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Competitive business strategies

Competition is part of the business. Getting that edge is make or break regarding getting your business up and running and promoting its future growth.

Consider these strategies to implement to come out on top of your business’ rivals:

Differentiate
Establishing your point of difference is vital in business. When executing this strategy, it may not be as easy as it sounds. Consider specialising in a particular niche of your industry and providing the best customer service in that role or offer something that your competitors do not have.

Establish community bonds
By being involving your business in your community, you will establish loyalty for your demographic and promote the visibility of your brand. Consider funding a local initiative or getting involved in helping the local high school or primary school to establish yourself and reputation.

Be nice
If you are hostile to the competition, you will only worsen your reputation. If you co-exist, you eliminate the risk of retaliation and will not alienate customers of your competitors and your own business.

Posted on 12 October '18 by , under business. No Comments.

Managing risk in your SMSF

SMSFs provide the trustee autonomy and an increased opportunity to maximise your retirement savings. However, an investment strategy must be accompanied by a risk management plan should some of your investments come up short.

Consider the following risk management strategies:

Diversification
Diversification reduces risk by investing in many different assets including property, annuities and equities. By spreading your earnings across several investments you minimise the risks to your retirement nest egg that can occur if one investment suffers a loss or a disappointing return. Organise your target returns according to your asset class and establish the accepted variation range from this target. This allows you to track your investment portfolio and whether it is setting you on the right financial path.

Liquidity
If you tie up your money in assets like property, then you may run short on cash. It is important that you have cash to cover the costs of running your SMSF and in the case of a member’s total and permanent disablement. If you’re also forced to sell an asset to get this cash the market conditions may not be ideal, and you could receive a disappointing return because you need cash in a rush.

Posted on 12 October '18 by , under super. No Comments.

ATO announces $20,000 instant asset write-off

The ATO has extended the $20,000 threshold to 30 June 2019.

If you buy an asset and it costs less than $20,000, you may write off the business portion in your tax return.

To be eligible to use the simplified depreciation rules and claim an immediate deduction for the business portion of each asset costing less than $20,000, you must:

  • Have a business turnover less than $10 million (increased $2 million on 1 July 2016)
  • The asset was first used or installed ready for use in the income year you are claiming it in.

If your asset costs more than $20,000, you are not eligible for immediate deduction. They will continue to be deducted over time using the general small business pool. You can write off the balance of this pool if the balance (before applying any other depreciation deduction) is less than $20,000 at the end of an income year.

The $20,000 threshold applies from 12 May 2015 to 30 June 2019 and reduces to $1,000 on 1 July 2019. Remember, registered tax agents and BAS agents can help you with your tax.

Posted on 12 October '18 by , under tax. No Comments.

Haggle like a pro

When it comes to saving money on anything from home loan interest rates to new appliances for your house, haggling is critical.

Master some of the haggling skills below to reap some saving rewards.

Timing
If your timing is not right many of your haggling skills will be wasted. Make sure you are bargaining when the salesperson has adequate time to consider your proposal or when the appropriate moment presents itself. For example, negotiating in a fixed term of your contract have low prospects of success in comparison to when your contract is up for renewal.

Compare to competitors
If you have done your research and know who the relevant competitors are, you are on track to achieve the best deal. Many business’ price match or seek to beat their competitor’s on value so by being educated, you may get the two business’ to drive the price down while they compete for your business.

Be nice
Building a rapport with the salesperson is vital. Many forget that bargaining is a negotiation process and that coming in and demanding your price will not be effective. It is better to get the business’ representative onside so that they genuinely want to help you.

Talk to the right person
An employee higher up the corporate ladder is often the one who makes the calls. Cut out the middleman and speak to them if you can, as they are a more direct and efficient route to bringing in your purchase under budget.

Posted on 5 October '18 by , under money. No Comments.

Making the decision to rebrand

Rebranding can help you survive in a changing industry or open your business up to new profit-making opportunities. Sometimes it may be difficult to make the call, when there are significant costs associated with redefining your brand.

Consider the signs below that will point you in the right direction.

Your branding is outdated
If you are embarrassed to direct clients to your website or give out your business card, then it is time for a change. Staleness in a business will drive clients will away if they do not think that your business is moving with the times or falls short of your competitors.

You are moving in another direction
Changing your business’ image may help it grow. If you are changing your message or strategy, altering your products or services or trying to capture a new target demographic, rebranding may be necessary to achieve these goals. For example, a rejuvenated image may help you catch a more youthful demographic while keeping your initial loyal client base.

You are recovering from a blunder
If your business has recently been in trouble or made a mistake, rebranding is akin to a rebirth. By changing your brand’s image, you disassociate from past mistakes that have been made and encourage people to speculate about the new possibilities and direction of your business. Rebranding is critical in shifting the focus.

Posted on 5 October '18 by , under business. No Comments.

Choosing the right super risk profile

Choosing the right super risk profile at the right time can drastically increase your retirement savings.

The following considerations will help you invest wisely when it comes to building your retirement nest egg.

Types of investment options
Your super fund should offer a range of investment options to consider. Here is what to know about each kind of option:

  • Aggressive options are high risk, and you may have to sustain significant losses hoping to maximise your return in the long-term
  • Growth options aiming for higher returns over longer terms may sustain some losses in poorly performing markets
  • Balanced options provide moderate growth but endure less damage with an economic downturn
  • Conservative options provide a lower return but are the lowest risk option

Picking the right option
The investment option right for you depends on your retirement goals, your financial circumstances and your attitude towards risk. Your timeframe for investment should be substantial if you are looking at high-risk options as you have a considerable opportunity to recover from any losses. As your income stabilises and your retirement comes closer consider shifting to a low-risk alternative to secure what you have built up. You may also want to look to your assets like your business or various properties that may also help you fund your retirement when assessing if you can afford to take a risk.

Posted on 5 October '18 by , under super. No Comments.

Claiming tax when working from home

The ATO is seeking to increase their attention on home office expenses due to the high level of questionable claims made by taxpayers. There has been an increase in the number of Australians claiming deductions for costs incurred from working from home.

The ATO reports that in the last tax year 6.7 million taxpayers claimed a record $7.9 billion in deductions for ‘other work-related expenses’, including expenses relating to working from home.

The main mistakes stem from individuals claiming the whole instead of the work-related portion of expenses for bills related to phone, internet, printing and stationery.

The ATO has identified that a separate work area will incur work-related expenses eligible for tax deductions as opposed to answering some emails at a kitchen bench. The ATO has also recommended recording expenses in case of an audit or if the ATO contacts your employer to confirm your claim.

To ensure you do not suffer non-compliance penalties, the ATO recommends you follow the three golden rules for taxpayers working from home. One- you must have spent the money yourself and not been reimbursed, two- the claim must be directly related to earning your income, and three- you need a record to prove it.

Posted on 5 October '18 by , under tax. No Comments.

How to give constructive feedback to staff

Giving feedback to staff is a key to being a successful manager. Although feedback should be viewed as an opportunity to grow, staff may be sensitive you are criticising their work. That is why feedback should be given in accordance with the tips below.

Never in public
Whether it is praise or constructive criticism, you should be hesitant to single out a worker in the break room or office floor. For advice on improving performance, this should take place in a private one-on-one discussion in person. Emailing can often go wrong because the tone is hard to tell and things can be misconstrued.

Do not wait
Waiting for a quarterly review or team meeting means that the problem is allowed to fester. It is better that any issue is solved promptly to maximise efficiency in the workplace.

Do not make it personal
When giving feedback, it is essential to talk about performance and not personality. By focusing on the current situation rather than the person, there is a higher likelihood of the individual taking the feedback on board positively.

End on a lighter note
By concluding the meeting by emphasising the positive aspects of your staff member’s work and giving praise where it is due, the feedback is softened and much more likely to be perceived well.

Posted on 27 September '18 by , under business. No Comments.

3 easy ways to maximise your super

Superannuation is more critical than it has ever been. If having an ageing population has taught us anything, it is how managing money now can have substantial ramifications for your retirement plan.

Merge your super
Every super account you have comes with a set of fees. It is worth your while chasing down inactive accounts and putting all your super into the one account to reduce fees and maximise the investment benefits.

Salary sacrifice
If you can budget putting more of your salary away into a super account every month, you can reap multiple rewards. First, you can use the extra super payments to offset your pre-tax payments up to the current concessional contribution cap of $30,000 per year and after-tax contributions of $180,000. You can also build up your super while you can afford to.

Strategise
Your investment strategy should depend on the amount of risk you are willing to take. This will vary on where you are in your career. A growth investment option, which is high risk, might suit you if you are in the early stages of your career development. However, as your income stabilises to your goal amount, it might be wise to change super funds to a lower risk option that will protect your growing retirement nest egg.

Posted on 27 September '18 by , under super. No Comments.

ATO developing software to stop tax avoidance

The ATO is in the midst of developing advanced data programs to find individuals who are leaving a source of income out of their tax return. Analytical tools have been developed to utilise the amount of data the ATO receives to identify instances where income has gone unreported. This is to address the annual $1.4 billion tax shortfall caused by individuals who leave income out of their return.

The ATO has identified that the most common mistakes are made by taxpayers leaving out cash wages. There are also issues with the non-disclosure of income from second jobs, capital gains on cryptocurrency, the sharing economy, the gig economy and foreign-sourced income.

Concerning foreign sourced income, the ATO has identified that most funds come from the UK, USA, China, Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore. In response to this, the ATO is developing a single global standard for collection, reporting and exchange of financial account information on foreign tax residents.

The ATO imposes penalties and interest for a failure to disclose an accurate statement of income tax. The penalties can range from 25 per cent up to 75 per cent of the shortfall, in addition to paying the money owed.

Posted on 27 September '18 by , under tax. No Comments.