Archive for 'business'
The Australian Government has announced that JobKeeper payments will be extended for a further six months after the initial 28 September 2020 deadline. However, the extended JobKeeper program will have substantial payment reductions compared to the original JobKeeper amounts, as well as revised eligibility requirements.
The new JobKeeper flat-rate payment after September will be reduced from $1500 per fortnight to $1200 a fortnight for eligible employees who were working an average of 20 hours per week in the four weeks before 1 March 2020. The rate for employees who were working less than 20 hours per week for the same period will be reduced to $750 a fortnight. These rates are set to apply until the end of 2020.
A further reduction in JobKeeper payments will be administered from 4 January 2021. After this date, eligible employees who were working more than 20 hours per week in the four weeks before 1 March 2021 will receive a flat rate of $1000 per fortnight, while employees who were working less than 20 hours per week for the same period will receive $650 per fortnight.
The JobKeeper extension shares a similar eligibility criteria as the initial JobKeeper program, however, it will be targeting support to businesses and not-for-profit organisations that are facing continual impacts from COVID-19. Those seeking to claim the JobKeeper extension payments must reassess their eligibility by demonstrating that they have met the decline in turnover test for the new required periods. Businesses who have experienced either one of the following will meet the decline in turnover test:
- A 30% fall in turnover for an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less.
- A 50% fall in turnover for an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion.
To be eligible for JobKeeper from 28 September to 3 January 2021, the decline in turnover test must be met for the June and September quarters 2020. Businesses must reassess their eligibility again in January 2021 to be eligible for JobKeeper from 4 January to 28 March 2021. To remain eligible for the March 2021 quarter, businesses will need to demonstrate that they have met the decline in turnover test in each of the previous three quarters.
The extended JobKeeper program is set to end on 28 March 2021.
The Government has introduced a $2 billion JobTrainer scheme, which aims to help businesses train or re-skill workers in Australian industries of high demand.
What is JobTrainer?
The new scheme will create 340,700 job opportunities nation-wide and will be open to recent school graduates and workers looking to re-skill in a new industry. Industries that will be covered by the JobTrainer scheme include:
- healthcare and social assistance
- Warehousing and manufacturing
- Retail trade and wholesale trade
The JobTrainer job positions will be distributed in proportion to unemployment levels per state, with New South Wales receiving the most training places (108,600) and the Northern Territory receiving the least (3,200).
Further subsidies for apprentices and trainees
Out of the $2 billion, $1.5 billion will be distributed to subsidising existing apprenticeships to keep workers employed and trained. Subsidies will be available to cover 50 per cent of an apprentices’ or trainee’s wages (up to $7,000 per quarter) who were employed from 1 July 2020. The Government encourages businesses to continue applying for the apprenticeship and traineeship subsidies to keep their employees working in light of Australia’s 7.4% unemployment rate.
COVID-19 has forced businesses to adapt their practices to cater for social distancing measures and sanitary precautions. As a result, many businesses have taken on contractors to assist with these changes.
Businesses who have made payments to contractors in the last year may need to lodge a Taxable payments annual report (TPAR) by 28 August. This applies to the following contractor services:
- building and construction,
- courier, delivery or road freight,
- information technology,
- security, surveillance or investigation.
In response to COVID-19 restrictions, providing additional cleaning and courier services to customers have become particularly popular for businesses. For example, businesses with limited access to physical stores due to social distancing restrictions may have paid contractors providing courier services to deliver goods to customers on behalf of the business. If the payments received by the business for courier or cleaning services provided by contractors amounts to 10% or more of their total GST turnover, they will be required to complete a TPAR. Businesses can still lodge a TPAR even if they don’t think they need to or if they are unsure if they meet the 10% GST turnover threshold.
Businesses providing courier or cleaning services using their existing employees and not contractors will not need to lodge a TPAR.
TPAR lodgements can be made using SBR-enabled business software, the ATO Business Portal, through a tax or BAS agent, or by ordering a Taxable payments annual report (NAT74109) paper form.
Gathering funding is a challenge that almost all business owners face at some point. Financing can come in two forms – debt financing and equity financing.
Debt financing is money that you borrow and plan to pay back within an agreed time frame and interest rate. Common forms of debt financing include bank loans, mortgages and credit cards. This may appeal to business owners that wish to maintain complete control and ownership over their business, without having to manage the expectations of investors. Debt financing also means that business owners do not have to share any profits made by the business, as their only obligation to their lender is making payments on time. As well as this, debt financing methods are usually tax-deductible, unlike private loans.
However, debt financing also has its downsides as the cost of capital is higher. Loans from official lenders such as banks typically come with interest rates that also need to be paid in addition to regular repayments. This means that your business must generate enough income to meet the requirements of the debt, which can affect cash flow and could even result in bankruptcy if the business fails and is not able to repay the debt. As well as this, new businesses may struggle to secure a bank loan, as banks often have a strict protocol regarding who can receive a loan.
Equity financing, on the other hand, is when you invest your own money or someone else’s money (usually family and friends, venture capitalists, business angels, or public floats) in your business. As a result of this, the investor of your business partially owns your business and shares the profits you make. This method of financing may be more suitable for business owners who can accept sharing their profits and not having complete ownership and control over their business.
One advantage of equity financing is having freedom of debt as repayments do not have to be made on investments. As well as this, equity financing methods can potentially expose business owners to additional funding opportunities if investors decide to provide more support for the business as it develops. However, business owners considering equity funding should also keep in mind that these methods can often put a strain on personal relationships if the financing was sourced from family and friends, depending on if the business succeeds or fails.
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.
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.
Businesses working from home due to social distancing restrictions can take the opportunity to learn from the experience and consider new work structures coming out of COVID-19. This could mean increased flexibility for employees when it comes to working remotely and adaptable hours. Here’s why flexible work arrangements with your employees may be beneficial for your business in the long term.
Flexible work arrangements can increase the productivity of employees by allowing them to work when they feel most motivated. Some people may naturally be more productive at night time and do their work then, which would not be possible with regular office hour restrictions. Remote work also saves time on excessive staff chatter and workplace distractions, such as ringing telephones and colleague drop-ins. Offering flexible work arrangements can show your employees that their lives are valued, which can lead to higher levels of performance and hard work to justify the flexible arrangements.
When employees are working from home more frequently, it means that your office doesn’t have to sustain as many people and you can reduce rent and utility expenses. This doesn’t mean that your employees have to pay too much more; the ATO has introduced an easier way of deducting work from home costs during the COVID-19 period called the ‘shortcut method.’ This allows employees to deduct 80c per hour they work from home to compensate for running expenses.
Businesses that exclusively depend on employees being physically present may be missing out on ideal workers who live too far or require more flexible arrangements. Modern job seekers are often on the lookout for positions that offer greater flexibility, rather than the regular 9 to 5 in the office. Highlighting workplace flexibility in your job advertisements can attract more prospective talent as physical barriers are eliminated.
Remote work can improve the overall physical and mental wellbeing of your employees. One perk is that they may be able to be better rested and eat a proper breakfast in replacement of the morning commute. Work flexibility will also enable them to work around family commitments, which can boost their quality of life and happiness. This can raise morale and improve their quality of work by reducing the risks of fatigue and burnout.
Workplaces that allow employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance are more likely to retain their employees for long terms. This can benefit businesses by reducing the frequency of hiring and training periods, which can save a lot of money and productivity while continuing to grow corporate knowledge in existing employees.
Businesses struggling with debt may feel like declaring bankruptcy is their only option. Premature bankruptcy is an unfortunately common scenario but there are ways businesses can deal with unmanageable debt before declaring bankruptcy.
Temporary Debt Protection (TDP)
Businesses with debt they can’t pay or are being taken action against by unsecured creditors can apply for TDP. TDP provides a six-month protection period where unsecured creditors can’t take enforcement action to recover the money businesses owe them. Businesses are encouraged to use this time to seek advice from the Government’s free financial counsellors, negotiate payment plans with creditors and consider other formal insolvency options which may work better for them.
Declaration of intention (DOI)
A DOI is a short-term option similar to TDP and protects businesses for 21 days from unsecured creditors. During this time, creditors can’t take further action to recover their debts.
A debt agreement details how businesses will settle their debt and is a flexible way to help businesses come into an arrangement without becoming bankrupt. A debt agreement means either paying a lump sum that may be less than the original amount owed, or repaying debt in instalments. Businesses can apply for a debt agreement if they:
- Are unable to pay debts when they are due.
- Have not been bankrupt, had a debt agreement or personal insolvency agreement in the last 10 years.
- Have unsecured debts and assets less than the set amount.
- Estimate their after-tax income for the next 12 months to be less than the set amount.
Debt agreements can go for up to three years.
Personal insolvency agreement (PIA)
A PIA lets businesses pay off their debt in a way that suits their financial situation. It is similar to a debt agreement but a business’ debt, income and assets do not have to be under a certain limit.
Keep in mind that while these methods are effective in helping businesses avoid bankruptcy, there are still consequences. While usually producing positive results, be sure to weigh up these options and consider whether the long-term effects of implementing them are worth avoiding bankruptcy.
Small businesses coming out of COVID-19 may be looking to expand and grow as quickly as possible to prepare for a changing economy. One of the ways you can effectively grow your business is by improving your hiring strategy and making sure it is efficient.
Analyse and catalogue your needs
To make sure your hiring process is fit for your business, spend some time analysing your needs. For example, consider how quickly you are looking to expand, how many employees you are looking to and capable of hiring, the space you have available for additional employees, and other similar conditions. By being specific with your requirements, you are making this easier for yourself in the long run and trimming away unnecessary expenses before you even know it.
Consider hiring part-timers and contractors
Expanding your conditions for potential employees will widen the pool of talent available to you. Instead of being set on particular working conditions such as full-time working hours or in-office working, consider being more flexible with your working arrangements. Hiring part-timers and contractors will be more advantageous to businesses looking to grow quickly and substantially, as part-timers and contractors come with lower costs and you do not have to worry about employee retention for the long-term.
Invest in training your new recruits
Make sure to spend time training your new hires by providing them with the education and resources they need to be successful in your business. While it may not seem worthwhile to invest in part-timers and contractors, building a training procedure will be beneficial in the long run for future employees as you will establish a strong workplace culture while also developing a process that is most suited to your preferences.
Focus on hiring one at a time
It is understandable for you to have many positions open at one time, but to make sure you make accurate judgements on the best potential employees, try to focus on one position at a time. This way, you will avoid being overwhelmed with business decisions involving both ordinary business proceedings and new recruits. Use the same approach when you are hiring a team for a particular project or a new location as well.
With the current economic slowdown, now is the perfect time to review your business strategy and conduct a business “health check” to come out the other side improved and ready to go. Analyse whether or not your business is in the state that you want it to be in and any improvements you can make to prepare for when the economy starts to recover.
Clients and customers
Client and customer loyalty is a trait all businesses should appreciate, but if your clients’ values are misaligned with yours, conflict is inevitable. Hence, now is the time to re-evaluate which clients you want to keep loyal and which ones you can see a cooperative future with. Re-assessing your target audience and deepening your understanding of the wants and needs of your clients would also be beneficial, as you can perfect your marketing strategies now while you have the time. If you have clients who frequently struggle to pay you on time, rude to your service and employees and generally disrespectful to your business, take the time to assess whether your attention is worthwhile and if you would like to continue to work with them when the economic situation improves.
Your employees are another stakeholder to check up on during this downtime opportunity. Your employees will always be your business’ representatives so make sure they are up to standard and help them improve on their skills now when they have the time to. Take the time to teach your employees more about your business goals and strategies and improve the team atmosphere by introducing team recreational activities. Your relationship with your employees now during a global crisis will dictate how they feel about you as a leader and if they can rely on you in the future. Foster respectful, strong and healthy bonds between you and your employees and only good things will be coming your way.
The key question to ask when reviewing your suppliers is whether or not you are getting what you need from them at a reasonable cost. Of course, not all sales deals are made equally and while you may get the bad end of the stick now, that is sometimes for the benefit of the long term. However, if this is not the case and you feel that your suppliers are asking too much from you, letting you down with their product quality or causing other complications, take the time now to look for other options. As most businesses struggle through current economic conditions, more and more suppliers are becoming competitive and hence, there are more options to consider. Do your research and decide on the suppliers you want to work with for the long-term future.
Managing your finances is always a difficult task but it is now more important than ever. Your budget and profit predictions for this year are likely going rogue so reevaluate your finances and research other funding options such as commercial rent, interest rates and banking services. Consider how you can minimise cost while maximising efficiency and productivity, save as much money as you can during these downtimes, and review your investments in detail to determine whether or not they are worthwhile.