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How to make your marketing emails stand out

Email marketing is becoming an increasingly popular way for businesses to reach their customers. However, this means it’s likely that customers are also getting marketing emails from a range of other companies – it’s therefore crucial that your emails are designed to stand out.

Promise value in the subject line

The subject line of your email is often what determines whether a customer will click on the email or ignore it. Don’t just summarise the content of the email, but focus on an aspect that will be valuable or attention-grabbing for the customer. This could mean that the subject line offers a benefit to the reader, offers to solve a problem, or provides relevant information. Promising the reader that the email content contains something of value will increase the chances of them opening it, and delivering the promise of value in the email contents will motivate them to also open your next emails.

Focus on design

Aside from looking pretty, having a well-designed email can also make your content easier to read, get your message across, and encourage actionability. Modern email designs are generally simple with easy to read fonts. Having a consistent colour scheme that reflects the branding of your business can create a cohesive and neat design while promoting brand recognition. It’s also important to make it easy for the reader to contact you or visit your website.

Using images as links to your website allows the reader to easily access your products or services without compromising the design of your email with visible link addresses.

Ensure mobile accessibility

Most emails are designed on a desktop, but this doesn’t mean that they should only be designed for a desktop. Studies have shown that the majority of emails are now viewed on a mobile device, so it is essential that your emails are able to adapt to a mobile user interface. Having overflowing text on a mobile device can discourage the customer from reading all your content, and can make your email look unprofessional.

Personalise content

Many email marketing platforms allow you to use the recipients’ first name in the subject line. This personalisation can increase the chances of drawing the customer’s attention to your email as they naturally gravitate towards the familiarity of their name.

Posted on 1 July '20 by , under web. No Comments.

What are the different types of cashless payment methods?

In an effort to minimise physical contact during the global pandemic, most businesses are making the switch to cashless payments. While contactless credit cards and mobile wallet applications remain the most common type of cashless payments, many other methods have emerged in recent times. In the event that your business is also looking to make the switch, here are a few cashless payment types to be aware of.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID):

RFID uses radio technology to track tags containing electronic payment and banking information. RFID tags are most commonly attached to wristbands, watches or badges and can be scanned using mobile phones and RFID system technologies.

RFID tags can also be used at business events or service-providing organisations to keep track of clients while also acting as their digital wallet.

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD):

USSD services are another real-time cashless payment method which require a mobile network. With the USSD method, clients must dial a USSD code on an interactive menu provided by the business (could be a mobile phone), which will then allow clients to make payments to chosen recipients. The USSD code is dependent on a client’s mobile network and in order to make successful payments, clients must have their bank accounts correctly linked to their mobile phone number.

Quick Response (QR) Codes:

A QR code is a two-dimensional gridded pattern of black squares and is a viable cashless payment method as long as both clients and businesses have modern image-reading and camera technologies. Payments made through QR codes require a user to scan the QR code of a merchant to complete the transaction and can be done through banking apps or third-party payment applications on mobile phones.

While it may be tempting to make an immediate switch into cashless payment methods, the technology required to support cashless transactions is a costly investment. Before jumping the gun and spending money you do not need to, take note of which cashless payment methods would best accommodate your clients’ needs and fit into your existing business operations.

Posted on 1 July '20 by , under money. No Comments.

How to keep employees safe as they return to the workplace

Enforcing health precautions is an essential step to creating a safe workplace and giving your employees peace of mind, especially during the current pandemic. Businesses looking to invite their employees back into the office after the easing of lockdown restrictions should implement safeguards to ensure their workplace is a safe one.

Conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment

Before opening your office to employees, conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment with Safe Work Australia. A risk assessment will include an evaluation from Safe Work Australia regarding your business’:

  • responsibilities and leadership,
  • worker engagement, alternative means of communication and participation levels,
  • COVID-19 hygiene principles (such as the 4 metre square requirement),
  • hierarchy of controls, and
  • employee health and safety plan.

The progression of additional business activities will also be assessed. For example, the safety of business trips when travel restrictions are lifted.

Implement cleaning processes

Invest in frequent cleaning services and processes to lower transmission risk and give your employees peace of mind. In addition to hiring a cleaning service, you can also keep your workplace safe by providing employees with disinfectant solutions for door handles, light switches and keyboards.

Other cleaning and hygiene processes to implement include:

  • Distributing hand-sanitizer
  • Reminding employees to wash their hands
  • Providing PPE wherever necessary
  • Minimising physical interaction between your employees (e.g. using disposable condiments, laminating documents for easy cleaning)

Support your employees’ mental health

Supporting your employees’ mental health is just as important as their physical health. To create an environment that your employees feel comfortable and safe to work in, provide aid in the form of workplace flexibility, therapy and counselling services, home-to-business transportation options and financial advice. Additional services such as child-care can also be helpful to supporting your employees’ mental health.

Posted on 1 July '20 by , under business. No Comments.

Do you need to lodge a transfer balance account report?

Self-managed super funds (SMSF) may be required to lodge a transfer balance account (TBA) report by 28 July 2020 in the case of a TBA event.

A TBA report will need to be lodged with the ATO in the event that both of the following apply:

  • A TBA event occurred in a member’s SMSF between 1 April and 30 June 2020,
  • Any member of the SMSF has a total super balance greater than $1 million.

SMSFs will also need to complete this report when a member needs to correct information about a TBA event that they have previously reported to the ATO or are responding to a commutation authority.

According to the ATO, an event is classified as a TBA event if they result in credit or debit in a member’s transfer balance account. Such events include:

  • Super income streams in existence just before 1 July 2017 that both continue to be paid on or after 1 July 2017, or were in retirement phase on or after 1 July 2017,
  • Super income streams that stop being in retirement phase,
  • Limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBA) payments entered into on or after 1 July 2017,
  • LRBA payments resulting in an increase in the value of the member’s superannuation interest supporting their retirement phase income stream,
  • Personal injury (structured settlement) contributions that occurred post 1 July 2017,
  • Voluntary member commutations.

There are a number of ways you can lodge your TBA report with the ATO:

  • Lodge online by completing an interactive online form in the Business Portal
  • Lodge online by completing an interactive online form with a tax agent and filing through online services
  • Lodge a paper report (you can report up to four events for the same member on a paper report)
  • Use bulk data exchange (BDE) to submit through file transfer facilities. You will generally need support from a software provider to meet BDE specifications.

Posted on 1 July '20 by , under super. No Comments.

COVID-19 factors to remember when filing your tax return

The end of the financial year has rolled around again, but this time, COVID-19 may affect the way you fill out your tax return. The ATO has released a range of methods to make tax time easier for businesses and individuals experiencing unprecedented circumstances.

How JobKeeper will affect tax returns

Sole traders receiving JobKeeper payments on behalf of their business are required to include these payments as assessable income for the business. Employees receiving JobKeeper will see that those payments have been automatically filled out in their tax return.

Individuals who have had their wages increase due to JobKeeper should identify whether they have been bumped into a higher tax bracket as a result. If an individual is working multiple jobs and receiving JobKeeper at one of these positions pushes them into a new tax bracket, they may be faced with a higher tax bill on their return if their other employers had continued deducting tax at their original lower rate.

How JobSeeker will affect tax returns

JobSeeker payments are considered taxable income. The ATO will automatically upload JobSeeker details in the ‘Government Payments and Allowances’ section of recipients’ tax returns. However, recipients are advised that there may be a delay in these JobSeeker details being updated, potentially until the end of July. The ATO recommends delaying tax return lodgements until these details are finalised. Recipients that wish to complete their returns prior to this must ensure they include these details themselves, as leaving out assessable income can slow down the return process or result in a bill later.

COVID-19 protective equipment

Occupations that require public interactions may be able to claim personal protective equipment (PPE), including:

  • Face masks
  • Sanitiser
  • Anti-bacterial spray
  • Gloves.

This would typically apply to industries such as healthcare, retail and hospitality. Many workplaces now have this PPE available for employees, however, employees who must pay for their own COVID-19 PPE and are not reimbursed for it will be able to make a claim.

Working from home

The ATO has introduced a new ‘shortcut method,’ which applies from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. Under this new method, employees working from home as a result of COVID-19 can claim expenses incurred at a rate of 80 cents for each hour worked from home. Employees must keep a record of the hours they worked from home as evidence to support their claim.

Deductible running expenses include:

  • Utilities such as heating, cooling and lighting.
  • Cleaning costs for your work area.
  • Mobile or landline phone expenses for work calls.
  • Internet connection.
  • Computer consumables and stationery.
  • Repair costs for home office equipment and furniture.
  • Depreciation of home office equipment, computers, furniture and fittings.
  • Small capital items such as a computer (purchased for the purpose of working from home) can be claimed if they cost under $300. If the cost exceeds $300, the decline in value can be deducted.

Posted on 1 July '20 by , under tax. No Comments.

How to recruit the right employee for your business

As unemployment rates rise and more individuals compete for the same job, businesses with open positions may find themselves flooded with job applications and potential candidates. With so many individuals applying for every open position, how can you find the right employee for you? Here are a few tips to help you with your recruitment selection process.

Keep your job advertisement detailed and concise

With so many job seekers in the market, it is important to filter out who you want to invest time into. To make sure you are only interviewing the best candidates and relevantly skilled individuals are applying for your job, ensure your advertisement lists all the essential requirements for the position.

For example, include your preferred education and qualification levels, required experience, knowledge and skills. It is also a good idea to prescreen potential candidates before inviting them for an interview to make sure you don’t waste time (both for you and the candidate) your selection process is uniform.

Prioritise compatibility

Not only will your new employee have to be compatible (in terms of work ethics and career goals) with you as an employer, they also need to be compatible with other employees in your business. It is always a good idea to check whether the candidate has the social skills to get along with others in their team as well as any potential clients they may be interacting with.

Involving current employees in the interviewing process may also help in testing for compatibility. While you can always offer to train employees in effective communication, with so many fish in the sea, consider whether or not social skills training is worth your time when there could be more socially adept candidates.

Test the waters

In addition to having a probation period for any new employees, don’t be afraid to offer a position through an internship first. Not only does an internship allow employers to assess whether or not a new employee is capable for the job, it also allows the employee to assess whether or not the position or the business is right for them. Under the correct legal terms, internships may also be unpaid. However, in the event that your open position is a mid-senior level position, internships will not be effective as candidates will feel their skills and experience are undermined.

Posted on 24 June '20 by , under people. No Comments.

What to consider before opening another business location

Expanding your business to open in multiple locations can offer more opportunities and profitability. However, managing one location can be challenging enough, so it is crucial to examine and prepare for the implications of opening up a second store. Here are some considerations that business owners need to keep in mind before deciding to open up a new branch.

How successful is your current business?

Your current business should be stable and successful before you open up multiple stores. If your business is struggling in key areas such as cash flow, sales, employee skill sets, and customer retention, then it’s a good idea to address these needs first, otherwise, your new locations are likely to face the same issues. Assess your current store’s shortcomings and consider whether they will also put your new locations at risk.

What are the characteristics of the new locations?

Choosing the right business location plays a key role in the success of your business. Before branching out, research potential locations and consider how areas could affect your business due to factors such as popularity, business competition, demographics, transport accessibility, rent prices, and attractiveness to employees. Assess whether the differences between your current and potential new locations will require you to make any changes to your business – perhaps you will have to adjust your marketing strategy, prices, or products/services depending on your new demographic.

Do you have the resources to expand?

Expanding your business will require extra financial commitments for rent, utility bills, more inventory and equipment, employees, insurance, and extra advertising. While your income may increase with your new location, remember that it may take months to make the returns required for expansion. It is therefore important that you are already financially secure before opening up a new store to avoid overextending your funds and putting your business at risk. If you don’t have the assets required, a business loan is an option provided that you can prove your financial ability to repay the loan.

Opening up a new location also means that you will have to manage your time between the two branches. This may require delegating business responsibilities, hiring managers, or promoting current employees to management positions. To keep your new business on track and identify early risks, you may also have to initially spend more time at your new location.

Posted on 24 June '20 by , under business. No Comments.

Modified provisions for virtual business meetings you need to be aware of

Businesses moving towards online operations (temporarily or permanently) need to be aware of the Government’s modified provisions concerning virtual meetings and the electronic signing of company documents. These modified provisions in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) became active on 5 May 2020 and will automatically be repealed on 5 September 2020.

Company meetings

The new temporary provisions outline how a virtual company meeting should be held and procedures they must follow. Under the Determination, meetings may be held using one or more technologies so that members do not have to be at the same physical location to satisfy business requirements such as a quorum.

Additionally, members must be able to speak at the virtual meeting and voting must be done through an online poll rather than a usual show of hands. Proxies may participate in a meeting in the event that businesses are unsure of the necessary virtual procedures.

Notice of meetings

Notices for meetings, along with any material related to the meeting, must be issued to participating members before a virtual meeting is held. Such notices can be sent digitally through email, or posted on an online location where the notice and other material may be viewed by participating members. Under the new provisions, the notice must also include how involved members can speak and vote on polls during the meeting.

Electronic signing of company documents

It is understandably difficult to sign and execute documents online. However, the new provisions allow for electronic signing in place of signing a physical copy if necessary, as long as the electronic signature reliably identifies the person and indicates the person’s intention about the contents of the document. Physical signings with electronic communication (such as fax) are also permitted.

Although there are many virtual meeting and electronic signing technologies available to businesses, not all are easy to operate and free. Consider investing into a paid service if you are considering moving more of your business operations online and test a number of platforms first before committing to one in particular.

Posted on 24 June '20 by , under legal. No Comments.

Carrying on a business in an SMSF

Self-managed super funds can carry on a business providing the business is allowed under the trust deed and operated for the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits for fund members.

Carrying on a business through an SMSF does have restrictions that other businesses do not have, such as entering into credit arrangements or having overdrafts.

SMSF trustees that carry on a business through their fund must adhere to the sole purpose test. The ATO looks for cases where:

  • The trustee employs a family member.
  • The ‘business’ is an activity commonly carried out as a hobby or pastime.
  • The business carried on by the fund has links to associated trading entities.
  • There are indications the fund’s business assets are available for the private use and benefit of the trustee or related parties.

The same regulatory provisions still apply to funds that carry on a business, i.e, SMSF investments must be made on a commercial ‘arm’s length’ basis, business activities must be conducted in accordance with the SMSF’s investment strategy, collectables and personal use assets cannot be displayed at the business premises and so on.

The SMSF cannot be involved in the following business activities:

  • Selling an SMSF asset for less than its market value to a member or relative of a member.
  • Purchasing an asset for greater than its market value from a member or relative of a member.
  • Acquiring services in excess of what the SMSF requires from a member or relative of a member.
  • Paying an inflated price for services acquired from a member or relative of a member.

Posted on 24 June '20 by , under super. No Comments.

Cars and taxes for 2020-21 financial year

New car threshold amounts will be implemented from 1 July 2020. Understanding the new thresholds and how they may affect your small business operations and vehicle usage will be important in preparing you for the financial year ahead.

Income tax:

There is an upper limit on the cost you use to work out the depreciation for the business use of your car or station wagon (including four-wheel drives). The maximum value you can use for calculating your depreciation claim is the car limit (irrespective of any amount you were paid for a trade-in) in the year in which you first used or leased the car.

For the 2020-21 financial year, the upper cost limit is $59,136 including GST.

Goods and services tax (GST):

Businesses registered for GST with motor vehicles used solely for business purposes are entitled to claim a credit for the GST included in the price of the vehicle, provided they have a tax invoice.

In the event that you purchase a car and the price is more than the car threshold, the maximum amount of GST credit you can claim is one-eleventh of your car limit amount. Keep in mind that you cannot claim a GST credit for any luxury car tax you pay when you purchase a luxury car, regardless of how much you use the car in carrying on your business.

Luxury car tax (LCT):

You are required to pay LCT if you’re registered or required to be registered for GST and you sell or import a luxury car.

LCT applies to motor vehicles designed to carry a load of less than two tonnes and fewer than nine passengers. LCT also applies to a car purchased by a person with a disability even if the car is GST-free. However, disability-related modifications are not subject to LCT. The LCT value of a car includes the value of any parts, accessories or attachments supplied or imported at the same time as the car.

Cars with LCT over the LCT threshold attract an LCT rate of 33%. From 1 July 2020, the LCT threshold will increase to $68,740. Additionally, the LCT threshold for fuel efficient cars will increase to $77,565 for the 2020-21 financial year.

Posted on 24 June '20 by , under tax. No Comments.