business relationships turn out, there is no reason to burn your bridges with your vendor or supply partner.
Your ex-customer is still valuable to you. Besides paying for your product or services, customers also play a very important role in word of mouth referrals. So while you may not be monetising a customer who no longer does business with you, they may still play a critical role in influencing opinions of new prospects who are looking to buy from you. By treating your ex-customers with honour and respect, you are likely to retain their goodwill which goes a long way in bringing new customers to your business.
The other important thing is ex-customers can always return. There are several reasons why a customer chooses to end a relationship. A customer or client may no longer have a need for your product or service. Other times, they may be lured by cheaper quotes from your competitors. None of these indicate a permanent departure and it is always a chance for them to come back. By keeping your door open to these ex-customers and not burning bridges, you keep the option of their return open.
So how do you not burn your bridges with a customer? A lot of times, businesses fail to realise that the bridge is being burnt through the process of business termination.
Always try and make your termination process as simple as your sign up process is. For instance, if you have a sales person drive down to your customer’s office to complete formalities during the sign up process, make sure you have an employee do the same for termination as well. Many businesses bend over backwards during customer onboarding but fail to do this during termination. This leaves the customer frustrated and unlikely to return.
Differences over issues like pricing are generally resolved amicably. But what happens when larger issues crop up? Many times, customers may breach the terms of your contract even without realizing it. In such cases, do not be quick to engage lawyers. Instead, try to resolve these differences amicably.  
There are times when you may be required to fire a client either because they are difficult to work with, or they want you to do something unethical. While the instinctual reaction is to call them out on their actions, a better way to do this is by terminating the contract without directly blaming anyone. The best way to fire a client without burning bridges however is by explicitly keeping the door open by ending your email with something non-committal as ‘hope we cross paths again in future’. This provides an opportunity for the client to come back to you in future should your pending differences be resolved by then. For more information on dealing with upset customers or suppliers call the team at UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300.

02 October 2018

How Can You Help Boost Our Economy?

By Joe Smith
I have recently taken on the role of President of the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of our key goals this year is to help boost or stimulate the local economy.  And while the Chamber will come up with our strategies there are also things that you can do as business owners and consumers to help our economy.

The first obvious thing that you can do is Buy Local whether it is for goods and services relating to your business or for personal use.  If you currently source goods or services from outside Gladstone then please, where possible, consider giving one of our local businesses the opportunity to quote or tender on these for you.  And then if you receive a competitive quote and do purchase from a local supplier you have kept money in our local economy which the flow on benefits when compounded are huge in terms of jobs and spending in other local businesses.

If your business is showing some signs of improvement then you may consider taking on an additional employee or apprentice to help service the increase in demand.  And with the government incentives that are available, for employing an individual who has been out of work for a minimum of 4 weeks as well as incentives for taking on an apprentice, the cost of employing someone may be significantly offset over the term of the funding available.  In addition to this you could also use a local group training organisation to hire an apprentice and assist another local organisation!

One additional thing to consider is the impact of cash flow on local businesses.  If we could get all local businesses, large internationals through to small sole traders, to agree and adhere to paying invoices to other local businesses within their credit terms, the flow on effect could be substantial.  And further to this the interest that could be saved on overdrafts and credit cards could be substantial and again these savings will go back into the local community.  And finally the stress levels and not staying awake at night worrying about cash flow could be an added bonus!

If you would like more information on dealing with any of the issues above please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au