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making it easier to get paid blog

Making it easier to get paid

Making it easier to get paid

Making sure you get paid on time is crucial to your success.

The process of making sales and generating revenue lies at the heart of any business model. But you can't manage your cashflow effectively or raise any profits if customers don't actually pay their invoices.

The easier you can make it for customers to pay you, the faster you'll see cash coming into the business. That’s good news for your financial position, your ability to cover your operational costs and your capacity to fund the growth and expansion of your business.

So, how do you speed up those payments and make sure you get paid on time?

Set out clear payment terms

Your payment terms are the starting point for healthy payment times.

These terms set out when you expect to be paid and form a legally binding contract with the customer.

You may expect immediate payment on receipt of the invoice. Or you might set out a specific number of days that the customer has to pay the invoice (generally 30, 60, 90 or 120 days, depending on your industry). This is sometimes called ‘trade credit’ and allows your customers to pay for goods and services at a later, pre-agreed date – helping them to spread the cost.

Your payment terms should also include details of any late payment penalties.

If the customer doesn’t meet your agreed payment times, most businesses will add a 1% to 1.5% monthly late payment fee to the outstanding bill. This acts as a great incentive for the customer to pay the bill, before the penalty fees start mounting up.

Invoice customers as soon as you can

In a business-to-consumer (B2C) environment, your customers will generally pay for their goods and services immediately. But when you’re working in the business-to-business (B2B) world, you’ll need to send your customer an invoice, asking for the money to be paid.

A customer can’t settle their bill until you send them an invoice. So, it’s vital to send out the invoice as quickly as possible, so you can minimise the gap between doing the work and being paid for the work.

In some industries, the project will be broken down into multiple invoices, paid across a period of time. This makes it easier for the customer to pay, and means you (as the supplier) don’t have to complete the project before receiving the money you’re owed.

Ideally, you want your invoices to go out as early as possible. This allows your payment terms to kick in and makes it easier to predict when cash will be coming into the business.

Be organised about your payment admin

Getting paid is a process – and the more organised you make the process, the quicker the payment will be received.

When you send out the invoice, make sure you send it to all the relevant people in the payment chain. This will usually be:

  • Your main contact at the client – the person who you usually deal with
  • The person who will approve the bill – the person who will green-light the payment
  • The finance team – the person (or people) who will actually action the payment.

It’s also a good idea to quote any relevant purchase order (PO) numbers that the customer has raised, and to give a very clear description of the work done, or the goods purchased.

Embrace the available payment technology

Invoices used to be hard-copy printed bills, but in the digital age the vast majority of companies will send out e-invoices.

Electronic invoices are easy to raise (usually from your accounting software or project management app) and can be emailed out instantly.

Doing everything in the digital realm also makes it easier to keep records and keep track of payments.

Many e-invoice systems will also let you add a variety of different payment options for the customer.

You could just include your bank details and wait for the customer to make a direct payment to your account. But you can also include payment buttons in the e-invoice that give customers the option to pay via digital payment gateways, like Stripe or GoCardless.

Offering more ways to pay makes the whole process more convenient for your customers. And it will generally result in faster payment times as a result.

If you want to speed up your payment times and boost your cashflow, please do get in touch. We can help you streamline your payment processes and embrace the latest in payment tech.

Business Development

The importance of business development

The importance of business development

Business development is one of the most important areas of focus for any ambitious business.

If you want your business to grow, that’s going to mean having a razor-sharp focus on new opportunities and strategies.

That could mean exploring new markets, or nurturing new partnerships. It might mean diversifying to create new revenue streams, or coming up with new ideas to boost your profitability.

Ultimately, good business development comes down to having good ideas – ideas that broaden your reach, sales, revenues and external relationships.

As the founder or CEO, it's important to put business development at the top of your to-do list.

Put time aside for business development

Business opportunities don’t just appear out of thin air (sadly). To come up with an opportunity for a business partnership, or to bring in a big new client, you’re going to have to do some serious work. So, it’s a good idea to put business development (BD) time aside in your diary.

By blocking out time to devote to BD, you can step away from the everyday operational tasks and get into a more creative and objective mindset.

  • Where do you want the business to be in 6 months?
  • What do you need to do to achieve this goal?
  • Are there relationships you could build to bring this plan to life? 

Asking these questions and getting a more concrete idea of the answers will form the basis for your BD plan – and that’s the route map you can then follow.

Work on your BD plan and strategy

Once you have some positive BD ideas to work with, it’s important to get your goals and your strategy down into some form of plan. As with any kind of growth initiative, your BD activity needs to be well planned, so you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve.

Give each new strategic idea a clear timeline and assign jobs, activities and roles to the relevant people in the team. Cost out each project too, and assign a budget so you can be sure that you’re getting the best return on your investment (both financially and from a time perspective).

Most importantly, though, track your progress against your BD goals. Agree on a target, set a date and measure your progress and performance against that timeline.

Build relationships with potential partners and customers

Relationships lie at the heart of your BD activity.

You might be getting to know the executive team at a possible new partner’s company. Or you may be reaching out to a new customer audience with a brand-new product.

Getting to understand what makes these people tick is so important to warming them up as a potential partner, customer or supplier.

Trust is the real key here. 

People are more likely to engage with your business when they trust you as people and as a brand. So, spending time nurturing relationships and networking with other businesspeople and targets is time well spent.

Record, track and analyse your BD performance

With your goals, targets and timelines locked in, you’re ready to start putting this BD plan into action.

But to know if you’re making headway, it’s a good idea to track your performance.

If you’re using project management software or a client relationship management (CRM) app, it’s easy to add notes, record your progress and tick off the key actions in the project. 

You can put the financial reporting tools in your accounting software to good use. Track cashflow for the project, increases in revenue and monitor your sales and marketing expenses etc.

Get ambitious with your BD ideas

No business stands still. Your aims and goals as the owner will change. Your market will evolve and new competitors will appear. Economic conditions and business opportunities will change.

To keep your business at the cutting edge, it’s vital to keep your BD focus alive and well.

Remember to:

  • Define your goals and make it clear what you want the business to achieve
  • Align your BD activity with the company’s main growth plan
  • Log your ideas and potential opportunities and add them to your BD plan
  • Warm up your targets and potential partners and keep notes on your progress
  • Track your BD performance against your targets, budgets, revenues and timelines
  • Keep revisiting your plan and flexing your BD activity to the current market.

If you want to expand your business development activity, get in touch with us. We’ll help you integrate the appropriate apps to support your business development.

Operational Foundations

Key Elements of Operational Foundations

Key Elements of Operational Foundations

While the context of this article focuses on start-ups, if you have an established business, it's a good time to review the operational aspects of your business.

The complexity of your operational model will vary greatly, depending on the kind of business you’re running. A small two-person design agency will have a simpler operational set-up than a wholesale food production business, for obvious reasons.

For start-ups, this stage of the journey is about pinning down those key operational needs and getting an effective strategy together for how your business is going to work, in the real world. 

For established businesses, reviewing the key elements of your operational foundations can help identify areas to improve efficiencies and cost savings. 

Your premises or workspace

Every business needs some kind of workspace, whether it’s your own home, an office or a factory space.

This is the place where the actual work will be done and the central hub of your operations, so put some careful thought into what space will be needed.

In terms of location, the type of business will also dictate whether you can be based where you are, or should you be where your customers are.

A two-person design agency could feasibly operate from a co-working office, a startup incubator space or from a spare room/garage/summer house in the founder’s home. 

The wholesale food production business, however, will need factory space to house it’s production equipment, a chilled store for the food, an office for the admin staff and managers, and space for delivery vehicles and incoming supplier deliveries etc.

Your equipment and tech

You’ll have set aside some of your initial funding to buy the basic equipment and technology needed for the business. This will include all the machinery, plant, office furniture, IT, computing and telecommunications equipment required to run the business, plus any vehicles you’ll need.

Once you have your premises ready to roll, you can start moving your equipment in and actually ‘setting up shop’ in your brand new workspace.

Your key suppliers

Most businesses will rely on some form of supply chain to keep the business ticking over.

The design agency will probably need paper, printer ink and (no doubt) a lot of coffee to stay operational.

And our food production business will need raw ingredients, cardboard boxes and product packaging to be able to produce their key products.

Your next step is to source the suppliers you need and set up contracts with these external companies.

You may have pre-existing contacts in the industry, or you may be starting with a clean slate.

Either way, it’s important to build up a trusted supply network, where you’ve negotiated a good price and decent payment terms.

Ultimately, your business can sink or swim based on the stability of your supply chain, so these relationships will be crucial to your success.

Get the logistics and delivery elements in place

Getting the finished product/service to your end customer is the main goal of any business, so the final piece of your operational puzzle will be sorting out your logistics and delivery systems.

For a small service-based startup, like the design agency, the end offering is likely to be either wholly digital or a mix of print and digital. The end delivery process is relatively straightforward and will mostly consist of getting the final signed-off assets to the customer.

For a complex manufacturing or production startup, like the food business, the delivery systems will be a vital part of their offering. As a food business, you’ve got to meet all relevant food hygiene timescales and standards, and get your fresh, high-quality food products safely to your customers.

A delivery system should be customised to each company’s specific needs, so it’s sensible to put plenty of thought into making this system efficient, cost-effective and productive.

If you know someone in the early stages of planning out a business idea, please feel free to share this article with them.

Or, use this information to conduct a review of your established business to make sure your business operation foundations are in order and properly aligned with your business model.

Become a digital business

Become a digital business

Become a digital business

In the online, connected world that we now live in, it’s important for your business to become a digital business.

Digital technology has revolutionised the options you have available as a small business. There are a wealth of cloud-based solutions and apps to help automate your admin, enhance your productivity, open up your business data and market the company online.

Making the technology work for you

Becoming a digital business isn’t about using technology for tech’s sake. It’s about seeing the huge value and potential of applying digital processes and software tools within the company.

By moving your systems, processes and customer interactions over to digital, your small business can quickly become more streamlined, more efficient and more profitable. And with the ineffective elements of the business removed, you’re ready to grow, scale and expand.

Key benefits of digital transformation include:

Cloud accounting at the heart of the businesss

Cloud accounting moves your bookkeeping and financial management online. This gives you access to your accounts, reporting and key performance indicators (KPIs) through your web browser, on any internet-ready device. You can literally run your finances, invoicing, credit control and bank reconciliation from anywhere with Wi-Fi. And that helps you keep in control of the numbers..

Automation of low-level tasks

The manual tasks involved in company admin begin to eat into your business time. Many digital business tools have elements of automation built in, to help you automate the key time-consuming tasks and become more efficient. Automated bookkeeping, automatic bank reconciliation and automated payment collection all put hours back in to the business and help you do more.

Fintech and payments

Keeping on top of your finances isn’t just about accounting. Financial technology (fintech) tools help you ensure that money is flowing into the business, cashflow is being managed sensibly. And online payments are being made, and collected, automatically – helping to maximise your financial health.

Job management and productivity

Planning and running your operations and project work can be tough. But with software project management and workflow apps connected up to your central system, you’re always on top of the workload and resourcing. Talk to us about which app would work in your business. 

Digital marketing and social media

Most consumers and business customers will begin a search for products/services online. So having a good website, a bold online presence and the right social media channels in place is vital for your sales and marketing strategy. By positioning your brand in the digital space, you make yourself relevant, easy to find and connected to your ideal customer base.

If you’re planning a digital transformation process for your small business, come and talk to us. We’ll help you review your systems and processes, identify your key business needs and recommend the software tools and apps that will build your ideal digital system.

Get in touch to start embracing the digital future.

Business Tips: Hiring Employees

Business tips: Hiring employees

Business tips: Hiring employees

In business, the people you hire are some of the most important assets in your business.

They’re your trusted workforce, the face of your brand and the people you entrust with growing your business.

Because of this, it’s vital that you choose the right talent, the right personalities and the right mix of people for your team. Making a mistake with your hiring can really hold you back, so be sure to put some real thought into who you need on your team.

Consider which roles you need 

From a staffing point of view, you need to think about what roles will be needed to grow your business and operate effectively.  

Can you do everything yourself and become a real jack-of-all-trades? Or do you need sales people, marketers, operations managers and shop-floor staff to get this thing going?

In an ideal world, you obviously want a big, effective team to run your operations. But payroll costs and your available funding can put a limitation on this.

Think about which roles you REALLY need and whether you can manage with a skeleton crew (but without the need for a ghost pirate ship!) or invest in more people.

Decide whether to outsource or go in-house

Something to consider is whether any of your business positions need to be full-time, in-house employees? Or if some roles can be part-time, or outsourced to freelancers and contractors?

Having full-time employees on the books gives you a permanent resource, with a team who are wholly focused on growing your business.

But employees are costly. Aside from monthly wages, you need to pay for holiday pay, sick pay and a staff pension scheme. A more cost-effective option can be to use freelancers, hiring in talent and resources as and when you need them.

Search your network for talent

Knowing the roles you need is one thing, but actually FINDING the talent is another.

Use your existing business and social networks and put out the word that you’re hiring. Word of mouth can be a great way to find people, but make sure that applicants fit the stated criteria.

Writing short, clear job descriptions for each role is a good way to outline the position, attract the best candidates and filter out the weak applicants.

Using a recruitment agency or a jobs website helps to spread your net wider and also takes some of the admin workload away. Once you have a shortlist of candidates, it’s time to start interviewing.

Check that applicants share your vision and values

A job interview is obviously about more than just running through the skills on a CV.

The successful candidate is going to be working very closely with you, so you need to know that they can do the job but also that they’re a good fit for the team.

Do they share your vision for the product/service and the future of the company?

Do they seem driven, with the right kind of can-do attitude?

Are they engaged by your company values and the WHY behind your business model?

And, vitally, do you get on with them as a person?

Having the best mix of personalities and talent in a team is so important. Getting the mix right creates a tight, well-focused team. Get it wrong and you’re looking at disharmony, a lack of productivity and a team that’s just not going to deliver the energy and value you need as the business owner.

Measure performance and fit

Once you’ve hired the challenges don’t stop.

As you all pull together to grow your business, you’ll need to have ongoing performance reviews. This includes checking in on how the team is performing as a group, whether there are any problems to iron out and how individual employees are tracking against their personal remit, targets and goals.

It’s not an easy ride, but with a positive, well-engaged team behind you, you give your business the best possible chances of success, growth and long-term prosperity.

Talk to us about Payroll Services including PAYG Withholdings, and STP setup. Ensure your staff are paid the correct rates and paid according to the correct hours worked.

automation can ease your workload

Automation can ease your business workload

Automation can ease your business workload

Small and medium-sized businesses are spending on average 120 hours a year on admin tasks, according to recent research into productivity at UK SMBs.

If your people are spending 120 hours wading through tedious and unproductive admin, that’s bad for the business and for your overall efficiency. Fortunately, technology and software automation can go a long way towards automating the low-level admin tasks.

Better productivity through automation

Automation is an important way to ease your business workload, with a host of different business apps and cloud solutions offering ways to automate your admin.

With ‘smart business tools’ increasing in number and choice, software is utilising automation algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cognitive solutions to help remove the mundane admin tasks from your workflows.

Core processes that will benefit from automation include:

Automated bookkeeping

Just take a photo of your receipts, expenses and invoices and ‘optical character recognition’ (OCR) technology will digitise the output and pull it through into your accounts software. No data entry, no human error and no lost receipts! We can do the rest to ensure your records are accurate.

Automated credit control 

Chasing up debts and late-paying customers takes time. Automated credit control apps track your debtor numbers and automatically sends out customised chaser emails as soon as an invoice is late. This reduces your credit control time, speeds up cash collection and cuts your aged debtor figure.

Automated payment collection

The easier it is to pay you, the faster your customers will pay. Automated card payments and cloud-based Direct Debit solutions allow you to automatically take payment from a customer as soon as an invoice is due. Some solutions will even automate the invoice matching and bank reconciliation process.

Automated reporting and forecasting 

The better your reporting and business intelligence, the easier it is to make informed decisions about your company strategy. Accounting platforms and fintech tools now offer automatic, real-time reporting and forecasting, giving you access to the important numbers and metrics, fast.

Automated digital marketing

Digital marketing is key to raising your brand’s profile. Marketing platforms offer important time-saving ways to schedule and post social media content, or email automation that sends a pre-programmed cadence of emails to specific target audiences within your wider customer base.

Talk to us about embracing the power of automation

If your admin is starting to hold you back, come and talk to us about how automation can pick up some of the heavy lifting as well as giving you the metrics you need for decision making. We can review you business processes and identify the automation opportunities, helping you choose the best apps to drive your business efficiently.

Contact us to discuss your automation opportunities. 

scam-alert-payment-re-direction

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

chasing invoices

5 tips for chasing invoices without annoying your clients

Chasing Invoices

When you’re a small business owner, sole trader or freelancer, chasing invoices and asking for payment on overdue invoices can be a delicate matter.

Without an accounts person or department, sometimes you’re trying to secure new work and chase invoices from the same person. That can be an awkward tightrope to walk.

Here are five tips for chasing payments while maintaining customer loyalty:

Automate reminders

Set friendly payment reminders that go out automatically – they tell clients they’re missed a payment without making it personal. It’s like your invoicing platform is giving them a nudge, rather than you doing it yourself. You can sign it off with just your business name, rather than your own.

Find out who’s behind the payments

Is there another person at the business who’s in charge of accounts or payments? Ideally, you want to be selling your services to your usual contact and chasing someone else to pay your invoices.

Enlist help from a friend

If you have a friend who also has a small business, become each other’s accounts support. Set your friend up with an ‘accounts@yourwebsite.com’ address and they can send out email reminders and follow-ups to your clients, or call them about the invoice. Maybe you can do the same for them.

Set expectations when you negotiate the job

Firm and clear payment terms make it easier to get paid faster and keep that cash flowing.

Set out your terms up front – it’s much easier to talk about your payment expectations when you organise the job, rather than once the invoice has been sent.

For persistently slow payers, consider offering an early payment discount or ask for more money upfront for the next job.

Be nice, but firm

There’s no need to be rude or aggressive to your clients when chasing payment; you want to maintain a positive relationship.

However, at some point you need to cut off their credit. Often saying ‘I’m very happy to do that for you, just waiting on payment of that last invoice’ will give them the impetus they need to pay you.

But if they persistently don’t pay, no matter how much you like the client, you’re not providing a free service! Stop working for the client and chase those outstanding invoices more assertively.

If you need help managing your outstanding invoices, get in touch for expert support and guidance.


basics of business tax

Basics of Business Tax

Basics of business tax

Different business structures pay taxes in different ways, so it's important to have an understanding of the basics.

Although there are many taxes that a business might be affected by, the main ones are:

  • goods and services tax
  • income tax
  • pay as you go withholding tax for employees
  • payroll tax
  • excise tax

Other taxes that a business could encounter are:

  • fringe benefits
  • capital gains
  • property
  • vehicle
  • other duties and levies administered by state or local governments
Taxes Paid on the Business Activity Statement

Once your business is registered for the relevant taxes, several are reported and paid as part of the monthly or quarterly activity statement.

  • GST is collected from customers and paid to suppliers, and you pay the difference between GST on sales and purchases
  • PAYG Withholding for employees or suppliers that don’t provide an Australian Business Number
  • PAYG Instalments contribute towards an expected income tax bill
  • Other taxes paid on the BAS (if applicable) are fringe benefits instalments, fuel tax credits, wine equalisation tax and luxury car tax
Taxes and Other Fees Paid to State Revenue Offices

Some business taxes are paid directly to the state revenue office, such as land tax for property purchases and payroll tax once the state threshold of reportable wages is reached. Other common government duties include stamp duty on property transfers and land tax.

Income Tax for Businesses

Income tax is calculated after the end of the financial year, taking into account any PAYG instalments already paid.

Tax deductions for business expenses reduce your taxable income and, therefore, your tax bill.

If financial gain is made on the disposal of assets, such as property or shares, capital gains tax is paid on the amount of financial gain and is paid as part of income tax.

Income tax for business is calculated differently according to the type of entity.

Small Business Tax Concessions

Your tax agent can make sure you are claiming all the small business tax benefits that you are allowed through concessions that reduce the amount of tax liability.

For example, there are specific concessions for asset write-off, primary producers, fringe benefits or start-up expenses. Concessions also apply in some situations to reduce the amount of capital gains tax payable.

Thinking of starting or changing your business?

Talk to us about adding or cancelling tax registrations, concessions and planning for the various taxes your business will need to manage.

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