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Review your expenses and save yourself money

Review your expenses and save yourself money

Review your expenses - and save yourself money


Running a business will always mean incurring certain expenses or 'spend'.

Whether you’re a large family business or a small fledgling startup, there will be costs, overheads and supplier bills that mount up – and these expenses will gradually chip away at your cash position, making it more difficult to grow and make a profit.

So, what can you do to reduce your spend levels? And what impact will this have on your overall margins, profits and ability to fund the next stage in your business journey?

Getting proactive with your spend management

Spend management is all about getting in control of your expenses – and, where possible, aiming to reduce the level of costs and overheads that you incur as a company.

Why does this matter? 

Well, excessive spending eats into your cash flow, reduces your profit margins and stops you from achieving the profits that you’re capable of as a business.

So if you can get proactive with your spend management, you can actually make your company a far more financially productive enterprise – and that’s great for your overall business health.

So, what can you do to reduce spend and slim down your company expenses?

Here are some key ways to reduce expenses:

Reduce your overheads

Your overheads are the unavoidable costs of running your business, producing your products or supplying your services.

If you have bricks and mortar premises, these overheads will include rental payments, utility bills and even the cost of paying your staff.

Drill down into the numbers and see where there are opportunities to reduce these overhead costs. That could mean moving to smaller premises, or reducing the size of your workforce, to reduce payroll expenditure.

Put limits on staff expenses

If your employees can claim expenses, or buy raw materials and equipment with the company’s money, these costs can soon start to rack up. It’s a good idea to put a spending limit in place, so each staff member can only spend up to an agreed amount.

Having a clear expenses policy helps, as will training up your staff in good spend management techniques. Expenses cards – such as WebexpensesSoldo or Pleo – allow you to quickly set spend limits, track expenses and pull your expenses data through to your cloud accounting platform for processing.

Look for cheaper suppliers

If you can reduce your supplier costs, this will go a long way to bringing down your overall spend.

If you’ve been with certain key suppliers for years, look around for new quotes, look at current market prices and see if you can negotiate better deals. And if your old suppliers aren’t flexible enough, try swapping to newer, more eager suppliers who will be willing to meet you in the middle on price.

Make your operations leaner

The bigger your operational costs are, the less margin you’ll make on your end products and services.

One way to resolve this is to aim for a ‘lean approach’, paring back your staff, resources and operational complexity to the bare minimum.

By making the business as lean as possible, whilst still delivering the same output, you keep your revenue stable, but reduce the spend level that’s eating into your cost of goods sold (COGS). The smaller your COGS, the more profit you make on each unit or sale – and that means better cash flow, more working capital and bigger profits.

Talk to us about improving your spend management

If you’d like to get in control of your expenses, we’d love to chat.

We’ll review your current costs, run forecasting, and help highlight the key areas where expenses can be cut. Then we’ll help you formulate a proactive spend management programme, to reduce your unnecessary spending.

Keeping your cashflow strong

Keeping your cashflow strong in tough times

Keeping your cashflow strong in tough times

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable in tough economic times.

When sales are slow, there are still overheads and salaries that need to be sorted.

At First Class Accounts Ovens and Murray, we understand that the key to staying afloat and continuing to thrive during this time is pre-planning and forward thinking.

Here are some tips to help your business thrive in these difficult times:

Get a clear picture of your payroll and planned expenses

It's important to have a detailed understanding of your business's expenses so that you can plan for any potential shortfalls.

Make sure you have a clear picture of your payroll, and any other planned expenses that will need to be accounted for. If there’s even a possibility that there could be a shortfall, it’s essential to meet this head-on.

By forecasting and budgeting meticulously, you'll be able to better understand how you're placed to weather financial strains if or when they arise.

Invoice early

Sending invoices as soon as possible and in advance can help you receive payments sooner. By proactively billing your clients or customers, you increase the chances of receiving payment promptly. Offering a retainer or similar deal to regular clients or customers can also encourage them to book services or make purchases in advance, providing you with a cash flow boost.

Chase payment 

It's essential to follow up on any outstanding payments during tough times. Maintain strong communication with your clients and proactively remind them about their unpaid invoices. By initiating conversations and expressing the importance of timely payment, you can encourage clients to settle their dues promptly. Read 6 secrets to getting prompt payment here.

Talk to suppliers

A little honesty can go a long way. Being honest with your suppliers about your financial situation can lead to more flexible arrangements. Openly communicate with them and explore the possibility of extending a line of credit or negotiating alternative payment terms. Suppliers who value an ongoing business relationship may be willing to work with you to find mutually beneficial solutions.

Review Inventory

Evaluating your inventory can help identify potential cost-saving measures. Look for local suppliers who may offer cheaper alternatives, reducing shipping costs. Additionally, consider discussing alternative products with your suppliers that could help you lower expenses without compromising the quality or value you offer to your customers.

Review your costs

It’s also a good idea to do a general review of expenses. Business costs can creep up, and it’s a great idea to make a time to check on your expenses regularly, no matter what your financial situation. Review all of your regular payments and subscriptions as well as upcoming costs. There may be travel, functions or purchases which you can decide on an alternative approach to.

Talk to the bank or tax department

If you're experiencing tight cash flow, it's important to initiate early conversations with your bank and tax department. By discussing your situation, you can explore available options for financial assistance, such as credit facilities or tax payment extensions. Proactive communication allows you to put necessary arrangements in place and ensures you have the support needed to navigate challenging times.

Need help? 

We can help you implement strategies to protect your business for the long terms and help you alleviate cashflow worries.  Get in touch.

Key numbers to focus on in your business

Key numbers to focus on in your business now

Key numbers to focus on in your business now

As a business owner, it’s always been helpful to have an understanding of accounting – but in the world today, it’s never been more important to have a good grasp on your finances.

With the business world irreparably changed by the impact of coronavirus, the war on Ukraine, and rising inflation, your business is facing a ‘new normal’. Priorities have changed, customer behaviours have mutated and revenue streams have had to evolve and pivot in order to create a viable post-lockdown business model.

To track, monitor and drive your financial performance in this new business world, it’s increasingly important to have a handle on your key financial reports and metrics.

Getting to grips with your financial reports

Whereas in the past, extra cash in the business may have been seen as a surplus that needed to be spent on something, the past three years have shown us that having these reserves is vitally important for the survival and long-term health of businesses.

To truly be in control of this cash, it’s vital that you can dip into your accounts, financial reports and dashboards and ‘see the genuine story’ behind your financial position.

So, what are the key reports to focus on? Let’s take a look:

Budget 

Your budget is the financial plan that's tied in with your strategic plan. In essence, the budget is your approximation of the money it will take to attain your key strategic goals, and the revenue (income) and profits you hope to make during this period. It’s a benchmark you can use to measure your actuals (historic numbers) against, allowing you to see the variances, gaps and missed targets over a given period.

Cashflow Statement 

A cashflow statement shows the flow of money into and out of your business.

Understanding these cash inflows and outflows in detail allows you to manage this ongoing process, allowing you to aim for a ‘positive cashflow position’ – where inflows outweigh outflows.

In your ideal positive scenario, you have enough liquid cash in the business to cover your costs, fund your operations and generate a profit.

Cashflow Forecast

Forecasting allows you to take your historic cash numbers and project them forward in time.

As such, you can see where the cashflow holes may appear weeks, or even months, in advance. This gives you time to take action, whether it’s increasing your income stream, reducing your underlying costs, chasing up unpaid invoices (aged debt) or going to lenders for additional funding.

Balance Sheet 

Your balance sheet shows you your company’s assets, liabilities and equity at a given point in time.

In a nutshell, it’s a snapshot of what your business owns (your assets), what you owe to other people (your liabilities) and what money and profits you currently have invested in the company (your equity).

Your balance sheet is useful for seeing what stock and equipment your business owns, how much debt (liabilities) you’ve worked up and what your company is actually worth. This is all incredibly useful information to have at your fingertips when making big business decisions.

Profit & Loss

Your profit and loss report - often referred to as your P&L. Your P&L gives you an overview of the company’s revenues, costs and expenses over a given historic period of time.

Whereas the balance sheet is a snapshot, your P&L is more like a moving video. It shows you how your finances are progressing by demonstrating how revenue is coming in and costs/expenses are going out (rather than cash coming in and going out, as you see in your cashflow statement and cashflow forecasts).

There is a range of software and apps that you can use to generate the above reports. For example Xero

Talk to us about software and apps to help you with the financial reporting and forecasting for your business

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.

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

Credit Control

Keeping debt low through proactive credit control

Keeping debt low

Credit control: Having a large amount of debt in your business is bad for cashflow, weakens your overall financial health and brings down your credit score as a business.

So when customers don’t pay on time, that ‘aged debt’ is bad news for your finances. Aged debt can begin to stack up, adding to your liabilities and reducing the health of your overall balance sheet. So, it’s important to tackle late payment head on.

Get effective with your credit control

Being proactive with your debt management helps you speed up payment, reduce your debtor days and rein in your overall debt as a business

To improve the efficiency of your credit control:

  • Make your payment terms clear – state your payment terms on all invoices and create a policy that’s part of the terms & conditions that customers sign up to.
  • Run regular debtor reports – check your list of late invoices to see which customers are the late payers, and where the big debts are that need to be collected.
  • Be proactive in chasing late payment – don’t be shy about asking a customer to pay their bill. Set up notifications and schedules to remind yourself to chase late-payers.
  • Automate your credit control tasks – cloud accounting platforms have built-in tools or automated credit control integrations that can automatically chase your late-paying customers as soon as an invoice is overdue.

Talk to us about enhancing your credit control

If late payment and aged debt is weighing heavily on your balance sheet, we’ll help you set up the debtor reports and credit control processes needed to reduce this debt.

Get in touch to improve your credit control.

Cash Flow Management

Why you need to forecast your cash flow

Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. And when it comes to cash flow management, preventing cash issues is far easier than trying to solve these issues after the event.

Positive cash flow comes from balancing your income (the cash inflows) against your expenditure (the cash outflows). If you’re in control of this then the business will always have the liquid cash needed to cover your liabilities.

Forecasting your cash inflows and outflows

Forecasting works by taking your cash data from prior periods and projecting it forward in time, giving you a ‘crystal ball’ that reveals the future health of your cash flow.

By running detailed cash flow forecasts, it’s possible to:

  • Understand your future operational cash flow – helping you to see the seasonal dips, or the projected drops in income, and get the early warning you need to take action.
  • Plan your costs and expenditure effectively – by working to strict budgets, looking at cost management and reining in expenses – so your future outflows are reduced.
  • Avoid the cash flow issues before they happen – giving you the information you need to plan ahead, take clear action and stay in tight control of your cash status.

Utilising technology to forecast

There are a number of tools you can use to forecast your cashflow, including Add-on Apps. One we often recommend is Futrli. With the ability to connect to Xero and Quickbooks, Futrli can provide integrated forecasting and reporting for small businesses.

Talk to us about setting up cash flow forecasts

If you want to get a grip on cash flow, we’ll help your tailor your accounting set-up and will provide the cash flow forecasting tools you need to reveal your future cash position.

Get in touch and let’s start forecasting.

contractor or employee

Contractor or Employee

Contractor or Employee 

What You Need to Know

Should your staff be contractors or employees?

There are many factors to assess and, as a business owner, it’s your responsibility to get it right.

So, what is the difference between a contractor and an employee?

An employee

  • works in the business and is integral to that business
  • has rights and entitlements under the Fair Work Act 2009
  • has a reasonable expectation of ongoing work, agreed hours and duties
  • is covered by the employer’s workers compensation insurance
  • is paid superannuation guarantee.

A contractor

  • is actively running and advertising their own business
  • is responsible for their own insurance, equipment, licenses and tax
  • has a high level of independence, discretion and control as to how and when the work is performed
  • is able to delegate work
  • is liable to fix mistakes at their own cost
  • may or may not be paid super depending on the nature of the work engagement.

It is the business owner’s legal responsibility to determine the nature of the work and the correct basis of engagement. We can help you get it right.

Multi Factor Test

There are many factors involved in deciding whether a worker is an employee or contractor. And the guidelines must be applied individually to each working relationship.

There is no single overriding factor, rather, the totality of the working relationship and nature of the work being done is taken into consideration.

Sole Trader as a Contractor May Not be Right

When sole traders are engaged as contractors, the business owner needs to check whether they really meet the criteria for being engaged as a contractor. Many sole traders engaged as contractors are not actively carrying on a business, and do not have the level of independence that a contractor should have. This is even if they have their own ABN. 

Sole traders are often engaged for their own services and labour. However they are not free to delegate the work to someone else and must work under the direction of the employing business. In this case, they should be engaged as an employee and not a contractor.

Factors to Consider

This is not an exhaustive list but some of the main factors to assess.

  • Is the worker engaged to achieve a specific result or are they engaged for their labour?
  • Are they able to delegate their contract to another worker within their own business?
  • How much choice do they have in where, when and how the work is performed?
  • Is the service integral to the business?
  • Do they advertise services and accept work from other businesses?
  • Who is liable to fix damages or mistakes?

Contractor or Casual Employee?

If you are not sure whether a worker is an employee or a contractor, check the ATO Employee or Contractor information first.

It’s okay to engage a worker as a contractor initially and to reassess the engagement three to six months later if the situation is unclear.

However, at that point, if the worker does not meet the contractor definition and you don’t need a permanent employee, put them on as a casual employee. This is often the best solution for both parties.  It means the employer is compliant with tax, super and employment laws. Plus the worker retains some flexibility while being paid super and having tax taken care of.

The ATO and the Fair Work Ombudsman are particularly concerned with the validity of sole traders treated as contractors. This is because they are the workers most frequently disadvantaged by being classified incorrectly as a contractor when they in fact meet the test for being an employee.

Get it Right to Avoid Penalties

A business that should have engaged a worker as an employee will be liable for back-payment of entitlements (such as leave, overtime and allowances), and superannuation.

Some situations are straightforward to work out. But many contractor or employee decisions are not so easy with so many factors to consider.

Let us help you get it right and sort out the tax and superannuation obligations for all your workers whether contractors or employees.

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