Outsourcing Models – How To Know What’s Right For You

Posted on 16 April '21, under business.

When a business cannot deal with the workload in house, a candidate or party outside of the business is often hired to assist in performing those services. This is called outsourcing, and it’s a practice that companies sometimes use to cut costs – especially if it’s easier to do this than to train up another employee.

The best model of outsourcing is one that meets the needs of the business. Clearly identifying those needs is a strategic step to take to ensure that the model chosen is the right one. There are four types of models when it comes to outsourcing. 

Freelance

The freelance model of outsourcing assigns work to a freelance worker, which can be long-term, short-term, part-time or full-time. Jobs can be posted to freelance sites, freelancers can bid on them and you can select who you would like to work with. This model is a quick and easy way to get one-off projects completed that require special skills, or obtain a little extra help during the busy season.

Pros: Cost-effective, quick and the skills needed for the job can be sourced

Cons: Overselling skills, difficult to brief, and jobs can be further outsourced by freelancers.

Project-Style Work

This model focuses on project-based work, and involves outsourcing entire projects to a specialised outsourcing centre. Essentially all you have to do is provide the centre with the project requirements, and they will carry out the development work, project management and quality control through to the project’s completion. 

Pros: Less work to be done by you, cost-effective in money and time, new staff aren’t needed and there is a fixed cost for the project.

Cons: May lack local knowledge if located overseas, time zone and language barriers can be difficult to overcome

Business Process Outsourcing

With the business process outsourcing model, a service provider sets up and operates an offshore office for you that they hand over when it is ready. Essentially, it’s contracting a business or organisation hires another company to perform a process task required by the hirer for the business’ operational success.The provider has the facilities, setup, office environment and management required for global team members to work. 

Pros: offers improved productivity, increased capacity, no need to worry about other sectors, inexpensive and an easy way to grow your team.

Cons: Large-scale BPOs can be more expensive to run and can be difficult to communicate needs and wants if the BPO doesn’t understand your industry or business.

Build-Operate-Transfer Model

This model is the model you want to employ if you’d like to build a separate office outside of your home country with more than 25 staff. To begin with, and much like a BPO, a provider ensures that there is workspace and office equipment, and hires the employees. Rather than have the provider run the business for you, they then transfer the operation back to you. 

Pros: Create work culture and environment among global team members, costs are less expensive than a BPO if there are more than 15 employees.

Cons: Can be expensive to set up, operating under foreign work ethics and work cultures can impact team management, and requires time and effort to invest in the business in person. 

Always consider what is best suited for your business, and confer with professional advisors before implementing a strategy regarding outsourcing

3 Design Principles To Help Your Small Business’ Website

Posted on 14 April '21, under web.

As a business owner, it’s important to understand how your customer base is interfacing with your business’ online presence, and if there are any glaring user-unfriendly issues that could impact their experience. It may even drive them towards competitors of your business who understand the value of a well-designed website.

Here are three design principles for your website to implement to ensure your customers are satisfied with their online experience.

Responsive Design

A responsive design or mobile-friendly website is mandatory for any business’ website. Since many customers may interact with your website while on the go and via their phone, ensuring that your site renders appropriately on mobile devices will boost that interaction. A non-responsive website has less engagement, poor conversion and a lower ranking in the search results – mobile-friendly websites boost your SEO. 

UX Optimisation

Ensuring that the user experience is optimised for their engagement can be the difference between a successful website and a poorly-performing site. For this, a user-friendly layout, an obvious site structure that does not require additional instructions and a clear path for information to flow through are critical components. The other design choices can come late.

Call To Action

A call to action is a must-have for websites – it’s a way to prompt your customer to take the next step. It’s also an easy way to guide conversion and ensure that your customers are interacting with the elements of a page that could assist. 

Super Co-Contributions Boost On Behalf of A Spouse

Posted on 14 April '21, under super.

Marriage and de facto relationships come with a number of perks – but did you know that if your partner earns less than you or is not currently working, you could contribute to their super fund savings?

Many households in Australia, either as a result of unemployment, maternity/paternity leave or by choice, have single income households. As a result, the retirement savings held in super for one member of these households may not be increasing as exponentially fast as the working member. The good news is that, when in a relationship, a spouse can boost their non-working partner’s super fund with their own contributions.

The best part? It could be a tax write-off for the working spouse.

Under Australian superannuation law, a spouse can be a legally married partner with whom you live or your de facto partner. That gives additional benefits to those in de facto relationships, who can choose (if one member of the relationship isn’t working or earns less) to boost their partner’s super fund. A spouse must also be younger than their preservation age or between 65 and their preservation age and not retired.

There are two ways that someone can help their partner’s superannuation grow:

  • Making a Spouse Contribution to their super account
  • Arranging for Contribution Splitting (also known as Super Splitting)

Spouse superannuation contributions can now be made for spouses earning up to $40, 000 per year. If a spouse earns less than $37, 000, the maximum tax offset of $540 can be claimed when contributing a minimum of $3, 000 to their super. Anything contributed that is more than $3, 000 will not receive the spouse contribution tax offset. 

This tax offset cannot be claimed if:

  • A spouse has exceeded their non-concessional contributions cap for the financial year.
  • Their super balance is $1.6 million (for 2020/21) or more on 30 June of the previous financial year in which the contribution was made. 

Another way to inject funds into your spouse’s super is to choose to have some of your own super contributions put into their super account. This is fine as long as they have not reached their preservation age yet, or are between their preservation age and 65 years and not retired. 

Super contributions can only be split in the financial year immediately after the year in which the contributions were made or in the same financial year as the contributions were made only if your entire benefit is being withdrawn before the end of that financial year as a rollover, transfer, lump sum or benefit.

There are two types of contributions that can be split:

  • Employer contributions – the most common form of super contributions to split
  • After-tax contributions – money that you voluntarily deposit into your super after tax.

Always discuss starting spousal co-contributions to super with your accountant or financial advisor for help and guidance prior to starting this process.

How To Do Deal With Presenteeism At Work

Posted on 13 April '21, under people.

Sometimes, being absent from work is better for you and the business you work for than if you were present that day. 

When someone shows up to work but is unproductive as a result of feeling unwell, are distracted by personal issues, or are disengaged from their role, it’s known as presenteeism. 

Presenteeism is difficult to detect among employees as they may appear to be working but can be producing less overall over a period of time than they otherwise would. It’s a fairly common issue across many industries in the workforce, where productivity is lost while these staff underperform. 

One of the most common causes of presenteeism is ‘company culture’. In situations where you may be ill or would be better off not going to work, you may feel an invisible pressure to go into work regardless. This may be because not going in would place strain on your teammates,  taking time off is frowned upon, or that time-sensitive work may not be completed if you were absent. There is a cultural expectation surrounding workplaces about attendance at work – so what can be done to address this?

To combat this, consider: 

  • If working full or part-time, you are entitled to taking sick days – using these for illness or for mental health recovery can benefit you and your employer in the long run.
  • Using unused leave time for ‘recovery breaks’ to let you regain yourself
  • Destigmatising the concept of taking time off in the workplace
  • Discussing alternative ways for you to work to prevent burnout and continued presenteeism

As an employee, it is important that you understand your own value and worth – a day off for you is worth more to the employer than a day worked while sick. Discuss with your employer best practices for ensuring that you can be at your best, and whether or not it might be beneficial to take advantage of the proposed sick days above.

Interest On Your Home Loan Could Be Tax-Deductible

Posted on 12 April '21, under tax.

It’s a simple, step-by-step process used by many Australians to increase their income. Borrow money from a financial institution, invest in a second property and pay off the loan with the profit accrued from the investment property (ie. rent from tenants). 

But did you know that the interest on a home loan for the purchase of an investment property can be claimed as tax-deductible?

To clarify – claiming a tax deduction on the interest of a loan can only be used on the loan that was used to purchase the investment property. It also must be used to earn income, because a property that is solely residential isn’t eligible for any tax deductions (except in certain situations where the residence may be used to produce income, like home business or office). 

Here are a few examples of when tax deduction claims on your property are not allowed:

  • If the secured property is being used for living as a primary residence, and no income is made from it.
  • Refinancing your investment loan for some other purpose (like buying another property).
  • Using the loan for a private purchase, other than the purchase of a home.
  • If the investment property is a holiday home that is not rented out, then deductions cannot be claimed as it doesn’t generate rental income.

As an example, if borrowing against your main residence for the purpose of purchasing an investment property, then the interest on that loan is tax-deductible. Conversely, if the loan was against the investment property to buy a car for your personal use, then the interest from that loan will not be tax-deductible. 

The only way that a tax deduction on a home loan’s interest is possible, is if there is a direct, unbroken relationship between the money borrowed and the purpose the money was used for. Any money that resulted from a home loan, for instance, should have been invested into a property.

If you happen to redraw (make extra repayments into your loan that reduce the loan balance) against an investment loan for personal use, the tax-deductible interest is watered down. This is because the new drawdown (transfer of money from a lending institution to a borrower) is deemed to not be for investment purposes. 

It is important that any investment loans are quarantined from your personal funds to maximise tax deductions on interest. Though it may be tempting to pull additional funds from the loan for additional finances, it’s also shooting yourself in the foot.

A better strategy (if there is only investment debt that has been incurred, and you wish to pay it off), is to place funds in an offset account (a bank account that is linked to your home loan) and then redraw those funds for your personal use. It’s also important to ensure that the offset account is a proper offset – a redraw that is disguised as an offset account can be a major drawback for investors looking to capitalise on their tax threshold. 

If you or someone you know has recently purchased an investment property with a home loan, speak to your accountant or financial advisor to see how your tax return can benefit from it. 

How to create an SEO strategy for your business

Posted on 18 March '21, under web.

A tool that many businesses, organisations and individuals use when setting up their website is search engine optimisation (or SEO). This tool ensures that the website’s visibility on initial searches for something that their product or service matches is much higher than others. To do this, SEO’s often use keywords that allow search engines to rank the page according to how relevant they are.

What many businesses would benefit from, is an SEO strategy. This is a process of organising a website’s content by topic to improve its chances of appearing in search results, which results in an opportunity to increase traffic flow onto the website organically.

There are three types of SEO that can be focused on to improve the effectiveness of a website.

  • On-page SEO – content that is actually on site pages, and optimising it to boost the website’s ranking for certain keywords.
  • Off-page SEO – focuses on links directed to the website from a different site on the web. This helps to build trust with search engine algorithms.
  • Technical SEO – the website’s code, the technical set up of the website.

Here are a few easy ways to strategise the content of a website for SEO:

  • Make a list of topics that the content should address
    • research 10 words and terms associated with the product or service of the website, and come up with variations that make sense for the business
  • Make a list of long-tail keywords (search phrases with longer word counts) that apply to the content of your website.
  • Build pages for each topic, ie. business products, offerings. This makes it easier for customers to find the site in search engines, no matter what key words they use.
  • Set up a blog, and write blog posts. Linking back to the website with each post will tell Google that there’s a relationship between the content of both and specific keywords.
  • Create a consistent blogging schedule (at least once a week).
  • Create a link-building plan – link-building is the primary objective of off-page SEO, which is the process of attracting inbound links to your website from other sources on the internet.
  • Compress media files before uploading them to your site – page speed is a crucial ranking factor for SEO, and media files can slow down pages extremely quickly.
  • Stay up to date on SEO news and best practices
  • Measure and track your content’s success with analytics tools, to make sure your strategy is working.

Always remember when developing an SEO strategy that the business’ needs should be the primary focus – whether it’s for increasing customers or better marketing for instance, the need should always drive the strategy.

How to manage underperformance in the workplace

Posted on 18 March '21, under people.

Employees are the key ingredient to the success of any business or organisation – but what should employers do if they aren’t performing as well as they should?

Underperformance can occur when an employee is failing to do their job properly, or is being disruptive within the workplace and impacting those around them. It may be a result of:

  • Goals and standards are unclear to the employee, so they are unaware of what’s expected of them
  • Lack of knowledge or skills for the job
  • The employee is unsure if they are meeting the requirements
  • Personal motivation or confidence are low
  • Personal issues (family stress, physical and/or mental health problems or drug/alcohol issues)
  • Low workplace morale/a poor work environment
  • Interpersonal differences or cultural misunderstandings
  • Workplace bullying

Underperforming by employees or poor performance at work can include:

  • Not performing duties, or not performing duties to the required standard
  • Displaying negative or disruptive behaviour in the workplace
  • Failing to comply with workplace policies, rules or procedures

The best way to address an issue like this and to ensure that all are performing to their best is to have regular meetings and discussions about performance and goals. Providing feedback and support can also assist people in meeting their responsibilities and performance expectations while working.

Benefits of addressing performance issues by taking a best practice approach to your business or organisation can include:

  • More harmonious and higher performing workplace
  • Maximising an employee’s individual performance
  • Building a culture in the workplace of continuous improvement of skills and further developing them
  • Higher levels of employee engagement and
  • Avoidance of legal disputes, such as unfair dismissal or bullying claims

Here’s a simple 5 step approach to handling underperformance:

  1. Identify the problem – note down behaviors, issues and occurrences in the workplace by the employee and why it is an issue that needs to be addressed.
  2. Assess and analyse – consider how serious the issue is, how long the problem has been in the workplace, and what the gap is between what’s expected and what’s being delivered.
  3. Meet with the employee – Inform the employee of what the meeting will be about beforehand so that they can prepare for it. Make sure that the meeting is held confidentially and in private.
  4. Agree on a solution – Work together with the employee to come up with solutions; employees and employers should also agree to a performance plan that records these solutions for employees to work towards.
  5. Monitor and Review – Once a plan is in place, make sure that the employee follows through. Ensure any training or support is provided that was promised, continue giving feedback and encouragement and plan a follow up meeting to see how they are travelling.

https://www.fairwork.gov.au/tools-and-resources/best-practice-guides/managing-underperformance

Here’s how to start investing

Posted on 18 March '21, under money.

There are a lot of options when it comes to investing, but often people are daunted by the prospect. A lack of accessible information, misconceptions about investment opportunities and fear of losing money are often reasons people opt out of investing.

Investing can be as easy as a savings account separate from the account that is used for spending, in which a percentage of monthly income can go into. If there are adequate funds, consider investing in real estate for passive income. With real estate values growing over time, on top of earning rental income during ownership, there will be an opportunity to sell later on at a higher price.

Diversifying investment portfolios can seem overwhelming, but all that it takes is putting money into multiple investment avenues. This can be in shares or managed funds with a financial advisor, investments with different rates of return, or in startups or cryptocurrency.

These avenues of investment can still be a lot to take in for individuals, so financial advisors are always a good option for those looking for a little more of an expert opinion on the issue.

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/341491

An Ethical Business for You

Posted on 18 March '21, under business.

Business ethics are the system of moral and ethical beliefs that guides the values, behaviours and decisions of a business organisation and the individuals involved within that business. These ethics are important to business as many of them are tied directly into the law, and breaches of these can be punishable as an offence

. Though this varies by industry, a business’ ethics can have a significant impact on how a business may operate on a day to day business.

Business ethics can often be seen in the code of conduct that businesses and their employees follow.

Here are some of the benefits of a business taking ethics into consideration

  • Consistent ethical behaviour leads to a positive public image
  • Building a business’ foundation of ethical behavior helps create long-lasting effects for the business
  • Employee ethics are influenced by business ethics, leading to better perceived employees.
  • Ethical practice leads to profitability

In essence, profitability and business ethics are linked. Companies that are perceived to have better ethical responsibility and operate in such a way may have a better reputation overall. With investors leaning more towards socially responsible and ethically responsible companies to invest, companies need to align themselves with appropriate ethics moving forward.

 

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/040815/why-are-business-ethics-important.asp

What to do with your Lost Super

Posted on 18 March '21, under super.

After COVID 19’s impact on the world, an influx of employees who had lost their jobs fell into the job market. Many of these came from companies that couldn’t afford to continue their employment. As a result, many individuals had to seek alternative employment, or draw from their super. Some individuals took on multiple jobs to pay bills, and others drew from the super that they had accumulated in the government’s early release scheme specifically for coronavirus related income loss.

Super is held by superannuation funds, and accumulates as a result of how much super an employer pays to the employees’ funds. Many Australians may find that they actually possess multiple super accounts as a result of having “lost” their super accounts during changeovers. It can also happen as a result of changing names, moving addresses, living overseas or changing jobs.

Australians can use the ATO’s online tools to:

  • View details of all of their super accounts, including lost or unclaimed amounts
  • Consolidate eligible multiple accounts (including any super held by the ATO)
  • Withdraw your super held by the ATO when certain conditions are met.

As superannuation funds often have fees associated with their upkeep, as well as insurances that may be tied into it (such as life, total and permanent disability and income protection), it’s important to consult with providers before accounts are consolidated.

https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Super/Growing-your-super/Keeping-track-of-your-super/#Lostsuper