Why you need a Business Plan

Success is about planning.  We want to help you achieve success.

Our Business Development offerings are practical and tangible services that help to create long-term value.  Business Planning is a great starting point.

An effective business planning process gets to the heart and soul of your business.  Upon completion of ‘pre-work’, we’ll have a greater understanding of your vision and core values in order to facilitate a four-hour planning session to help you create a clear and concise Business Plan.

This session will require you to take time out from day to day activities in the business to focus on the business.  Together we’ll review your past performance and clarify your future direction.

We’ll enable you to review actual performance against targets and establish a 90-day action plan to address immediate and critical issues.  You’ll set solid and realistic business goals and define strategies for achieving them.

At the end of the session your easy to understand one-page Business Plan will act as a guide for you (and your team) to successfully implement your desired changes.  It will ensure your business is on course for success.

Our Business Planning service eliminates a factor that is all too common in business – PROCRASTINATION.

Key benefits of having a Business Planning session:

  • Review and set business direction
  • Align goals amongst the owners
  • Identify Gross Revenue Targets and Key Performance Indicators
  • Establish a robust accountability system
  • Identify critical challenges and opportunities in your business and the actions required to resolve or maximise them
  • Set timeframes for achieving goals
  • Identify what support and resources you will need to achieve your goals
  • Enables you to communicate your business goals and vision with your team
  • Provides a platform to develop Financial Forecasts
  • Use as a basis to set team members’ individual goals and targets
  • Any time is a good time to complete a Business Plan.  Business Planning is crucial if you’re considering a new business venture.

Call us today to understand how our Business Planning service will help you.

Making it simpler to get reimbursed for your vehicle expenses

The Inland Revenue have recently made some changes to the calculation for reimbursing employees (which can inlcude owners) of small businesses for vehicle costs relating to business travel.

Details on the new rules can be found here

In essence the rules have been expanded to cover more than 5,000 kilometres per annum.  The new rate for up to 14,000 kilomteres per annum is 76 cents and after that it is 26 cents for Petrol or Diesel vehicles, 18 cents for Petrol/Electric Hybrids and 9 cents for Electric Vehicles.

In many cases you could be better off claiming the Kilometre rates compared with claiming deperciation and running costs.

Now the problem with this method is working out how many kilometres you do for business purposes, this is where some technology can help.  Either an APP on your smartphone or a plug in or installed GPS tracking device in your car can really simplify this task.  There are a lot of solutions available for this and they can be very inexpensive.  There are other benefits to having GPS tracking too including security, monitoring where your kids are going in your car, and being able to work out more economical routes.

To discuss the new rules or best method for you then please contact us.


Tidy the Pantry of Your Mind

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night thinking of an idea, email, phone call or important task, that you knew you had to deal with the next day or at some stage in the future? I know I have and rather than having a system to deal with the thought, I would go back to sleep (sometimes not) and then wake up in the morning more worried and stressed, as I could not remember what I had been worrying about during the night.

Instead of staying in this place of constant worry I went in search of a solution.

The realisation that getting it out of your head, off the floor and out of your inboxes, so that your mind can relax, to do its proper job, which is as a creativity tool and a goal seeking weapon. Your mind carries all this stuff as baggage, causing stress and anxiety that reduces your overall effectiveness.

Time to tidy the pantry of your mind…

Step 1: Visualise yourself standing in your kitchen at home, opening the pantry door. The challenge is, how long do you think it might take to find the spice cumin.

Do you have any idea where to look, are you still searching an hour later, or are you able to find it straight away? Give a rating between 0 and 10, as to how tidy it is. If things are all over the place and in a real mess, not only does it not feel very good but it’s not very efficient either.

Step 2: Then visualise and rate your work environment, including your in-baskets (are they overflowing?) computer desktop, your list of incomplete tasks and the big one…. how many emails do you have that remain either unread or unanswered in their inbox?

It can be a scary exercise for some, I had one attendee at my workshop who had more than 10,000 items in your inbox! All this incomplete or messy stuff plays havoc on our minds, our mental state and our effectiveness.

Step 3: Capture everything in a trusted system. A process that I have found very effective, is that each and every time a thought comes to mind, night or day, capture it in a trusted system.

The CORE steps in this process are:

Capture and Clarify. Everything that grabs your attention, get it out of your head and into a trusted system

Organise: Sort information, based on how and when you need to access it

Review: Review and update regularly

Execute: Make trusted choices about what to do in any given moment

Over many years, I have heard some interesting ideas when it comes to capturing an idea if you wake up in the middle of the night, including:

  • Send an email to yourself.
  • Write it down on a piece of paper beside the bed.
  • Ring and leave a message on your voicemail at work.
  • Send a text to yourself.

Capture it in whatever form you can, don’t leave it sitting there as too often you wake up more worried than ever, because that brilliant idea that you thought of now eludes you and that just increases your feelings of stress and anxiety.

Once you have created strategies to help clear your mind, you will sleep better, be more focussed and less overwhelmed. Also, you will have a library of brilliant creative thoughts, readily accessible for you at any time to take you where ever you want to go.

Remember, to GAIN CLARITY, you need to CAPTURE everything that grabs your attention, get it out of your head and into a trusted system.

Until next time then, tick tock, tick tock…

Is it possible to expand your time?

Have you ever got to the end of a week and struggled to remember where your time went, or do you sometimes feel like you are a slave to your business? You will find it is often because of constant interruptions, firefighting, crisis management and other people imposing their problems on you. What can you do about this?

Well, I am about to do something that chartered accountants do not normally do . . . I want to share with you a formula for how you can Expand Time. You may be thinking, Mark, are you really an accountant; you can’t expand time, there are only 24 hours in a day, and you would be 100% correct. Without trying to get down to too much detail, there are in fact 86,400 seconds in a day.

Expanding time is not about increasing the number of hours, minutes or seconds in a day, it’s how you spend, or more importantly, how YOU invest YOUR precious hours minutes and seconds.

As a business owner, a number that is never recorded in your financial accounts, but is critically important, is to know the number of hours you have personally worked in the business, to calculate your effective hourly rate of pay. For many business owners, if they are brutally honest, this could be a very scary number.

For example i,f you are earning a profit of $100,000 and working 2000 hours, giving you a Return on Time Invested (ROTI) or average hourly rate of $50 per hour. I like to use the term Return on Time Invested, with the focus being on the word Invested.

We have a mantra at our firm, Bishop Toomey & Pfeifer ‘Know thy Numbers to Grow Thy Numbers’.

If your ROTI is $50 per hour, ask yourself, what would you like it to be? If you could double it, I’m sure you would be happy. If you set a goal to increase it from $50 to a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of $500 per hour, a 10 times multiplier, how would you need to think and act to achieve this massive result?

Answer – You would need to think and act differently, massively differently, which leads me to my Expanding Time Formula.

To make it easy to remember, I have created an acronym using the action word REACH. It is important that you first start with the Result you are wanting to achieve to give you the motivation to think and act differently. The formula, then leads you through ways to free up time, to then invest in areas that will help you multiply the growth of your business.

The formula relies on each team member working in your business to also play their part.

If you want to multiply the profitability, cash flow and value of your business, you need a plan of action and an accountability partner, to keep you on track.

You now know how to Expand Time to Invest in activities that will help you REACH your goals, so go out there and make it happen. Until next time – tick tock, tick tock.

Mark’s musing – How does Your Business Profit Measure Up

How does Your Business Profit Measure Up?  Are you happy with the Profit you are currently making in your business?  If not, what can you do about it?

You first need to understand what Profit is and how it is derived.  What is Profit?

The formula for Profit is: Sales – Expenses = Profit

Profit is what’s left over, after you’ve paid all your expenses

How to Increase Profit

Profit is something you can’t directly get more of, because it is what is left over. But you certainly can influence the bottom line by working on, and improving the following drivers that determine the profitability of your business:

Costs – There are 2 sorts of costs

  • Variable Costs – these are costs you incur directly in producing or buying the products and services you sell
  • Fixed Costs – these are costs you incur whether or not you make any sales

Units Sold – the quantity of products or services you sell

Price – what you charge for the products and/or services you sell

Your Profit Improvement Plan
To increase your Profit, you need to ask yourself 3 simple questions:

  1. What is my Profit now? – Refer to the last set of financial accounts prepared by your accountant
  2. What do I want it to be? – Rather than settling for what is left over after all of your expenses have been paid, set a goal for what you want your profit to be
  3. How am I going to get there? – What strategies will you use to increase your profit?

Although the normal formula for Profit is: Sales – Expenses = Profit, from a planning perspective, I think a better way to look at the formula is to start with the Profit you want and then work backwards from there:

Profit + Expenses = Sales

You may have heard the saying “He or she who aims at nothing, normally hits it with alarming accuracy”.

If Fixed and Variable Costs remain fairly constant from year to year, then to achieve your Profit goal, you now have a Sales target to aim at.

Example for a Service based industry

Profit target ($100,000) + Expenses ($20,000) = Sales ($120,000)

To achieve sales of $120,000 you need to;

  • Get more customers to
  • Stay with you and come back more often and
  • Spend more with you each time and/or
  • Recommend you to their friends and associates

How are you doing compared to other businesses in your industry?
Each year the Waikato University Management Research Centre in Hamilton collects data from New Zealand accounting firms in public practice.
They collate the data and then prepare comprehensive reports for numerous industries.

Ratios – The Basis for Comparison
Most of the data supplied in the survey questionnaire is converted into ratios.

In each report, there are 35 different calculations to compare your business to those in your industry.  A ratio expresses in one number the result of a comparison between two figures.  This approach enables businesses with varying turnover to compare their relative performance.

Average of the Best 3
The averages of the best 3 are those businesses that achieved the highest result for Net Profit per Working Owner. These results help identify ‘on average’ how the high performing businesses achieved their higher returns.

If you want to improve your Profitability, Mark Pfeifer will be talking more on this topic at our upcoming seminar

Mark’s musings – If you think you can or you think you can’t

If you think you can or you think you can't, either way you are right.
If you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right.

I was speaking at a Mike Pero Real Estate conference in Rotorua several years ago and one of my favourite quotes that I shared with the conference attendees was Henry Fords “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, either way you’re right”.

I told them, that it is a little known secret, that Henry Ford named his model T, by taking the letter T out of the word can’t and then I asked, “when you take the letter T out of the word can’t, what does it spell’?

Normally the answer is of course Can and the lesson to be learned, is that we need to develop a can do rather than a can’t do Attitude when it comes to setting goals to multiply the profitability, cash flow and value of a business.

On this particular day, a young lady who was sitting at the front of the room, called out “CAN apostrophe”, which got a great laugh from the rest of the audience including myself.

Her response made a real impression on me and got me thinking. What is the difference between a Can Do and a Can’t do Attitude? Is the answer, as simple as an apostrophe?

If you are struggling in your business, or know in your heart that it can do better, a lot better, what is holding you back?

What is your apostrophe, what is your BUT that you tell yourself when things may not be going as well as they could or should?

Dan Sullivan who owns a company in America called Strategic Coach, believes two mental habits account for this struggle, Perfectionism and Procrastination and he says that these habits always travel together.

He goes on to explain that ‘Perfectionism is an obsession with the ideal. Procrastination is a refusal to take action because an “ideal result” isn’t guaranteed. Dan has written a very interesting article on this topic which can be found on his Strategic Coach web site

Dan also co-hosts a fantastic free podcast series called 10Xtalks, along with a marketing genius called Joe Polish, and to date I have listened to all 51 episodes and I would highly recommend the series to you.

One of my favourite episodes so far has been episode #12 ‘The entrepreneur trap of Perfectionism and Procrastination

The solution that Dan suggests in both his article and podcast, is the ‘80% Approach, for Breakthrough Results’

Approaching a project or goal with a 100% focus is a sure way to blind yourself.
Aiming for 80% isn’t settling for mediocrity. Dan goes on to explain three reasons why:

  • 80% is better than nothing
  • You can have more than one 80%
  • There’s no such thing as 100%

How do you turn things around?
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar (who sadly died recently), has an answer in his inspirational quote – “It’s your attitude not your aptitude that will determine your altitude”

Talking of Attitude, Altitude and turning things around, over the past year or so, we have been working on developing a new suite of add on products and services to work alongside Xero to help you better ‘Know Your Numbers to Grow Your Numbers’.

The purpose of the new product range is to help you Multiply the Profitability, Cash flow and Value of Your Business

Following a flying theme, we have branded the new product range as ‘UP – Your flight path to Business Success’ and we have created 3 offerings, UPSkill, UPGrade and UPLift.

To find out more about how we can help you grow your business, Paul Dawson and I will be running an event in late April to share with you ways to multiply the Profitability, Cash flow and Value of your business.  Details coming soon.

We hope you are able to join us.

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”

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


Marks’ Musing – Winter 2014


Welcome to the winter addition of Marks’ Musing

It is that time of year when a number of you have been contacting the office to find out when you should bring in your books and records for us to prepare your financial accounts and tax returns.

On the 1st of April, you should have received an email from us, requesting that you download and print the questionnaires from our web site that relate to your situation.

In the email, we notified you that one of our team would communicate with you closer to the time when they were ready to commence your work and organise for you to bring in your financial records.

We have now created a schedule for what jobs we plan to work on in various months throughout the year.

You will receive an email from us notifying you of the month we plan to start your work. If you need your accounts urgently, please contact the office and speak with Sue and explain the reason for the urgency.

Where possible, based on our capacity available, we will do our best to accommodate your request.

We believe there are 5 things that can help us to speed up the preparation of your financial accounts and tax returns;

1. Your accounting system
It is really important that you keep your accounting system up to date as you progress through the financial year.

Your bank account/s should be reconciled regularly.
If you are using Xero, this is simple, as transactions are sent to you electronically on a daily basis.

If you have a problem, call us, it is better to get it sorted sooner rather than waiting until the end of the year.

2. Your records folder.
Please ensure that all financial source documents are filed in a trusted system.

By law you need to keep all financial records for a minimum period of 7 years.

If we have not already supplied you with a client records folder, please contact the office and we can organise this for you.

Please file relevant information under the correct tabs in the records folder at the time you complete a transaction, rather than waiting to do this when we ask you to bring in your records.

If you are not certain where to file something, please call us.

3. Your Financial Checklist and Questionnaire.
This would be the most important document that you need to complete as it gives us a detailed overview of the things that we need to be aware of when preparing your accounts.

If you have not already done so, take action now and download the relevant questionnaires from our web site complete, sign then file under the first tab in your client records folder.

Even if you think all of the information required can be obtained from your accounting system, it is a New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants requirement that all annual accounting jobs must have a completed and signed client questionnaire as part of our workpapers.

4. Your commitment to supply missing information in a timely manner
We will commence your work once we are satisfied that all your relevant records have been received.

If we have questions while preparing your accounts, we would appreciate a timely response within 24 to 48 hours.

Replying promptly,creates efficiencies and stops the job being put down and picked up too often and therefore keeps costs from escalating.

Sometimes, circumstances dictate that you are unable to supply us with information in a timely manner.

In these cases, we will put a HOLD on the work until the missing information is able to be supplied.

We may need to reschedule the job to later in the year when we have available capacity to complete the work.

5. Our commitment to you
When you bring in your records, we commit to checking them within 48 hours of receipt and if there is anything missing we will let you know promptly.

Assuming you have supplied all of the requested information in a timely manner (within 24 to 48 Hours), we commit to completing your accounts within 15 working days from the date your work is commenced.

We would like to thank you in advance for working with us to improve our service delivery to you.

We are pleased to have you on our TEAM because we know that Together Everyone Achieves More.


Under-promise, over-deliver for good referrals

Happy customers refer you new business.
Happy customers refer you new business.

It should be obvious to anyone in business, not keeping your word does nothing to enhance your image.

It’s often hard to tell a customer, very politely of course, “You’ll have to wait”. You might be a very small building company and know you won’t have a gap in your work for six months.

If this is the situation, tell the customer you can start in seven months, turn up after 6½ and you’ll be praised. Say you’ll be along in three months (to keep the customer happy) and they’ll hate you for taking six.

Never promise more than you can achieve. It’s better to lose jobs than to upset customers, because happy customers are the very people who are going to recommend you for your next job. You’ll get payback when the economy goes bad again, as it inevitably will one day.

You’ll get referrals when others won’t.

Trustees must be aware of fishhooks

A solicitor in a provincial town was the independent trustee for a family trust. Mr and Mrs B bought and sold 11 properties over a 12-year period. Ms X, the solicitor, did the conveyancing.

The trust treated these properties as separate residences of the beneficiaries. The tax department alleged the transactions were taxable and charged both GST and income tax, plus penalties.

The trust deed required all trust decisions to be made unanimously. In this case, it would have required Mr and Mrs B and Ms X to have agreed to each purchase and each sale.

However, Mr and Mrs B acted on their own account, buying and selling property and arranging finance, and then getting their solicitor, Ms X, to do the legal work.

It seems regular minutes were not prepared. However, they were prepared retrospectively and signed by all trustees. It seems that even if the minutes had not been completed, Ms X had agreed to the transactions because she would have signed the various documents in her capacity as a trustee and she would have known that all the transactions were occurring.

Ms X was held to be jointly and severally liable for all tax and penalties, along with the other two trustees. This means if they could not or would not pay some or all of the money owing to the IRD, Ms X would have to make up the shortfall.

If you are an independent trustee of a trust, we hope you have read this little story. If it gives you nightmares, resign your trusteeship first thing in the morning.

If you must accept the position of trustee for someone else’s trust, you must know what is going on. If your co-trustee(s) thinks they can act independently, resign. Sometimes this can be a painful process. For solicitors and accountants it can mean the loss of clients. For others it can be the loss of friends. Face up to it, don’t get caught like Ms X.