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Growing your small business

2018-07-19 09:24:12 admin

Has your small business hit a slump lately? It may be time to develop a growth-focused strategy that can take your business to the next level.

Consider these ideas when designing your plan of attack.

Re-evaluate your small business
It is important to find out what exactly is hindering your business – get to the heart of the problem. Do you need to tweak your customer service and sales approach? Improve product development? Or even reduce your expenditure? Talk to your employees and examine how your business is running as a whole to find that certain something which is lacking.

Tailor your solution
Once you can identify the issue at hand, your next step will be to develop an effective solution. For instance, you may need to provide your staff with more customer service training as a way to maintain loyal customers and increase your sales. Before implementing these changes though, you must make sure this strategy will work towards growing your business.

Track your changes
Now you have located the source of the problem and implemented specific actions to create a change, but it is not over yet. It is essential to track and measure these changes to be sure they are having a real effect on promoting growth in your business. Otherwise, how will you know if the new strategy has worked?

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Reviewing your super

2018-07-19 09:23:21 admin

The ATO is encouraging taxpayers to review their super this tax time.

Finding lost super or consolidating any unwanted multiple accounts can make a massive difference to your nest egg.

There is over $18 billion in lost and unclaimed super. Those who have changed their name, address, job or lived overseas are at high risk of having lost super.

During the last five years, more than $10.7 billion of super has been consolidated from over 2.1 million accounts through ATO online services.

The ATO is also reminding taxpayers that the new super deduction is available. Most people under 75 years of age can claim a tax deduction for personal after-tax super contributions.

Personal super contributions deductions provide a level of flexibility for young people that change jobs frequently, self-employed contractors, small business employees, freelancers and people whose employers do not offer salary sacrifice arrangements.

To claim a deduction for any personal super contributions made in 2017/18, you must lodge a notice of intent to claim a deduction with your fund and receive a confirmation letter from them before lodging your tax return.

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Avoid scams this tax time

2018-07-19 09:22:48 admin

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is reminding individuals to remain vigilant against any scams that may pop up this year around tax time.

With over 37,000 scam attempts reported to the ATO this time, last year, individuals need to be wary of scam artists looking to trick taxpayers into either paying for fake debts or giving away their personal details.

Common scams include:
– The ‘fake tax debt’ phone scam
– ‘Fake refund’
– ‘Refund for a fee’
– Email and SMS contact – i.e., asking to click a link, download a file or open an attachment.

Avoid being caught out in a tax-related scam by following these simple measures:

Protect your personal details
Scammers can use an individual’s personal information (i.e., tax file number, full name, date of birth or passwords) to impersonate them. Protect your personal details by storing them in a safe and secure location.

Use correct payment methods
To avoid paying a scam artist for a false debt to a non-ATO related account, make sure you are aware of the proper avenues for paying legitimate debts to the Tax Office.

Avoid oversharing on social media
Scammers may also try to use any personal information you have published on social media sites to steal your identity.

Be cautious when receiving requests for personal details
Should you receive a request to confirm or clarify your personal information, it is always best to contact the ATO to check if the contact is valid or part of a scam.

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Bad business habits

2018-07-13 10:41:47 admin

When you run your own business, it can be hard to step back and look at the big picture. Failing to do so, however, not only harms your business; it can also make it even harder to sell.

Whether it is failing to track cash flow or not investing correctly in key staff, there are many bad habits that business owners commonly make. Here are the top three:

Using the business as your personal ATM
A common business tax-minimisation strategy is to spend business earnings on personal expenses that are not directly related to the business. The idea behind this strategy is that reducing the earnings will make the business liable for a smaller tax bill at the end of the year. However, the strategy can create complications that cost more in the long run.

For example, when selling the business, the owner will need to convince buyers that the number of expenses claimed should be added back to profits since they are not ‘real expenses’.

Not making cash flow king
Many small businesses fail as a result of cash flow issues. Problems with cash flow can be caused by a variety of factors, such as poor debt collection, unfavourable terms negotiated with customers, lazy record-keeping or a lack of regular costing analysis. Failing to manage cash flow hinders an employer’s ability to pay employees and meet suppliers’ invoices. The business’s capacity to meet unexpected debt obligations can also be significantly reduced, resulting in missed opportunities and potentially forcing the closure of business at worst.

Coasting along
Far too many business owners neglect to spend enough time developing formal business, financial and operational plans; instead, they spend each day focusing on their short-term to-do list. These plans, however, are vital in determining whether all the owner’s work results in business growth or if they are gaining little return.

Particular objectives need to be mapped out to monitor and measure performance. This allows business owners to identify areas of reduced productivity or activities that generate lower-than-required returns and take appropriate action to rectify this.

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Rebranding: A guide for your small business

2018-07-13 10:39:51 admin

Rebranding your small business can be a tricky matter. When done well, it has the potential to help your business stand out from the competition bubble and even expand your target market.

On the other hand, a failed rebrand can damage the reputation of your business, or even risk losing loyal customers who dislike your new look. Which is why rebranding is a move that should never be taken lightly and must always be strategically planned.

Consider these ideas before embarking on your rebranding journey.

Understand your strategy
Rebranding is a serious investment which will require both your time and money. Therefore, a rebrand must always be necessary to either solving the problem at hand or growing your business. If it isn’t – then it may be helpful to consider easier and less costly actions, you can take. You must have legitimate customer-focused strategies behind why this move is required. Otherwise, rebranding will likely harm your business more than help it.

Holistic approach
Merely tweaking the name and logo of your business and hoping for the best will not cut it. Taking a holistic marketing approach will allow you to focus on the development, design and implementation of the rebranding strategy through your business as a whole. To improve the identity of your business, you must look at how this one change will affect your overall business. Reviewing every aspect that will be affected will also help you assess whether the results will be worth the effort and cost involved.

Evolve with your target market
For a small business to remain successful on a long-term basis, it must remain relevant to its target market. A rebranding will largely depend upon the target market your business is pursuing – in particular, adapting to their ever-evolving wants and needs concerning the product or service you have on offer.

Hire an expert
Knowing where to start when rebranding your business can be a challenge, especially if you are planning a complete image overhaul. That is when hiring an expert to draw up a detailed plan for an innovative new look for your business can come in handy. Using their unbiased opinion can be invaluable in forming a rebranding strategy when your business may be too close to your existing brand to remain objective.

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SMSFs: beware of illegal early super release

2018-07-13 10:38:38 admin

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is reminding self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustees to beware of allowing members to access their super early.

A self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustee must meet a condition of release before any funds can legally be released.

The ATO can issue severe penalties if you or a SMSF member access your super before you are legally entitled to do so.

Some consequences of getting caught up in an illegal super scheme include the disqualification of trustees, imposition of administrative penalties, the fund being made non-complying and prosecution.

The Tax Office encourages those members who have been involved in an illegal super scheme to contact them immediately. The ATO will review your voluntary disclosure and take your circumstances into account when determining any penalties.

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Penalty relief for taxpayers

2018-07-13 10:37:50 admin

From 1 July 2018, the Tax Office is advising Australians that if they find an error in their tax return or activity statement they will not incur a penalty but will advise of the error and how to get it right next time.

Penalty relief will only apply to eligible taxpayers or entities (i.e., turnover of less than $10 million) every three years.

These may include:
– Small businesses
– Co-operatives
– Self-managed super funds (SMSFs)
– Not-for-profit organisations

Eligible individuals will only be given penalty relief on their tax return or activity statement if they make an inadvertent error because they either:
– took a position on income tax that is not reasonably arguable, or
– failed to take reasonable care

The ATO will not provide penalty relief when individuals have (in the past three years):
Received penalty relief
– Avoided tax payment or committed fraud
– Accrued taxation debts with no intention of being able to pay (i.e., phoenix activity)
– Previously penalised for reckless or intentional disregard of the law
– Participated in the management or control of another entity which has evaded tax.

Individuals can not apply for penalty relief. The ATO is reminding individuals that they will provide relief during an audit should it apply.

Penalty relief will not be applied to:
– Wealthy individuals and their businesses
– Associates of wealthy individuals (that may be deemed a small business entity in their own right)
– Public groups, significant global entities and associates

Penalty relief will also not be applied to certain taxes, i.e., fringe benefits tax (FBT) or super guarantee (SG).

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Building a solid startup

2018-07-05 09:49:15 admin

It is no secret that most startups will fail in their first three years of operation, so building a new business that can not only survive but thrive in the face of a challenge is of the utmost importance.

Ensuring your business is strong enough to move past any inevitable hitches that come its way can be achieved by improving the foundations.

Consider these ideas.

It’s all about teamwork
For a business to survive any disaster, it will first need a motivated team that can work well under stress and are eager to take on challenges. Your team must work in sync with each other. Completing projects must be considered a team effort to create a sense of unity in the workplace.

The perfect partnership
Going into business with another individual might work well for you. They can pull you up when you are feeling tired or down and make the role at the top not so lonely.

However, finding the right individual for the job is essential. Choosing a business partner who shares the same values and vision for the business as you ensures you will both remain on the same page when dealing with any setbacks.

Preparing for failure
You certainly can not plan for every mishap that comes your way, so you and your team should plan for any foreseeable disasters should they ever occur.

Perseverance is key
There will always be situations in which you and your team have not prepared for. In these instances, it will take determination, creativity and hard work. Your team must see this as a challenge to overcome rather than a disaster zone.

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ASIC’s view on SMSFs as ‘one-stop property shops’

2018-07-05 09:48:15 admin

The Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) has released a new report highlighting its view on the setup of SMSFs for property investments using ‘one-stop shop’ models.

‘One-stop shop models’ tend to promote the purchase of residential property through SMSF borrowing. They are usually arranged by groups of real estate agents, developers, mortgage brokers, financial advisers and so forth.

This model creates conflicts of interest that may affect the advice given to set up an SMSF. For example, these businesses take advantage of customers with limited or no knowledge of SMSFs or super and have the potential to cause major financial detriment, including:
– Receiving inappropriate or misleading advice to set up an SMSF which may result in members being financially worse off
– The obligations of a SMSF trustee are not clearly explained by the advice provider
– Members may be encouraged into a property purchase at an inflated value, or unaware of undisclosed high commissions.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) are encouraging individuals to seek independent professional advice from a licensed adviser before establishing an SMSF and undertaking an new investment in an SMSF.

SMSF trustees who make a mistake are also encouraged to make a voluntary disclosure to the ATO. The ATO aim to help SMSF trustees in these circumstances to get their SMSF back on track.

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Avoid these five common Tax Time mistakes

2018-07-05 09:47:10 admin

Tax Time is now upon us, with the ATO Assistant Commissioner announcing the top five mistakes commonly made when Australians complete their annual tax returns.

Common mistakes some taxpayers are making include:
– Leaving out a portion of their earnings, i.e., forgetting to include a job – income from a temp job, or income earned from the sharing economy.
– Claiming personal costs for rental properties, i.e., claiming deductions for periods when they were using the property or claiming interest on loans used to buy personal assets (a car or a boat).
– Making claims for expenses unrelated to their employment, i.e., personal phone calls, work to home commute or buying normal clothes.
– Claims for things they have not paid for.
– Not holding onto receipts or keeping insufficient records of their expenses to validate their claims.

To avoid making common errors, the Tax Office is reminding individuals to:
– Remain up-to-date with what you can and can not claim.
– Keep detailed records.
– Ensure you declare all your employment earnings.

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