Why Choosing The Right Business Accountant Is Important For Your Success

The Right Accountant

Will become a trusted colleague you can depend on, someone who offers advice and guidance and adds value to your business right from the start. And if you expect your company to grow, it’s a good idea to hire a professional accountant at the beginning rather than later on. It’s even better if they’ve worked extensively in same industry as yours as that helps them understand the unique needs of your business.

Having started in Noosa in 1996 – in the foothills of management rights – McAdamSiemon are recognised as management rights and motel industry specialists, and have been entrusted by hundreds of clients to handle their business advisory, taxation, accounting and financial goals for more than 20 years.

The growing team understand the complexities of the management rights and community titles sector, and in addition to offering a broad range of general accounting services including business structuring for asset protection and tax, they understand the minutiae of the rules and regulations and are able to look at things differently.  As one of the original partners, and with over 28 years in public practice, Rob McAdam said:

“One of the biggest challenges facing businesses now is the pace of change and the introduction of technology that business owners must embrace to stay competitive. The need for real time information so that the right decisions can be made in time is critical.  At McAdam Siemon we place emphasis on simplicity, continuity and personal attention by combining the experience and proficiency of a large organisation with the accessibility of a personal advisor.


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    Thinking about entering the world of Hotel/Motel ownership then the people with the most connections in Australia and New Zealand are Resort Brokers.  They are a family run business with over 30 years experience, with the next generation of the family who are successfully taking the reins.

    Why receipt bank is a must for business owners

    As much as we hate to admit it, the best business owners and executives can drop the ball on occasion. This is particularly true of the little things, which can be easily overlooked.

    When it comes to keeping track of business expenses, even the most attentive and mindful can fall behind. Physical receipts and invoices can easily be misplaced before you set foot back in the office. Hunting around for them causes headaches, wastes time and hurts productivity.

    When a business or its employees don’t stay on top of filing receipts, it usually results in paying more tax than you need to. That hurts. Not just your bottom line, but it feels bad to lose more of your hard-earned money. Thankfully, there is a way for you to keep your money and your productivity without going insane trying to stay on top of filing or scanning paper receipts.


    The old, manual way

    Traditionally you had to collect and collate your paper receipts. The problem with that, more often than not, is something comes up and you get disrupted. A little distraction creeps in and you leave the receipt behind, forget about it entirely, or it disappears before you can store it safely with the rest.

    But there’s another problem. The data from the documents that do make it to your stash need to be entered into spreadsheets. This too is fraught with potential problems. There are common issues like repetitive entries and human error. There’s also the opportunity cost and wasted productivity of having someone copy information into a spreadsheet, when it can be done quicker and more reliably by a machine. And let’s not forget the time lost trying to track down those lost and misplaced receipts. Wasting human potential on something so unproductive is bad business management. Given modern solutions, it’s just not an efficient use of your own time or your employees’.

    There are a lot of downsides to the old way. It served a purpose once when everything was done by hand. Today it’s a relic. Businesses set up to take advantage of modern automation will overtake those still operating traditionally as they make better use of their time.


    The new, automated way which saves time and money:

    Receipt Bank is a mobile app that helps small- and medium-sized business owners and employees save time and boost their efficiency when it comes to processing receipts. Instead of worrying about keeping track of receipts and then entering information by hand, Receipt Bank does it all for you. All you need to do is take a photograph of the receipt. That’s it—you’re done.

    The app then goes to work using sophisticated optical character recognition (OCR) to convert the photo into meaningful information for Xero. No manual work, no fiddling with paper receipts, no time wasted.

    The app is available on both iOS and Android devices, meaning you can send receipts and invoices no matter where you are using your phone. There’s never an inconvenient time or place.

    It’s designed for any sized team. You can add team members and give them different levels of access, approvals and expense reports that match their role in your business. You can even set up rules that tell Receipt Bank where and when to send transactional information, suppliers and payment methods. Using the app doesn’t mean you have to change your entire process.

    In just a few seconds you can accomplish what used to take a substantial amount of time. That’s an impressive productivity gain. There’s no risk of losing the receipt because you capture it the very moment you get it. With the information saved straight to the cloud, you won’t suffer from any issues relating to duplicate or lost information either.

    If you think this sounds nice but you’re worried about security implications, Receipt Bank protects your data with 256-bit SSL encryption. That’s ‘geek speak’ for bank-level data security.

    In short, Receipt Bank offers a service that automates your receipt-based bookkeeping and saves you and your employees time.

    In an age of automation and efficiency, time is far too valuable to be spent handling receipts and manually entering data into spreadsheets. Automated bookkeeping gives your team more time to do the creative and uniquely human activities that make a real difference to your clients and your bottom line. The less time you can spend on bookkeeping, and the more time you can spend growing your business, the better off you will be.

    Still relying on email? Enhance team communication with these tools…

    The world has changed. Work has changed.

    The possibilities provided by cloud and mobile technologies are beyond what most people would even have considered possible just a decade ago.

    But have you adapted and updated your systems to keep up with — and take advantage of — these exciting and fast-moving changes? Or are you still determined to drive the steam engine?

    You may not realise it but if you’re still emailing and Cc-ing and Bcc-ing the whole office in on messages — and this is your main (or only) internal team communication method — then you are still puffing away on the steam engine.

    You’re left behind while everyone else is taking fast bullet trains to get to their destinations safely and more effectively; you’re relying on out-dated technology.

    The McKinsey 2012 Social Economy report found that:

    ● The average corporate user spends about 25% of the workday answering and sending email
    ● 25% to 30% of time spent on email could be saved if the main communication channel was switched to a social platform

    Most businesses could use a little more time and productivity back in 2012. What about now?

    Years later and the bottom line is this: If you run a team of professionals that needs to collaborate on work, you need to start taking advantage of the many tools available beyond simple email, in order to be more productive.

    There is an array of project management, collaboration, chat, and email enhancement tools that help your team communicate more efficiently and get work done more effectively.

    So what tools are available – and how, specifically, can they help you be more productive?

    Chat and messaging tools

    Chat tools allow you to securely and privately talk to individual team members or interact with the whole team.

    There’s no writing emails, no waiting for emails to be read, no wondering if people have read what you wrote or received attachments…it’s all a lot more direct, real-time, and collaborative.

    You attach relevant links and files as you go, virtually rendering email defunct for some organisations in terms of internal communications. Some organisations even use chat tools as the main interface and communication channel with clients.

    Below is a brief overview of a few of the most popular ones.


    Slack is built for communication between everyone from freelancers to large enterprises. It has customisable real-time messaging, archiving, and also search… from mobile or desktop devices running Windows, Mac, or Android.

    It features built-in internal and external sharing options, open channels, file sharing, notifications, and there is flexible file browsing and integration with Google Docs and Dropbox.

    Free versions are available, which are great for freelancers.


    Hipchat is designed specifically for chat amongst team members in small and medium businesses. Available for Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux, it is fully customisable.

    The app offers easy screen sharing, secure guest access, SSL encryption for security, simple file sharing, and unlimited chatrooms.

    A free version is available; a paid version offers more functionality (such as video calling) for a small monthly charge.


    Telegram is a free app, regardless of the amount of chats stored (unlike Slack). It also offers similar features to Slack but with unlimited search history. It only works off mobile.

    A great feature of Telegram is secret chats, by which you can share sensitive information like passwords. Privacy is a big deal. It also offers audio notes – another cool feature.

    Being open source, there is a support community to back it up.

    Collaboration tools

    Collaboration tools go beyond simple chat tools. They may include a chat component to them but their key function is to organise work and to make collaboration on projects and project management easier.

    As the nature of work has changed with the mobile and cloud revolution, more people work remotely than ever before.

    Nowadays, it’s not just the travelling salespeople who aren’t based in the office. The office itself might not even exist!

    Collaboration tools allow remote teams to work together as if they were at adjacent desks in the office – often from opposite sides of the world. This is partly what has enabled the wholesale hiring of freelancers in many businesses.

    Below is a brief overview of just a few of the most popular from the many collaboration platforms available.


    Basecamp is a cloud-hosted project management platform. Created 10 years ago, it is one of the most established and popular online suites available, with many millions of users. It is capable of looking after large enterprises or small businesses.

    Simple to learn, reliable, and full-featured, it’s easy to organise people, delegate tasks, and monitor the progress of projects.


    This is another of the leading project management tools available but different in design to Basecamp. It uses a ‘kanban’ board set up.

    Within these boards (projects), a series of cards represent tasks. These cards can be used to invite team members to, in order to assign tasks and track the progress of a project, and to categorise work in relation to the project. Simple to use and reasonably priced.


    Wrike is another project management tool that allows you to prioritise assignments and monitor updates in real time.

    It assists with task management, has an interactive timeline, allows document collaboration and discussions in tasks, and can be used on iPhone and Android as well as desktop.

    Wrike can also be integrated with email, Google Docs, and Dropbox.


    Asana is another of the most popular project management tools to replace the need for email.

    It makes team communication and collaboration easy, with the ability to easily create projects and tasks, and to follow the progress of projects.

    Team members can be added to projects and tasks, with files shared and messaging made easy between them. It is compatible from both desktop and mobile devices.


    Podio has a dedicated following of over 400,000 teams and makes communication, organisation, and project workflows simple.

    This customisable tool is suitable for small and medium business, as well as freelancers. It has a strong social core, with activity streams featuring comments, likes, and status updates. Anyone with a company email address can join and collaborate on a thread.

    Email integration tools

    Email may still have a place in your business, even with social tools being introduced. But, like with an old car that still gets you from A to B, it may need a few accessories to do its job efficiently.
    There are several email tools that can jazz it up and help email to better meet the requirements of a modern business.

    Email should no longer be treated as the sole communication tool; instead, it needs to interact with the social tools you introduce.

    Email inboxes need to be unified and shared across teams and no longer designed as separate silos of info for individuals: email needs to be integrated into the new reality of a collaborative, information-sharing platform.

    Here are just two of the great tools available – a simple search on Google will suggest more:


    Karbon is actually is actually a workflow management application, with a focus on the accounting industry. It helps accounting firms manage client work and email communications.

    One of its main features is email triage: This allows all emails to enter into a single repository to be assigned out as work comes in: a much more efficient way of organising emails than the traditional individual account set up.


    Hiver is another tool that helps you manage your email better. Effectively it turns Gmail into a help desk, bringing all the features you need for your help desk right into your Gmail account.

    It is able to rapidly delegate emails so that communication becomes more seamless and customers receive better, more streamlined service.

    Collaboration: there’s no time like the present

    During the 90s and noughties, email became an indispensable business tool. Now, however, it is replaceable.

    In fact, in many cases it needs to be replaced as it ends up wasting too much employee time and damaging productivity.

    The beauty of most of the chat, collaboration, and email enhancement tools detailed above is that many of your staff will already be familiar with how to use them.

    They are probably using similar social apps for chat and messaging in their private lives. This creates a low barrier of entry that should be embraced by businesses: very little training is required!

    Of course, you will need to create some usage guidelines but simplicity is key here: Most of these tools are so easy to use that you can literally implement a new system and have people using it to collaborate almost immediately.

    If you would like assistance in selecting the right chat or collaboration platforms for your business, one of our qualified professionals can help. Simply contact us here.

    Business owners: 3 proven steps for setting achievable goals

    A: “My goal is for my business to win more new clients.” 

    B: “My goal is for my business to take on 12 new clients by June 30 next year.” 

    Which of the above goals is more likely to be achieved?

    If you chose B, you’d be right. It shows serious intent about achieving a goal by placing numbers and dates on it. If you chose A – well, hopefully by the end of this article you will have changed your mind.

    So, what are the goals for your business in the next 30, 90, 365 days? And how can you go about setting goals that are more likely to be achieved?

    With the turn of the year or during a slower period in business, it’s a good idea to take stock of where you are now, recalibrate, and set new goals for where you want to be.

    But whether you actually achieve those goals will depend largely on whether you are doing three things that many business owners are not currently doing…

    If you’re not following the three guidelines revealed below, your so-called ‘goals’ may simply be a collection of wishes.

    The difference between wishes and goals

    Non-specific goals that are not written down and cannot be broken down into definite actions are essentially wishes.

    Wishes are fine – for children. They can be wild and wacky, unbound by logic. But they should occupy no space in the minds of business owners. It’s no use saying: 

    “I wish my business could achieve a million-dollar turnover.” 

    “I wish my business had more competent sales staff.” 

    “I wish my business had fewer competitors.”

    If you haven’t set proper goals, you are pinning your hopes on wishes. You can’t plan your business around them. You can’t commit to them.

    When asked what their goals are, almost everyone will say “I want to be happy, healthy, and prosperous.” This is fine and sounds good on a New Year’s greeting card – but they are general wishes rather than actual goals.

    Similarly, almost all businesses want to either increase revenue or reduce costs; or both. These are not goals either. They are just business realities.

    Well-considered goals should be the basis of every business plan. They create the foundation of your work activities over the coming days, weeks, and months. They are what spur the necessary actions. They should shape your daily activities and provide the direction for where your business is heading.

    You commit to making them happen and this commitment needs to be taken seriously.

    Shape your goals correctly and all this is possible. By committing to doing the three things outlined below, you will start creating actionable, achievable goals that help your business to thrive… 

    1. Create S.M.A.R.T. goals

    There is a lot of information out there on goal setting. You can go and try to read it all or you can cut to the chase.

    Make SMART goals: that’s not just a convenient or clever name. It’s a really simple acronym to remember and apply every time you create a goal.

    It means the following:

    • SPECIFIC your goal should be no longer than 15 words and be aimed at something very specific;
    • MEASURABLEyou must know when you’ve achieved your goal: that means you need to make it measurable by including numbers;
    • ACHIEVABLEmake sure that the goal can be achieved in the timeframe you set (see the final point);
    • REALISTIC make sure you have the right tools and resources to complete the goal;
    • TIMEDinclude actual dates rather than a timespan. With a date, you are more likely to commit and work towards that specific day and take the action necessary.

    Simply by focusing on the above with every goal you set, they will be easier to commit to and to achieve.

    But there are two other guidelines you should follow to really create perfect goals…

    2. Write each goal down

    If you did a snap survey of the population and asked them what their written goals were, most would stare back blankly at you. Around one percent might be able to show you a set of written goals.

    With business owners, they might pull out a business plan…but unless that includes a set of goals that are clearly defined, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed, they are also falling short.

    Those who write down their goals have over an 80 percent higher success rate of achieving them than those who don’t.

    In a much-referenced Harvard Business School study of MBA students in 1979, it was found that three percent of the class had both written goals and a plan. When they were resurveyed 10 years later, this three percent was making ten times more than the remaining 97 percent of the class!

    The bottom line is that to be truly effective, goals must be written. Only then will you commit to the necessary actions. 

    3. Focus on the activity – not the goal

    If you’re a rugby union player lining up a conversion kick after a try, is it best to focus on the scoreboard or the goalposts?

    Ultimately, the goal is to win the match by getting the highest amount of points on the scoreboard. However, if you focus on that (the end goal) you’ll miss the kick…and be less likely to achieve the end goal!

    To achieve a goal, you need to focus your sights on the specific actions necessary to complete it. Only then will you kick the goals.

    Now apply this to your own business: break each goal down until all that is left is the action required.

    For instance, say it’s the end of December now. If your main goal is to generate 10 new sales by 30th March, what does that mean in terms of activity?

    When you consider the end goal, that may seem tough; a real challenge.

    But start breaking it down:

    • How many proposals do you have to write to get 10 sales? 40?
    • How many sales meetings do you need to have to generate 40 proposals: 80?
    • How many calls do you need to make to set up 80 meetings: 240?
    • How many business days are there between now and the target goal date: 80?
    • How many calls do you need to make each business day to arrange meetings: 3?

    The goal that once seemed so far off (10 new sales) now seems far more achievable because you know the precise daily action required to accomplish it: three calls to prospects per day is not scary at all. And you know that by taking this activity, you will reach your target.

    See how this works?

    Remember – without following the three guidelines above, your so-called ‘goals’ may be no more than wishes.

    By setting real goals you have positive, purposeful, reachable signposts for the future of your business; rather than simply being reactive, you are in control of your own direction and destiny.

    This is important stuff! Follow the steps outlined and you can make a big difference to your business in a relatively short space of time – if you are prepared to commit to the actions.

    Business owners: A brief guide to valuing your small business

    Thinking of selling? Or just curious to know the value of your business in case you do decide to put it on the market at some point?

    Many business owners are well-wide of the mark when placing a value on their prized asset. They overvalue it and under-prepare for their exit, believing in a huge potential for their business that buyers unfortunately don’t see.

    Your business is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it!

    Having an inflated price fixed in your head can seriously hold up your exit strategy. Awareness of the factors considered in determining business value will help you avoid nasty surprises when you do take the plunge.

    Some factors are obvious; others not so. Some you have control over; and others you don’t.

    Understanding what influences business value enables you to take informed actions to increase it in the coming months or years.

    Below is a boiled-down guide to ten of the most important considerations…

    1. Reasons for selling

    Why are you selling the business? If you’re forced to sell (and this is known by the buyer), the value of the business naturally falls.

    Selling due to owner illness is a good example where you are in a poor bargaining position when it comes to selling.

    Try to give yourself as long as possible to negotiate before you sell; rapid, forced sales will ultimately be detrimental.

    2. Size of business

    With all other things being equal, smaller businesses are often viewed as higher risk than larger, more established companies.

    The very fact that the business has more employees and generates higher revenues may be seen as a sign that it is strong. After all, it must have survived difficulties in the market in the past and possesses the people and processes that have created an environment for growth.

    A larger business tends to indicate stability — and prospective buyers like to see this.

    3. Longevity of the business

    How many years has your business been operating?

    While potential is a very important factor in determining value, so is a strong track record over many years.

    If you can demonstrate years of strong performance, steady cash flow, and an established loyal customer base generating stable recurring revenues, you are ticking many potential buyer boxes.

    Businesses that have been trading for a year or two are far higher risk, even if they are performing well. They may be simply riding the market or a particular trend.

    4. The nature of your business’s assets

    If you run a manufacturing business, your tangible assets are much greater than most office-based businesses and this is a factor in its value.

    If everything else is equal, building ownership, hardware, machinery, and stock make a business much easier to value than one where intellectual property is the main asset.

    In reality, the value of a business depends upon many other factors that office-based businesses may score well with (such as customer loyalty, IP, brand strength, etc.)… so this factor needs to be balanced against the others mentioned here.

    For a simple ‘asset valuation’ of your business, add up the tangible assets, subtract the liabilities, and that’s it!

    5. The key financials: EBIT

    What are your business’s earnings before interest and tax (EBIT)?

    Any prospective buyer will want to know this figure as the most common basis for calculating the value of a business.

    It essentially puts a figure on your profit. This includes all the expenses in the business, except interest and income tax expenses.

    Another way to put it is: the difference between operating revenues and operating expenses.

    A multiple of EBIT is a common method of valuing a business. For example, a 3 times EBIT multiple for a business with an EBIT of $400,000 gives a $1.2M valuation.  Or a 5 times multiple on an EBIT of $500,000 gives a valuation of $2.5M.

    What is considered a ‘normal’ EBIT multiple to use for valuation purposes?

    This will vary between industries and is affected not only by the factors listed in this article, but also by market sentiment. For example, in a ‘bull market’ when there are a lot of buyers, valuations are higher and a business could attract a buyer willing to pay a 10 times EBIT multiple. That same business within a different market environment, with a less bullish sentiment many only attract a 3 times EBIT multiple.

    Clearly, timing matters.

    6. Future performance & projected cash flows

    While past performance can demonstrate financial stability (very important), it’s future performance potential that will get buyers’ eyes lighting up.

    It’s important to be able to show growth potential. With this in mind, how well does your business attract new customers and boost cash flow?

    Is it retaining customers effectively so that cash flow and revenue remain healthy — or are customers dropping off the back as quickly as new ones are loaded onto the front?

    7. Your specific industry sector

    Your industry sector is important for two main reasons.

    Firstly, selling your business at a boom time for your industry will naturally be beneficial over selling it during a depressed time. If you’re in the mining sector and the industry takes a hit, the business value is likely to decrease. Similarly, a prolonged drought might affect the value of your business if you’re in the agricultural sector.

    For more of an idea on your specific industry, speak with us or a business broker experienced in your industry sector. You will be able to access data about recently-sold businesses to get an idea of valuations in your sector.

    Secondly, some industry sectors have industry-wide ‘rules’ that do not necessarily apply to other sectors. For instance, the number of outlets is usually key for a real estate agency business; and customer numbers are key for a mobile phone company.

    8. Structure of the deal

    The way the sale is structured may affect the price you sell for. Flexibility to fit in with the needs of the buyer may help you command a higher overall price.

    There are different ways to structure a deal, affecting the amount of tax payable and the debt service: an ‘all cash’ sale will usually mean a lower value than seller financing.

    Here are some basic guidelines:

    • Seller financing: businesses sold without any seller financing generally sell for 10% to 15% less.
    • Stock sale/Asset sale: selling stock means a single capital gains tax for you but the buyer may prefer an asset sale to reduce income tax.
    • Allocation of sales price: consulting expenses are tax-deductible to the buyer so they may value a business more with a high allocation to consulting; you, as the seller, may want to limit the allocation to consulting because you will pay the ordinary income tax rate on it.
    9. The cost of access to capital in the market

    When interest rates are high, investors borrow less. It’s the rule of the market.

    This naturally has an effect on the value of your business as there are fewer potential buyers; and any interested parties may drive a harder bargain than when capital is cheaper and more available, as the perceived risk is higher.

    10. Other ‘intangibles’ in the business

    The value of any business will also depend on other more subjective, intangible factors. These may change with the perceptions of different buyers and may be harder to quantify:

    • How crucial is the owner to the success of the business?
    • Is it located favourably?
    • Is the business highly dependent on a few customers?
    • Are customer and supplier relationships strong and likely to last?
    • Is the management team and staff strong — and likely to stay if the business is sold?
    • Does the business have intellectual property of great value (trademarks etc.)?
    • Are systems, processes, and procedures clearly defined and documented?
    • What is the business’s reputation in the market?
    • Is it favourably placed against competitors?
    • How marketable is the business?
    Focus on what you can control!

    Now you have an idea of the main factors involved in valuing your business, what are the next steps?

    Beyond being prepared and making sure that all your paperwork is in order (including cash flow statements, historical and projected profit and loss statements etc.) make sure you have an exit strategy planned.

    This should be flexible enough that you are not in the position of HAVING to sell for less than you would like.

    Focus on the factors that you can control rather than those you cannot. This will help you get your business into the best possible health for when the right opportunity comes along.

    5 small businesses marketing strategies that are more effective than word-of-mouth

     “I get all my business from word-of-mouth marketing.”

    “I’m a referral business.”

    “I don’t have the budget for marketing.”

    “I’m just too busy to market my business!”

    If you find yourself saying any of the above, it’s likely that you experience considerable peaks and troughs in your small business.


    Because it means that you are not actively pursuing marketing to generate leads and opportunities for your business. There is no steady flow of new business to help even out the peaks and troughs – so you are either flat-out busy or twiddling your thumbs.

    When times are good, it seems like everything is in place and your business is a resounding success.

    More often than not, however, the leads dry up and there is nothing churning away in the background to generate new opportunities. No mechanism is in place to bring new prospects in to help you grow.

    But the bills still need to be paid.

    That’s why EVERY small business should be investing in marketing, regardless of size, turnover, or budget.

    There’s nothing wrong with word-of-mouth leads. In fact, they’re wonderful! It’s just that you are reliant upon others. You are not in control of your own destiny. You are essentially playing a game of hope.

    Word-of-mouth leads and referrals should be considered the icing on the cake – not the cake itself.  Build a strong ‘base’ from the right ‘ingredients’ and you have a creation that will sustain your business for years to come!

    But if you just have the icing, there will be periods when you inevitably go hungry!

    Here are five ideas that will help you bake something to create a consistent flow of opportunities to protect your business from famine in the years ahead…

    1Build a client referral marketing system

    Word-of-mouth marketing needs systemising or it is just a game of hope. It’s all well and good waiting for referrals to come to you but you can achieve much more by implementing a simple system

    To do that, go through these steps:

    • Get clear on your value proposition – what your business provides that others’ do not and why people should choose your business.
    • Trim your existing client list – you may need to shed some low-value or ‘problem’ clients to focus your time on higher value clients and new business.
    • Segment your database by value, how long they have been with you or what stage of the sales funnel they have reached.
    • Set expectations from day one – when a prospect signs up, set the expectation by telling the client that you will speak with them in the future to request referrals.
    • Ask the question– if you feel awkward asking for referrals, start by asking your closest clients for details of two businesses that would benefit from your services.
    • Get creative – include a line in your email signature or arrange special events for clients – and ask them to bring two business associates along.

    Show your appreciation with a verbal or emailed ‘thank you’ – or take it a step further and send a card. 

    2. Get smarter with LinkedIn

    LinkedIn is the world’s largest database of professionals. Somewhere in the region of 500,000 professionals use the platform. It’s free to use – or low-cost for paid membership.

    Depending on your type of business, it’s possible to make LinkedIn the hub of all your marketing activity at very low cost. It will take a bit of time but if you focus on the following areas, you will have a head start on the many other LinkedIn users:

    • Get crystal clear on what’s unique about your business and who exactly you’re serving (your target audience).
    • Optimise your profile to focus on exactly what you do and your value proposition – and include your main keywords. Focus your summary on talking to your target audience.
    • Grow your network by connecting with your target audience
    • Engage with this growing network by liking/commenting/interacting in groups and posting status updates and links to valuable content.

    The two mistakes that many business owners make are:

    • Treating LinkedIn as a peer-to-peer network – wasting time talking to other industry professionals rather than potential clients; or
    • Treating it as a sales platform – and losing their network by trying to sell straight off.

    LinkedIn is a superb marketing platform for small businesses to generate a steady flow of leads if you get the strategy right as per above.

    3. Put resources into SEO marketing

    Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) marketing can be time-consuming – but it is essential for getting found by your target audience.

    SEO is the process of optimising your online content for the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.) This includes your website’s standard pages, but also its blog posts, and anything else you have published online—such as videos—that can be found through ‘organic search’. (Organic search means ‘free search’, as opposed to paid search such as Google AdWords or Facebook Advertising).

    Understand the basics of keywords and SEO – then hire reliable and recommended SEO professionals to look after your campaigns.

    It is unlikely that you will have the time or expertise to effectively manage your own campaigns but your SEO professional should be able to guide you with on-page SEO (keyword placements), off-page SEO (link-building etc.), and the content required to improve search rankings.

    If you take informed and consistent action, results will come. Think long term with SEO – and if you are largely targeting your local market, be sure to optimise well for local search.

    4. Reach out with email marketing

    If you have spent time and resources to connect with prospects online (on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), and offline (at various networking events), you will rapidly build a large database of potential clients.

    How do you reach out regularly to these prospects and stay top of mind?

    As well as through your activity on LinkedIn, you can get your prospects’ permission to include them in your newsletter marketing and in email marketing campaigns for other offers you may present from time to time.

    Well-written email marketing campaigns have the power to convert prospects into customers – or at least move them along the sales funnel so they are closer to signing up.

    Get professional copywriting assistance here to increase open rates, click-throughs, and conversions.

    5. Build authority with content marketing

    Nothing beats regular, original, relevant content for improving the relationships with prospects. And, in the long term, that’s what marketing is all about.


    If you focus on the main questions going through your prospects’ minds, you establish authority status. It builds trust and confidence and you will be top of mind when they are ready to sign up for the types of services you offer.

    That may not be today or tomorrow – it could be six months down the track or even longer. But this longer-term marketing activity will pay dividends in the future, as part of a multi-pronged marketing strategy.

    The types of content you can focus on include:

    • Articles that answer key questions in clients’ minds
    • Blog posts about industry changes
    • How-to or FAQ videos
    • Infographics that succinctly provide useful data and concepts
    Market your small business – no excuses!

    There are literally no excuses for not marketing a business.

    No time? Make time.

    No budget? You don’t need it.

    Don’t know how? You do now.

    Don’t need it? You will.

    Got enough leads? You soon won’t.

    Marketing is the key to bringing a steady flow of opportunities in – and leads are the lifeblood of any small business. With a good sales system to convert leads, you have new revenue, healthy cash flow, and growth.

    But generating leads can be an awkward subject for accounting and financial professionals with little to no marketing or sales experience. It’s easier to rely on leads coming to you than to go out hunting for them.

    Don’t confuse marketing with sales: marketing is the process by which you bring in leads. It doesn’t need to be salesy. Sales is the process of converting leads into revenue.

    Remember that your word-of-mouth leads always have the potential to completely dry up. Such passive marketing is dangerous and stressful for any small business owner: suppliers still need to be paid and things can quickly go south if the cash flow dries up.

    Get proactive and market your business on multiple fronts and you have a much better chance of not only maintaining a healthy cash flow but growing your business for the future.

    If you need assistance with developing marketing for your small business, get in touch with us and we’ll be able to point you in the right direction, as we know a number of marketing specialists in different areas.

    Paper-less secure? Why businesses are moving to electronic signatures

    “Signing on the dotted line.” It wasn’t all that long ago that phrase meant signing pen-on-paper. Increasingly these days it can also mean signing on-screen with a stylus—or even with your finger tip!—or by using your computer and keyboard.

    So why have many businesses moved to using electronic signatures? What are the advantages over using pen-on-paper for signatures on agreements?

    In a word, efficiency. Electronic signatures provide efficiency gains at every point of the legal document process: from distribution, to storage, security and retrieval. 

    Why are businesses now finding the use of paper-based contracts and legal documents so inefficient?

    First, paper agreements have to be mailed or couriered for signature, or be signed in person. This is a waste of time and resources for all parties due to the postage/delivery or travel involved. More importantly, it causes delays. Slowing things down is the last thing you want when your prospect or customer is about to sign a contract with you. You want your business processes to happen with velocity. Paper slows things down.

    And that’s when everything goes to plan. If there’s a mistake, error or adjustment to be made, the delays get worse: the document has to be edited, re-printed and re-checked before it’s ratified and re-sent. More delays. More work and wasted resources for you, your employees and the other signatories.

    And the costs of using paper for your legal documents doesn’t stop there.

    You also need to hide the files away from prying eyes and protect them from flames, flood and other dangers. Sure, you need to do that with your electronic records too, but off-site storage is a cinch with cloud-based and remote servers. To safeguard paper documents against potential destruction requires still more time and expense in creating and storing backups.

    However, just storing the paper documents securely and making copies of them isn’t the end of the inefficiency: Next comes the issue of retrieval.

    You can’t keyword search paper. So if a dispute or uncertainty arises in the future, you need access to the documents. This can mean you either waste a great deal of time searching for documents—we know of cases where days have been spent trawling through paper archives, looking for important documents—or you set up and use a document archival system to organise your files beforehand.

    All of these actions come with costs.

    Primarily time, money and opportunity costs. Everyone involved—you, your employers, customers, prospects and suppliers—all have more valuable things they could be doing.

    The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way anymore.

    Introducing electronic signatures

    Electronic signature tools allow documents to be signed online, eliminating or reducing these paper-related inefficiencies. An added benefit of using these paperless tools for document signing is that they also come with other advantages too, beyond the efficiencies.

    But what about the legality of electronic signatures?

    To set the record straight, electronic signatures are legal in Australia, Canada, China, the U.S., and Europe, along with many other countries. This has been the case for more than a decade now. Because e-signatures are legally equivalent to paper-based signatures, it’s no surprise businesses are increasingly making the switch to digital signatures.

    5 good reasons to use electronic signatures in your business

    1. Lightning fast turnaround — no traveling, no meeting. 

    Links to documents containing legal agreements can be sent via email without meeting in person. No more checking schedules and organising a time to meet—not to mention travelling and physically meeting—just to sign the documents. No more sending contracts to be ratified and returned again via snail mail.

    This means a document can be sent and returned at a time convenient to both parties from the moment it’s ready.

    In addition to the time and monetary costs of meeting, you can also bring clients and suppliers on board sooner. This eliminates the possibility that they change their mind before entering into a formal agreement.

    2. Your documents are legal, encrypted and securely stored. 

    Electronic documents are actually superior to paper in relation to security. Digitally signed documents are embedded with the details of those who signed them (typically including IP address, time, date, email address and geographic location). Electronic signatures can also prevent tampering or unlawful modification. This makes them not just court-admissible but highly effective legal documents with a comprehensive audit trail.

    You don’t get that with paper.

    “But what about hackers?” you ask. “Online storage and security seems like I’m just asking for trouble.” Well electronic signatures also beat paper on those grounds too. Even if a hacker managed to get past the high security on the servers where your documents are stored, they’re encrypted with some of the most secure technology available. These encrypted versions are unreadable (and therefore useless), to anyone without a supercomputer and a substantial amount of time at their disposal. Only you as the document creator and parties you share it with (those you sent the document link to), can access the file. Nice.

    3. Errors can be easily corrected.

    Think about what happens when there’s an error or revision to be made with a paper-based document. It needs to be modified, reprinted, distributed to each party, checked again for changes, signed and returned. Compare that to simply marking an adjustment as approved in the digital document, or uploading an updated and corrected version to be checked and signed.

    Imagine the time and money you can save over a month, year or several years when document changes can be implemented and distributed to relevant parties in seconds.

    4. It will save you time and money.

    There are costs to using electronic signature services. However, unless you are party to just a small handful of contracts per year, you will spend far more resources on coordinating meetings, traveling, storage, security and retrieval processes than a subscription to an electronic signature service.

    Not to mention you’ll stop losing to competitors who can close deals in minutes rather than days.

    5. You can access your documents on demand.

    While your documents are well protected and made exceptionally difficult for hackers to get to, they are available and accessible to you and other signatories.

    This means if you need to confirm an agreement, double-check terms or produce them for a court, you can do so simply by logging in. No messing around with filing systems required. 

    “But what about the risks?” 

    No matter which method you choose there is always some potential danger that you cannot be one hundred percent protected against. Electronic signatures are securely stored and encrypted. Although they are well protected it is possible that security breaches can occur.

    But compare that with the risks of traditional storage? There’s theft, fire, water and even absent minded misplacement to contend with.

    Digital is not perfect. But it is safer than traditional methods.

    If you’re sold on the idea of using electronic signatures, the next logical question to address is…

    Which electronic signature tool should you choose?

    Popular choices for electronic signature tools include:

    If you’re into comparing the benefits and features of particular apps, evaluate those four to find the one that best suits your business.

    If that’s not your thing and you want a shortcut to making your decision, consider the following:

    • If ‘rock-solid’ security and protection is your highest need, go with DocuSign. While each of the apps listed above takes security seriously, none goes to the extreme lengths DocuSign does to keep your information safe and secure.
    • However, if app integration and other features such as sales proposals and quotes are relevant to your business, PandaDoc and Adobe Sign are definitely worth looking into.

    No matter which electronic signature app you choose, your signing process will become much more streamlined and your documents better protected than traditional paper methods can offer.

    If you’d like some guidance on which electronic signature tool would be the best fit with your existing apps, get in touch and we’ll be happy to explain your best options.

    Key Person Insurance: How to lessen the blow when your business loses a linchpin

    As much as you try to share skills, knowledge and information in your company, you probably have some people who are key to your business’ success.

    It might be a Director or the CEO, whose vision made it a success in the first place. It might be your star salesperson, or someone in your IT area who knows the system backwards. It could even be someone who doesn’t create any revenue but does a fantastic job of boosting your company’s reputation or perhaps running your admin and back office systems.

    Now, what would happen if you suddenly lost one of those key people?

    And if you think it would never happen because they love your business so much, think again. Sure they may not resign. But they might decide to start a family and want to leave the workforce. Or what if they suffered a major illness or injury, or even passed away?

    In addition to the obvious issue of lost productivity and their contribution to the business, you also have to spend time (and money) to recruit and train a replacement. And losing such a key person in your company could even affect your reputation and credit standing.

    Could your business survive until you find someone who can fill their shoes?

    Key Person Insurance can help you get back on your feet

    Key Person Insurance can give you the financial support you need while you’re getting back on your feet. It can offset both your costs (e.g. hiring temporary help or recruiting and training a replacement) and your losses (e.g. not being able to do as much business until they finish their training).

    It can also help with:

    • business succession planning
    • protecting your company’s equity value
    • agreed funding to purchase the equity
    • continuity of equity value for the surviving spouse
    • funding re-payments of any capital loans or personal guarantees
    • meeting requirements for bank business loans
    • salary packaging benefits (depending on the person’s taxation affairs).

    And you can take out a policy (which is usually tax-deductible) on anyone you feel is a key person in your company.

    How much should I insure them for?

    You can set the policy amount to be anything from $500,000 to $10 million. Of course, the amount you specify will depend on the size of your company and the person you’re insuring.

    The amount can be calculated in a few ways, including:

    • the ‘replacement cost method’, which is based on the cost is to replace the key person
    • the ‘contributions to earnings method’, which is based on the percentage of their earnings towards your company’s revenue
    • the ‘multiples of income method’, where their current salary is multiplied to determine their value.
    Protecting your partners (and their partners) with a Buy/Sell agreement

    What if the key person happens to be your partner in the company? Yes, the Key Person Insurance may well cover the finances involved in buying your partner’s shares from their family. But do you really want to be negotiating a deal at such an emotionally trying time?

    Having a Buy/Sell Agreement in place can save everyone from a lot of anguish. It’s a legally binding agreement that determines what will happen to each stakeholder’s shares if they suffer a major illness or injury, or pass away.

    It has two parts:

    • The Disposal Mechanism (also known as a Business Will), which states what happens if a partner leaves the business due to death or disability. It usually contains a valuation method.
    • The Funding Mechanism, which funds the Buy/Sell Agreement. This is where you would find the details of the Key Person Insurance policy taken out for each partner.
    How do I arrange Key Person Insurance?

    Before you take out Key Person Insurance you should first speak with your business advisor about the overall approach and then get into the details with an insurance broker. You need to make sure you get the cover you need without paying for the cover you don’t need. We can guide you in this area.

    After all, it may well be the key to your company’s survival.

    High staff turnover? 5 steps to reduce employee drain…

    As a business owner, do you or your managers spend a lot of time recruiting, conducting exit interviews, and onboarding new staff?

    When the ‘revolving door’ in and out of your business doesn’t stop revolving, it can impact so many parts of the business that it soon becomes a priority to address the problem.

    A high staff turnover rate doesn’t just impact those doing the hiring. It is damaging for general motivation, performance and productivity; it may lead to negativity in the workplace culture; the cost of hiring eats into profits; training and development costs go through the roof; and, worst of all, the chaos that can result from a constant flow of new faces in the business flows outwards to customers – and may cause them to look elsewhere.

    So what can you do about this?

    Well, say you want to improve performance in the workplace. It makes sense to understand the main reasons why employees are unmotivated and underperforming.

    Similarly, if we want to improve staff retention, it makes sense to examine the reasons why people leave their jobs.

    In recent years Gallup polls have found the same reasons for leaving have tended to come up again and again.

    While there may be some unique circumstances in your own business that contribute to the problem, focusing on the following five steps will help address the main concerns…

    1. Provide strong and inspiring leadership

    Poor leadership consistently tops the list of why employees leave. There seems to be a lot of truth in the saying that people don’t leave jobs — they leave their bosses.

    We’ve all had the experience: you’re feeling a bit under the weather, the alarm rings, and you’re faced with a choice: struggle out of bed and make it into work against your best judgment — or stay put.

    Your choice is often determined by your boss. You’re much more likely to stay in bed if you don’t give two hoots about him or her.

    So, unless you’re able to position inspiring leaders at the heads of your teams, this mentality spreads across the entire organisation. Are your leaders providing the support, guidance, and mentoring that employees look for?

    Do they have the emotional intelligence and people management skills to really lead people – or are they in a leadership position based purely on technical skills and experience?

    It’s worth noting that it’s the perception of your employees that counts here. You may think you have great leaders in place but if people are heading out the door in droves, it could be the first place to look.

    2. Pay strict attention to employee needs

    Unless you have a system of gathering employee feedback, you probably don’t understand the needs of your employees. You may think you do but in reality it’s just guesswork.

    An annual performance review is not going to cut it. Face-to-face meetings between leaders and employees need to be frequent, forward-looking, and based on constructive ideas for development; rather than infrequent, based on past performance, and only considering KPIs.

    Unless there is an effective feedback system in place, you may never know when problems are brewing before it’s too late – and people start heading for the doors. In short, get closer to your employees.

    3. Develop career paths and opportunities for growth

    Unless you offer your employees a realistic opportunity of advancement, they will quickly try to find an organisation that does.

    A perceived ‘dead end’ job with lack of opportunities for development is highly de-motivational and generally gets people looking around, sooner or later.

    People want to grow and develop themselves — this is natural within all of us.

    Once you understand your employees’ goals, it’s important as leaders to help develop people and set them on the right path to achieve these goals. In professional terms, this means some sort of career path.

    It’s considered unfashionable in some quarters to stay with a company for an entire career nowadays — and it’s true that ‘job hopping’ is much easier than it used to be. But many companies seem to encourage talent drain by not providing a compelling enough reason for employees to stay.

    People require direction, hope for the future, meaning in their work, recognition, opportunity, and challenge — these are all strong motivators.

    4. Provide more flexibility in the work environment

    People are more aware than ever about the importance of their own wellbeing.

    They realise that sedentary lifestyles and stress contribute to a range of other factors in leading to poor health.

    Many employees are looking for more flexible work environments that allow them to strike a better work-life balance; everyone is familiar with the available mobile technology, which means they don’t necessarily have to be in the office to be at work.

    When they are in the workplace they want it to be more inspiring and conducive to a healthy lifestyle: standing desks, places to workout, and so on.

    Rather than asking your employees to sacrifice personal needs to fulfil the requirements of the job, design the job around changing lifestyles that are more mobile, flexible and geared towards healthy living.

    5. Focus on improving your workplace culture

    Do you promote a culture of recognition, accountability, engagement, transparency, reward, positivity, and success — or do your people cast envious glances towards the competition?

    In some workplace cultures, the opposite dominates: silos develop and conflict, secrecy, fear, threat, and negativity all lead to de-motivation, which in turn leads to a decline in both performance and the employee experience of actually coming to work.

    Your top employees naturally gravitate towards positivity and harmony and are unlikely to hang around in an environment they perceive as toxic or harmful to their growth.

    Build teams that cultivate a positive culture through connectivity, empowerment, engagement, and a sense of fun. 

    Final thoughts

    There will always be a turnover of staff in a business. But surprisingly perhaps, money is not usually the main reason for leaving.

    It’s obvious that you should be paying employees well for the work they do; and you can’t do much about employees leaving to go travelling, fulfilling a long-held ambition, starting a family or moving to the other side of the country.

    However, many of the main reasons for employees leaving can be addressed at the source by every employer.

    Resist the temptation to think that high staff turnover is simply a sign of the times; with the immediate and temporary nature of social media, some business owners accept poor staff retention as the ‘new norm’. They believe that people are simply ‘job hoppers’ nowadays.

    However, as a leader you can take action to stop the talent drain: by focusing on the above five actions, you will start to close the gap between where you want to be and where you actually are now.

    4 apps to stop late payments affecting your business’ cash flow

    Debtors and late-payers—the bane of every business owner.

    No matter how profitable your business is, it won’t survive without good cash flow. If you can’t pay your bills on time, you may end up trading while insolvent. And that’s not just bad business—that’s illegal.

    But to do that, you need your clients to pay their bills on time. And that’s something you can’t always rely on. Sometimes they forget. Sometimes they don’t have the money. And sometimes they just decide they don’t want to.

    Unfortunately, you don’t get out of paying your bills simply because they haven’t paid theirs. So you have no choice but to:

    1. find out which clients are behind with their payments
    2. contact those clients and ask them to send through their payment.

    Depending on how many clients you need to contact, that could take a while. And that’s assuming they pay up the first time you ask. What if you have to remind them several times? It can add up to a lot of time—time you’d be far better off spending on your business.

    Fortunately, you can now use software to automate the entire process. Once you link it to your accounting system it will automatically search for any late-paying customers and send them a personalised reminder about their overdue payment.

    Here are some of the apps currently available.


    Chaser sends your debtors reminder emails that look like personal emails from you. Merge fields in your email templates bring in information such as the customer name, invoice number and amount.

    You can create differently worded templates for use with different customers so that the wording is appropriate for each relationship. You could choose to have formal wording with some customers, and more informal wording for those customers you have a closer relationship with.

    You can select which days of the week to send out your debtor reminder emails and if a customer has more than one outstanding invoice, the system is smart enough to include mention of each invoice in the one email, rather than send one email per invoice.

    Another time-saving feature is that Chaser will attach a PDF copy of the invoice(s) to the reminder email. That saves you time and speeds up payments because your customers don’t have to go searching for invoices.

    Chaser also makes it easy to see the ‘chasing conversation’—the history of payment reminder emails—without you having to search through your inbox to work out what happened with a particular invoice. All invoice and payment-related information is displayed on the one screen.

    Chaser works with Xero accounting software.

    Debtor Daddy

    Debtor Daddy lets you set up a series of reminder emails to automatically send to customers both before and after the due date.

    You can base your reminders on a number of different (debt) “collector” personas (“Audrey adds humour to her reminders”, “Harry is no frills, no nonsense, straight up and down”, etc.), and then tailor the wording of the emails used by each collector. You can then assign different collectors to different customers which not only customises the wording of the emails, but also the number and timing of reminder emails.

    Debtor Daddy makes it easy to filter your outstanding invoices on how overdue they are, and from the Hit List view you can action further communication, change Collectors, see what reminders have gone out and what’s due to go out tomorrow, this week and so on.

    Debtor Daddy works with Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks.


    If you’d like to send emails and SMS reminders to late-paying customers, then check out ezyCollect. It also lets you set up postal and telephone reminders, send a pre-approved legal letter and escalate the debt to a collection agency. You can even perform credit checks.

    It includes a schedule (and adds the phone calls you need to make to customers), graphs and reports to see how much debt you’ve managed to recover.

    ezyCollect works with Xero and MYOB.

    Late Fee Manager

    If your Terms and Conditions include fees or interest charges for late payment, Late Fee Manager might be just what you need. As well as sending reminders to late-paying customers, it will calculate and automatically apply to the original invoice any late fees or interest charges.

    Late Fee Manager works with Xero and QuickBooks.

    This is by no means a complete list of what’s available. There are plenty of others, including Web Ninja Collect, InvoiceSherpa, xocashflow and Debtze. And they all offer a free trial, so you can try them all and decide which one will work best for your business.

    To save you time in this process, we can advise you on which debtor management app is likely to be the best fit for your business based on the accounting app you are already using, or are considering switching to. Get in touch with us and we’ll make a time to sit down with you to run through your best options in this area.

    You can’t afford to have late-paying customers putting your business’ cash flow at risk. And now, thanks to these software packages, you won’t need to.

    What a disaster: How smart businesses avoid devastation when disaster strikes

    Disasters. They happen. In personal lives, and in business.

    That’s not being negative, that’s being real.  Every day disasters affect families and businesses somewhere in the world, but it always seems to happen to someone else, doesn’t it?

    Touch wood.

    Then every once in a while something happens a bit closer to home—a disaster hits someone you know, and it’s a sobering reminder of what could happen.

    One of the most common phrases uttered by those who experience disaster in their lives is, “I always thought this was the sort of thing that happens to someone else, not to me.”

    Often that’s followed by a saddening story of how they were unprotected and unprepared. Their life or their business is devastated. They’ve lost everything.

    Disasters are like lightning strikes. They happen and they’re random.

    So, in many ways, it’s wise to accept that disasters are inevitable.

    But—and here’s the key point—devastation is optional. Especially in relation to businesses.

    That’s why every business—whether large or small—needs a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP).

    DRPs are not only for large corporations or those businesses located in areas prone to natural disasters like floods, cyclones, or earthquakes.

    Ask yourself, what would happen if your customers could not contact your business for several days? What would be the consequences? Lost customers? Unhappy customers? A tarnished reputation from people complaining to their friends in social media?

    The good news here is that you can mitigate the consequences of such an event, through planning.

    This is increasingly important in a world that expects services to be always-on and where tolerance of downtime is at an all-time low.

    According to Markel UK:

    • 65% of small and medium-sized enterprises don’t have a disaster recovery plan
    • 87% of companies that lose access to their corporate data for more than seven days go out of business within a year

    7 days, and you’re gone. Now that’s sobering.

    These days in such a connected world, a disaster needn’t be a dramatic event like an earthquake, a flood, or fire, though these are good examples of potential disasters.

    A ‘disaster’ can refer to any negative event that seriously impacts your business. It might be a long outage, equipment failure, or being hacked, for instance.

    What you need to do is make sure that ‘disaster’ does NOT refer to your reputation or your sales figures!

    So how will your business respond?

    Small and medium-sized businesses must find a way to create disaster recovery plans with limited resources available. Let’s look at how to achieve that…

    5 steps to ensure disaster does not mean devastation

    Below are five steps you can take to ensure that you survive a disaster… and enable the mission-critical elements of your business to resume as quickly as possible.

    1. Create a disaster recovery ‘manual’

    The first step is to detail the basic information that everyone in the company needs to know if there is a disaster.

    Create a manual that provides an overview of the main goals of the plan, so that everybody is clear on its high priority status. In it, stress the impact that a disaster could have on the business, focusing on the mission critical elements.

    This important first step will involve internal meetings with key personnel where you assess what is most at risk, establish critical systems/functions/processes, and decide who should do what in the event of a disaster.

    Remember that DR may involve hardware, software, networking equipment, power supply, internet connectivity, and testing. Detail all these elements.

    Make sure that you list everyone who would need to be contacted in an emergency, and include out-of-work contact details.

    The list should also include emergency management agencies (if applicable), along with major clients, contractors, and suppliers.

    2. Document the required responses in order of priority

    List the responsibilities of each employee and detail the required order/timing of each response: the most important emergency response actions should be listed first.

    This will likely depend on your assessment of costs/impact undertaken in the first step.

    Include a diagram of the entire network and recovery site to help people visualise what needs to happen. Provide maps and directions if necessary.

    Also include any necessary safety elements for your employees. You need to protect against injury on the premises and consider their ability to return to work after a disaster.

    It’s important to make all instructions as clear as possible so that people understand their roles in full. Include documentation from equipment vendors if necessary.

    3. Test your DR plan

    Your disaster recovery plan is not complete without comprehensive testing. Many things can go wrong and it would be no use if it failed in the real world – so test it for gaps or elements that could be improved.

    This will provide valuable emergency training for your staff. Create a training schedule and ensure that everyone attends by avoiding scheduling conflicts; test the response to a dry run of a disaster and measure what works well and what can be improved.

    Report back on this and test again if any changes are implemented.

    4. Create a client data back-up plan

    Prevention is always better than cure. With data playing such an important role in most businesses these days, the need to regularly backup client data is not negotiable.

    Even if compliance regulations don’t demand it, you must ensure that your client’s confidential data is backed up online and offline. The data should be accessible from outside your normal place of work.

    Consider the potential cost to your business’s reputation if you experienced a data breach. By adequately planning to avoid a disaster such as this, you will minimise the threat.

    5. Arrange emergency office space if necessary

    If your business would be incapable of operating close to normal without emergency office space, consider an arrangement for backup space in another location to your main office.

    While this may sound expensive, some firms provide this service specifically for small business budgets.

    This would provide a means of accessing key data and remaining in communication with customers and suppliers in the event of a serious physical disaster like a flood or fire.

    So what’s your next step, before you take these five…?

    While a disaster recovery plan may sound like a large undertaking for a small business, the consequences of not having one do not bear thinking about.

    Remember that the majority of businesses that fail to respond well to a disaster situation end up going under.

    Your DR plan should be a ‘living’ document that is updated regularly with current information on the steps that need to be taken in the event of an emergency.

    If you would like help in putting a disaster recovery plan together for your business, one of our professionals can help you out. Get in touch with us here: 07 3421 3421.

    Selling your management rights business? Six quick tips for successful letting appointments

    Looking to put your management rights business on the market?

    This is rarely a straightforward process. So, in the interests of a smooth, incident-free transition, it’s important to ensure your business is in the right condition for sale.

    Letting appointments with the unit owners are a particular area of preparation that I see being regularly overlooked by the business owner.

    The importance of letting appointments

    The letting appointments documents are extremely important to any management rights business as they are essentially the only vehicle by which a property manager can derive income from a unit owner.

    These forms appoint the manager as an agent of the owner; they lay out a variety of services with the set fees that will apply.

    Letting appointments can be entered into for a specific one-off period or on an ongoing basis.

    Note that there are important differences between old legislation forms (PAMD 20a) and new legislation forms (Form 6).

    The main six areas to focus on with letting appointments

    I recommend to managers and clients who are looking to sell their businesses to conduct an ‘audit’ of their letting appointments.

    The proposed purchaser of your business will ensure that their own specialist accountant reviews all letting appointment forms as part of the verification process. So why not get them right from the start?

    Focus your audit on ensuring that the following is in order:

    1. The property owners’ details are correct and current.

    2. Your licence details are correct for all forms you have prepared.

    3. The agreement is a continuing agreement or, if a single appointment, the term has not expired.

    4. The agreement is assignable. In the case of the new forms, they are automatically assignable, whereas one of the old forms needs to contain a correctly executed assignment clause.

    5. The agreement is signed and dated by the property owner and manager.

    6. The fees and charges detailed in the agreement are consistent with what is currently being charged in your system.


    Need assistance with your letting appointment audit?

    The above details can all impact the income of your business – and therefore its sale value. Yet they are all-too-common oversights from managers looking to sell their management rights businesses.

    If you need assistance with an audit of your letting appointments, we can help – please contact our office.


    Purchasing management rights or an accommodation business? Are multipliers worth the fuss?

    People are, of course, always looking to get the best deal when purchasing management rights or accommodation businesses.

    I often get asked, “Is the multiple correct and am I paying too much?”

    Multipliers are used in conjunction with net profit to determine the value of a management rights business.

    But how much attention should you be paying to multipliers when purchasing management rights? Should you focus on other aspects that are more in your control?

    Purchasing management rights? The market dictates the multiple…

    My view has always been that the market will dictate the multiple. I am not a valuer and, as such, multiples are not my area of expertise, so I have no view on whether the multiple is correct or not.

    My advice when purchasing management rights is to look at it from many angles to work out if it is a good deal or not. Each case is unique and should be treated as such, on a case-by-case basis.

    From a financial perspective, even prior to looking at complexes, you need to ascertain how much money you are willing to spend.

    Consider the following two questions, in particular:

    • How much cash/equity do you currently owe/control?
    • How much money are you willing to borrow?

    You should speak to your specialist MR business banker or broker for details on lending capacities.  But notice I use the phrase ‘willing to borrow’ not ‘able to borrow’. These are two distinctly different things and being able to borrow the money does not necessarily mean you should do it.

    The business cash flow needs to be able to support the borrowings as well as your return on equity and wages. If this is not possible, then you have either borrowed too much money or paid too much for the complex.

    Other steps to ensure your management rights purchase is successful

    Prepare cash flow projections for the first few years, based on the profit and loss reports provided by the vendors and any other information they are willing to provide (your accountant can assist at this stage).

    From an environmental point of view, look at the complex surrounds and common areas you will be responsible for. Discuss the hours of work required to manage this.

    Some managers will enjoy larger grounds and physical work but others may not. Higher prices may be paid for easier-to-manage properties and vice versa.

    Make sure your own efforts are factored back into the finances, so that you are adequately compensated for your time. Also ensure the body corporate salary is adequate for the tasks required.

    Investigate the rental pool to ascertain the ownership and potential in the complex. A complex with a greater potential for growth in the rental pool may attract higher prices from astute purchasers but beware and do your homework.

    From a business point of view, purchasing management rights in a complex of owner-occupied properties can be difficult to change, even for the most experienced managers.

    Don’t get too hung up on multipliers: do your homework to get a management rights deal that works…

    As you can see, there are many factors that determine if you’re “getting a good deal” when purchasing management rights.

    I have only mentioned a few above and it’s not always all about the financials. You need to think beyond multipliers and consider the purchase from all angles.

    Purchasers may be willing to pay premiums for prestige, potential, or ease of living. It is up to you to determine what you’re willing to pay for and what is the appropriate return on your investment.

    When financial verification doesn’t stack up: Your 3 options

    You’ve spent so much time and effort tracking down the perfect business and the ideal location for you to get started… so what happens when you get hit by the hammer-blow: the financial verification side of things doesn’t stack up?

    This can be so frustrating. You’ve ticked off all the following from the must-do list:

    • Arranged finance from a specialist management rights finance broker/banker
    • Engaged a specialist management rights solicitor to aid in the purchase process
    • Engaged a specialist management rights accountant (me, of course J)
    • Established business structures and signed contracts

    Then your specialist management rights accountant undertakes the financial verification process and the profit is less than the agreed profit stipulated in the contract for sale.

    You’ve spent considerable money on all these specialists and the business profit is less than expected. So what now??

    Three options when financial verification fails

    It’s a surprisingly common situation for a purchaser to find themselves in.

    There are many reasons for the profit not being as high as expected – and they’re not all as sinister as you might first think.

    For instance, there are different periods of review, non-specialist accountants preparing sales figures, vendors preparing sales figures, poor record-keeping, letting pool numbers, and others.

    You essentially have three options in this situation:

    1. Proceed with the contract/purchase

    If there is only a small difference and you assess that you’re still happy with the return for the money you’re investing, you might proceed as per the contract terms.

    You will need to discuss this with your specialist finance broker/banker to ensure that you still have the capacity to borrow the same amount of money for the purchase. But there should be no reason why you cannot proceed with the contract unchanged.

    2. Negotiation

    This is the most common path of action. Say the profit comes in at $10,000 under; you can request a reduction of $10,000 using the originally agreed profit multiplier.

    The vendor and the purchaser will negotiate and generally meet somewhere in the middle. The purchase price is altered and the purchase process moves on.

    3. Contract termination

    If the profit is significantly less than the contracted figure, you may want to terminate the contract.  Generally, negotiation will be pursued prior to this, to see if you can agree contract alterations with the vendor. If there is no agreement, termination will ensue.

    This is the least favourable outcome for both parties as everyone has invested significant time and resources in getting a deal to this stage.


    If you find yourself in this situation as a purchaser, remember you have options and assess the situation in your best interests. Take into consideration all the time and effort it took to get to this stage and the reasons you signed the contract in the first place.

    A wannabe entrepreneur’s guide to starting a business

    Starting a business is part science, part art, and a large part hard work! It can get lost in all the excitement but you need to get the balance right.

    Approximately 20 percent of all small businesses fail in their first year; and your chances of your business making it to five years are around 50/50.

    One thing is for sure: leaving your success up to chance is not an option. Get clear on where you want to take your business and how you are going to get there.

    Reasons small businesses fail include the following:

    • No market need for their products or services
    • Lack of cash flow
    • Not having the right team in place
    • The competition doing it better
    • Pricing and cost issues
    • Lack of a business model to follow
    • Poor sales and marketing ability

    So what are the essentials needed for your business to thrive? How do you ensure your business doesn’t fall away due to one of the above — or any other reason?

    By asking the right questions from the start. The following will get you thinking along the right lines from day one…

    1. How passionate are you about this?

    It sometimes gets lost in all the calculations but you should LOVE what you are about to start.

    Is it something that you can see yourself doing in five or ten years? If not, maybe you need to look elsewhere.

    Passion is what keeps you going through rough times. It sustains you and ensures the necessary energy goes into the venture. There will be difficulties in the years ahead but passion will see you though.

    1. Do you really need to quit your ‘real’ job yet?

    A healthy obsession with your business idea is fine. But it can blind you and cause you to make hasty and unnecessary decisions.

    Some business owners give up their jobs before they start their businesses. They may be better advised to keep the job (and the steady salary) and start their business as a small side venture—often referred to these days as ‘a side hustle’—at first.

    There are 168 hours in a week. If you’re passionate about your new venture, spending a few extra hours a week on it won’t seem like extra work!

    Save the financial stresses caused by a business HAVING to support you from day one.

    1. Who are you partnering with?

    If you are partnering with someone in your business, make sure that it works for you both. If you complement each other and it makes the business stronger, great!

    If not, then why are you going into business together?

    A business is not the place for a ‘marriage of convenience’. If you take that path, it won’t be long before problems rear their head.

    1. You can’t do everything — who is going to help?

    How are you going to find the people that help you run your business?

    Doing everything yourself might seem like a cost-saver at first but soon you’ll realise that it’s a false economy — and it will lead to burnout.

    Hire professionals to ease the load: a business accountant (not only a tax accountant), a legal contact, a personal assistant, and a marketing assistant are some basic requirements. To avoid paying full-time salaries, outsource to the right professionals.

    1. Do you understand your competitors and the market?

    Passion alone won’t sustain your business. You need a clear understanding of the niche you are entering.

    Who are your competitors? Is there room for another business like yours? If so, how will you stand out — Service? Price? Quality?

    If you are breaking new ground, have you established that there is a genuine need for what you offer? Be sure that it’s not just you who thinks it’s a great idea?

    Be clear on your target audience and who is going to buy from you.

    1. How will you structure your business?

    Establishing the right legal structure for your business is also a basic requirement.

    Your options will vary depending on the type of your business and your family situation, but seek advice from a qualified accountant experienced in providing structuring advice to get the fundamentals in place.

    The business structure you choose will affect taxes, administration, liability, and employee setup, amongst other aspects of your business, so it can be an expensive mistake to not get this right from the outset.

    1. How will you fund your business?

    Mapping out the capital available to you should be part of any business plan: the start-up money may come from savings, friends, family, business partners, investors, venture capitalists, or through bank loans.

    Get clear on how you will raise enough to get your business going, what your weekly and monthly ‘cash burn’ will be until you reach cash flow break-even point (after which the business funds itself), and then, establish how you are going to manage your cash flow in the coming months and years.

    1. How will you market and sell your products or services?

    Sales and marketing are two areas that will help to define the success (or otherwise) of your business. Take advice on the best marketing channels — both online and offline.

    Also, if your sales skills are poor, make sure you hire someone who can close the deals that will bring new customers into your business.

    Many new business owners have already established some relationships to provide initial wins — but what do you do when these dry up? You need a healthy ongoing pipeline of leads and prospects.

    1. Are you getting the right advice from the right accountant?

    Business owners should be on top of their taxes, payments, and accounts; and keep a tight handle on outgoing expenditure.

    A good accountant can advise you on this, as well as helping you identify opportunities to grow your business as you mature.

    Make sure you have chosen an accountant you can work with and who has experience advising businesses like yours, as this will be a crucial relationship that shapes the future of your business.

    Chances of success are actually relatively high if you ask the right questions before you start your new business venture. Many new business owners get caught out by the unexpected because they have not planned properly with cash, personnel, market research or other key factors.

    Start by asking the above questions and go in with your eyes open!

    Does your business have poor cyber security? Here are 11 ways password manager apps improve your security and save you time

    Cloud computing and web-based apps have undoubtedly improved business efficiency. But once you and your team start using various online apps, one aspect quickly becomes inefficient (not to mention downright annoying): having to repeatedly enter usernames and passwords to log in.

    It’s bad enough having to enter a multitude of login credentials when you first open the apps each morning. But many apps automatically log you out if you haven’t been using them for a few minutes. And while it’s a nice security feature, it means you have to repeat the entire process whenever you take a breather.

    Wouldn’t it be great if a ‘master control’ app could automatically enter your username and password whenever an app asked for them? Of course, you’d have to log into the master control app first, and that login process would have to be very secure. But just imagine how much time and frustration it could save.

    The good news is that, to quote an all-too-familiar phrase, “There’s an app for that”. In fact, there are quite a few password manager apps available.

    And you really should be using one.

    Why you shouldn’t enter your passwords any other way

    “But I don’t need a password manager app,” you say. “I use the same username and password for all my logins, so it’s pretty easy to remember.”

    Congratulations. You have become what’s known in the online world as “a hacker’s dream”.

    Why? Because once a hacker figures out your username and password on one site, they can use the same username and password to access every other site you use. And before you assume they couldn’t possibly know the other online sites you use, they can run a program that tries your username and password on hundreds—if not thousands—of sites in a matter of minutes. It’s not a question of whether they’ll find those other sites. It’s only a question of when.

    “But it’s more convenient doing it this way,” you might say.

    Sure it is. For now. But you may think differently when every online system you use—online banking, email, social media, etc.—has been compromised.

    Even if you discover the security breach straight away, it can still take months—if not years—to recover. You could lose your savings, your business, or even your identity.

    But there’s no point creating different usernames and passwords for each site if you’re just going to put them on sticky notes. Whether it’s a physical one on your whiteboard or an electronic one in your computer, they’re still incredibly easy to find and use without your knowledge.

    How about storing them in a note-taking app such as Evernote or OneNote? Without any form of encryption, these apps aren’t much better than the sticky note app on your computer.

    And for goodness sake, don’t email them to yourself so you can use a keyword search to find them. Not only will they be stored without any encryption, your email can easily be intercepted and read.

    So, unless you have a perfect memory and can type incredibly fast, the only real solution to having unique, secure passwords is to use a password manager app.

    Here are six reasons you should use a password manager app.

    1. You’ll no longer be “a hacker’s dream”. With password managers you only need to remember the username and password for the app. Then, whenever you access a secure website, it will look up the username and password you created for the site (which are securely stored online) and enter them automatically.

    Because you don’t need to remember them all you can use a different username and password for each site, which is far more secure than using the same one for them all.

    And if someone gets access to one of the sites you use, they still won’t be able to access any others.

    2. You can use more secure passwords. The most secure passwords use a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. But when you have to remember them (and type them in over and over again), it’s tempting to use simple passwords that are less secure.With a password manager, you can make them as long and complex as you want because it’s the password manager app that remembers them all and types them in for you. It can even create new passwords automatically, such as “Sp?45AqG&&l6p#BzK”.

    These random, nonsensical passwords are far more secure than the names of your pets, family members, favourite movie or other commonly used passwords. And the chances of hackers guessing your password, even with the software they use to generate them automatically, is extremely low.

    All you need to do is choose a strong password for your password manager.

    3. Your login details will be encrypted. If you’re worried whoever created the password manager will have access to all your usernames and passwords, relax. All of your information is encrypted (scrambled), and only the strong password you use to log in can decrypt (descramble) that information. It’s the same level of security used with Internet banking, and a lot more secure than sticky notes.

    4. You can use two-factor authentication for even better security. Let’s say someone works out the username and password you use for a website. That means they can log onto the site, enter your details and they’re in, right?Not if you’ve set up two-factor authentication. Instead they’ll be asked to provide another piece of information only you can provide. It could be a random code to your mobile number via SMS, or one only your phone can generate. It may even ask for your fingerprint via your smartphone.

    And without that other bit of information, they won’t get access.

    Two-factor authentication can be used not only on websites, but also the password manager itself. And while some people find the extra step inconvenient, it’s an added layer of security that’s well worth considering.

    5. You can share passwords more securely. Let’s say you need to give a staff member or contractor access to financial or other sensitive data (a common scenario when working with freelancers and remote workers). One option would be to give them a username and password, which they would enter to access the information. But what’s stopping them from writing them on a sticky note, or emailing the details to themselves (or worse, someone else)?

    With a password manager you can set them up with a password that is never revealed to them. It will log them in, but they never see what it is, and therefore can’t share it or even write it down.

    6. You can revoke a person’s passwords instantly. When people leave your organisation for whatever reason, you need to make sure they can no longer access your information. If they’ve written their passwords down somewhere you have no choice but to manually change or remove the password on every system they had access to.But with a password manager you can revoke all of their logins easily—and instantly.

    Which password manager should you choose?

    As mentioned earlier, there are quite a few password manager apps and services now available. And while their features, quality of security provided and ease of use may vary, they all offer similar benefits.

    Some of the more popular password managers include:

    The best choice for business use is a password manager such as LastPass Enterprise, which lets you set up users and teams based on your own organisation. You can then grant and revoke login access to those users and teams as necessary.

    LastPass also has a Free plan (for use on one device) and a Premium plan that syncs your login details across all your devices.

    And of course, you can use password managers for your own personal logins as well. You’ll get the same benefits as you do in your business, but at a fraction of the cost. (Most password manager services offer free ‘personal’ accounts.)

    In either case, you’ll need to spend a bit of time setting everything up. But here are five ways a password manager will save you time in the long run.

     1. You’ll save time logging in: Imagine logging into your computer first thing in the morning, grabbing a coffee, and coming back with all your web apps open and you logged into every one of them.That’s what a password manager can do for you. It can open each web app and log you in without you needing to enter a single password (or even remember one).

    And once you experience it for yourself, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

    2. You’ll save time logging in after being inactive. As mentioned earlier, a lot of web apps log you out automatically when you haven’t used them for a while. It’s good for security, but not much fun when you have to keep logging in.But with a password manager, you can be logged in again with just a couple of clicks. No usernames or passwords to type in. You may not even need to click the Submit button. It can do it all for you.

    3. You’ll save time providing usernames and passwords to new team members: Depending on your type of business, a new team member may need dozens of logins. Setting them all up is not only tedious, but also a waste of time.But with a password manager you can put logins to all the necessary sites in a folder and then give the team member access to every site in that folder in one step.

    4. You’ll save time completing web forms: Completing a web form to attend an event, download an ebook or purchase a product can be time-consuming (not to mention tedious). Most password managers let you create form profiles so you enter your details (such as credit card information and postal addresses) in seconds rather than minutes.

    5. You’ll be able to log in from other devices: Ever needed to log in to a web app at home or while travelling only to realise the passwords you need are stored on your computer at work?Most password managers let you sync your login details across multiple devices, and even access them online, which means as long as you have your smartphone or access to the Internet you’ll be able to log into those web apps.

    How to get started with a password manager

    If you love evaluating apps and technology, check out the apps mentioned earlier and see which one best fits your needs.

    But if you want to start using a password manager straight away, choose LastPass. It lets you have a Free or Premium plan for your personal accounts and an Enterprise plan for your business. You can even link your personal and business LastPass accounts so all your logins are in the your own LastPass view. This saves you having to log in and out of separate LastPass accounts whenever you need to switch from a business-related web app to a personal one.

    And don’t worry. Even when you link your personal and business LastPass accounts,  team members using your LastPass Enterprise account still won’t be able to see or access your personal logins.

    It really is the perfect combination.

    Social media hype or substance? Are Twitter and Facebook relevant to business owners?

    Isn’t Twitter a waste of time? Isn’t Facebook for the kids?

    Not anymore.

    It’s true that Twitter and Facebook started out with very ‘non-business’ objectives. The founder of Twitter actually did invent it so you could tell everyone you were going to the shop to get some milk; and anyone who has seen the movie The Social Network knows about the very lowbrow origins of Facebook.

    Other social media platforms include LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Foursquare, Quora, Tumblr, Vine, Flickr and MySpace, among others.

    In recent years savvy marketers and business owners have worked out how to use social media VERY effectively for communicating with the market place, in a new way.

    Traditional marketing, like advertising, is a monologue. A one-way conversation, coming from the advertiser. There’s no interaction in a TV or newspaper ad.

    Modern marketing—including social media—is about engaging in a dialogue with people. It’s about creating two-way, value-adding conversations (albeit, online ones) with people who are interested in what you do: your ‘followers’, ‘friends’ and ‘connections’. It’s about helping them, listening to what they have to say, and letting them know about useful, relevant information.

    This creates a sense of community and stronger relationships. Certainly stronger than any advertising can ever create. We have entered a whole new era, and social media is not just reshaping the marketing landscape, but it’s changing journalism and media, and is even acting as a catalyst for social change, allowing people to combine their collective voice. We’ve witnessed that in world affairs, for example in Egypt where Facebook was used to organise protests.

    If you’re still not convinced that your business should actively get involved with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or other social media platforms, consider the flipside.

    Can you afford not to at least monitor Twitter, for example, to see what is being said about your industry, your business, you? Using social media management software like TweetDeck, HootSuite or SproutSocial you can efficiently monitor your various social media accounts using the one app to display your feeds from a number of different platforms, notifying you when people mention you, your brand, reply to you, ‘favourite’ or ‘like’ your updates and posts, and so on.

    We think it makes sense for any business to monitor what’s being said about them—and about their competitors—in social media.

    We also know of many success stories of small business owners who are using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as a very effective way to generate referrals and to drive traffic to their website.

    Social media works if you learn how to work it.

    Obviously the purpose of this article is not to teach you how to use these tools. That would take a book or complete course, not an article.

    Its purpose is to open your mind to the possibilities—if it hasn’t been opened already—of how your business can learn to use and benefit from social media as part of your business’ marketing mix.

    To start you along that learning curve, take a few minutes to watch this Socialnomics video. The statistics mentioned in it are phenomenal.

    At the 1-minute mark you’ll see a quote by best selling author Erik Qualman, “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.”

    And at the 3:50 mark, “Social Media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.”

    We are just starting on the path of learning how to best use social media, and by no means are we proclaiming any degree of expert competency. (Yet!)

    The question, we believe however, is not whether your business should use social media, but how should your business best use social media.

    Personal insurance for business owners: your 5 best options

    It’s easy to be wise after the event. Taking out certain types of personal insurance is being wise before the event!

    What happens if you’re in a bad accident and need to take an extended period off work to recover? Or you were left permanently disabled – or worse? What would happen if you got sick and needed around-the-clock care for a few months?

    The more you have, the more there is to lose.

    But there‘s a whole suite of personal insurance products available today to protect what you have. And, while wedding insurance (yes, it exists) might not be top of your list, there are at least five types of insurance you might want to consider as a business owner.

    Each of the following will provide important protection and peace of mind for you and your family, in the event of an accident, a disaster, or simple bad luck befalling you…

    1. Life insurance

    This is about protecting your family, should the worst happen to you.

    Life insurance policies pay a tax-free lump sum or annuity to those you nominate as the beneficiaries, if you pass away. This helps loved ones maintain their standard of living and ensure they can cover their debts in the event of your death.

    In addition to helping to cover the funeral costs, a life insurance pay out should cover the mortgage or rent, provide a source of income for a spouse or partner you leave behind, and cover other assorted expenses that arise.

    You may even be able to arrange a pension through your life insurance – this is worth considering if your self-funded retirement plans are not on track.

    2. Health insurance

    In additional to any available government aid for health care, it’s also a very good idea to take out personal health insurance if you own a business – especially if you spend time out of the country on business.

    Business owners get sick, just like everyone else. The stress of being the business owner can often complicate matters but it helps to know that the costs of care and treatment are looked after.

    Coverage may extend to family members – an additional benefit of private health insurance.

    With health care costs covered and access provided to quality care in or out of the country, one potential cause of stress is reduced.

    3. Long-term disability insurance

    Say you have an accident and are rendered disabled temporarily or permanently. It’s not just the costs of care you need to think about – it’s the potential loss of income from a business that depends on you being there.

    Disability insurance covers you with a monthly payment to compensate for part of the lost income during the period of disability.

    While it’s primarily designed for employees, business owners may also claim it – but you may need to provide tax returns or profit and loss statements that demonstrate expected income.

    You can also look at business overhead expense (BOE) disability insurance, which covers all business expenses if you become disabled. This includes rent, utilities, salaries, payroll taxes, accounting fees, etc.

    It means one less thing to have to worry about in the event of a bad accident or serious injury.

    4. Critical illness (‘trauma’) insurance

    Another supplement to health insurance is critical illness (or ‘trauma’) insurance.

    This covers you with a lump-sum payment should you be diagnosed with a serious health condition such as cancer, stroke, heart condition etc.

    However, depending on the provider, ‘critical illness’ has different definitions and you usually need to survive your condition for 15-30 days before a payment will be made.

    This insurance goes over and above the costs of medical care, which your health insurance covers. It provides useful funds for other expenses incurred during the period of illness or recovery, including the possibility of funding the lost income if your spouse has to stop work to care for you.

    5. Key Person Insurance

    What would happen to your business if a key employee, partner or director suffered a major illness, injury or death? Could your business sustain the sudden loss of a key technical employee or a star salesperson? How much disruption and cost would be incurred?

    If there is anyone in your business whose know-how or overall contribution is uniquely valuable and it would be difficult and time-consuming to replace them, you should consider Key Person Insurance.

    This is insurance on the life or health of any employee where the policy can offset the costs (for example, hiring a temporary replacement or recruiting a permanent successor) and losses (such as decreased business performance until successors are trained), which the business may experience when a key person suddenly departs.

    Like many insurances, the cost of a Key Person Insurance policy is insignificant compared with the potentially business-threatening disruption that losing a key person incurs.

    Be wise before the event…

    It only takes one serious event to knock you back financially in life. Your savings can be left looking paltry against serious medical bills or unexpected support costs.

    Whatever stage in life you’re at, as a business owner it makes sense to take precautions for your own peace of mind now and in the future.

    While most people consider the common personal insurances (like comprehensive car insurance or home and contents insurance) to be ‘must haves’, the more optional ‘nice to have’ nature of the above insurances means that many people fail to protect themselves in these areas.

    You can purchase these insurances as separate policies and some providers bundle policies together and provide discounts.

    The five options above are not exhaustive but they should help you narrow down your priorities. Just remember – you still need to read the fine print before signing up! We know it can be a little baffling with so many providers, so many options, and so much fine print, but just get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction with these important insurances.

    Where did it go?: Taking the mystery (and pain) out of managing your money

    Most people will quite literally earn millions of dollars in their lifetime. Yet many people struggle financially and live from one pay period to the next.

    With the ageing population and many Baby Boomers now continuing to work—at least on a part-time basis—past the traditional retirement age, people are working more years than ever. Even if a person works only 40 years, at average earnings, that’s a lot of money.

    It is said, “Money talks”, but for many, all it ever says is, “Hello, and Good-bye”.

    Have you ever found that the month lasts longer than the money? Or have you ever got your tax return and looked at all the money you have earned over the past 12 months and then thought, “Where has it all gone?”

    You’re not alone. And the good news is, now there’s a simple solution.

    There’s a great quote from Charles Dickens’ book David Copperfield where the character Mr. Micawber says to Copperfield, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

    This is so true, regardless of the income level.

    Yet keeping track of what you spend your money on, for many, is too hard, too laborious. The benefits of doing so are obvious to anyone, yet the discipline to keep all your receipts, enter the information into a program like Quicken Personal or MS Money (or just to write it into a paper ledger), and keep that going consistently over time is beyond most of us.

    Well … and here’s the good news … what if a piece of software could track and categorise what you spent your money on, but it involved very little effort by you?

    Imagine the clarity you’d get if you knew exactly how much you have spent and what percentage of your income is going on the various areas including mortgage/rent, vehicles, groceries, schooling/education, eating out, entertaining, mobile phones and internet, medical and pharmaceutical, and so on.

    For most people, it would be a real eye opener.

    It is said that knowledge equals power.

    That is very true when it comes to your personal finances.

    Once you can objectively see exactly how your lifestyle and your habits—that is, you—are spending your money each year, and month-to-month as you go, you then have the power to make decisions on where you can change your spending (and saving!) habits.

    In this information age and electronic era, many of us use credit cards, debit cards and EFT when buying things. We have now reached a point for the first time in history where more money is exchanged electronically than through cash transactions.

    That’s a lot of transactions. And it’s a lot of data.

    This data is available to be analysed on a societal basis, industry basis, business basis and … a personal basis.

    And that’s where a brilliant tool comes into play: Xero Cashbook

    Here’s how it works …

    Xero Cashbook is online software. It’s the non-tax-tracking version of the Xero software used by businesses.

    It analyses and categorises all your electronic transactions to give you a snapshot of your complete financial position in an instant. This also organises a view of all your bank accounts and credit card accounts in one place. Very handy.

    This is precisely what a lot of people have been waiting for: An easy way to track and control your finances.

    Xero Cashbook categorises your spending and saving, so you can tell whether your money is being used for essentials or you’re splashing out on other things.

    If you are concerned about security, Xero protects your financial data with 128-bit SSL encryption, the same as online banking. Your data is well protected.

    You can also invite people you trust, such as your spouse, accountant or other financial advisor, to access your Xero reports for free. This means that as your advisors we can see the true picture of your finances and spending habits, and help you stay on track.

    This allows us to help you plan ahead and make the most of your money.

    You will never before have felt so in control of your personal finances.

    Being web-based, rather than being stuck on one computer like traditional software, you can access Xero from home, work and even on your smartphone such as an iPhone and Android device.

    If you’d like us to step you through getting set up with Xero Cashbook, or their Xero equivalent for Business, or both, get in touch and we’ll hand hold you through the process. It’s not difficult, and once your bank accounts are set up, it happens automatically from there.

    The way we see it, the more clients we help keep track of their finances in such an easy way, the more clients who will prosper and find financial happiness instead of financial misery, to paraphrase Dickens’ Mr. Micawber.

    Your next step … Call us on 07 3421 3421 or email us on cpa@mcadamsiemon.com.au to make a time to meet and discuss your options. We’ll then outline the costs so you know exactly what lies ahead.

    It’s time to stop saying “good-bye” to so much of your money each year!


    8 apps that make creating quotes and proposals faster (and more effective)

    When a prospective client asks you for a quote, it’s a powerful opportunity to make a sale. In fact, with the right response you may be able to ‘seal the deal’ almost immediately.

    But if you take your time to respond, provide wildly different quotes for similar work, or otherwise send bad signals about your business, you could easily lose that client. Which is a pity, because it seemed they really wanted to do business with you.

    That quote (or proposal, which we’ll get to in a moment) is where you can win the client over and get the sale.

    Or lose them both.

    The good news is that technology can now help you respond to prospective clients quickly and consistently, and show them just how capable and competent your business really is.

    Software packages are now available that can automatically generate quotes and proposals. They even include templates you can quickly edit instead of having write the entire document from scratch—great for proposals that vary widely from client to client.

    But while these software packages are becoming more and more sophisticated, they can only send a quote or proposal to someone who asks for one. And people won’t ask unless they recognise the value in your service.

    Quotes or Proposals — Which best suits your business?

    While automation is one way to streamline your business processes, it might be worth considering whether quotes or proposals are really working for you and serving a useful function in your business.

    A quote is usually just a list of products or services, their quantities and the total price. But a proposal also:

    • acknowledges the issue from the client’s perspective
    • outlines a proposed, actionable solution.

    Quotes are the standard for most industries because they’re quicker and easier to produce. And for those selling goods predominantly in retail (physical and digital), a quote is probably all the client needed. Chances are they’ll just be comparing your price to that of your competitor, and whoever has the lowest one wins the sale.

    But in an industry such as ours, you often need to communicate how you’ll help a potential client, and why you’ll be of value to them. As explained earlier, you need to acknowledge their issue, and show them how you’ll solve it with a great solution. And for that, you’ll need to send them a proposal.

    But unlike the quote, where they’ll be weighing up your price against your competitor’s, they’ll be weighing up your price against the benefits you’ll be giving them.

    Yes, proposals take more time and effort to produce. You have to know your clients, understand their problems, and come up with ways to help them. But proposals also make it easier to make a sale, because instead of just giving them a product or service you’re actually solving their problem.

    Whether it’s quotes or proposals that make sense for your business, drafting and sending them can still be time consuming — even with the help of templates.

    Fortunately, automated quote and proposal software can help you prepare and submit them much quicker, which frees up your time for more productive tasks. It can also reduce turnaround times and the need to train new team members, and give your business an air of professionalism.

    5 reasons to use software that automatically generates quotes and proposals

    1. Producing quotes and proposals manually is a huge time sink

    Your team members’ time is worth too much for them to be creating these documents—especially quotes. After all, other than the quantities, prices and addressee every quote is pretty much the same, isn’t it? Wouldn’t they be better off spending the time reaching out to prospects, checking in with past and current clients, or delivering extra value?

    Automation allows more time for high-touch, creative and innovative activities, which all require a human touch.

    2. It signals your business as being capable and quick to act

    Automating your quotes and proposals means you can get it to the prospect sooner. And that shows not only competency, but also that you respect their time. Nobody likes to be kept waiting.

    Within minutes your prospect can be reading your professionally laid out document full of comprehensive information without any errors or unclear/undefined elements. Add a good call to action, and it will be a no-brainer for the client to accept.

    3. It enables faster turnaround

    Quotes and proposals help you and your client understand each other, and formally document:

    • the product or service you’re providing
    • the cost to receive your product or service
    • any relevant terms and conditions.

    They also put the ball in the client’s court. Once they have your quote or proposal, they need to make a decision. And so the faster you can give them one, the less time they have to investigate alternatives or reconsider.

    Of course, they can still look into competitors after they get your quote. But they won’t be doing it beforehand. And if it meets their expectations (i.e. you can solve their problem for a price they’re happy with), they can accept it without spending any more time looking around.


    4. It can help with branding

    By using software to generate your quotes and proposals, you’ll be consistent with both your presentation and pricing strategy.

    Some clients will come from word-of-mouth, and so quoting different prices to different prospects for similar services could raise a few eyebrows. People may think you don’t have any pricing strategy and just make it up as you go along, which makes you look unprofessional.

    Giving your document a consistent look is also important. Your logo, colour palate, website design, stationery design and vehicle signage all influence people at a subconscious level. It increases trust, and boosts your reputation in the eyes of your prospects. And your branding should flow through to your quotes and proposals to ensure they look clean, crisp and are an integral part of your business.

    5. You won’t spend as much time training new staff

    With automation software you’ll spend less time training new team members, as most of the document is produced automatically. All you’ll need to teach them is how to use the app to make any necessary adjustments or additions for special cases.

    As you can, there are many advantages to using software that can automatically generate quotes and proposals for clients. So why isn’t every business using it?

    Some business owners think the software will limit their ability to make modifications because everything is generated automatically. Of course, some people might say, “Well that’s the price of eliminating mistakes and getting it presentable and consistent”. But the software will often take this concern into account by letting you add a ‘miscellaneous’ field to the template where you can make amendments or comments. Some templates even include one by default.

    Another concern is how the software will get the information it needs to generate the quotes and proposals. Fortunately, nearly all of the software packages will integrate with at least one CRM. And for those that don’t integrate directly, the third-party app Zapier can probably link them together.

    Automation software that’s currently available

    Here are just some of the software packages that can automatically generate quotes and proposals:

    Proposable lets you query clients and respond to their questions with inline comments—useful for high-touch businesses or those dealing with detailed and specific services.

    They all integrate with a number of CRMs. However, as part of your evaluation you should confirm which ones will integrate with your CRM (or allow a connection via Zapier).

    There are plenty of reasons to automate your quotes and proposals. The time you could save (and reinvest in wiser, more productive avenues) is just one aspect that makes it worth considering. Add to that the boosted reputation and sales figures (thanks to the quick turnarounds), and automation quickly becomes an option you can’t afford to ignore.


    Business owners: Are you inadvertently putting your family home at risk?

    As a business owner, there are plenty of things you need to manage, and two of the most important of these are assets and risks.

    In other words, building your wealth and protecting your wealth.

    There’s no point building a lot of wealth if the way you have things structured behind the scenes means that someone could take your assets away from you.

    Sadly, many business owners are in precisely this predicament, without knowing it!

    Following are some crucial concepts that, if you as a business owner don’t understand them and put protective measures in place, your family home (and all personal assets of you and your family) are at risk of being lost if someone decided to take legal action against your business.

    Consider these facts…

    • Your business faces unpredictable risks through interaction with employees, customers/clients and creditors.
    • This means there is potential to be sued by a variety of parties. Where there are agreements in place, sometimes disagreements later result. This is life. It makes sense to accept that, and plan and protect yourself, rather than hope it never happens.
    • Litigation, sadly, is increasing each year, largely driven by lawyers offering ‘no win, no fee’ services.
    • This encourages people to ‘have a go at you’ through legal action. They have nothing to lose, after all.
    • This means you need to ‘build a wall’ between your business risks and your personal assets otherwise you risk losing it all.
    • This ‘wall’ protects you and your family from losing assets such as your house or personal investments, if your business was to be sued.
    • The wall is created by clever use of companies, trusts and also deciding who within a married couple, for example, should and should not be a Director of each company. This is a key point. One seemingly simple mistake in this area can cost a family their house.
    • The standard type of will puts your family’s assets at risk, because if the person who dies holds the family’s personal assets in their name, ownership of these assets will revert to the person who through their Directorships in the business, is at a much higher risk of being sued.

    This presents significant risk.

    So what can you do about it?

    If you haven’t looked at your asset protection structure in the past 12 months, you need to make that a priority. 

    Then this should be reviewed annually. 


    As your life changes, your asset protection strategies—your ‘wall’—needs to be checked that it is still appropriate.

    As part of this process we also ensure your wills and estate planning are in order. Remember, the standard type of will can bring down your wall.

    In addition to wills, there are other important documents to have in order such as an enduring power of attorney. This is a legal document that can give someone else—the person you choose—the power to make personal or financial decisions on your behalf.

    You see, it is far more common for someone to become incapacitated through accident or trauma such as stroke, than it is to suddenly die. If this happens to you, you may not be able to communicate your wishes and make decisions when you need to.

    The consequences of this are dire and tragic.


    It’s all about choices and about ensuring you protect your family and your assets. Without sound asset protection and effective wills and estate planning in place, the legacy you have been working so hard to build may not end up in the hands of the people you intend.

    The potential tragic nature of this type of scenario is why we feel so passionate about asset protection and estate planning … because it’s all about protecting the families we serve.

    If you’re anything like our many other clients who have these structures in place, we think you’ll find the costs of ‘building these walls’, so to speak, relatively minor compared to the protection they give you and your family.

    Your next step … Call us on 07 3421 3421 or email us on cpa@mcadamsiemon.com.au to make a time to meet and discuss your options. We’ll then outline the costs so you know exactly what lies ahead.

    Your 9 point checklist for paying less tax this year (and why this checklist will be useless to you in a few weeks’ time)

    Time is running out.

    If you want to take a few simple preventative measures to minimise or defer how much tax you will pay for this Financial Year, you need to do two things:

    1. Read the following 9 point checklist, then
    2. Call or email us as soon as possible so we can make a time to sit do with you to assess which of these preventative measures can be done for you in your circumstances.

    Depending on your situation, this tax planning process could save you many thousands of dollars. That’s cash in your bank account, rather than the Tax Office’s.

    After all, why pay one more dollar in tax than you have to?

    I’m sure you have better uses for your money, such as investing in your future or just investing in the here and now and rewarding yourself with a little ‘lifestyle indulgence’.

    Now … to the checklist. Tick each item you think is relevant to you:

    ❑ Review debtors Your income tax is payable on any invoices you’ve issued, even if you haven’t been paid. Don’t pay tax on any invoice you know won’t ever get paid. Review the list of those who owe you money and write off those ‘bad debts’ now.

    ❑ Review your stock levels The value of your closing stock directly affects your business profit, the higher your stock value the higher your profit and tax. Review and identify any obsolete or old stock and scrap it or re-value it to its correct value. Individual items of stock can be valued at cost, market value, or replacement value.

    ❑ Review your business assets Write off any obsolete asset and claim its remaining book value now. There are also new ways assets can be depreciated, called pooling, that will increase the depreciation expense. This isn’t suitable for all business, but it is worthwhile reviewing.

    ❑ Defer income — A simple tip that can defer a lot of tax for you If your cashflow allows, you may consider deferring some of your invoices until July. If the income was not invoiced this financial year, it can’t be taxed this financial year. Before taking this option we recommend having a budget to manage these months income and expenses. We can help you with that.

    ❑ Review your invoices issued If you have invoiced someone in advance for services you will provide in the next financial year, then you may not have earned that income in this tax year. That income may belong in the year you provide the service. Again, this is something we can work out with you when we meet for tax planning.

    ❑ Pay the June quarter superannuation Superannuation if paid on time is deductible when paid. Since you have to pay the 9.5% superannuation by 28 July, bring it forward a month and pay it now and claim the deduction now. Why wait a whole year to reduce your tax?

    ❑ Using all of your superannuation cap If maximising your superannuation is part of your retirement plan, then don’t forget to contribute as much as you can into your super fund. We can guide you as to how much you can contribute. It’s a missed opportunity not to do this each year.

    ❑ Employee bonuses Bonuses to employees are deductible when the business has committed to paying them and it is not subject to any discretion. So finalise and sign off on the bonuses to be paid and reduce this year’s tax.

    ❑ Capital Gains Tax (CGT) Minimising your capital gains tax is often about timing. Ensure the asset has been owned for at least 12 months. If you already have a capital gain, are there any investments making a loss you can sell? Do you qualify for any capital gain rollover relief concessions? (Again, we can guide you here.) CGT is a whole topic on its own, and the potential savings are so great, it is definitely an area in which you should seek our guidance.

    If you ticked any of the above items, then we need to talk. And soon.

    Call us now on 3421 3421 (Brisbane) or 5474 8955 (Sunshine Coast) or email Rob, Sam, Peter or Myself to make a time to meet and discuss your tax planning options.

    Business Owners: Are you an entrepreneur? Or just a technician?

    “You need to work on your business, not just in your business.”

    Made popular by The E-Myth Revisited author Michael Gerber, it’s advice I’m sure you’ve heard dozens of times over the years (I certainly have). But despite being told over and over again, many small business owners still don’t seem to truly understand what it means.

    Continue reading “Business Owners: Are you an entrepreneur? Or just a technician?”

    Business owners, so you think you’re insured properly: 5 things to check

    Whoever said, “You can never have too much insurance” obviously never had to pay the premiums. Still, there’s no denying the fact you need it to protect your business and its assets.

    So you probably have building and contents, public liability and public indemnity insurance. But what else should you get cover for? What else can you get cover for?

    Continue reading “Business owners, so you think you’re insured properly: 5 things to check”

    Unmasking liability: 6 signs that contractor is really your employee

    In a lot of situations, hiring a contractor to get a particular job done makes perfect sense. It may require expertise or skills none of your employees has. You may only need someone for a short timeframe to clear a backlog of work. Or maybe you just want to avoid having to go through a formal recruitment process.

    But be careful. Even though you hired them as a contractor, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) may actually see them as an employee. And the penalties for disguising an employee as an independent contractor (known as “sham contracting”) can be up to $51,000 per instance.

    So how can you tell whether your latest recruit is an employee or a contractor? Well, here are some of the major differences between the two.

    1. Where and how they work

    An employee is considered part of the business, and in most cases works on the premises (unless they’re telecommuting). They generally have to accept any work assigned to them, and can’t ask someone else. And they have do the work themselves.

    A contractor, on the other hand, runs their own business. And while they may be asked to work on the premises, they can work pretty much anywhere they can get the work done. They can also sub-contract or delegate the work to someone else.

    1. How they’re paid

    Employees are paid regularly for the time they work, by the item or activity they complete, and/or a commission.

    Contractors have a contract stating the work they’ll do (but not how they’ll do it), and for how much. And while they can ask for partial payment up-front, they’re generally paid when that work is completed.

    1. Tools of the trade

    Employees are given all the tools they need to do their job, whether it’s computers, earthmoving equipment or anything in between. If they need something else to do their job, the employer either buys it, reimburses them or gives them an allowance.

    A contractor will have their own set of tools, which they use to perform the work they’ve been asked to do. If they feel they need another tool, either to complete the job or to do it more efficiently, they use their own money to purchase it.

    1. The risk factor

    Employees aren’t under any financial risk while they’re working. They don’t make a profit or a loss–the company does.

    But contractors can make a profit or a loss on every job they do. If they finish the job quickly, they’ll still be paid the same amount than if they took their time. But if the job takes longer, or they have to put in more work because the job was done poorly, they could well make a loss.

    1. Entitlements

    Employees are entitled to receive superannuation contributions from their employer, which gets paid into a nominated superannuation fund. They are also entitled to paid leave (e.g. annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, long service leave), or a loading in lieu of leave entitlements if they’re casual employees.

    Contractors are generally responsible for paying their own superannuation, although in certain situations they may be entitled to receive superannuation contributions. And they don’t receive any paid leave.

    1. Tax

    Employees have tax deducted from their pay by their employer, whereas contractors pay their own tax (including GST) directly to the ATO.

    Of course, the distinction between employee and contractor isn’t always so cut-and-dried. A contractor may have all of their equipment supplied, or get paid every fortnight. They may even receive superannuation contributions.

    Fortunately the ATO has come up with an Employee/Contractor Decision Tool to help make the distinction. By answering a series of questions, you can quickly see whether the ATO sees your latest recruit as an employee or a contractor.

    Paying someone as a contractor when they’re actually an employee can have serious consequences for your business. As well as the financial penalties, your business may end up with a bad reputation that drives both customers and potential employees away.

    So use the ATO’s decision tool and if still in doubt, get in touch and we’ll help you make sure your contractor isn’t really an employee.

    The 4 most common mistakes with management rights audits

    Another year has almost passed and many businesses are considering audits.

    Here we look at a few of the most common mistakes companies make with their management rights audit… but first a quick industry update.

    Management rights: Industry update

    From our perspective the industry is still maintaining a healthy level of activity.

    I think everyone would agree it has subsided from the lofty heights of the past couple of years but this reduction in activity has been driven by a number of factors: in particular, banks have tightened their lending criteria.

    Purchasers can still get finance but the process seems to be a little longer and purchaser analysis is more stringent – not necessarily a bad thing.

    Body corporates have become more aware of their power in the purchasing process and are exercising it more readily now. Some would say ‘over zealously’ at time, but this is the world we live in now.

    Lastly, the oversupply to the market, especially in the inner city suburbs of Brisbane, has forced a slowdown. This was expected and will rectify in time. However, there will be casualties along the way.  If you are located in these areas, get ready to bunker down for the long run!

    4 common mistakes with a management rights audit

    Audit is sometimes regarded as just something we have to do to maintain our licence. But taking the right approach to a management rights audit is important; otherwise it can waste a lot of your time.

    Licensees have various opinions and approaches to audits and audit visits. We believe it should be a very positive process that allows for education as well as compliance outcomes.

    Most of our lessons come from mistakes we have made and as long as we learn from these we can move forward.

    So we have compiled a list of the most common mistakes we are finding with management rights audits this year:

    1. Non-trust money not being withdrawn

    Funds collected into the trust account that do not relate to the agency relationship between you as manager and the owner of the unit are classed as ‘non-trust money’.

    These funds must be withdrawn from the trust account to your general account within 14 days of receipt.

    An example of this is gardening charges that you charge a tenant, which they deposit as part of the weekly rent.

    (Act reference – Agents Financial and Administration Act 2014 section 18 No other payments to trust account).

    1. Late EOM reconciliation

    Your EOM reconciliation must be prepared within five days after the end of the following month.  The date for the end of month reconciliation must also be the last day of the month – not the day the reconciliation is prepared.

    (Act reference – AFA Regulation 2014 section 17 Trust Account Cash Book Reconciliation)

    1. Bank transaction receipts not printed

    We find many cases of bank transaction receipts not being printed when funds are disbursed from the trust account. A bank transaction receipt must be printed and filed for auditing purposes.

    (Act reference – AFA Regulation 2014 section 14 Payments By Electronic Funds Transfer)

    1. Trust account receipts with incorrect information

    Licensees are forgetting to sign the receipt upon completion and a lot of the receipts are missing two dates on the receipt: when the trust money was received and when the trust account receipt was completed.

    (Section 9 – AFA Regulation 2014)


    If you would like to discuss your upcoming management rights audit or any of issues relating to your business or the industry, please don’t hesitate to contact your auditor or our management rights team: 07 3421 3421.

    Small business, big decisions: Why savvy business owners ‘rent’ CFO-level experience

    Larger businesses have a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on staff. But what can small and medium sized businesses do in this regard?

    Clearly, larger businesses can afford an in-house CFO. But it goes beyond an affordability issue: Large, successful businesses also understand how crucial the CFO role is to their business performance.

    The CFO in a business:

    • Keeps a close eye on the numbers and trends,
    • Alerts management when preventative actions are required,
    • Helps management create sound forecasts and plans,
    • Ensures the cash inflows and outflows are managed well so the business never runs out of cash or needs to borrow in haste,
    • Reports on revenues achieved compared with targets,
    • Gives solid information on a range of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to the business decision makers, and also
    • Helps management with decision making.

    This is management input that all businesses require regardless of their size. But how can small and medium sized business access CFO-level input and guidance?

    The answer: You out-source it. You get a part-time, out-sourced CFO until you can afford one full-time.

    That’s where we play a role for many of our business clients.

    Our ‘Your CFO’ service has been developed with input from our clients to make sure it’s the ideal mix of support services and affordability.

    As your CFO we roll our sleeves up and work with you in management meetings throughout the year on:

    • Cash flow – Efficient management of cash flow to provide cash for saving or investing in growth
    • Profitability – Identifying key drivers of profit and focusing on these
    • Business value – Growing a valuable and saleable business asset
    • Structure management – Staying on top of risk and taxation issues

    As business owners we all need to measure and monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). That is, the handful of numbers that really matter in running our business.

    It is also important that you have a ‘KPI dashboard’ to display your KPI targets compared with your current KPI performance. This helps tremendously in monitoring and managing your business’ performance and, ultimately, hitting your targets.

    As your outsourced CFO, we will bring to each meeting that we conduct with you clear financial reports, easy-to-understand KPI information, as well as our commercial experience to interpret the information, make suggestions and help guide your decision making.

    Items we’ll discuss each meeting include:

    • Profit (historical and future)
    • Cash flow (historical and future)
    • KPIs: A mixture of focusing on Lead Indicators which drive performance and Lag Indicators that measure the outcomes
    • Marketing activity and effectiveness
    • Operational efficiencies such as work-in-progress or workflow
    • Financial indicators such as debtors, inventory, stock turn (depending on your industry and type of business)
    • Team efficiencies, knowledge management, morale and safety.

    By helping with your forward planning for achieving the next period’s targets, and by being a sounding board for you as you strive to meet your targets, our ‘Your CFO’ service and support gives you a crystal clear focus for what needs to be done to achieve the goals of your business.

    Your next step … Call us on 07 3421 3421 or email us on cpa@mcadamsiemon.com.au for a no cost and no obligation meeting to discuss how we can work with you as your outsourced CFO. We’ll outline for you what’s included and what costs are involved so you can see how the service can be comfortably included in your budget.

    Exit Plan: How a succession plan can save your business (and protect your family)

    While everyone wants their businesses to be successful and operate for a long time, you may not necessarily want to remain at the helm.

    At some point, you may want to pass the business on to your children, or to someone else in the company. You may want to sell your share to your business partner. Or you may want to sell the business to another person or company, and retire on the proceeds.

    Ideally, you will choose the timing and method of your exit from the business. However, the way life unfolds sometimes, business owners do not always have a choice in what happens, or when.

    For example, what would happen if you or your business partner suddenly passed away or became incapacitated?

    That’s a stressful enough time for everyone as it is, without having the business (and the financial well-being of the families involved) suffer as a consequence.

    To ensure the future of your business, and to cater for loved ones, you need to plan for a range of possible exit scenarios.

    This is what’s known a Business Succession Plan.

    Every business needs a succession plan, just as every person needs a professionally prepared Will and Estate Plan.

    Horror stories happen. Don’t be one of them.

    You may not think you need a succession plan. After all, you may have children old enough to take over the reins. Or perhaps you have people in your company who’d love to run the business.

    But without a business succession plan, anything could happen.

    Imagine this scenario…

    A business with two partners or shareholders suddenly experiences the loss of one of the partners in a car accident. Without a succession plan in place, the surviving partner automatically goes into business with the deceased partner’s spouse. They might have had a great relationship on a personal basis, but running a business together and making financial decisions changes the nature of the relationship, instantly. The partners may not agree on the direction of the business, the growth plans for the business, or on how much various people in the business should be paid.

    It’s a recipe for conflict.

    Or perhaps the surviving spouse wants nothing to do with the business and wants to be bought out of the business as soon as possible.

    But what if the surviving business partner does not have the available funds to buy the remaining share in the business, despite being offered a very reasonable price.

    They’re stuck. The business–and their stress levels–will suffer.

    So, what can you do to avoid such horror stories?

    Passing on the baton

    So who will be your successor? Will it be someone in your family? A senior employee of your company? Another business owner?

    While you may want to “keep it in the family”, it might not be such a good idea with research showing that more than 65% of family businesses fail in the hands of the second generation and another 20% fail when the business passes to the third generation.

    Your successor needs two things above anything else: a passion for the business and the skills to run it. And while you can bring them on board early to learn the skills, passion is something you can’t create for them. They either have it or they don’t.

    If it turns out someone in your family is passionate about the business, and they have the skills needed to run it (or can learn them), then great. But if that’s not the case, you may be better off handing the baton on to someone else.

    Plan early, plan often

    So when should you create your business succession plan? According to Craig West, chief executive and president of the Australian chapter of the Exit Planning Institute, you should have started about two years ago.

    In an interview with Startup Smart, West says it can take up to two years to get a business ready for sale, and to find the right buyer.

    “It takes 18 months to two years to exit successfully. If you do it quicker, you’ll leave money on the table,” he says.

    So if you don’t have a succession plan in place for your business, you need to get started now. (If you’re not sure how to get started, get in touch so we can help.)

    And like nearly all business documents, a succession plan needs to be kept up-to-date. Families grow and mature, employees come and go, and your plan needs to take all of that into account. There’s no point in planning to appoint a son who’s lost interest in the business, or a senior employee who has since left the business. Review your plan annually.

    But first things first… you need to document your Business Succession Plan.

    We can guide you in developing an effective succession plan and also ensure you have insurances in place that, for example, can fund the purchase of a deceased or incapacitated partner’s share in a business.

    A well thought out and properly funded (insured) Business Succession Plan will make sure the business can continue to operate as smoothly as possible, and conflicts between surviving business partners and spouses, avoided.

    You’ve worked hard to build your business. Don’t let it all fall apart once you move on.

    Making things happen: 3 books to transform your effectiveness

    Success in business requires a number of essential ingredients. A sound strategy. A robust business model. Effective planning. Strong financial control and bookkeeping. A good team. Great systems. Measurement. Focus.

    But you know what? Even all those elements are not enough without this skill: Execution.

    Call it “Getting Things Done”, making things happen, the action habit, extreme focus… call it what you like, for many entrepreneurs it’s what separates mediocre from magic. It’s the difference between a business that plods along from one year to the next, and one that grows, evolves, impresses, enriches.

    Execution is a skill. Sadly, we’re not taught it at school. (Gee, but we all use those good ol’ quadratic equations each day!) The good news is that, as adults, we can go out and find the information and principles of effective execution, then apply them. Daily.

    To fast track you on your journey towards becoming brilliant at execution, here are some books that we highly recommend that you not only read, but you study, practice, live by:

    Read (or listen) to those books, and your mind will be permanently re-wired. Obstacles and frustrations will become Projects, Tasks, or Wildly Important Goals. And you’ll have a pragmatic framework for achievement and creating the change you want in your business.

    And in your life. It’s powerful stuff.

    We’d love to hear of your favourite books on this ‘execution’ topic. After you read (or if you have already read) any of the books above, please share with us the key principles and practices that have made the biggest difference to you in terms of “getting things done” and executing your ideas.

    Why a good cash flow can be more important than a big profit

    There’s a saying in business, “You can go broke making a profit.” And another, “Cash is king. Profit is theory.”

    As you know only too well, you don’t pay rent, meet payroll or pay your bills with profit.

    You pay them with cash.

    A business can make a lot of sales, have a book full of orders, have delighted customers and clients, have a great reputation, be growing, and yet still go broke.

    Why? Cash flow.

    The business might be profitable on paper, but have no money left in the bank. They become insolvent.

    A growing business is often hungry for cash … hungry for inputs so it can make the business’ outputs, be they physical products, services or a combination of both.

    The tragedy in this is that cash flow crises can often be averted. They can be predicted, planned for, and then contingency measures put in place.

    For example, if a business has seasonal effects where some months are busier than others, or if a business knows it has some jumps in expenses or fixed costs approaching—such as moving to a larger premises or hiring more staff to cope with growth—then these expenses can be planned for and compared with the planned income in those months.

    Which would you prefer to do?

    (A) Call your bank manager and ask for a short-term loan or increase in overdraft when you are urgently in need of the cash (and therefore stressed, and desperate, and not in a great frame of mind to negotiate good terms), or

    (B) Call your bank manager 6 months in advance and meet with him or her to explain the coming cash crunch, the reasons behind it, and plan for the funding in a calm, relaxed, totally-in-control manner?

    Not only would you get the loan, you’d impress the bank manager and strengthen the relationship for further funding, should it be needed to support your growth.

    The bank manager would see you are a professional operator with a planned approach to your business, not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants operator. (They see a lot of those. They don’t like doing business with them.)

    Apart from the relationship with your bank, there’s the immediate effect of sleeping better at night.

    We all seek a level of certainty to comfort us. Knowing what lies ahead in business and planning your cash flow gives you a peace of mind and confidence in your day-to-day work that will rub off on those around you…

    …in your workplace and at home. It’s a good feeling.

    This is one of the reasons we are so passionate about helping our clients put together cash flow forecasts, to help them keep their business on track and to avoid any stressful, unpleasant surprises in the coming months.

    It doesn’t matter whether a business is a one-person hairdressing or lawn mowing business, or a 10 person, 20 or 200+ person business.

    Every business needs a cash flow forecast.

    Running your business without a cash flow forecast is like driving a car at night along a dark country road with only your normal headlights on. It’s hard to see what lies ahead. Some wildlife might come right out in front of you, leaving no time for you to react. CRASH!

    On the other hand, a cash flow forecast is like driving along that country road with high beam on. You can see so much more. You can drive with much more confidence. Less stress. And avoid the CRASH!

    Another thing we often find in helping our clients build realistic cash flow forecasts, is that we can spot problems and make suggestion that help improve the business’ cash cycle. This puts money in your bank account.

    For example, a combination of negotiating better terms with suppliers, tightening up or at least clarifying and enforcing your business’ own credit terms, and reducing stock holding and waste can have a powerful positive effect on your cash flow.

    So, if a cash flow forecast is so crucial, why do many businesses not have one?

    Simple. Business owners get busy. Busy pleasing customers or clients. Busy dealing with staff. Busy paying suppliers. Busy generating sales.

    Also, it’s easy to get ‘too close’ to your own business. “You can’t see the forest for the trees,” as the saying goes.

    Having an independent and fresh pair of eyes come in and look at your business—especially cash flow which is its life blood—allows opportunities for improvements to be identified. Things that are there, but difficult for the business owner to see amidst the ‘busy-ness’ of it all.

    So, what should do about it? Call us. Take action. A cash flow forecast costs less than you think.

    It’s time to turn those high beams on!

    Your next step … Call us on 07 3421 3421 or email us on cpa@mcadamsiemon.com.au to make a time to meet and discuss your options. We’ll then outline the costs so you know exactly what lies ahead.

    A 9-point checklist for paying less tax (providing you act quickly)

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    Time is running out.

    If you want to take a few simple preventative measures to minimise or defer how much tax you will pay for this Financial Year, you need to do two things:

    1. Read the following 9 point checklist, then
    2. Call or email us as soon as possible so we can make a time to sit do with you to assess which of these preventative measures can be done for you in your circumstances.

    Depending on your situation, this tax planning process could save you many thousands of dollars. That’s cash in your bank account, rather than the Tax Office’s.

    After all, why pay one more dollar in tax than you have to?

    I’m sure you have better uses for your money, such as investing in your future or just investing in the here and now and rewarding yourself with a little ‘lifestyle indulgence’.

    Now … to the checklist. Tick each item you think is relevant to you:

    Review debtorsYour income tax is payable on any invoices you’ve issued, even if you haven’t been paid. Don’t pay tax on any invoice you know won’t ever get paid. Review the list of those who owe you money and write off those ‘bad debts’ now.

    Review your stock levelsThe value of your closing stock directly affects your business profit, the higher your stock value the higher your profit and tax. Review and identify any obsolete or old stock and scrap it or re-value it to its correct value. Individual items of stock can be valued at cost, market value, or replacement value.

    Review your business assetsWrite off any obsolete asset and claim its remaining book value now. There are also new ways assets can be depreciated, called pooling, that will increase the depreciation expense. This isn’t suitable for all business, but it is worthwhile reviewing.

    Defer income — A simple tip that can defer a lot of tax for you. If your cashflow allows, you may consider deferring some of your invoices until July. If the income was not invoiced this financial year, it can’t be taxed this financial year. Before taking this option we recommend having a budget to manage these months income and expenses. We can help you with that.

    Review your invoices issued. If you have invoiced someone in advance for services you will provide in the next financial year, then you may not have earned that income in this tax year. That income may belong in the year you provide the service. Again, this is something we can work out with you when we meet for tax planning.

    Pay the June quarter superannuationSuperannuation if paid on time is deductible when paid. Since you have to pay the 9.5% superannuation by 28 July, bring it forward a month and pay it now and claim the deduction now. Why wait a whole year to reduce your tax?

    Using all of your superannuation cap. If maximising your superannuation is part of your retirement plan, then don’t forget to contribute as much as you can into your super fund. We can guide you as to how much you can contribute. It’s a missed opportunity not to do this each year.

    Employee bonuses. Bonuses to employees are deductible when the business has committed to paying them and it is not subject to any discretion. So finalise and sign off on the bonuses to be paid and reduce this year’s tax.

    Capital Gains Tax (CGT). Minimising your capital gains tax is often about timing. Ensure the asset has been owned for at least 12 months. If you already have a capital gain, are there any investments making a loss you can sell? Do you qualify for any capital gain rollover relief concessions? (Again, we can guide you here.) CGT is a whole topic on its own, and the potential savings are so great, it is definitely an area in which you should seek our guidance.

    If you ticked any of the above items, then we need to talk. And soon.

    Call Rob, Sam, Peter or myself or email us to make a time to meet and discuss your tax planning options.


    John Siemon


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    For An Obligation Free Discussion

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    Why business budgeting is more about being accountable, than it is about accounting

    For many, the word ‘budget’ is about as appealing as the word ‘diet’.

    It seems to imply what you will go without, rather than what you will achieve.

    To a successful business owner, however, the word ‘budget’ has a very different meaning.

    It’s more like a map than a diet. It’s an outline of where you want to take the business, and what you need to achieve to get there.

    Running a business without a budget is like a ship’s captain setting off on a voyage without a map. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it. Who would do that?

    Yet this is, figuratively speaking, what many business owners do.

    Successful business owners, on the other hand, not only set clear targets and budgets each year, they monitor them closely each month, even each week, and adjust them as they go throughout the year.

    Here are 3 compelling reasons your business needs a budget, now:

    One: If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know you’re not already there?

    If you’re not satisfied with how your business is performing, unless you set clear goals for where you want to take it, it’s probably as good as it is ever going to get. At best, it will just meander along, subject to the whims and vagaries of the economy and general market conditions.

    The good news is that your business doesn’t need to meander along.

    The first step in charting a clear course for growing and developing your business is objectively measuring ‘where it’s at’ right now.

    And the numbers do tell a story.

    For some, they act as a wake up call. For others, they just confirm the journey’s starting point.

    It’s paradoxical that a large part of the value in a business budget is not in the numbers themselves. It’s in the realisation and acceptance of where you are and where you want to be.

    The numbers are just the signposts for the journey.

    A factual look at the numbers that describe where your business is right now takes away all the subjectivity, opinions and ‘reasons’ (often excuses, disguised as reasons).

    This is the naked truth.

    In fact, it is like standing on the scales, naked, looking at yourself in a full length mirror. That may or may not be a pretty sight!

    For your business, these factual numbers are the sales, the variable costs, the margins, the overheads, and, lastly, the profit. After all your work, this is the reward you’re left with.

    Then comes the first of a series of ‘hard questions’…

    • Are you happy with that profit?
    • Is it worth it? Or are you dissatisfied? Then …
    • What do you want those figures to look like?

    Answer those questions, and you’ve just described where you want to be. Congratulations! You have charted your course, which is the first step to ensuring your success.

    Two: What’s more important to treat? Symptoms or causes?

    As you well know, sales don’t just happen. Costs don’t drop just because you want them to. Sales and costs are a result of other underlying factors. Put another way, they are symptoms of causes.

    The business budgeting process quantifies the symptoms, and by asking a series of ‘What leads to this number?’ questions, it also identifies the underlying causes.

    For example, underlying factors contributing to a sales (revenue) figure could include:

    • the number of calls made,
    • the number of customers walking through the door,
    • the percentage of conversions of enquiries or walk-ins to sales, the dollar value of the average transaction, or simply
    • where your marketing is targeted.

    These are all called drivers. The sales figures are simply a result of these drivers. Costs are no different.

    For example, the rent paid may be a result of the storage you need for your stock levels. Wages costs may be blowing out as a result of overtime paid but underlying that may be inefficient staff. Or a lack of clear processes. Or both.

    So in reality what came first was not the sale or the cost, but their underlying drivers. The budgeting process forces you to name and to quantify these underlying drivers.

    That’s one of the most valuable aspects of preparing your budget. Not the budget itself, per se, but identifying your business’ drivers.


    Because then you can focus on improving them.

    That’s what will produce the improved results in your business. No focusing on last quarter’s figures. That’s history.

    It’s more fun to create history. And that is, in essence, what you are doing when you are in your own business. You are captain of your own destiny, and you can steer it in any direction you want.

    Note that word … direction. A key point is to have one.

    You will enjoy how effectively the budgeting and planning process will get you crystal clear on your direction.

    Three: Budgeting is not about accounting. It’s about being accountable.

    Once you are clear on the handful of drivers that creates your business’ results, the next question is…

    What are you going to do about it?

    Your budget won’t just give you a monthly sales target, for example, it will help you quantify the drivers that will produce the result.

    For example, if next month’s sales target is $120,000, that end-result figure is not your focus. Not on a day-to-day basis. Knowing the underlying drivers, your focus will instead become, for example:

    • 25 calls per day (Driver No.1)
    • At 80% conversion rate (Driver No.2), with
    • Each customer buying an average of $300 worth of products (Driver No. 3).

    Now you and your staff have a clear focus and are 100% accountable.

    That’s good for them, and good for you and your business.

    People in a business want a clear scoreboard and a ‘game to play’ so they know whether or not they are winning. Research has found that a lack of measurement in a job is demotivating to a staff member. Patrick Lencioni’s book ‘3 Signs of a Miserable Job’ gives some great examples of this.

    Knowing these drivers, and quantifying a target for each you can then ask questions like:

    • Have the 25 calls been made today?
    • If not, why not? Is the target realistic?
    • Does the team need training?
    • Do they need better telephone equipment or dialing software?
    • Or just more focus?
    • Or guidance on what their task priorities should be?
    • Or a combination of these?
    • Are we being effective and converting 80% of the calls?
    • Again, if not, why not?

    You can then decide to improve skills, or systems, or attitude, or all three!

    As you can see, the power of the budget is in the process of preparing it, and then the budget itself is a tool to hold you accountable to the measurable indicators you’ve chosen.

    An added layer of accountability is… us.

    We work with a number of clients where, on either a monthly or quarterly basis, we act as a sounding board and independent party to ask you the hard questions about the drivers and the results. This focuses your mind, allows you to form a clear Action Plan to improve results, and then increases your chances of success because you know you need to report in to us next time.

    It’s a powerful process that you’ll enjoy due to the focus it creates and, in turn, the results that focus achieves in your business.

    To take more control of your business and its performance, get in touch to make a time to come in and see us. Depending on the size of your business, we might work out that a quarterly process might work best (and be the most feasible, cost-wise), or your business might be at a point where monthly guidance would be ideal.

    Either way, we’ll outline your options and your costs so you know precisely what’s involved.

    We look forward to helping you chart your course, helping to get a clear direction, and then keeping you and your business on course.

    After all, you won’t end up at the ideal destination by drifting.


    Peter O’Rielley


    Changes to super contribution limits: How it will affect you

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    It’s that time again.

    With the 2016 Federal Budget came several shake-ups, in particular the changes to contribution limits. With many other changes announced in the budget now passed by Parliament, you can have more certainty when it comes to planning your Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF). Especially regarding the SMSF contributions you might wish to make to your fund.

    The Government is lowering both the concessional (pre-tax) and non-concessional (after-tax) contribution limits as of 1 July 2017.

    Knowing this—and with tax time fast approaching—it’d be wise to start getting your financial ducks in a row.

    SMSF contribution limits

    One of the original proposed measures which received a lot of comment and caused concern, was the $500,000 lifetime non-concessional contributions (after-tax contributions) limit. This proposed measure was dropped and replaced with a $100,000 annual limit on after-tax contributions.

    Pre-tax contributions will be limited to $25,000 for all taxpayers, beginning on 1 July 2017. Below is a summary of the changes for both concessional and non-concessional SMSF contributions.

    After-tax contributions

    The $500,000 lifetime limit has been dropped in favour of a $100,000 annual cap. The rules allow the opportunity to bring forward three years of contributions – making it possible to contribute $300,000 in one year.

    For the 2016/17 year, it is still possible to make a contribution of up to $180,000 for one year, or to bring forward three years’ contributions – so you are able to make a contribution of up to $540,000. If you do not use this full limit of $180,000 or $540,000 in the 2016/17 year, then you will be limited to the $100,000 annual, and $300,000 bring-forward caps for future years.

    Where the bring-forward of contributions has been triggered before 1 July 2017, transitional contribution caps may apply. If you have a balance of $1.6m or more in your SMSF at 1/7/2017, then you will not be able to make further after-tax contributions.

    When approaching the $1.6m cap, care will need to be taken with the bring-forward rules, as these are restricted by the new $1.6 million balance restriction.

    Pre-tax contributions

    The concessional contributions cap is lowered to $25,000 per year for all taxpayers as of 1 July 2017. Taxpayers who were aged 49 or over on 30 June 2016 can make up to $35,000 in pre-tax contributions in 2016/17. Those aged under 49 on 30 June 2016 can make up to 30,000 in pre-tax contributions in 2016/17.

    Some of these changes may require you to adjust your SMSF contributions strategies going forward. This will most likely be the case if you have a superannuation balance of over or close to $1.6 million, or were planning on making contributions to superannuation in the next few years that exceed these new limits.

    How we can help you with your SMSF contributions

    If you are concerned that the Government’s changes to contributions for superannuation are going to affect you, please feel free to get in touch to arrange a meeting. We’ll discuss your situation in more detail and find a solution that works for you.

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    Updating Fees and Charges for Owner Agreements – Best Practices

    In this ever-changing financial environment, it seems that service charges are forever on the rise – which leads to the age-old question, “How do I inform the owners?”.

    In truth, it’s a little more involved than simply informing the owners. While the question might best be answered by a solicitor, the position of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is that the best practice for advising owners about updated fees calls for the most direct approach.

    That means personal notification—rather than having the news buried in a general issue newsletter—where it might easily go unnoticed.

    How you can notify and renegotiate

    Owners would be required to respond one way or the other (either negatively or positively), a non-response cannot be taken as acceptance. There must be a clear provision for the owner’s signature and a date, so that a manager has proof that the appropriate person was notified and accepted the updated fees for the new owner agreement.

    One possibility is to make an announcement on the monthly statement sent to the owner, advising him or her about the inclusion of a new addendum on the statement, which calls for their immediate attention.

    It should be remembered that under the Property Occupations Act, any units which still operate under the old PAMDA 20a Form, must move to the latest version of Form 6 in cases where changes are made to owner agreements—including increases to owner agreement fees.

    The Office of Fair Trading and its Judiciary

    As you read through the Property Occupations Act (POA) and its regulations, you will occasionally see the term ‘Maximum Penalty’, which may apply to non-compliance or breaches of the Act. Terminology used by the Office of Fair Trading implies that a wide range of actions can potentially be taken when dealing with breaches of the POA, and that the maximum penalty will not necessarily be sought.

    OFT Compliance officers identify three separate categories of offenses: those of carelessness, those of recklessness, and those of dishonesty.

    • ‘Careless’ offenses include administrative oversights which have little or no financial impact, and which have already been rectified.
    • ‘Reckless’ offenses are considered to be more serious, because these do carry a financial impact, and must therefore be corrected at the very earliest opportunity.
    • ‘Dishonest’ offenses are self-explanatory, and must be reported immediately to the OFT, as they require immediate rectification.

    Where to learn more about updating owner agreement fees?

    As part of the continuing education of licensees, the OFT will be conducting informative seminars in locations all along the east coast. These seminars will provide excellent educational opportunities for managers new to the industry, and will also serve as great refresher courses for veterans.

    The OFT provides education on an ongoing basis through its Web-site and YouTube channel.


    Why modern business means cloud-based business


    “The cloud” is a phrase that means something very different these days, due to the increasing use of cloud computing. But what exactly is cloud computing? And is it a good option for small businesses?

    First, a quick definition. Without getting lost in ‘geekspeak’, cloud computing simply means both the software apps you use and your data are stored on remote servers on the Internet, rather than ‘locally’ on your computer’s hard drive or your own server(s).

    That idea—of the data not physically being in the same place as you—used to sound scary to many. What about security? What about the risk of losing your data? Surely it’s best to have your data on a computer you can see and touch on your own premises?

    Well, that’s out-dated thinking these days.

    Counter-intuitively, your data is likely to be more secure when stored in a cloud app, compared with storing it yourself on your own computer or server on your premises.

    Why is that?


    Your own IT security is likely to be far less robust than that of a cloud app provider. If you access the Internet and use email, then you’re vulnerable even if you don’t use any cloud-based apps. Hackers can access the data on your computer or local network simply due to the fact that you have Internet access. It’s like a door. And they often know how to pick the lock.

    Reputable cloud app providers, on the other hand, use solid security measures such as SSL certificates that support—sorry, some geekspeak coming up—256-bit SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption. This is the same level of encryption used by online banks.

    Let’s face it: This bank-grade security protocol is likely to be far more secure than your own computer and IT security protocols.


    Another advantage of having your apps and data stored “in the cloud” is that if your computer, server, smartphone, tablet or other device you use is lost or stolen, your data is safe because it’s not on the device. It’s in the cloud, stored securely behind encrypted passwords.

    And your data is far more valuable than hardware. Hardware is easily replaced. Data is not.


    This same “you can relax because your data is in the cloud” factor also applies to disasters such as flood and fire. A business using cloud-based computing could have its premises burn to the ground overnight and continue “business as usual” from another location as long as they had access to the Internet. (At least from a customer, financial, accounting, human resources/personnel and other business data perspective. Clearly it does not apply to physical operational aspects of a business.)


    Computer hard drives are like car engines. It’s not a question of if they will ever break down, but rather when they will break down. That’s why we all diligently do daily data backups, right? And we all take these backups off-site each day, don’t we? And we all do weekly tests where we restore the backups to ensure the backups are working as intended?

    No? Really? That’s bad. Shame on you.

    And yet it’s precisely what most small businesses fail to do.

    That’s another great aspect of cloud computing. No more data backups to do. The cloud app providers back up your data automatically and they simultaneously store your data in multiple locations around the globe. This means that if one of their buildings was subject to, for example, a catastrophic earthquake, your data would be safe because it is also stored in different cities, on different continents.

    But even if technology got to a point where computer hard drives never failed, there’s one thing they always do, eventually: fill up. They run out of space.

    And that’s a major inconvenience with the old-school approach of storing data locally rather than in the cloud: You have to (or you have to pay IT providers to) move data across to new hard drives or servers, and reinstall the various apps and databases. It’s an expense and a disruption.

    With cloud computing you can kiss that inconvenience goodbye.


    For many small businesses, when they fully adopt cloud computing they can reach the “no IT person required” stage. By that, we mean you won’t need an IT contractor to come on site to upgrade servers, maintain databases, fix software conflicts and so on, all of which is the norm when running old-school desktop apps and local servers.

    Why is that?

    With cloud-based apps there is no software to install. No software updates or “patches” to install. You just log in to each app and it’s always up to date. Nice.

    The one exception

    There is one exception here of course. If your business is in a region where you do not have reasonable Internet speed (e.g. 5 Mbps or more) with reliable connections, then cloud computing is not for you. Not yet.

    Technology continues to evolve in this area, and it won’t be long until every business on the planet has Internet speeds that support cloud computing.

    Here’s where cloud computing gets exciting…

    While the security, risk and convenience aspects of cloud computing are worthwhile, they are not the most exciting and compelling benefits of cloud computing to a business owner.

    Let’s look at some of the “wow” aspects of cloud computing.

    Efficiency via Data Flows

    Every business wants to be more efficient. It saves money. Saves time. And it allows you to provide even better service.

    By adopting cloud computing and building an “app ecosystem” for your business you can eliminate a number of inefficiencies where data is being manually re-entered into multiple systems.

    Your data can seamlessly flow from one app (area of your business) to the next without the added step of manual data entry. Manual data entry is not only an expense and an inefficiency that slows down your business processes, it introduces the opportunity for error.

    Work to eliminate all manual data entry in your business. If you see anyone in your business manually entering data into an app, you should question why it’s being done. Look for ways that data could automatically flow into that system from another app where the data is already stored.

    App Ecosystem Example

    Imagine your business has fully embraced “the cloud”, and has connected various apps so data flows automatically from one app to the next.

    Let’s say someone then searches Google for your type of business, product or service. They find your website. They see something on your site they would like to access, such as a PDF document with helpful information in it. They enter their email address and perhaps their first name in order to receive it.

    They are now in your business’ marketing database and Contact Relationship Management (CRM) system. And they did the data entry.

    Over the following few weeks this prospective customer or client receives email updates and e-newsletters from your business that gradually educate and build trust with the prospect simply by being helpful and sharing relevant hints and tips  based on what they previously downloaded.

    And this happens automatically thanks to your marketing automation app such as Infusionsoft.

    The prospective customer then clicks on a link in an email and comes back to your business’ website. They’re ready to talk to someone, so they enter their information into the Contact Us web form. This time they enter their last name and their telephone number.

    This data also flows straight into your business’ CRM.

    Next, you’re speaking with them on the telephone and they like what they hear. They request a quote or proposal. You use a cloud-based proposal creation app (such as Proposify) that integrates with your CRM to automatically pull in the prospect’s information. You click a few boxes on screen to select the product and service options to include in the proposal.

    You click a button and the proposal goes to your prospect via email.

    They open the email, click on the link to the electronic proposal and view it online. They decide to go ahead so they click Accept, sign it digitally (on screen) and then enter their credit card details to purchase.

    This automatically adds them as a customer to your cloud-based accounting app such as Xero It also enters their credit card details into your secure eCommerce payment processing platform linked to your marketing automation app. And then your payment processor (e.g. eWAY) processes the credit card transaction.

    Xero automatically emails them an invoice marked as Paid, and the live bank feed will bring in the transaction ready to be reconciled (matched) to the invoice within 24 hours. So your bookkeeping and accounting is up to date, and yet no-one in your business had to enter—let alone re-enter—any data.

    You have a new customer, the money is in your bank account, and you’re ready to deliver.

    The purchase also triggered a fulfilment list and email instructions to your relevant team members, and added the job to your workflow (job tracking) system.

    Your business is amazingly efficient. You move with velocity thanks to data flows. You amaze your prospects and customers with your service, and impress them with your tech savvy. You’re saving tens of thousands of dollars a year on old school IT and administration approaches that would require a additional staff and contractors.

    You’re a modern, cloud-based business. And you’re loving it.

    Where to start with ‘going to the cloud’

    The process of going to the cloud starts with deciding on your cloud-based accounting and CRM systems. That’s because your financial and customer data are crucial, and will receive and send data to and from your other operational areas.

    Your ideal accounting system and CRM platform will depend on your type of business and the apps you already use. Building your business’ app ecosystem is one of the most important areas for any business owner or entrepreneur to focus on.

    That’s why we love advising businesses as they move to the cloud.

    If you’d like to sit down with us and have a chat about your move to the cloud, get in touch to make a time.

    Going to the cloud is no longer an option for a modern, competitive business.

    Cash Machine: 7 Reasons to Stop Treating Your Business as an Automated Teller Machine

    Think back to the days before you started your business, when you were working for a boss. Chances are you were rewarded for your hard work with a regular salary. It may not have always been the same amount, but it came through like clockwork. And for the next week, month or however often you got paid, you’d do your best to make it last.

    But now you are the boss, and so you don’t need to be restricted to a set salary, do you? You can simply draw money out of the business whenever you need it, right?


    7 good reasons to pay yourself a regular salary

    As a business owner, here are seven reasons why you should pay yourself a regular salary instead of treating your business like an automated teller machine.

    1. It’s what you’re used to.

    When you first started working for someone else, you couldn’t ask the boss for more money whenever you ran out. All you could do was hold out until the next time you got paid. And having a regular income also made it easier to budget for your income and expenses, manage your money, and save up for a mortgage or investment.

    So why change now?

    1. Much of the money in the business’ bank account is already spoken for

    It’s easy to think all the money sitting in your business’ bank account is yours. After all, it’s your business, isn’t it?

    But that money actually belongs to the business—not you personally—and is needed to cover things such as:

    • Salaries and wages
    • Paying contractors and suppliers
    • Stock purchases
    • Equipment
    • Rent and utilities
    • Future tax payments

    It doesn’t matter how profitable your business is. If the money isn’t there to pay the bills when they’re due, your business is as risk of becoming insolvent (i.e. you have more commitments and bills to pay than cash or available funding to pay them with).

    Having sufficient cash flow is vital for any business. And it’s far easier to manage cash flow when you have predictable expenses you can plan around—including your salary.

    1. You need money to grow your business

    A growing business is a cash-hungry business. As it grows you may need to move it to a larger premises or invest in new staff or technology to grow your capacity. Even if you can keep a lid on your fixed expenses, your business may require an increase in variable inputs such as materials.

    And all this ties up cash.

    So whatever your growth plans, you’ll need enough money in reserve to fund them. And that’s on top of the money you need to keep the business running at its current level.

    As you can see, knowing exactly what cash is flowing in and out of your business, and saving as much of your profits as you can to build up your cash reserves, is important for a growing business.

    But if you keep ‘raiding the till’ whenever you’re short of cash, you’ll never know how much cash you have in reserve, or when you have enough funds to initiate the next stage in your growth plans.

    1. You won’t be risking ‘lifestyle creep’

    The lifestyle we lead is largely dictated by the amount of money we have readily available. So if your business does particularly well one week and the bank balance is up, you might be tempted to draw a little extra money and spend it on dinner at a fancy restaurant, a weekend away, a new ‘toy’ or some other indulgence.

    It’s okay to spend money in these ways if it’s a bonus for achieving a certain result or milestone in your business. But these bonuses should still be within the planned and documented salary and remuneration package the business pays you.

    If you’re not disciplined in this area, it doesn’t take long for these indulgences to become part of what you consider a ‘normal’ part of your lifestyle, and so you start drawing extra cash on a regular basis.

    And that’s not good for the health of your business.

    By living off a regular salary (and nothing more) instead, you’ll learn to live happily within your means, which is a key to building wealth.

    1. You’re more likely to fly under the taxman’s radar

    Governments’ tax departments are used to people being paid a regular salary. It’s generally how things work. And by giving yourself a regular salary, you’ll be seen as just another salary earner and be more likely to fly under the radar.

    If, on the other hand, you start drawing large amounts from your business at irregular intervals, you may raise a few eyebrows with the governments’ tax auditors. And that’s never a good thing.

    1. You could be creating a tax liability for your business

    When wage and salary earners are paid, the employer must withhold and set aside a portion of their pay as tax, which is periodically paid to the government on the employees’ behalf.

    When you withdraw money from your business, it’s not ‘free money’ (i.e. tax-free). These amounts need to be properly accounted for as:

    • wages/salaries
    • drawings or a loan from the business
    • dividends (a portion of your profit) depending on your business structure.

    Your actions here could be building up a potential debt that will need to be paid at some point. And that debt could lead to severe cash flow problems down the track, especially when it comes time to sell the business.

    You’re much better off accounting for, setting aside and paying taxes as they fall due. It will not only help your business, but also the quality of your sleep.

    1. You’ll more easily qualify for mortgages and other loans from the banks

    When it comes to assessing a person’s ability to service a potential loan, banks much prefer consistently earning wage and salary earners to sporadically earning self-employed business owners.

    The bank wants to know you can comfortably service the loan each month, and by paying yourself a regular salary you’ll have the payslips and bank statements to show a steady cash flow history.

    So the sooner you set this up in your business, the better.

    A successful business is a great way to create creation and accumulate wealth. But don’t disadvantage yourself by presenting a poor case to the banks when applying for a mortgage or other type of loan.

    How much should you pay yourself?

    As you can see, there are many good reasons to pay yourself a regular salary instead of continually raiding the till. The question is, how much should you pay yourself?

    That’s a question we can help you answer.

    Obviously you need to pay yourself enough money to cover your basic living and lifestyle requirements. The last thing you want is to be stressing about your personal finances, especially when you’re trying to make business decisions.

    But it’s not a good idea to pay yourself too much in salary—even if the business can easily afford the cash flow. Depending on your business structure, there are probably more tax-effective ways to receive income from your business, such as dividends.

    Every business and person’s situation is different in this regard, so it’s important to get one-on-one advice in this area. Don’t view this article as personal advice to you—it’s not. We’re simply opening your eyes to the many benefits of paying yourself a consistent salary as a business owner.

    To work out the right amount to pay yourself regularly, you’ll need to consider things such as:

    • What your business’ cash flow can comfortably pay you on a regular basis
    • What you feel you’re worth (e.g. if you were employed by someone else)
    • What will let you achieve your personal and family wealth creation goals, such as paying off your mortgage and building your investment portfolio
    • Tax considerations so you pay yourself the optimum amount to meet your needs without needlessly paying too much personal income tax
    • The business’ projected profitability for the financial year. (Your shareholding percentage and dividend policy on withdrawing profits or retaining and reinvesting profits in the business will determine your projected profit dividend.)

    As you can see, it makes sense to get professional advice on calculating your salary as a business owner. We’ll help you work it out by taking into account your current business and personal situation. We’ll also set up payroll systems to automatically create and distribute the necessary tax-related paperwork each pay period.

    You enjoy being your own boss.

    Now it’s time to also enjoy being your own employee.

    Business Owners: How to Eliminate the Administrivia of Saving and Filing Receipts


    They say only two things are certain in life: death and taxes. For a lot of people, there’s also a third certainty in life: the pain of keeping track of every receipt when it’s time to do the taxes.

    How many times has your bookkeeper asked you for a receipt (that you swore you stuffed somewhere in the wad of receipts in your wallet) that you’ve then had to scramble and search everywhere to find?

    You think to yourself: “I’ve got better things to do than this,” and you’re right. It’s a waste of your precious time that you could otherwise be investing in the growth of your business or maybe even going on a shopping spree and filling your wallet with a fresh wad of receipts!

    Thankfully there are now some pretty cool apps out there that can take the pain out of tracking your receipts. Read on to see a list of the top four apps below.

    Traditional bookkeeping is dead. Live bank feeds killed it.

    Keeping on top of the books is hard. But what’s even harder is making good business decisions without real-time and accurate financials. If you want real-time financials, you need a real-time (cloud-based) accounting package like Xero,  or MYOB Online.

    The hallmark of cloud accounting is the live ‘bank feed’ functionality, where your bank transactions are automatically imported daily, which eliminates the majority of the tedious data entry associated with traditional bookkeeping.

    This not only saves time and labour cost, it also allows you to have accurate numbers on your business – especially when you get into the habit of matching your bank transactions to your bills and invoices on a regular basis and asking us for support when you need it.

    Automatic vs Automagic

    We need to be realistic about the efficiency gains of using the cloud. Although your bank transactions are automatically imported into Xero, for example, your financial data can still be inaccurate because of two reasons:

    1. Not matched: Errors in matching your bank transactions correctly to bills, invoices etc. The other thing to make sure of is the applicability of tax/GST. Making a systematic error with your account and/or tax/GST coding can quickly throw your financials out of whack. Not sure if money you’ve invested should be revenue or a loan? What about tax, is that an expense or a liability? Learning the basics goes a long way. Take the time to watch self-help videos online or ask your accountant for help if you’re unsure.
    2. Not documented: Not having the supporting documentation for your expenses – by law you are required to keep proper written evidence for business expenses that are deducted from your taxable profit. This will save you from getting pushed around by the tax man if you’re ever randomly selected for an audit.

    Ideally, you want your scanned receipts to ‘live’ in your accounting software so all your information is in one place. But isn’t it incredibly time-consuming to scan each individual receipt and then attach it to the respective transaction?

    Thankfully not.

    Receipt-keeping add-on apps such as Receipt Bank or Shoeboxed can help by ‘automagically’ pushing your receipts from their software into Xero.

    Bookkeeping on cruise control

    If you’ve ever been on a long road trip, you know how helpful it is to switch on cruise control so you can worry less about maintaining the right speed and focus more on steering. Using a receipt-keeping app is the cruise control of your accounting toolbox!

    The core benefit of using a receipt-keeping app (there will be slight differences in your workflow depending on which add-on you choose) is that you’re able to ditch the scanner and forget about manually dragging and dropping your receipts in your accounting software.

    The top two reasons for using a receipt-keeping add-on are:

    1. Your receipts are read by an intelligent machine (and often double-checked by a human) and the information is recognised via optical character recognition (OCR). This means you have to enter a lot less of the data in your receipts (i.e. date, amount, tax etc.)
    2. The receipt-keeping add-on is able to learn ‘rules of thumb’ for allocating your expenses to their corresponding expenses categories. For example, you can teach the app to allocate every digital receipt for Google to your computer expenses account category.

    Here a four popular apps for you to consider integrating with your accounting software:

    • Shoeboxed: Their name is inspired by the good ‘ol days when you would cram your mountain of receipts in a shoe box and hand it over to your accountant to worry about (and probably delegate the data entry to the junior). Instead, you send your receipts via Shoeboxed’s ‘magic envelope’ and they process and verify all your receipts and get them ready for you to push to your accounting software. You also have the added option of using the smartphone app to take a snap of your paper receipts or email your receipts to your Shoeboxed digital inbox.
    • Receipt Bank: This is a user-friendly alternative that has the same functionality as Shoeboxed (except there is an extra charge if you decide to use the postal option). Another handy option is using the Dropbox integration that automatically synchronises with Receipt Bank which means you retain ownership of your data if you ever decide to stop using the service.
    • Entryless: A ‘no-frills’ low cost alternative to Receipt Bank and Shoeboxed that allows you to email your receipts to your digital receipts inbox.
    • Expensify: This app will help you keep track of your receipts, but it’s geared towards viewing and approving your employees’ submitted expense claims. Expensify also allows you to track billable time.

    If you’re falling asleep behind the bookkeeping wheel because of boring manual data entry, it’s time we had a chat about how paperless receipt-keeping solution can shift you into cruise control.

    Get in touch to make a time for us to have a chat about your receipt handling systems. If we do it over a coffee, it’ll be our shout. (And we’ll scan the receipt!)

    How to Win in the Game of Business: Lead vs Lag Indicators


    The principles behind winning in business and winning in sport are similar in many ways.

    Take tennis, for example. If you’ve ever watched a match on television, you’ll know that along with all the hitting, running and grunting there are a lot of numbers involved.

    And we’re not just talking about the score here. Each player’s performance can be measured in other ways—percentage of first serves in, points won at the net, number of unforced errors on forehand versus backhand, and so on.

    But while the statisticians may love all those details, everyone else is just interested in the score, right?

    You might not be interested. But the players certainly are.

    Admittedly they may not know the percentages down to the decimal place. But they’ll know if they’re making too many mistakes at the net or wasting their first serves. And they’ll change their game accordingly—by staying at the baseline or slowing down their first serves a bit—to fix the problem.

    Yes, the score is important. After all, the players obviously want to win. But the only way the players can actually change their winning percentage is to change how they play.

    And it’s the same when you’re a business owner. You business may actually have several scores—number of sales, profit made, etc. But while they’re a great way to keep track of how your business is doing, you can’t do much about them once they’re available.

    They are—quite literally—history.

    They’re what we call “lag indicators” (or sometimes “results KPIs”). And apart from putting them in your reports and sharing them with your stakeholders, there’s not much else you can do with them. They’re done.

    What you should be more interested in are the things you can change. These are what we call “lead indicators” (or sometimes “activity KPIs”), and can lead to improved results for your lag indicators (your score).

    For example, if you want to increase the number of sales your business makes, you might want to measure things such as:

    • Your website traffic
    • Your website’s conversion of visitors to buyers or email opt-ins
    • The size of your marketing database of contacts
    • Email campaign open rates and click-through rates
    • How many sales telephone calls you make each week
    • How many sales meetings you have each week
    • Your conversion rate of enquiries to quotes/proposals or sales (depending on your business model)

    And for profits, you might want to measure:

    • How much it costs you in materials to produce each unit (or service)
    • How much time and labour cost it takes to produce each unit (or service)
    • How many units are being returned by the customer, and so on.

    Once you know what your lead indicators are, you can tweak them to see how much they affect your lag indicators.

    For example… Improve your site’s SEO to improve website traffic. Increase the number of sales calls you make each month. Give your existing customers an incentive to tell their friends about your business. Look for efficiencies in your production line so you can produce your items more quickly.

    The beauty of focusing on your lead indicators is that when you improve them, then your lag indicators—the scoreboard—will improve as a natural flow-on effect.

    And lead indicators are things you can control this month. This week. Today. With measurement of your performance in these areas you can refine your activities and feel a greater sense of control in ‘improving the scoreboard’.

    Lead and lag indicators are both vital measures of how your business is doing. But by looking after the lead indicators you’ll be keeping your eye on the ball when it really matters, rather than looking at the scoreboard of what has already happened.

    Ask yourself, what lead indicators are you focusing on improving this month? How are you looking at that data? Do you have real-time dashboards and weekly or even daily reports on these lead indicators?

    If not, we should talk. We can set up lead indicator tracking for you which is the surest way we know to improve your business’ scoreboard.

    Preparing your Management Rights for Sale


    Preparing your Management Rights for Sale

    This week the RAAS group held a conference in order to educate all those interested in preparing their business for sale.  A range of speakers from different specialties, [Accounting, Legal & Banking], were invited to speak to the group at the Maroochydore Surf Club.  Peter O’Rielley from our firm was invited to provide that specialist advice.  From all reports the conference was well attended and participants took the opportunity to educate themselves on some of the issues that need to be considered when preparing for sale.  If you were unable to make the conference but would like to hear more about how McAdam Siemon can assist in this area, then please give Peter a call.

    Updated Form  6 from 1 August 2016



    Updated Form  6 from 1 August 2016
    Version Number will change to Form 5

    The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has released another version of the Owners Agreements [Form 6] commencing 1 August and replaces the previous version.

    The previous version lasted only 1 month, so please take note, it will be superseded when issuing new owner agreements from 1 August.

    All previous PAMDA 20A’s and Form 6’s that have been issued prior to this date of course remain in effect and can continue to be relied upon.

    Therefore, any new agreement you enter with new owners, the Form 6 that you are required to complete from 1 August 2016, must be on the latest “Form 6 V5 1 August 2016” in order to be valid.

    Click here to access this form

    Ransomware Alert

    Ransomeware Alert

    Earlier this month, we were alerted by our IT guy regarding a computer virus raring its’ ugly head again.  This virus comes in an email format and has an attachment that if opened is a virus with ransomware.  This is where the virus locks your entire system and you have to pay a Ransom for it to be unlocked. He has advised that in most cases these viruses can cause huge amounts of damage and down time for our business.

    We suggest that you check with your IT Provider that they have implemented policies to lock down systems and also implemented multi – layer protection and ensure good backups.

    Employer Alert


    Empolyer Alert 

    The end of the financial year is only days away

    Employer Alert

    As an employer you need to:

    1. Provide PAYG Payment Summaries to your employees by the 14th July 2016.
    2. Please ensure you send the ATO, your PAYG withholding payment summary annual report by the 14th August 2016.
    1. Use the latest tax rates to calculate employee withholding tax from 1st July 2016. While there have been no changes to tax rates for 2016/17, to check the latest rates, go to ato.gov.au/taxtables
    1. Ensure your accounting software payroll rates are updated from the 1st July 2016 and the file is ready for the first pay run of the 2017 year.
    1. All employee Superannuation Guarantee Charges have been met for the 2015/16 financial year. Please note the June Quarter SGC is due by the 28th July 2016.


    If you have any questions on your EOFY obligations to the ATO, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Pushing too hard with deductions!

    In 2014, a Sydney man had to pay a hefty penalty after the ATO discovered he was falsely claiming thousands of dollars on work related expenses.

    McAdam Siemon Business Accountants Upper Mt Gravatt, Noosa Heads & Maroochydore. Specialising in Accounting, Taxation, Management Rights, SMSF Administration, Business Advisory, Business Valuations , Management Rights specialist accountants, If you push too hard the tax man will get you.

    If you push too hard with deductions the taxman will get you.

    This guy worked as a salesperson and under the conditions of his employment he was able to work from home. He was advised by a Registered Tax Agent.

    The dispute arose out of an audit of his tax affairs triggered by his 2010 tax return in which he declared a taxable income of $21,377, and claimed deductible items to the value of $97,162.

    The ATO disallowed various tax deductions for the 2011 and 2012 financial years.

    The tax office also imposed a penalty on the basis that he or his agent had “failed to take reasonable care or comply with tax law when claiming work related expenses”.

    The sales person disputed this and took the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

    Here are examples of some of the expenses he tried to claim deductions for:

    • Thousands of dollars for secretarial services completed by his son. (His son was around 7-years-old at the time)
    • Thousands of dollars of groceries as work related expenses (The groceries included cheese in a can and 39 packets of Monte Carlo biscuits.
    • Clothing, rubber soled shoes, dry cleaning, sunglasses, broad rimmed hat and sunscreen (just to name a few!)
    • Home office expenses
    • Other work related expenses

    To read the full rulings click on the link below.

    To find out more, please contact us

    So, what are the deductions you can claim?

    (Source: ATO, 14 March, 2016)

    When completing your tax return, you’re entitled to claim deductions for some expenses, most of which are directly related to earning your income.

    To claim a work-related deduction:

    • you must have spent the money yourself and weren’t reimbursed
    • it must be related to your job
    • you must have a record to prove it (there are some limited exceptions)

    If the expense was for both work and private purposes, you can only claim a deduction for the work-related portion.

    Follow the links below for specific deductions you can claim:

    The staff at McAdam Siemon will get your deductions right because we have the checks and balances in place.



    GST Ruling on Reimbursements


    McAdam Siemon Business Accountants Upper Mt Gravatt, Noosa Heads & Maroochydore. Specialising in Accounting, Taxation, Management Rights, SMSF Administration, Business Advisory, Business Valuations , Management Rights specialist accountants.


    GST Ruling on Reimbursements

    A decision has recently been handed down by the Administrative Appeals tribunal (AAT) regarding the claiming of tax credits where a property manager was acting on behalf of a property owner.
    The agent in the case had been claiming GST credits on expenses they had paid on behalf of the property owner that were related to the maintenance and care of the owner’s property.

    The AAT has stated as there is an agency relationship’ between the real estate manager and the owner of the property, any expenses paid to 3rd parties on behalf of the owner of the property could not be claimed as credit on the activity statement (BAS).
    These GST credits (GST on purchases) were not allowed to be claimed for these transactions by the agent. The owner would be allowed to claim the GST credit – if the owner of the property was registered for GST. If they are not – the GST credit is lost, and increases the expense claimed on the tax return.

    By way of example – the manager of a resort hires a contactor to make repairs to a unit of $1100.00 inclusive $100 GST. This $100 is not allowed to be claimed by the manager of the resort on their BAS. This is to be put into trust accounting software as a GST free purchase. Correspondingly, any reimbursement made to the manager by the owner of the unit must be treated as GST free sale.
    By treating this transaction as a GST free purchase in the trust accounting software, it will be then entered into the Managers MYOB/Xero program without GST, insuring that there is no GST being claimed when the BAS is being prepared!

    If you would like to discuss your current treatment of reimbursable expenses please don’t hesitate to contact our office for assistance.

    Book keeping service

    McAdam Siemon Business Accountants Upper Mt Gravatt, Noosa Heads & Maroochydore. Specialising in Accounting, Taxation, Management Rights, SMSF Administration, Business Advisory, Business Valuations and more, MS Bookkeeping Solutions, V

    As the digital world continues to change at a seriously fast pace we recognised the need to establish a book keeping service for our clients to ensure that they are using the correct accounting package effectively and efficiently for their business to save time and money. 

    The book keeping service is charged at book keeping rates and everything is fix price upfront  (we don’t use timesheets) 

    The services we offer you are: 

    1. Establish and set up accounting package
    2. Training
    3. Ongoing book keeping services from monthly reconciliations to full service (payroll, debtors, creditors reconciliations)

    Our experience to date is that clients have either been able to take back the book keeping service, saving them thousands of dollars, to reducing staff due to increased efficiencies. 

    Samantha O’Rielley heads our book keeping division and is a qualified accountant. 

    She is an accredited Xero accountant with many years’ experience having run her own bookkeeping business.   

    Please feel free to contact her to discuss your bookkeeping needs.

    Phone: 07 5474 8955

    February 2016 Testimonial

    ” Having been a small business owner for over 10 years the time and cost of doing BAS every quarter was considerable. Xero has been a great introduction to our business not just in reducing time and cost but the reporting available really helps us manage our cash flow and the support and training from McAdam Siemon and especially Sam O’Rielly has been fantastic “

    “Brant Dillon”

    Random ATO Audits 2016



    Random ATO Audits  2016

    The ATO has decided not to reduce their random audits in 2016. They have now confirmed that random audits will recommence.
    The compliance program will be physically audited, targeting 600 individuals and small businesses and focusing on underreporting and tax evasion.

    There is good news for some though.

    The ATO has contacted 500,000 taxpayers advising that their tax returns will not be subject to further review. This ATO project is aimed at taxpayers with straight – forward affairs and a taxable income of less than $180,000.
    The ‘certainty letter’ is an assurance that the ATO will not review the return unless they find evidence of deliberate avoidance or fraud.

    What is a ‘certainty letter’?

    This year the ATO is sending letters to some taxpayers as part of a trial to confirm their 2014-15 tax return is finalised.

    Record Keeping for Tax Purposes




    Frequently our clients ask us these questions with regards to record keeping for tax purposes.

    • How long should I keep my records
    • Is it acceptable to keep my records in an electronic format, or are paper copies sufficient?
    • Why should you keep records?
    • How do I know what records I should keep?

    How long are you required to keep your records? 

    Generally speaking, all of your evidence must be kept for five years from the date you lodge your tax return:
    i.e. If you lodge your 2015 tax return on 1 December 2015 any records associated with that return (generally) can be destroyed on 2 December 2020.

    ·      If you acquire or dispose of an asset (e.g. shares or a rental property, dividend reinvestment statements) – 5 years after it is certain that no capital gains tax event can happen.
    ·      If you are in a dispute with the ATO – 5 years from the date you lodged your tax return and the dispute is finalised.

    The Australian tax system relies on taxpayers self-assessing, so what do you need to keep?

    As far as the ATO is concerned, you can store your documents in either format. Remember though…

    •  If you keep paper copies they must be a true and clear reproduction of the original.
    • If you keep your records electronically, we strongly recommend that you keep backup copies – what if your hard drive is corrupted?

    Why should you keep records?

    • To provide written evidence of your income and expenses.
    • To help you or your tax agent prepare your tax return.
    • To ensure that you are able to claim all your entitlements.
    • In case the ATO asks you to prove the information you provided in your tax return.

    What records should you keep? 

    • Any payments you have received.

    •  Any expenses related to payments you have received.
    • When you have acquired or disposed of an asset (shares or rental property)

    • Any tax deductible gifts, donations and contributions.

    You may also need to keep records in some other categories, or for other members of your family – for example, if you receive the family tax benefit.

    You may decide not to keep particular records – for example, because you expect to claim for only a small amount of business travel. If it turns out that you travel more than you expected during the year, you may be limited to a smaller claim than if you had kept more records.

    If you are unsure about whether to keep or destroy a record please do not hesitate to give one of the team at McAdam Siemon a call.

    Kind regards

    Rob McAdam, McAdam Siemon Accountants

    Rob McAdam


    5 Essential Elements of Business Success

    What succeeds in Business land?


    Recently I joined a interested group involved in franchising for drinks, nibbles and networking event hosted by Peter McLaughlin, (Director of redchip Lawyers); on behalf of FAN.

    We heard from Peter McLaughlin & Peter Knight, Founder of the Franchise Accountants Network and his business partner Katie Groom. They spoke about the 5 Essential Elements of Business Success

    It was an enjoyable and informative couple of hours we all had, hosted in redchips’ sensational architecturally designed premise.


    What were the 5 Essential Elements of Business Success that were talked about?


    1. Adaptability

    “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”

    Charles Darwin

    One of the franchisors in the room had recognised “That if you fail for adapt, your business will pay the price”.

    • Does the bore of social media come to mind?
    • Have you investigated the use of cloud based accounting software. We have a number of case studies that show significant cost savings and real time financial data.
    • Do you keep a watch on the economy?
    • Is your business up to date with technology?

    2. Planning

    Think about this: “Doing things right vs Doing the right thing”

    When it comes to business is there a difference in doing the right thing and doing things right? You need to do the right thing in your business as a business owner for it to flourish and grow.

    • Where is your business heading? Your likes vs dislikes.
    • How do I get to where I want my business to be?

    Essentially you need a Business Plan.

    Rather than try and plan out for the next 12 months break your plan down into 4 x 90 days per year (less than 100 if you hate large numbers). Your BAS is due every 3 months, so this is a great time for a review.

    FAN publish weekly business tips which will help you: http://franchiseaccountants.net.au/

    3.Business & Financial Disciplines

    Regular weekly meetings are a must. Which day works for you?

    These meetings get the team focused on achieving the goals for the week and dealing with any issues.

    It is also recommended that a monthly meeting looking at the 3 key elements of your business:

    • Sales & marketing
    • Operations & productivity
    • Business & financials

    4. People Development

    How are you developing your team (staff & associate staff) to make them more productive?

    Why bother with staff training when it can be expensive and they might leave? Because your staff are your primary customers. Creating a great culture in your business will be very rewarding.

    Training is a must because it:

    • improves loyalty –  staff need to feel valued
    • builds productivity –  insufficient staff training can increase how much value you are getting from your staff which can increase your costs.
    • helps attract new employees – have you thought about a staff succession plan?

    The suggestion on the night was once or twice a year take some time to assess your “people development” Is the culture/vision of your business on track?

    5. Sales

    While number 5 this is the most important one.

    Without sales everything else is meaningless.

    Your business should constantly be in sales mode.

    The whole perspective of your business should be being proud of the services you provide to your customers – that special moment between you and your customers.

    This is the special moment that will influence whether your client or potential clients will decide to do business with you!

    Whilst we practice the 5 Essential Elements across the range of our businesses…..

    It was a great reminder on how important these elements are.

    If you have hit a stumbling block in any of these areas or would just like to touch base, please give me a call:

    07 3421 3421

    Rob McAdam


    There has been a lot of discussion about China lately


    There has been a lot of discussion about China lately .

    Courtesy of The Knowledge Shop
    Free Trade Agreements, financial stability and growth and the impact on the Australian economy, and Chinese investment in Australia.  With the help of our international contacts, we explore the impact of China on Australia and give some context to the debate.
    According to Austrade, one in every three Australian export dollars earned is from sales of goods and services to China.  On top of that, 80 per cent of the value of Australia’s export growth in 2013-14 was from trade with China.  It’s not surprising then that we have a fixation with the welfare and continued consumption of Australian goods and services by China and China’s rising influence on the Australian economy.

    Chinese growth – an insider’s view
    China’s economic growth has been spectacular: until recently growing at around 10 per cent per annum from a low economic base to arguably the leading global economy.  While construction and infrastructure projects were the primary drivers of growth, the opening of the Chinese economy to foreign investment in the late 1970s saw it become the ‘factory of the world.’  The fuel to drive this growth was a massive growth in Chinese consumption of resources – steel, iron ore, copper – you name it China needed it.  You can see this consumption growth reflected in Australia’s export statistics.
    With an increase in wealth came an increase in consumerism with a growing middle class.  And, with a growing middle class came a property boom with many Chinese able to afford better housing.
    Demand for housing escalated and development after development was launched, many snapped up within hours of launching.
    The cost of this success was a rapid increase in the cost of living, high property prices fuelled by speculators, and corruption.
    With the global financial crisis, demand for China’s goods started to decline creating excess capacity, factory and company closures, and staff lay-offs.  Banks were then asked to reduce their loan exposure and Government projects scaled back.  Starved of funds some companies sought funding from underground banks – shadow funding – paying extreme rates of interest that further aggravated the slow down and excess capacity.

    Looking forward
    The People’s Bank of China recently reported that it expects economic growth to be 6 – 7 per cent over the next three to five years – although businesses on the ground will tell you it’s lower than this at about 5.8 per cent.  Interest rates were cut for the sixth time in 12 months in late October to try and hit growth targets.

    How to use the EOFY to strengthen your business

    EOFYs blackboard

    How to use the EOFY to strengthen your business

    Many small business owners fall into the trap of managing business operations in a routine way without looking at their “side mirrors” or “blind spots” where new opportunities might come into view. However, with the End of Financial Year just around the corner, it’s crucial small business owners use this time to take stock and analyse the business to try and find small opportunities or improvements that could be made, and make a strong plan for the year ahead.

    It can be hard enough to run a small business at the smoothest of times, but the additional administration burden at EOFY can make the lead up to 30 June an extra busy and stressful time of year for many owner-operators. However, in order to keep your business goals in check, it pays to be aware of the strategies and opportunities that will improve your business and maximize growth over the next 12 months.

    Here are six ways that SMEs can use the EOFY to strengthen their business.

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