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Are you making the most of your time?



In the office recently we conducted a session on Personal Efficiency. We all only have a limited amount of hours in the day, how do we make our time at work the most efficient that it can be?
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Are Computers replacing Farmers?

There has been a lot of discussion about the potential impact of "Big Data" on Australian agriculture over recent times, with views ranging from "They'll never replace farmers" to "Its the end of agriculture as we know it, and farmers will soon be redundant." Exactly where advances in computer technology and digital information will take the agriculture sector over the next few decades is as yet uncertain, but what is already clear is that it is likely to result in pretty significant change.

In summary, the use of data analytics to analyse enormous datasets (think of a database of all the individual customer transactions of a major bank over a year, or all the purchases made by supermarket customers over a similar period, - both of which also have customers personal details included) banks now have this information available for retail business  to produce insights into customer behaviour, it is effectively replacing the judgement and experience of managers rather with computer processing power instead.

"Now comes the second machine age. Computers and other digital advances are doing for mental power – the ability to use our brains to understand and shape our environments – what the steam engine and its descendants did for muscle power." (Erik Brynjolfsson, Director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2015).

As recently as perhaps ten years ago, the cost of storing digital information such as harvester yield maps for example would have been prohibitive, it is now rapidly approaching the point where data storage capacity has no cost, with new cloud based systems

Computer developments appear more advanced in the cropping sectors, but applications are also beginning to emerge and gather momentum in the livestock and horticulture sectors. Exactly what the implications of these developments will be for the future of farming is as yet unclear in my mind. Perhaps the response that "a computer will never replace a farmer" is more wishful thinking than most might realise!

The Journey Through Retirement

There is an old saying: Old Accountants don't die, they just lose their balance!!

Whether or not this is true, we all come to a stage in our lives where contemplating life after work is part of our psyche.

After having spent many years working with clients, most of whom are friends, formulating plans for business handovers to the next generation, it has always been a topic in which I have been heavily involved.

Probably the most oft asked question I have heard is: "How much money will I need to retire?"

My reply is always the same: "How long are you going to live?"

Most major life-changing events such as marriage or divorce, involve an ongoing process of adjustment. Retirement is no exception. Marriage, divorce and other family related family-emotional issues have been the focus of decades of research and analysis by both clinical therapists and religious institutions. Unfortunately, the emotional and psychological frontier of retirement has remained virtually unexplored until recently. However, while research on this subject has barely begun, it is clear that the psychological process of retirement process follows a pattern similar in nature to the emotional phases accompanying other areas of transition.

Geoff of the Coast of WA near Broome after hauling in a snapper

Retirement: The Final Frontier

Retirees must face what is essentially the last transition in their lives. The first transition comes when we leave the security of home to begin our school life in kindergarten, and after school we have the rest of the day to ourselves. Another major transition comes when we join the working world. Now we work all week but still have the weekend to ourselves. Then finally comes retirement, a time when careers are over and the work is done. Retirees have the rest of their lives to themselves. The transition into retirement can be broken down into six main phases.

1. Pre-retirement Planning Time

During the working years, retirement can appear to be both an oncoming burden and a distant paradise. Workers know that this stage of their lives is coming, and do everything they can to save for it, but often give little thought to what they will actually do once they reach the goal. The current demands that are placed upon them leave them little time to ponder this issue. Many people face retirement like a player on the football ground who dodges and  weaves his way  through one defender after another until reaching the inside fifty and shoots for goal. It's hard for many workers to think seriously about what their lives will be like in 20 or 30 years when they are trying to stay on top of their mortgage, put their kids through school, and have some fun in the meantime. They want to kick the goal, but other issues will tackle them long before then if they don't take immediate action.

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As of the 1st of January 2016, Vic Roads is offering a 50% discount on 12-month vehicle registrations for eligible trade apprentices. That means a possible saving of up to $385.70! However, the following criterion needs to be met:

  • You must be registered as an apprentice with the Victorian Registrations Qualification Authority (VRQA) in an eligible course
  • The vehicle needs to be registered in your own name (motorcycles, trailers and mobile plant are excluded)
  • Not already have a concession applied to the vehicle(except for discounts for hybrid and electric passenger vehicles)
  • The vehicle must be used for work purposes, including travelling to multiple and varied work sites (this does not include commuting or travel to and from a single work site)
  • You must hold a current drivers license
  • Not already have a trade apprentice discount applied on another vehicle

Once you have received your renewal notice, you will be able to apply online or in store at Vic Roads where you will have to provide them with your VRQA registration number, vehicle registration number and driver's license number. Vic Roads will also verify with your employer that the vehicle is used for work purposes. 

Small Business New Year's Review


For small/medium business owners (this includes you, farmers!), the stress of returning to work in the New Year is usually quite overwhelming - so many emails to answer and things to do! It is no surprise that planning for a successful 2016 is far in the back of your mind. However, the most successful business I have worked with taught me one critical lesson for business profitability - "Failing to plan is planning to fail".

Put simply, PLANNING IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO FOR THE ONGOING SUCCESS OF YOUR BUSINESS. Furthermore, planning is something that locally owned businesses and farmers are notoriously known not to do – when was the last time you set targets for each category of expenses in your business and checked in to make sure you were on target? Do you know how much other businesses similar to yours spend on the same sorts of things? 

In Swan Hill I have heard many people talk about big business "taking over" - so why do they have a competitive advantage over the small guy? With a few exceptions (Dick Smith!), the fundamental reason is that they are exquisite planners. This involves precise daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual planning and consistent and ruthless follow up.

Whilst managing at a national retailer, I recall blunt, non-negotiating calls with head office regarding a 1% overspend in budgeted weekly costs (it was less than $100, and EVERYTHING had a budget). Strict budgeting across all the expense areas improved the profitability of that individual business site by at least 20%-25% per annum.

So how does this affect you? In a break-even business with sales turnover of $500,000, a 1% improvement in expenses adds $5,000 to your bottom line. A 5% improvement (very achievable) could generate $25,000 – and as the owner, this money goes in your pocket. It is small improvements across lots of expense areas that add up very rapidly.

A couple of quick ideas to get you started in 2016:

·         Get a formal, written plan for what you want to achieve this year. Be very specific!

·         Phone around for better rates – on interest, electricity, gas

·         Check-in with your employees

·         Update your technology

·         Most importantly - Ask your accountant for help! Our range of knowledge – including but not limited to industry benchmarks, planning strategies and great ways to improve your profit - are sure to help you plan to succeed. Call us today – (03) 50329422!

 

How to survive on the Farm

How to survive on the farm

Primary producers have always been creative, otherwise they wouldn't survive. Their world is full of changing conditions and circumstances, to which they adapt, as a matter of course.

However, this does not always apply to the survival of the farm itself.

I read recently where Isobel Knight of Proagtive (based in Tamworth NSW) stated that "most farmers don't use their accountant to see how their business will stand the test of time or to delve into what's required to maintain its viability and give clarity  and direction to the next generation."

She also indicated that farmers needed to lift their financial acumen by focusing on farm strategy for and involving the next generation. The aim should be to grow the asset base, not divide the asset pie.

One of the changes we have noticed is the concept of separating the ownership of the farming land from the entity operating business of farming on it.  This can provide security for one generation and an opportunity for the next.

There is no one size fits all in family farming. Sometimes the family farming model is not a good fit at all.

We have the experience and expertise to assist in lifting financial acumen and providing assistance to all parties involved in finding creative strategies for the future.

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!



As kids we always looked forward to Christmas: all the cool stuff we would get, all the great food we could eat and lots of time to just enjoy life and have fun since school was out.

These memories are imprinted into our mind and are revived every year with the sounds and sights of the holiday season. It's a special time of year, one in which we celebrate and connect with those closest to us.

As adults, having time away from the workplace at Christmas provides a well earned rest and a fresh start to the New Year. It gives us an opportunity to recharge our batteries and return to work with fresh eyes and a rejuvenated attitude.

It can be a time of reflection and setting of 'New Year's resolutions'; taking time away can help provide a sense of perspective and an opportunity for self-evaluation and also a chance to take some time to set  goals for the year ahead.

So, listen to your inner child … Enjoy the festive season & a well earned rest.

From everyone here at GMG Accounting, we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Safe and Happy New Year.

Relay For Life 2015

Last Friday night, the GMG team 'The Number Crunchers' took part in the local Relay for Life at Riverside Park.  The Number Crunchers team consisting of all the GMG staff along with their partners and kids all got together to have some fun and to raise some money.

Relay for Life is held to raise vital funds for the Cancer Council used in research, prevention, information and support services.  The event is also to recognise and celebrate local cancer survivors, sufferers, their carers and to remember those lost.

With some glorious weather on the Friday night and then some much needed rain on the Saturday morning, the team kept walking right the way through to the very end.

Matt Lenton entertained a crowd with his musical talents and still managed to do a double shift in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It was great to see the local community come together and pull on their purple jumpers to raise money for this worthy event. This years Relay for Life for Swan Hill raised approximately $41,000, with the Number Crunchers coming 8th in the donation tally.

If you want to know more about this event or read some of the inspirational stories visit Relay For Life's Website

Congratulations and thank you to everyone for your participation and effort.

Until next year.

Tech Talk - Updating your Computer Systems

Being the office tech wizard I often have fellow employees (along with clients, family members, friends, estranged associates and the occasional internet blow-in) come to talk to me about technology. One of the most frequent things that come up is when people need to update their personal computer (aka laptop, Apple Mac, tablet, phone etc.). Most people come to me and they say "What do you think is a good computer to buy?" or "Do you think I should buy that one there?" and the first thing that I think to myself is – How the heck would I know?

The truth is that technology, like most other things in our lives, is dependent on the individual. There isn't a one size fits all computer – they are made up of a lot of different bits and pieces which we can customize to fit exactly to what we need. So that is where I start – I try to target a few key area's and then make a recommendation based off what I feel is important to a person. I've listed a few below…

·         Budget – This is the most important thing – you need to figure out how much you want to spend and more importantly what you can actually afford. There isn't much point in spend over six grand on a computer if its going to take you the next four years to pay it off and you only really use it once a week.

·         What do you use it for? – The easiest way to figure this out is by looking at what you currently use the tech for and what you might want to use it for? Is it an office PC? Do you work from home? Maybe a laptop with a couple of docking stations and sets of screens is a better idea rather than buying 2 separate PC's and needing to setup fancy remote connections and all that other stuff. Then again, maybe if all you use it for is surfing the internet and going on Facebook you might be better off with something like a tablet – the portability makes it easier to use at home on the couch or out and about rather then being confined to a desk. Or maybe you are an avid video game fan like myself and you need to go for the works – something at the very top end with a CPU that could beat the world champion in a game of chess, enough RAM to run a small enterprise and a video card that can process graphics that look so real that you can't actually tell. We've only really tipped the top of the iceberg here but the important thing to note is that there is no point in buying something that you might never need.

·         Longevity – This is something you should take into account with your technology – how often have you had to replace it and how often will you need to? If you are an innovator on the cutting edge of technology then you might need to look at something that is replaceable in 12 to 24 months so you can keep up – I can say that I am guilty of grabbing a new phone when a new model has released and my old phone's contract has just fallen off (even when the old phone was still working OK). If you aren't going to use something very often, you might be better off spending a little bit more so that it will last the test of time – lets upgrade the RAM in your laptop so that when the next version of the Window Operating System comes out, you still have the capacity to run it with ease.

·         Shop around – As is with anything, if you are going to spend a decent wad of cash you should shop around to make sure that you get the best price. I find that going to the larger providers like Dell, HP etc and selecting something with the requirements that you need is a good starting point – from here you can look down the street to the local PC provider or jump onto a computer superstore and get all of your parts sent out and put it together yourself.

·         Take care of what you have once you have it – you don't want to have to replace your brand new piece of technology because you haven't been treating it correctly. It might seem like a great idea to watch a movie in bed on the laptop but you should be careful because if it doesn't get enough airflow then it might get to hot and cause damage to the components inside. Try to keep your technology is a dust and static free environment. Water (unless it's waterproof) is almost always a big no-no. My father is a farmer and I can't remember how many phones have been sent to 3G heaven because they slipped out of his breat pocket and into the spray tank.

 

This is just a quick recap on some of the things that I try to discuss when reviewing new technologies. If you think your business could use a technology retool and are not sure where to start – give us a call at the office.

 

If you want to find out more you can read my bio here.

As the world evolves & technology becomes a major part of this, here in the country we are forever behind the 8 ball due to a lack of internet speed.

I hear the frustrations from not only the employees here at GMG but from our clients, children and friends alike.

So with the news yesterday that the "Sky Muster" has been launched (a rocket carrying a ½ a billion dollar NBN satellite) will it be what we all hope?

With most software programs now being cloud based will the mid 2016 promise deliver?

Here at GMG we have learnt that if you don't accept change & progress with technology you get left behind.

If you don't want to get left behind and are looking for a more efficient & effective cloud based solution can you really afford not to contact us?

 

Check out the satellite – Looks more like a bug!



 
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