Mark’s musing – How to make your business really fly

take flight

As part of our continuing education, recently myself and Paul Dawson our Business Development Manager, attended a 4 day workshop in Sydney called ‘The Experts Academy’. It was an amazing 4 days, with over 350 business owners attending the workshop from all different industries. The purpose of the workshop was to learn how we as business owners could better serve our clients through adding greater value.

Following the workshop, as a firm, we booked a day out of the office to do some planning for the next 12 to 24 months. We asked ourselves 3 very simple questions that I have mentioned in previous musings;

  1. Where are we now?
  2. Where do we want to be?
  3. How are we going to get there?

At our planning session, we had a ‘BFO’ moment (a ‘Blinding Flash of the Obvious’). Rather than keep talking about and guessing how we can add greater value to your business, let’s take the time, to connect with you individually to ask the same 3 questions. We know, that each and every one of you will have different answers, as one size does not fit all.

‘How to make your business really fly’ was a theme that came from our planning session. By really fly we mean, how can we as your accountants and business advisors, help you to optimise the profitability, cash flow, fun and value of your business.

We know that any accountant can read the numbers off your financial statements. Hindsight is 20/20. We want to help you create the future through insight (looking for the things you may be too busy to see) and foresight to help you plan for the future and keep you on task, progressing toward your goals.

Over the next 3 to 6 months I will have one of my team contact you to book a time for us to meet, free of charge. The meeting could take place at your business, your home, our office or if more convenient by way of a phone call or through Skype or some other technology platform. Before we make contact, we will send out a short survey for you to complete.

We have got some really exciting developments that we want to share with you, so until then….. In the immortal words of Buzz Light year from the movie Toy Story “To Infinity and Beyond”

Xero Tip – Creating a quick budget in Xero

Xero Tips and Trick Video
Xero Tips and Trick Video

Based on the feedback we have received the most common area that Xero users want assistance in is Reporting and Budgets.

So this is the first of a series of tips we will be creating to help out in this area.

One easy way to quickly get a budget in Xero and start using a budget to analyse the performance of your business is to load the previous years actual results as a budget.   This is also a good way to start your budget but then you can make changes based on what you expect to be different in the next 12 months.

One method for doing this in Xero is to:

  1. Go to Reports/Budget manager
  2. Change the settings to show 12 months of actuals
  3. Download the budget to Excel
  4. Change the column headings of the actual results to the months of the current year
  5. Save file and import back into Xero Budget Manager

This will then allow you to run reports and compare this years results with last years by using the budget data.

Any questions about this then please get in touch with our Xero expert Paul Dawson

Here is a video which shows how it is done.




If you can measure it, you can manage it!

What you can measure you can manage
What you can measure you can manage

Most small business operators are lazy about keeping records to help them improve their business. They’d say they are too busy.

If you provide services, you need good time recording to measure your performance.

It’s very onerous keeping time records, but if you’re prepared to do it well, it will add thousands of dollars to your profit. You must keep a record of ALL the hours you are at work for the day – 7.30am to 5.30pm is 10 hours. Account for 10 hours.

You will find it easy to change, if you wish to. Your problem will be to keep going month after month. You’ll also find, after a few months, time recording and analysing will have become a habit and it will be easier to sustain it.

Measure what you do every day and if you have staff working for you get them to do the same. Analyse this information. Calculate the amount of time you put into work you can’t charge for (non productive time), like going to the bank, social calls, ducking out to get X etc. Analyse this and work out how to reduce it.

For example, use emails more, cut social chat during work hours and reduce the time you spend looking at work you never even quote for. You will get a shock when you see how much time you lose every week.

Occasionally, as a matter of interest, calculate the value of time for one week you spend doing work you can’t charge. Multiply by 52 and you’ve got a measure of what your non-chargeable time is costing you, every year, in terms of lost opportunity to be doing work you could be paid for. Aim to halve it.

You can also analyse your chargeable (productive) work. The best way is to look at the extremes. Work out the cost (in hours) of each job. Look at the ones which have taken you far too long. Work out how you could have done them better. Maybe you did more work than quoted and could charge for extras. Learn from the mistakes. Look at the jobs which have been very successful and see if you can learn from them, too. Disregard the majority in the middle, where the time quoted and the time taken were reasonably close.

Time spent working on your business as opposed to in your business is an investment. Most of us have our heads down working hard to get the work done and find it difficult to put time aside to make the business more profitable. If you can control your business like this, you will be a winner.


“If you can measure it, you can manage it” applies just as much to other aspects of your business. Sales are a good example.

Do you count up the number of enquiries you get from your advertisements? How do you know whether you are spending your money wisely, if you don’t? Do you measure the number of enquiries you convert to sales? What’s your success rate? A retailer keeps a record of each assistant’s sales, totalling them monthly. In this way, he helps his staff to improve their techniques.

Increase your profits by measuring what you do and managing yourself – and staff if you have any.

If you would like to discuss more about this article please contact Mark Pfeifer or Paul Dawson.


7 Ways to Improve Workplace Productivity


The success of any business, large or small, depends largely on nurturing an efficient, productive workplace. While improving employee productivity should always be a priority when the ultimate goal is a sustainable and profitable business, the process is easier said than done. Below are some of the most effective methods of managing a productive, happy workplace while increasing output:

Establish Accountability

Productivity depends on every employee understanding that the jobs they do come with specific responsibilities, and that their actions have consequences. Employees that lack accountability are more likely to slack off, procrastinate, or blame others for their shortcomings. Establishing accountability from the beginning results in higher-quality work output and an increased focus on informed, efficient action.

Avoid Excessive Micromanagement

There is no denying that management is absolutely crucial, but too much of a good thing can have adverse effects on productivity. Excessive micromanaging creates employees that feel as if they are not trusted and that their decision-making processes are not valued. Instead of encouraging employees to put forth their best efforts, it results in an eventual dependence on micromanagement that can sink productivity levels.

Recognise Success

Just as employees must be held accountable for their actions, they should also be recognised for their success. Even small efforts, such as verbal recognition or occasional awards, can encourage employees and make them feel like their hard work is being rewarded. For businesses that can afford it, larger rewards, such as holiday parties, improve morale and create camaraderie in the office, all of which leads to happier, more productive employees.

Break Out of Ruts

While it is generally advisable to assign tasks based on an employee’s particular competencies, keep in mind that doing the same tasks repeatedly over an extended period of time can make even a skilled employee feel as if their work has become monotonous. If possible, it may be useful to expose employees to other tasks and even other departments. This renews motivation, offers new skills to learn and apply, and grants the employee a broader understanding of how the company operates.


Cut Down on Meetings

Often meetings serve as nothing more than temporary breaks from productive work. If a meeting does not have a specific purpose, an organised agenda, and a plan of action, it will probably only function to diminish productivity. Meetings can be a great way to share ideas and establish goals, but don’t let them get in the way of delivering actual results.

Embrace Technology

While many workplaces still see new technology as unnecessary or even distracting, the simple truth is that they can have a significant positive impact on productivity. Updated hardware, software, and machinery ensure that work can be performed in less time and with minimal error. While it may not seem like a big deal, even minor issues such as temporary connectivity problems or hardware breakdowns can quickly add up through the course of a fiscal year.

Think Outside the Box

Studies have revealed several productivity-boosting techniques that may seem counter-intuitive at first glance. While social media has been demonised in workplace settings, data shows that allowing occasional breaks to access such sites can boost workplace productivity by nearly 10%. Likewise, allowing employees to listen to music while working – when it doesn’t interfere with the job, of course – can also improve efficiency. Providing such perks can pay off tremendously if it means happier, more motivated employees.

Balancing the needs of a business is never an easy job, but a focus on increased productivity can have a positive impact on nearly every other facet of the workplace. By using the techniques above, it is possible to eliminate unnecessary pitfalls and ensure that employees are personally invested in efficient, quality work output.

If you want to discuss how to improve productivity in your business then please contact our productivity expert Mark Pfeifer.


Your feedback matters – how can we serve you better?

Your feedback is important

The Proactive Accountants Network (to which we belong) is conducting a global survey on what businesses really want from their accountant in order to help the profession offer more tailored services to help you run your business better.

This survey is being sent to businesses by accountants globally.We would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to tell us about your experience with us.

Your feedback will not be seen by us and you do not need to share any personal information. This is your opportunity to say what you really think and to see the experience of other businesses when the report is published.

Please click here to begin the survey.

Kind regards

Mark Pfeifer