Renae Pitargue, Author at BUSY01 and First Class Accounts Ovens and Murray - Page 15 of 16

All Posts by Renae Pitargue

Scam Alert message

Scam Alert – Payment re-direction

Scam Alert - Payment re-direction

As a business owner, high on your priority list is to protect your assets, employees, reputation and most importantly your customers.

Unfortunately, in this highly technological advanced world, businesses are more and more vulnerable to the scams which can be presented in many forms and guises. It is the adverse effects from scams which can have a devastating effect on your most valuable assets.

The damage done can be significant to your business, including financial and reputational. The scammers are capable of being manipulative in sophisticated forms without you even realising.

You will have heard of many types of cons over the years, whether it be overpayment scams, or fake directories & advertising scams to phishing, malware and ransomware scams. The business world is full of them and there are more being formed daily.

Let’s explore further into one of these scams and look at ways of protecting your business:

Payment Redirection

How this scam works

  • Scammers hack into your supplier email accounts and obtain information such as customer lists, bank details and previous invoices.
  • You receive an email, supposedly from a supplier, requesting an electronic transfer to a new or updated bank account.
  • The scammers either disguise their email address or create a new address that looks nearly identical. The emails may be bluffed by adding, removing, or subtly changing characters in the email address which makes it difficult to identify the scammer’s email from a genuine address.
  • The email may look to be from a genuine supplier and often include a copy of the suppliers business’s logo and message format. It may also contain links to websites that are convincing fakes of the real company’s homepage or links to the real homepage itself.
  • The scam email requests a change to usual billing arrangements and asks you to transfer money to a different account, usually by electronic transfer.
  • The scam is usually not detected until the business is alerted by complaints from genuine suppliers that they have not received payment.

Protect Protect Protect

  • Implement effective management procedures in your business to prevent future scams. SCAM PROOF your BUSINESS.
  • Have a clearly defined process for verifying and paying accounts and invoices.
  • Consider a multi-person approval process for transactions over a certain dollar threshold.
  • Ensure your staff are aware of this scam and understand how it works so they can identify it, avoid it and report it. Share this article with them!
  • Double check email addresses - scammers can create a new account which is very close to the real one; if you look closely you can usually spot the fake.
  • DO NOT seek verification via email – you may be simply responding to the scammer’s email or scammers may have the capacity to intercept the email.
  • If you think a request is suspicious, pick up the phone and call your supplier.
  • DO NOT call any telephone number listed in the email; instead, use contact details that you already have on file for the business, or from an independent source.
  • DO NOT pay, give out or clarify any information about your business until you have investigated further.
  • Confirm that all your IT systems are up to date with security requirements. Perform regular security maintenance on your computer systems to ensure anti-virus, anti-spyware and your firewall are up to date.
 

This is one headache that your business can do without!

If you need help setting up these processes, feel free to contact us

Have you explored Deep Work?

Have you explored Deep Work?

Have you explored Deep Work? The way you structure your day has a huge impact on your outcomes. Minimising disruption and distraction to achieve 'flow' will boost your productivity.

Think about a typical day in your office...

Perhaps you chat with colleagues, check email, return phone calls, open a work file, check email again – which leads you to your social media feed… A universe of beeps, rings and pings beckons attention and steals productivity. Distraction is the new normal. The culprit: technology.

Multi-tasking is a misnomer because research shows doing two things at once means each task suffers. One study found a typical office worker gets just 11 minutes between interruptions, while it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interference.

It’s worth asking whether you and your team are giving yourselves the chance to put your mind to important tasks.

The author of Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, says most serious professionals should quit social media and we should all practise being bored.

Professor Cal Newport defines Deep Work as "professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit". That sweet spot, where you’re focused and productive, is often referred to as a 'state of flow'.

Five Ways to Improve Flow

A big project is due. You need to minimise distractions to meet your deadline. You must make minutes count rather than stretch your work hours from here to next Sunday. Here are five ways to get into a state of flow, where you’re ultra-productive and focused:

1. Limit social media

Cull the feeds you rarely use. Maybe keep LinkedIn but cut Instagram. Are you using your Twitter account, or can you get news another way? If Facebook or another site is stealing too much of your time, curtail its use through technology, with an app like Freedom, https://freedom.to/, which can block internet access for up to eight hours at a stretch. Or StayFocused, a Chrome extension that restricts minutes spent on time-wasting websites. The extension is totally flexible, allowing you to set the amount of time you can waste each day, determine which websites are time-wasters, and decide if you’d like to block certain sites altogether.

2. Give yourself a strict time period to work

This limits procrastination and prevents burnout. Newport calls working 9-5, with no weekend work, fixed-schedule productivity. The more limits you give yourself, the less time you have for wasting. Deadlines such as ‘I have 90 minutes to finish this business case', or ‘I will finish work by 5.30pm each day’, make it easier to keep yourself on task.

Newport says he doesn’t work past 5.30pm and rarely works weekends yet manages a full-time professor job and writes books.

3. Introduce Deep Work strategies:

  • Monastic: isolate yourself for long periods of time without distractions; no shallow work allowed. This is when you squirrel yourself away in a distant room and tell everyone you’re unavailable
  • Bimodal: reserve a few consecutive days when you’ll work like a monastic. For example, you go to your quiet space Monday through Wednesday, then return to your usual routine of meetings and taking calls the rest of the week
  • Rhythmic: take three to four hours each day to perform Deep Work on your project - this strategy might involve blocking your calendar from 8am-12pm each day so you can work uninterrupted

4. Transition to Deep Work

Use rituals and set routines to minimise friction in your transition to depth. After you decide on your working philosophy, commit to scheduling Deep Work blocks into your diary and stick to them. Scheduling a specific time of day in advance negates the need to use willpower. Also, know where you’ll work and for how long. Create a zone specifically to perform Deep Work.

5. Drain the shallows

Confine shallow work so it doesn’t impede your ability to take full advantage of deeper efforts that will ultimately determine your impact.

Use time blocking to schedule every minute of your day, and group tasks into blocks, such as emailing, printing, scheduling meetings, etc. Don’t worry if you tweak your schedule multiple times. The goal is not to be a schedule stickler, but to maintain a say in what kind of work you’re doing.

Economist, philosopher and author, Adam Smith, figured out the value of Deep Work in the 18th century:

“The man who works so moderately as to be able to work constantly not only preserves his health the longest but, in the course of the year, executes the greatest quantity of work".

Deep Work improves efficiency. 

Get in touch if you’d like help with other strategies to increase efficiency in your business.

Employee Payment Summaries are due soon – for the last time!

Employee Payment Summaries are due soon - for the last time!

The end of the payroll year will be here sooner than you think! We can help make the process easier by reviewing and validating your payroll figures prior to issuing payment summaries by July 14.

Once you start reporting under Single Touch Payroll, you will no longer be required to issue a Payment Summary. Your final payment summary to employees is due 14th July. After this date your employees can access their income statement through the ATO via myGov.

You’ll have two weeks from the end of the payroll year to issue your payment summary so it’s worthwhile preparing now to make the process easy.

Here’s what you will need:

Payroll Ch​​​​ecklist

  • Make sure you have all the necessary details for all employees, both current and any who have terminated throughout the year. The essential information is full name, date of birth, address, tax file number, and an email address if you are sending payment summaries electronically.
  • Review any terminated employees. Is the correct termination date recorded in your software? Are there any Employment Termination Payments (ETPs)?
  • Review allowances paid to employees and check which ones are required to be reported separately.
  • Review salary sacrifice payments to superannuation for Reportable Employer Superannuation Contributions (RESC) amounts.
  • Check any Reportable Fringe Benefit Tax (RFBT) amounts that should be included.
  • Do you plan to email payment summaries to employees? If so, advise employees of your intention to provide electronic versions and make sure the email address is secure and private. The electronic version must be non-editable and preferably generated directly from your payroll software.

Verify Your Payroll Numbers

It’s important to verify payroll figures before issuing payment summaries, in order to minimise the chance of errors and having to re-issue at a later date.

Once the payroll year is finalised at 30 June, you can then focus on analysing the payroll amounts for each employee and cross-checking against the numbers in your profit and loss accounts.

The end of the payroll year will be here sooner than you think! We can help make the process easier by reviewing and validating your payroll figures prior to issuing payment summaries.

Remember, this is the last year you will need to issue payment summaries. 

From 1 July, all employers must report to the ATO using Single Touch Payroll (STP).

Do you need more information about STP? We can help you set up your payroll ready for STP reporting.

Teaching your kids about money

Teaching kids about money

Teaching your kids about money is all about finding the right moments to have a conversation. Each time this happens, you’ll be helping to strengthen their financial literacy and build their ability to make good decisions with money.

The money we spend each day tends to be invisible. When was the last time you withdrew your cash for the week and used it to make purchases? Rather than dealing in notes and coins, we tend to reach for our cards or shop seamlessly online. It’s entirely possible to spend money without even reaching for your wallet.

This can give kids some confusing messages about how money is spent. The danger here is that they won’t develop financial literacy and will struggle to manage their own money later on. One way to help them to build their financial management skills is to choose moments to talk to them about money and why you’re making certain decisions.

These moments could include:

Shopping a​​​​t the supermarket

If you’re taking your kids on the weekly shop, get them involved in the process. Involve them in drawing up your shopping list and talk through your budget. Have them help you to find items, and weigh up differently-priced options. As a bonus, helping them to understand how a food budget works might just cut down on all those requests for treats!

Withdrawing money from the ATM 

Getting out money does seem a little magical. So it’s important that kids can make the connection between the money you go to work for, and what they see coming out of the wall. Talk to them about where the money you’re withdrawing will go and help to understand the importance of knowing what’s in your bank account.

Letting them make choices 

When it comes to pocket money or money from a birthday or Christmas, it can be helpful to let your children experience the consequences of their financial decisions. It’s tempting to tell them what to do with their money, but once they discover that they can only spend their precious cash once, take the time to talk with them about what they are feeling and how they might use their money differently in the future.

Choosing activities 

When you choose what to do as a family, don’t forget to talk through the costs of different options. Kids will appreciate balancing an expensive trip to the movies with a free picnic in the park or will be amazed when they compare the cost of an icecream at a parlor versus a whole tub at the supermarket. Encourage them to brainstorm and research low-cost ideas and get creative!

Casual Workers

Employing casual workers

Employing casual workers

Having access to a casual workforce can be a great way for your business to manage busy periods while keeping ongoing costs low. Before you jump at the opportunity, it is important to understand the rules.

With the increasing casualisation of the workforce in Australia, there is a large and accessible pool of eager workers. Many students and those re-entering the workforce are looking to fill a gap in their employment or gain valuable experience.

If you want to attract strong candidates to roles in the future, gaining a good reputation for treating your casual workers properly can set you up for success in the future. The right casual employee may even become an invaluable part of your business and be a great fit for a permanent role.

What is a casual employee?

The Fairwork Ombudsman defines a casual employee as an employee who

…does not have a firm commitment in advance from an employer about how long they will be employed for, or the days (or hours) they will work.

This also means that they are not obligated to commit to all work on offer from the employer.

How is a casual employee different from a part-time employee?

Unlike casual employees, your part-time and full-time employees have fixed contracts or guarantees of ongoing employment. This means they can expect to work regular hours. They also have entitlements, such as leave and must give or receive notice to end the employment.

Casual employees have no guaranteed hours of work. They usually work irregular hours, don’t get annual leave and can end employment without notice.

What are the employers’ responsibilities?

  • To ensure employees are paid the correct rate. This may include an additional casual loading that replaces leave entitlements
  • To pay superannuation if required. You can find out more about your obligations here.
  • To follow the Fairwork Ombudsman guidelines if you make any changes to the terms of the employment. Examples would be requiring an employee to work for fixed hours or a fixed term
  • Recognise that employees can ask for flexible work arrangements and paid parental leave after 12 months of ongoing employment.

Contact us to find out how we can help you set up the right structure for casual employees and look after your payroll needs.

Is your small business ready for Single Touch Payroll?

Is your small business ready for Single Touch Payroll?

For employers with 19 or fewer employees, single touch payroll (STP) legislation will be coming into effect on the 1st of July 2019. Are you ready? Because it’s important to start preparing now.

You need to know what Single Touch Payroll is, what the changes mean for your business and who it affects. And more importantly, you need to know what to do to prepare, so that you will be compliant.

What is Single Touch Payroll?

For employers with 20 or more employees, you will already be familiar with STP, but if you are unaware, STP is the mechanism for sending tax and super information to the ATO directly from your payroll or accounting software every time you pay your employees. The legislation was passed in February this year to extend this to employers with 19 or fewer employees.

How to prepare your small business for STP and ensure compliance

Most popular payroll software companies will have the correct facilities ready to go, such as Xero and MYOB. We will have spoken to many of our clients already about STP, however, if you are unsure, talk to us.

There are a few things to be aware of you as you get ready to use STP reporting.

  1. Check your software – you may need a software update or additional step added to your process
  2. Ensure you have factored STP into your payroll process
  3. Ensure your payroll compliance is up-to-date generally, including employee benefit, wage and super entitlements and maintaining accurate records

The first year of using STP reporting is a transition year and there will be assistance from the ATO. That means penalties for errors will not generally apply.

If you don’t think you will be ready by the 1st of July, you can apply for a deferral through the ATO. The ATO gives a list of possible reasons for deferring, including lack of internet coverage, or if further development of software is needed.

If you haven't already done so, talk to us about doing your preparation now to ensure you are ready by the 1st of July.

Home Office

Do you have a home office?

Do you have a home office?

If you have a home office for your business, you should be able to claim some of the costs involved in maintaining, owning and using your home.

It’s important to be aware of what you can and can’t claim, and the record-keeping involved in making a claim.

How does it work?

In order to claim, the space you use must be used primarily for your business.

This doesn’t mean setting up at the kitchen table from time to time, it means having a dedicated space that you work from.

If you are selling online and storing stock, you may also be using other spaces in your house for storage or stock maintenance. Or, if you are making or creating products, you may be using other areas like your kitchen or workshop.

Costs that you might be able to claim include:

  • home office equipment
  • repairs to the home office or work-related furniture and equipment
  • cleaning expenses
  • any other day-to-day running expenses for your home office.

You may also be able to claim the costs of some trips in your car if these are from your home office to other locations where you are carrying out business.

The ATO has developed a calculator tool, to help you better understand what you might be able to claim. View the tool here.

Keeping track of your costs

Make sure you keep a record of all your expenses. It’s important to keep your personal and business expenses separate. Consider using online accounting software so the paperwork is kept in good order.

We can help you review your home office expenses to make sure these are included when you claim.

Talk to us, we can help.

grow your profitability

Make your business more profitable

Make your business more profitable

Is profitability a key business goal for this year?

Making a profit isn’t something that happens overnight. To create a good return from your business you need a clear focus and a well thought-out strategy for increasing profitability.

This means reviewing your business model and looking at every area of the business, to see where you can cut costs, increase margins and maximise revenue.

grow your profitability

Focus on your key drivers

Having surplus cash at the end of the year allows you to invest back into the business, fund your growth plans and increase the size of your own dividends and drawings as the owner.

To achieve these profits, it’s important to focus on the key financial drivers in your business.

To drive profits:

  • Boost sales. The more sales you make, the bigger your net revenue. So, investing in marketing, sales activity and business development will be key to a better bottom line.
  • Increase prices. By setting a higher price point, and keeping your ‘cost of goods sold’ number low, you create a larger profit margin on each sale. And this improves your profitability.
  • Cut costs. Operational costs and overheads eat into your potential profits. Spend management and cost reduction are vital to creating a more profitable model.
  • Reduce taxes. Tax liabilities will be one of your biggest costs. Sensible tax planning and use of tax reliefs will help to reduce your taxes and ramp up your end profit.

Talk to us about boosting your profits

If your business goal is to increase profitability, we’ll help you:

  • review your business model
  • identify your key financial drivers
  • proactively drive your profit performance.

Get in touch and let’s start boosting your profits.

strategy

Get strategy at the heart of your successful business

Get strategy at the heart of your successful business

Putting strategy at the heart of your business activity should give you greater direction and focus and lead to stimulating, profitable fee opportunities.

strategy


Businesses that have clear objectives or goals, robust accountability and a shared sense of purpose should always outperform those that just show up and go through the motions.

Strategy lies at the heart of most successful businesses. To achieve this you need to resource and execute with purpose. Few businesses have a strategic plan or a robust planning process. Changing this situation should be a top priority!

Here are two top tips for business owners.

1. Process Creates the Plan

Getting strategy at the heart of your success will require you to carve out some time, get a process started, and shake things up. There’s no better time to review and tweak your business model, future-proof compelling services, and to get your strategic building blocks in place.

Just as every good strategy has key elements, every good plan needs a step-by-step process. In fact, the process is often just as important as the plan itself. A strategic planning retreat with your core team is a great way to start the process – find a spot offsite to get the creative juices flowing such as a beach, a park, or vineyard, and set an agenda.

2. Key elements of an effective strategy

The key elements in a good strategy normally incorporate:

  • Vision – this is a statement that identifies what a company would like to achieve or accomplish.
  • Values – these are the fundamental beliefs upon which your business and its behaviour are based. They are the guiding principles that your business uses to manage its internal affairs as well as its relationship with customers.
  • Objectives – short term, long term. These should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound)
  • KPIs – stands for Key Performance Indicators. These are measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives.
  • Actions – what needs to be done to meet the objectives? Make this simple and clear.
  • Owners – delegating tasks to specific owners to ensure follow through and accountability.
  • Deadlines – when your actions will be complete to ensure you make progress.

It doesn’t need to be much more complicated than that, but do invest the time and effort in doing this right. A proactive, value-add strategic model will need fresh thinking, debate, research, and open conversations. Enjoy and embrace the process and you should end up with a good outcome.

Great planning requires a guide, facilitator, and/or professional expertise to be as robust as possible. We can help your business and guide you through the steps.

Putting strategy at the heart of your business activity should not only give your business greater direction and focus but lead to stimulating, profitable opportunities too. It’s time to get started!