Strategies to increase profit

Posted on 12 November '19, under money.

Whether you are struggling to keep up a steady income or wanting to grow your business, increasing sales revenue is often a central goal for businesses. Here are some strategies you can consider when looking to improve profit:

Redesign operations for maximum efficiency:
If you really look at the operation processes of your business, you’ll often find that there are certain systems and routines in place that may not be necessary. Try to eliminate the tasks and activities that do not make valuable contributions to the business. Look for any operation processes that can be streamlined to maximise efficiency and save time.

Increase marketing efforts:
Oftentimes, you’re going to have to spend money to make money. Many businesses benefit from investing in a strong marketing campaign or even looking for cost-effective marketing opportunities on social media. Sharing regular updates on social media about your business, pictures of your products or interesting content your followers will like is a great way to keep your business in people’s minds and build a rapport with your customers.

Take care of existing customers:
While it is easy to get carried away with getting as many new customers and followers as you can, don’t forget that it is often easier and cheaper to make a sale to an existing customer than a new customer who you have not developed a relationship with yet. Existing customers will have more trust in your products or services if they have already had a positive experience with your business. Put effort into maintaining a good relationship with existing customers and focus on cross-selling and upselling products and services to them.

Preventing cybercrime on your business’ social media 

Posted on 12 November '19, under web.

Having a digital presence nowadays is crucial to getting the most out of marketing your business. However, being online puts you at risk of being a target for cybercrime, which means that you and your customers are at risk of being scammed or hacked. Business owners have legal responsibilities to ensure that their business and customer information is safe.

While social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have policies in place to prevent people being victim to cybercrime, it is still possible for hackers to dodge these measures and attack your business. It is therefore important that you implement your own safety measures to reduce the risk of being targeted.

Many cybercriminals target business’ social media accounts to get access to a large following of people they can trick or manipulate. It is crucial that your business account has a strong password consisting of at least 8 characters, with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Ensure that only authorised users have access to the business’ social media accounts.

When planning a social media campaign, think about ways you can prevent your campaign from being hijacked by hackers to keep you and your followers safe. For example, if your campaign is a competition that involves participation from your followers such as them uploading a photo, think about ways to keep them safe from hackers, such as discouraging them from geotagging their location and ensuring they don’t have their house or any other personal details evident in the picture.

How to prevent non-paying clients

Posted on 12 November '19, under business.

Running a business is hard enough without having to chase up payments from your customers. Here are some measures you can take to prevent yourself from having to deal with the profitability imbalance, negative client relation, and legal ordeals that come with chasing up owed debt.

Research the customer:
Before you enter into an agreement with a client or other businesses, make sure that you know who you’re dealing with and do some research. There are government certified websites available to check whether a company is registered and legitimate. Find out about their history, make sure they are reliable, still in operation and to look for any bad reviews and other people’s experiences with them.

Have a signed contract:
Regardless of how much you trust your client, it is still a good idea to have a written contract in place so that everyone is on the same page and you have evidence to refer to in the case of a dispute or confusion. The contract should consist of the terms and agreements, payment schedule, preferred payment method, the exact product or service to be completed and late payment policy.

Have a good invoicing system:
Make sure that you invoice customers quickly with professional and easy to understand statements. This helps you keep track of your customers and helps your customers understand the payment requirements. You can set payment terms and policies to ensure that you will be paid how you and your customer agreed.

Proactive consolidation with ILBAs

Posted on 12 November '19, under super.

Inactive low-balance accounts (ILBAs) are a new category account that needs to be reported and paid to the ATO. This was introduced in the Treasury Law Amendment (Protect Your Superannuation Package) Bill 2019 that came into effect on 1 July 2019 after first being announced in the 2018-19 Federal Budget.

ILBAs are designed to protect accounts from fee erosion. Where possible, the ATO will proactively consolidate super on behalf of an individual.

A superannuation account is considered an ILBA if the following criteria are met:

  • No amount has been received by the fund for crediting to that account for an individuals benefit within the last 16 months.
  • The account balance is less than $6,000.
  • A prescribed condition of release has not been met.
  • The account is not a defined benefit account.
  • There is no insurance on the account.
  • The account is not held in a self-managed super fund (SMSF) or small Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) fund.

Funds are required to identify ILBAs on 30 June and 31 December each year, then report and pay them to the ATO by the statement date.

  • 31 October in the same year for accounts identified on 30 June.
  • 30 April of the following year for accounts identified on 31 December.

Individuals that have an account that they do not want to be transferred to the ATO as an ILBA, can consolidate super accounts using ATO online services through myGov, contact their super fund for more information or authorise their super fund to provide a written declaration to the ATO.

Time limit on GST refunds

Posted on 12 November '19, under tax.

Small businesses entitled to refunds of GST may not be aware of the four-year time limit on claiming those refunds. Your entitlement to a GST credit ends four years from the due date of the earliest activity statement in which you could have claimed it.

GST refunds are claimed under the indirect tax concession scheme (ITCS), which also covers luxury car tax (LCT), wine equalization tax (WET) and excise. They are a form of “outstanding indirect tax refunds”, which are tax refunds that are entitled to the taxpayer but are yet to be claimed. “Outstanding indirect tax refunds” can be claimed in the following cases.

Refund of a net amount for a tax period:
This applies to those that have yet to lodge an activity statement for a tax period. Small businesses that have GST entitlements that amount to $2,000, (which exceeds the net GST, WET and LCT liabilities for that period $1,500), are able to claim an outstanding indirect tax refund of $500.

Refund of an overpayment of a net amount:
Due to a clerical error, a business owner reports and pays $4,600 net GST for a tax period instead of the actual amount of $4,060. The excess amount of $540 is an outstanding indirect tax refund which the business can claim.

Refund due to an underreported initial net refund entitlement:
A business claims a net GST refund of $3,000 for the tax period and receives the refund. Afterwards, however, it is realised that the actual refund entitlement was $3,200, the excess $200 represents an outstanding indirect tax refund that can be claimed.

Moving your business online 

Posted on 6 November '19, under business.

In order to keep up with the growing demands of digital accessibility and convenience, many businesses decide to partially or completely move their business online. This can help with extending customer reach beyond the geographical boundaries of a physical business, offering customers easy access to your products or services, scaling and growth, and reducing costs on rent, staff, and marketing. Here are some steps to get started on building the digital side of your business.

Set up a website:
Your potential clients will often be getting their first impression of your business from your website, so it is important that you have an effectively executed layout, user interface and design. On top of your products or services, make sure your website includes key information about your business, such as an about page, contact details, FAQs, social media links, or call to action prompt.

Build a social media presence:
If you’re not already on social media platforms, or if your social media presence is weak, focus on creating engaging and relevant social media content for your audience. This can help you build a stronger relationship with your clients, share content they would find interesting and useful, and establish a brand image.

Keep customers updated:
Clients can get frustrated and feel uncared for if they are not told about important changes to your business that will affect them. Whether you’re moving partially or completely online, it is important that you keep your clients updated. This can be done through a simple email, having a sign in-store, and verbally telling them when you interact with them.

Approaching difficult conversations at work

Posted on 6 November '19, under people.

Difficult conversations are apart of every aspect of life, including work. Employers and employees all face having to initiate difficult discussions at some point during their working life and avoiding these conversations can increase the potential for issues in the workplace or in extreme cases, legal claims.

Sensitive topics may initially be uncomfortable to approach but they can end up being important learning experiences for everyone involved. Addressing issues head on can allow people to work better together, understand different perspectives, practice empathy, and grow as individuals. As this is easier said than done, here a few ways you can prepare for a difficult conversation in the workplace.

Going into a difficult conversation prepared can help you cover the areas ou wish to discuss and possible solutions you can present. This will help you present issues in a calm and positive way. While planning can help you prepare for a difficult discussion, completely scripting your interaction can often create a disadvantage for you. Overly prepared responses can appear disingenuous, instead, prepare questions that can elicit discussion.

The point of difficult conversations is to resolve an issue that is affecting the workplace. Listening to the person you are discussing this with is the first step to fixing the problem. Communication in the workplace needs to go both ways for a cohesive environment so listening to the other persons’ point of view or suggestions will reflect positively on you and the situation.

Don’t leave a difficult conversation unresolved. This will only mean having to revisit the same issue at a later point, only this time everyone involved will have preconceived ideas of how the discussion will go and the lack of outcome. Having a clear plan moving forward helps ensure accountability and acts as a reference should something arise again.

Commutation authorities for SMSFs

Posted on 6 November '19, under super.

Commutation authorities are issued by the ATO when a member of a SMSF has exceeded their transfer balance cap. A commutation authority will be issued after the member has received an excess transfer balance determination alerting them they have passed the cap.

The transfer balance cap is currently $1.6 million and is applied to the combined total of all superannuation accounts held by an individual. To receive a commutation authority, a SMSF member has either;

  • Not commuted the excess amount in the determination in full by the due date, or;
  • Has made an election for the ATO to send a commutation authority to their fund to have the excess amount commuted.

After receiving a commutation authority, individuals must then;

  • Pay a superannuation lump sum by way of commutation. The commutation authority will detail the amount that must be commuted from a specified income stream for that SMSF member. Or;
  • Choose not to comply with the commutation authority because the member is deceased or the ATO issued in relation to an income stream that is a capped defined benefit income stream.
  • Send the ATO a transfer balance account report (TBAR) stating the details of the commutation or why you have chosen not to comply with the commutation authority.
  • Notify your member in writing that you have complied or not complied with a commutation authority.

This will need to be done within 60 days of receiving the commutation authority. Though the Commissioner of Taxation issues the authority, they do not have the power to grant an extension of time to respond. If you fail to commute or respond to the ATO regarding the authority, the income stream will stop being in retirement phase, affecting the fund’s entitlement to exempt current pension income. You may also be liable for penalties or subject to compliance action.

Limiting tax deductions for holding vacant land

Posted on 6 November '19, under tax.

On the 28 October 2019, The Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Tax Integrity and Other Measures No.1) Bill 2019 received royal assent. The new tax law creates limitations for deductions related to the expenses of holding vacant land from 1 July 2019. This is likely to affect those who acquire land for investment purposes and begin developing for rental investment purposes.

The amendments will only apply to holdings on ‘vacant land’, meaning that it will not apply to any land that has a substantial and permanent structure in use or ready for use, or is a residential premise that is lawfully able to be occupied. Land is considered vacant if both of these are not true.

The changes will not apply to vacant land held by ‘excluded entities,’ which are:

  • Corporate tax entities.
  • Managed investment trusts.
  • Public unit trusts.
  • Superannuation plans other than self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs).
  • Unit trusts or partnerships where all members are of the excluded entities listed above.

The law will also be inapplicable if:

  • Structures affected by natural disasters or similarly exceptional situation.
  • The land is in use or available for use in carrying on a business by the taxpayer or their affiliates, connected entities, spouse or child under 18.

The land is in use or available for use for business purposes under an arm’s length rental arrangement.

How to create an effective social media calendar

Posted on 30 October '19, under web.

Having a well-planned and engaging social media presence is nowadays a core aspect of marketing. With 77% of consumers more likely to buy from brands they follow on social media, it is important to plan your content ahead of posting to maintain a successful social media campaign, avoid any mistakes and ensure posts will help you achieve your business goals. Creating an effective social media calendar will often involve four key areas that can help you make the most out of your social media presence.

Key information:
This is normally presented in a table format that provides details of what is being posted, such as the date and time for posting, content type, hashtags, the image and text to be posted and what platforms it is being shared on. It is also useful to integrate an evaluation section you can fill in after each post has been made that provides information such as reach, engagement, shares, comments, reaction, follower increase/decrease.

Plan content strategy:
It is a good idea to have a strategic content plan rather than just sharing whatever you feel like. This can involve determining which topics your content can cover and when, investigating the needs and wants of your audience and catering to them, and what order posts should be shared in.

Content check:
When planning future content, remember that posts that may be relevant now may not be so appropriate by the time you actually post them. Check if any of the content is out of date and whether it can be updated or should be deleted. For more variety, try planning posts around a special event or holiday that is coming up to make content more interesting.