It’s a busy time of year for Accountants and Bookkeepers — but we are not the only ones.

Cyber security experts are predicting an increase in scam activity targeting small-to-medium businesses over the next month as fraudsters ramp up their tax time scams.

You need to be vigilant, with a recent survey finding just over 80% of Small business owners say they’re worried about online identity theft over the end of financial year period, mainly due to the large amount of information that is now transferred online.



Common scams to watch out for this tax time

Experts are saying that July will be the heaviest month for scam activity, but are predicting a large volume of email fraud to start floating around over the next couple of weeks.

Here’s what to watch for.

  • Scammers impersonating tax agents or accountants offering to reduce your tax burden.
  • Emails, text messages or phone calls purporting to be from the tax office offering tax breaks.
  • Tax office impersonators claiming you’ve made an error on your tax return or need to update your details.
  • Any correspondence where the status of your financial accounts or personal information is questioned.
  • Emails, text messages or phone calls where fraudsters claim your data is being held hostage.


Advice for beating the scammers


The golden rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, or at least merits a sceptical approach.

  • Only share personal or financial information with tax agents or bookkeepers you know and trust.
  • Always ask anyone asking for sensitive information or payment to confirm their identity.
  • If someone claims to be from the ATO, but won’t confirm their identity, hang up.
  • It’s a good time of the year for a general security check, changing all passwords and getting two-step authentication.
  • As the ACCC noted last month: don’t trust email!

 

It is important to keep in mind you personally are much more likely to be targeted as a security vulnerability than your computer is. In other words, humans are the weak point scammers are targeting.

 

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Tax Planning Tips To Maximise Your Return

The end of the tax year will soon be upon us with 30 June just around the corner. Now’s a good time to take a look at both your expected income for the current financial year; and your projected income for next financial year, as they will help guide your tax planning strategy.

In this short video I will give some general tips to help with your year end tax planning.


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To Improve Your Cash Flow, One is The Number



Every business has a seven financial principals that underpins the way they operate from a financial viewpoint.

Not knowing your principals is like walking through a maze blindfolded. These consist of the four drivers of profit and three drivers of the balance sheet.

The four drivers of profit are:

  • Price
  • Volume
  • Direct costs/Cost of Goods
  • Overheads


The three drivers of the balance sheet are:

  • Accounts Receivable days
  • Inventory days
  • Accounts Payable days

They are the drivers that management should have some control over. Business improvement is driven by changes to these drivers. 


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Starting A Business Guide

The Definitive Guide to Starting a New Business 

Do you have a brilliant idea that you want to develop into a business?

It is one thing to have a good idea, but it is entirely another matter to turn it into a successful business.

All good business owners know that one of the keys to success is asking for help when you don’t have expertise and experience in certain areas. This is where we can help. We are here to get your business moving in the right direction.

Have a look at our definitive guide to starting a business in 2019 and your business will surely be on its way to success.


Do Research For Your Business Plan
Never start any business venture without being thoroughly prepared, and this will involve research.

You need to study the following:

  • Potential customers
  • Competitors
  • Industry in which you will operate

The aim of this is to have an all-inclusive understanding of exactly what your potential customers want, who your competitors are and the market your business will work in. This will enable you to make more educated decisions about if your business will be a success rather than just going on your gut feelings.

You can take on the hands-on approach and complete your own market research or engage the services of specialist firms to do it for you.

Whichever way you do it, making sure you have a sound understanding of the needs and challenges of your target market will mean you are better prepared for your businesses launch.


Having the Right Business Structure in Australia

Choosing your business structure in which to operate in Australia is a crucial step in setting up a new business. The structure you choose will have an impact on who can make decisions, how profits and losses are shared, asset protection along with tax advantages & disadvantages.

The four most popular business structures in Australia are:

  • Sole Trader – Is where you are the sole owner and hold all responsibility for the business
  • Partnership – Is where a number of people or entities run a business together.
  • Company – Is where the business is a legal entity separate from its owners
  • Trust – Is where the business is an entity that holds property or income for the benefit of others.

Not sure what business structure is best for your potential business? Check out the ATO website for more help with choosing your business structure or reach out to us to find out more.


Writing a Business Plan

You’ve done your research and have a good idea on how your business is going to be run.

The next step is preparing a business plan.

A business plan is essentially documentation of what your businesses goals are, reasons they be achieved and how you plan to make the goals a reality. It can be daunting especially if you have never written one, but it doesn’t have to be.

Just download this simple Business Plan Template Guide

Business Plan Template Guide


Develop A Marketing Strategy and Plan
The next step in the planning process is finalizing a marketing plan. Your marketing plan pulls together the information you have gathered in the research stage, it then outlines your marketing strategy.

If you are unsure where to start when writing your marketing plan, just take a look at this Marketing Plan Template

Marketing Plan Template



Calculating Your Start-up Costs For Your Business
Next is for you to calculate your businesses start-up costs.

You need to be pretty ruthless in this step. You are not trying to put forward the best case scenario. You are trying to understand the set-up costs associated with your business and be adequately prepared so you can work out if you need financing and if so, how much.

There’s nothing worse than being partway through setting up your business and receiving a conceivable but still unexpected costs, and not having sufficient funds to cover it. Avoid the unexpected by grabbing this Start-up Costs Template

Start-up Costs Template

 

Use Financial Monitoring and Tracking Tools
One of the biggest things that leads to the failure of a business is the lack of understanding the numbers. It is reasonable that in the early days of your business you would wish to look after the finances yourself to help minimise costs. This, however, cannot be an excuse for poor financial management.

It is your responsibility as a business owner to have the right financial tracking and reporting tools to monitor your profits, losses, sales, stock & cash flow or otherwise seek out the assistance of a professional to do so.

If you are opting to complete your books yourself for now make use of helpful templates like the ones below.

Cashflow Template

Alternatively, look at cloud-based accounting software packages like Xero, Reckon or MYOB.


Which Registrations and Licences Do You Need
Depending on what your business is planning to sell, there may be a variety of different registrations you will need. However, no matter the type of business you plan to run, all businesses operating in Australia require an Australian Business Number (ABN) and Tax File Number (TFN).

The Australian Business and Licences Information Service (ABLIS) is an helpful resource when determining exactly which registrations, licences and permits you will need.


Get Your Insurances In Order
Insurance is one of those things that people don’t like to deal with, so they just take the minimum with a name they know without doing any proper research into whether the policy really suits their needs.

The industry or profession your business will be operating in will influence exactly which and how many insurances you will require. Some insurances you may need to consider are:

  • Workers Compensation Insurance
  • Motor Vehicle Third Party Personal Insurance
  • Building & Contents Insurance
  • Assets & Revenue Insurance
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • Products Liability Insurance
  • Personal Accident, Illness & Life Insurance
  • Income Protection Insurance

AS there are so many different types of insurances and so many providers, many business owners use an Insurance Broker to assist them to find the right policy. Not only can they save you time, they can also ensure that you have de-risked your business, and can also save you money as well.


Protecting Your Intellectual Property
How long did it take you to come up with the perfect name for your business?

How would feel if you were halfway through your business start-up process to find out that a competitor had chosen to use that same name.

This is why you need to register your business or company name & domain name as soon as possible.

This does not automatically give you the right to use the name as a trademark, so you may also need to consider registering the name as a trademark if you intend to take action against illegal users.

Depending on your industry and what you will be selling, you may also need to protect your business idea. This is what is going to be making you money and no one will pay for something they can get elsewhere. If you have a unique business idea, you should look into protecting your intellectual property (IP).

Your intellectual property includes:

  • Trademarks
  • Patents
  • Copyright
  • Design rights
  • Domain names.

Depending on where your intended market is, this may also include looking at protecting these ideas overseas.

As you can see, there is a lot that needs to be taken into consideration before you even open your doors for customers.

If you would like to discuss your options about your business idea, reach out to the team to schedule a chat.

 

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Accountants Gold Coast Small Business Tax
Having effective team meetings can have multiple benefits for your business.

Many meetings are unproductive and simply waste everyone’s time. If you have to have meetings, here’s how to make the most of them.

There are a few reasons teams meet. The first one is out of habit. We put together a schedule for meeting on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. And we meet even when there’s nothing to really meet about.

The second reason we meet is due to a false sense of accomplishment. We feel like if we’re meeting, we’re getting things done. This is far from true.

But meetings are important. But how do you make them productive and effective?

Have an agenda

Have a clear and concrete agenda distributed in advance that outlines the purpose of the meeting and what your projected outcomes are.

Ensure the agenda has a limited number of action and discussion items.


Set an end time and stick to it.

Limit the length of the meeting to less than one hour if you can. And always end the meeting on time, even if the agenda is not completed.

Have a meeting lead.

Without a meeting lead, chaos will happen every time. All meetings must have a main person, usually the person that called the meeting, to keep it on track. If you are the chair of the meeting, control discussion by not letting individuals dominate or repeat what has already been said.

Reduce the number of meetings held.

Many people call meetings without a true purpose.

Before calling a meeting, look into if the information can be shared in a different way.

Some communication channels include email and internal memos.


Cut down on the number of people attending

Limit the number of people involved in the meeting. Only have people at the meeting who need to be there.

When meetings have too many people, you can end up with endless discussions and unclear direction.


Create action items and accountability

Ensure there are actionable follow-up to decisions made at the meeting, including who is responsible and accountable.


 

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Offering Equity To Staff

If you are contemplating offering one of your team equity in your business I’d ask one thing of you. 

Stop for a second and ask yourself one major question.

Why?

All too often businesses owners get caught up in the thought of locking in a key team member with equity without really thinking through the consequences.

This generally results in one of two things. Either the deal never gets done and the team member gets fed up and leaves. The second is the deal does happen but without proper planning and ends in divorce. Both pretty ordinary outcomes.

So how do you avoid this?

Before starting any conversations about equity with anyone in your team I’d suggest you and any other directors, sit down with a trusted advisor and ask yourselves a lot of questions of yourself and the business. Basically you need to prepare a Strategic Plan of the business.

The outcome will give you a better idea of what the next step should be. The questions below are a starting point.

  1. What are your long-term plans for the business?
  2. How much of your business are you willing to give away?
  3. Is this team member really so special you have to give up some of your business to get them to stay?
  4. Have you considered other types of incentive scheme?
  5. Should they have to pay for the equity? If so, do you want that cash, is it for a retiring shareholder or does the company?
  6. What should the team member achieve before getting the equity?
  7. What additional, complementary skills can they bring to the business?


Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to find out some info from the team member in question to ensure your goals align.

It’s probably wise to have someone independent interview your team member rather than doing it yourself.

Consider it a SWOT analysis on the team member. You’ll want to ask things like:

  1. What are your long-term plans?
  2. Where do you see the business in ten years?
  3. How do you see the business supporting your long-term plans?
  4. What can you bring to the business to take it to the next level?

It’s only once you’ve gathered all of this information you can start to consider the type of offer you’d like to make to your employee. If you come away from this exercise with a perception of poorly aligned goals, then the likelihood of the new “partnership” working is low.

Let’s say you and your key team member see eye-to-eye, for example you both agree there’s lots of value to be added, they want to drive it, and you to double the business within five years.

It’s at this stage that you should probably bring in an experienced advisor (if you didn’t already back at step one) to run you through the different scenarios available so you can select one that best suits all involved. 

Outside of commercial advice, you’ll also need tax advice as many of these scenarios have tax complications associated with them, and you’ll want legal advice when it comes to drafting the deal documentation, including the contract, shareholders agreement, etc.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, well, that’s because it is. 

Your business is a big deal and inviting someone in to be an equity partner should also be treated as a big deal.

If you would like to discuss this further with one of our team, please contact us.

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