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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!

Coping with the Stress of Change

In business we are all faced with dealing with change, which can be stressful.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines stress as

  "the reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope."

When dealing with change and stress SURVIVAL is the key.

  • S          Size up the situation
  • U          Use all your senses
  • R          Remember where you are
  • V          Vanquish Fear and Panic
  • I           Identify
  • V          Value Learning
  • A          Act like the Natives
  • L          Live by your wits, but for now, Learn Basic Skills

Size up the situation

  • Don't over-eat. Drink lots of water. Watch your breathing
  • Size up your Equipment
  • Size up your physical condition
  • Size up your surroundings
  • Gather information, Training: Understand what, when and why
  • Be prepared to learn

 Use all your senses

  • Watch your reactions, behaviour & emotions in stressful situations
  • Keep an eye on your team mates – can you help them
  • Ask Questions, Clarify information, Talk to others, 'Ask the experts'
  • Take notes, Keep 'in touch' with events
  • Listen to advice. Keep an 'ear out' for assistance and tips
  • Monitor your emotions Manage your stress levels, Maintain you work/life balance
  • 'Sniff out' opportunities to learn and help others learn

 Remember where you are

  • This is business/work, not war! Keep a realistic expectation of your (and others) abilities
  • We are all different and may react differently to situations
  • We are all in this together 

Vanquish Fear & Panic

  • Plan ahead to succeed  ---> Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance
  • Use positive 'self-talk  ---> "I am very smart, I can do this!"
  • Work your worries out ---> Identify your "Worry Shrinkers"

 Identify

  • Identify similarities: One of the key aspects to learning is the ability to identify similarities between different subjects. How can you integrate two seemingly different phenomena? In that ways are they similar?
  • Identify the differences: The other key aspect is identifying the differences. How can you differentiate between two objects or phenomena? What makes the two different? What makes each one unique?

 Value Learning

  • Accept mistakes as part of the learning process! (More Mistakes = Greater Progress)
  • Ask the experts!
  • To better navigate your way through the literature available for any given subject, it might be useful to ask some recognized experts for their own recommendations of books and resources to read, and any specific questions that you may struggle to find answers for. Experts don't just offer information. They offer insights.

To learn more, teach more!

Teaching others what you've learned is a great way to instil that information in your own mind. As you think of ways to better explain the subject, how to express it in your own words, and how to structure the information, you will develop a deeper understanding that will contribute to your own learning.

 

Act like the Natives

  • Go with the flow
  • Balance your life
  • Get help

 Live by your wits

  • But for now Learn Basic Skills – Increases your ability to cope with the stresses of change

If your business environment or tax situation is causing you stress, book in an appointment to alleviate your worries.

Local Rental Market Pressures

 

As a young person, there comes a certain point when you (or sometimes your parents) decide that it's time to leave the nest and head out on your own. However, what can be an exciting and often defining moment in a person's life; will often stumble at the very first step – Where am I going to live?

It's a question that is becomes more daunting every year, as the housing and rental market in the  Swan Hill region becomes harder & harder for a young person to enter. House prices have remained comparatively low and relatively steady over the last 6-7 years, and with the current low interest rates it's a fantastic time to buy. However buying a house is generally not an option for anyone leaving home for the first time, so out of necessity young people must turn to the rental market.

With 75% of people aged 15-24 renting in Australia, it's pretty clear to see that the barriers to entry are much easier to overcome. But it is difficult to argue against the fact that there is clearly too much demand and not enough supply, particularly in Swan Hill. The combination of low house prices and high demand for rental properties is fantastic news for investors, but ultimately is having a huge impact on young people.

Hopefully increasing prices & low availability won't force our local youth to look elsewhere to start their careers and families, or deter new young people from joining the community.

Crunching Numbers on the netball court.

Last year I decided to put together a GMG Accounting mixed netball team. I had a great response from staff and partners. The GMG Number Crunchers took to the court for the 2014 Spring competition and proved that your accountant has a few other skills away from the calculator.

Last season we finished second on the ladder and our own Shaun Lawry took out Best Fairest for the Mixed Netball League. We also ran our own in house Best & Fairest, votes taken down each week. Nonie Domaille won Best & Fairest easily, while both Justin Toomey and Shaun Lawry shared runner up. Tom Pepin won coaches award and Tamara Paull won most improved.   

After such a great season and good end of season break up everyone couldn't wait to get back to the court this year. There was plenty of encouragement and talk around the office as the 2015 Winter Competition grew closer to starting. The GMG Number Crunchers lost a few big names but managed to pick up a few key players too. I was approached to take on coaching again, which I accepted. After some intense pre season training and new crisp bibs the GMG Number Crunchers were ready to hit the court.

The 2015 season started mid-April with a great start by the GMG Number Crunchers. Currently the GMG Number Crunchers sit 3rd on the ladder with 3 wins and 3 loses to their name.

There is usually a good office vibe on a Wednesday afternoon when the team's weekly press release is issued including the line up for that night. Key players to keep an eye on this season are new recruit Andrew Halligan, husband and wife shooting duo Justin & Krystle Toomey and laying low stealing a few votes are Jess White and myself.

We have a really good fan base and some great supporters there every week which we really appreciate.  The GMG Number Crunchers play every Wednesday at 6pm at the Swan Hill Basketball Stadium. With still 12 games to go anything could happen.

See you on the court.

Last night saw Joe Hockey deliver the 2015 Federal Budget with Small Business and Farming Tax savings on the agenda.

Starting from 7.30 pm last night (12th May 2015) small business with a turnover of less than $2 million annually can immediately deduct assets costing less than $20000. This increases the accelerated depreciation rules from the previous threshold of $1000.

In what Joe Hockey labeled as a 'game changer' for small business, these rules have been brought in to increase spending on infrastructure, which in turn will hopefully help to reduce the unemployment rate and grow the economy, both heavy focuses of this years budget.

With the downturn of the mining industry, it looks as though small business is what the government believes will be the driving force to grow our economy.

Another big plus for companies classified as small businesses is a 1.5% tax cut, meaning the tax rate will drop from 30% to 28.5%. A tax cut will also be extended to non-incorporated small business's such as sole traders and partnership, who will receive a 5% tax discount on the tax they pay on income from their business (capped at $1000 per year).

For farmers, along with the Small business tax breaks from 1 July 2016, they will be able to claim an immediate, total deduction for any spending on fencing and water infrastructure, the aim of which is to help encourage  farmers improve there productivity and environmental management of the land through water conservation and cell farming.

These tax breaks, particularly the $20000 write off for small business are going to have immediate benefits as we begin tax planning for 2015, it will become a useful tool to make sure your business is tax effective.

If you want to take full advantage of our Tax planning service before 30 June, call the office and book an appointment

Other notable points to come out of last nights budget

  • Backpackers to lose the $18000 tax-free  threshold
  • GST to be charged on digital services provided by foreign firms (the Netflix Tax)
  • Claim down on multi-national corporate to avoid tax in Australia (the Google Tax)
  • Simplified Childcare Subsidies, making working parents better off
  • Tightening of the Age care pension assets test from $1.15 million to $823,000


 
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