Investment Basics – Understanding Your Gains And Losses

investments

When you’re reviewing your investments, it’s important to remember that income and returns come from two main sources, Capital Gains and Interim Income.

Capital gain (or loss)

This is the difference in the overall value of your investment between when you purchased it and now (or the date that you sold it.) You can work it out as:

((Current or sale price per unit – purchase price) * number of units) – fees and taxes

For example, let’s assume that you purchased 100 shares of Amazing Blue Widget Co. for $50 each and then sold them for $80 each. You had to pay $10 to buy, $10 to sell and 15% tax on the profit, this would work out to: (($80 – $50)*100) – $20 – $450 = $2,430 or a return of 48.6% on your original $5,000 investment.

Interim income (dividends, interest etc.)

This is the amount that you’ve received in interim payments over the life of your investment. It’s calculated as:

(Interim % * value of investment) – taxes

You would need to work this out for each interim payment that you receive.

For example, let’s assume that you’ve held 100 ABWC shares for three years, and that they paid dividends of 3% a year; in the first year the shares were $50 each, in the second, $60 each and in the third $80 each. Your return would be: 3% of $5,000, $6,000 and $8,000 less tax; this works out to: $485.

Your total return

This is equal to your capital gain (or loss) plus your interim income. You can then compare this to your original purchase price to understand what percentage gain or loss that you’ve made.

For example, your purchase price of ABWC shares was $5,000; over three years, you’ve made $2,430 in capital gains and $485 in interim returns (dividends) for a total of $2,915. That’s an increase of 58.3% over three years, or 19.4% a year – Not bad!

You should compare your total return to your targets and life goals. This can help you decide if you should keep your investments, or if it would be wise to sell them.

Vehicle log books made easy

Record your log book easily utilising GPS technology.
Record your log book easily utilising GPS technology.

If you use a vehicle in your business that is not exclusively for business then you need to run a log book for 3 months every 3 years detailing your trips and what they are for so you work out what percentage of your travel is for business use.  This percentage is then used to calculate the amount of expenses related to running the vehicle that can be claimed as a business expense.

Typically the process has been done in manual logbook and it easy to forget to do and often does not get done at all which does leave clients exposed if there were to be audited by the IRD.

In the last couple of weeks I have trialed a device which automatically collects my trip data and provides this data in a format that can be downloaded into a spreadsheet to be summarised and analysed.

This is not an expensive device either with a current price of $129.

So how does it work:

  1. You buy the device from gpslogbook.co.nz
  2. You connect to your computer and setup an account
  3. You plug it into the lighter in your vehicle and it will automatically collect data
  4. Every now and then you take it out of your vehicle and connect it to your computer and it will download the data collected to the GPS Log Book software
  5. Mark your trips as business or private in the software
  6. They provide an online account to view your data (including in Google Maps) for free for the first year and then if you want that ongoing there is a small annual subscription
  7. You can then download your trip data to a spreadsheet to calculate your business usage or send it to your accountant to do this for you

Other usages and benefits from this device

  • It can also be used for mileage claims for employees
  • You can view your trips and see how efficiently your travel is
  • When viewing your trips you may identify shorter / faster routes
  • You could also combine this data with fuel spend to work out your fuel efficiency

Anyway my overall experience with this device is that it was very simple to use and I have found the information much more useful than just creating a log book of my travel.

GPS Log Book Website

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

5 Tips to Improve the Conversion Rate on Your Site

ecommerce

If you want to increase sales on your e-commerce site, you should not only focus on traffic but also on your conversion rate. The higher your conversion rate, the more money you can make with the same number of visitors. Here are five tactics to help you increase your conversion rate.

Read More »

Business Systems – Why, What, How?

What systems do I need and how do I get the most out of them.
What systems do I need and how do I get the most out of them.

At last count in our accounting firm we had 16 different systems that we use on a daily basis that all cover off a different part of our business functions.  The amount of systems that businesses run has changed significantly over the last few years as it has become a lot less expensive to develop and deliver systems, cloud computing has made it a lot easier to access sophisticated systems, and mobile computing has changed the way people want to use their systems.

So, as a business owner, how do you choose what systems you should use and how you should use them?

  1. Why implement a system into your business?

For me this starts with a good understanding of the strategy of your business and understanding what are the key drivers for creating the results in your business.  We can use a lot of systems because a particular team member likes them or they are fun to use but in a business you really want systems that make it easier to deliver the outcomes you want.

In this sense I think that systems that help you to effectively manage:

  • Sales activities
  • Customer relationships
  • Team and individual productivity
  • Performance and development of team members, and
  • Business improvements

should be high on the priority list of a lot of businesses.  It is also important when choosing which systems to implement that you get the team on board and can clearly demonstrate the business need for the systems you are implementing.

  1. What systems should I choose

When selecting any system you want to think carefully about whether you want your systems to talk to one another.  If you do want this, then you might want to look at your most important system first and choose the system that is a best fit for you in that area and then look at systems that integrate with that core system.

For example if you have various systems that utilise client data, ideally you want those systems to integrate so that if you update a customer’s details then these changes get reflected in all your systems.  If this integration is not built in to the core product and they are cloud based solutions then you can use a tool like Zapier to provide that integration for you.

I also find that when choosing a system you want to do your homework and, if you can do, find someone who is already using the system you are considering and get their feedback about it.

With most systems these days the small part of the cost is the system cost itself, the bigger costs is in the time involved in implementing it properly.  So in this sense you want to make a good choice.

  1. How to implement systems

Once you have chosen a system to use then I recommend appointing a system champion and get them to drive the implementation.  I see a lot of businesses doing minimal or no training on their systems but I think most training is well worth the investment.  The majority of systems we use collect data of some form or another, and when this is the case it is really important to report on that data and examine it critically.  This will then tell you whether data is being entered correctly and when it is the results you get from that system will be more meaningful.  I also recommend that whatever system is being used there should be a regular meeting where the results of that system are reviewed and discussed.

A great tool for helping to manage system implementations is Basecamp.  This is a high level project management and collaboration tool which is very flexible.

Conclusion

There is a lot to consider when deciding what systems you need, which system to choose and how to implement it, but in this day and age getting this right is critical to your ongoing success.

Paul Dawson will be speaking more on this topic at our upcoming seminar in Christchurch.  Click here to register

Social Media Etiquette: 12 Quick Tips for Professionals

Social-Media

With social media, you can connect with business associates quickly and creatively. But this communication mode is not without risk. A thoughtless post can offend customers and other business partners and damage relationships rather than build them. By following a few ground rules you can be confident your comments and posts will be appropriate ones.

Read More »

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.

Is that time of year again – time to set some goals for the new financial year

Xero Actual v Budget

With the new financial year upon us it is a great time to establish some financial targets and import them into Xero so you can compare your actual results versus your targets (or budget).

What we find, is that the understanding of the financial make-up of a business is enhanced significantly when you set targets and then report against those targets and get curious about the variances.  Some good tips for establishing your financial targets for the year are:

  1. Start with a review of the strategy of your business
  2. Set some targets around the key drivers for your business (eg no of customers, productivity)
  3. Use excel or another spread-sheeting program to “play” with your numbers and create some what-if scenarios
  4. Prepare a bottom up budget for your overheads (day to day running costs)
  5. Once this is done you can then easily import the targets into Xero
  6. Customise reports in Xero to optimise the reporting and the use of your financial goals
  7. Run reports each month and get curious about your variances

For a video on how to import budget data into Xero click here

We regulalrly run webinars to cover establishing targets and how to upload them into Xero.

To register your interest then please click here

Xero now includes Payroll

Xero Payroll

Xero have released the long awaited Payroll functionality for the NZ version ready for use from 1 April 2015.

Xero’s payroll functionality includes the standard features of payroll software in terms of calculating pays, managing leave etc but it also includes the ability for staff to login and view their leave balances, pay history and submit leave requests.  As you would expect from Xero the User Interface looks nice and it seems very easy to follow your nose.

Xero Payroll is not a payroll intermediary though which means it will not collect and pay PAYE to the IRD on your behalf and wont automatically submit your payroll returns to the IRD.  If this is a feature you would like then I recommend checking out one of the following Xero partners:

Thank You Payroll

iPayroll

Smart Payroll

If you wish to read more then check out the following information from Xero or contact Paul Dawson to discuss.

Xero Payroll Features

Upcoming webinars from Xero

Support for Families

support for families

Parental Tax Credit

For babies born on or after 1 April 2015, the Government will increase the parental tax credit from $150 a week to $220 a week, and extend the payment period from eight weeks to ten weeks. How much you receive also depends on:

  • your total family income before tax
  • the number of dependent children in your care and how old they are
  • the number of newborn children per year

You can either receive PTC or paid parental leave. You can’t receive both at the same time. And you can’t receive PTC if your family income for the full eight to ten weeks includes an income-tested benefit, NZ Super, a veteran’s pension, a student allowance, or accident compensation from ACC (unless you are receiving this for less than three months).

Changes to parental leave

The current 14 weeks’ of paid parental leave will be increased to 16 weeks for babies expected or born on or after 1 April 2015.

New requirements for Companies

New requirement for Companies

From 1 May 2015 new registration requirements come into force for applications to incorporate a New Zealand Limited Liability company. All New Zealand incorporated companies must have at least one director who lives in New Zealand or who lives in Australia and is a director of an Australian incorporated company. Existing companies on the companies register will have 180 days to comply with these New Zealand ‘resident director’ requirements. In addition, all directors must provide their place and date of birth and all companies must supply their ultimate holding company details (if applicable).

Contact us if you think you may be affected.

Risk and Reward – Employment Law Changes

Employment Law Changes

The government has made some major employment relations changes, effective from 6 March 2015. Changes target flexible working arrangements, rest and meal breaks, continuity of employment for vulnerable employees upon restructuring, the good faith provisions, collective bargaining, and how the Employment Relations Authority gives its determinations.

Flexible working arrangements

Up till now flexible working arrangements have only been available to caregivers who have been employed at their place of work for six months or more. From March, all employees will have the right to request flexible working arrangements from their first day on the job. There’s no longer a limit on the number of requests an employee can make in a year. When employers receive requests for flexible work arrangements, they must respond within one month, rather than three as before. The response must be in writing and, if a refusal, it must explain why.

Rest and meal breaks

Previously, provisions for rest and meal breaks were quite strict. They now seek to balance the importance of rest and breaks for employees with what is practical for the business. Essentially, employees are entitled to breaks and, if it’s not possible for the employer to ensure breaks for employees, the employer must offer reasonable compensation. Employees and employers can’t contract out of the right to rest and meal breaks though under some circumstances an employer might be exempt from giving breaks or may restrict breaks when the restrictions are reasonable. Key to the new provisions is that employers and employees agree on whatever arrangements are put in place and that arrangements are reasonable. If you are considering varying the arrangements around rest and meal breaks for your employees, touch base with your employment advisor to discuss your approach. As with other employment matters it is important to follow fair process and document any agreements made with employees so that, if required, you can show you have acted fairly and reasonably.

Continuity of employment

The changes to continuity of employment relate specifically to employees in situations where an employer is restructuring or selling a cleaning or catering business and employees are transferring to the new employer. A 2012 review found businesses have difficulty implementing the provisions in practical terms. The changes include set timeframes for employees to elect to move to a new employer; the outgoing employer’s obligation to provide the new employer with detailed information on employees and their entitlements; a way for the outgoing and incoming employers to share responsibility for employee entitlements if they can’t agree on it; protection for employers from unjustified increases in employment costs; and provision for SMEs to be exempt.

Good faith provisions and confidential information

Where the employer proposes to take a decision which will or is likely to affect that employee’s continued employment adversely, changes to the good faith provisions set out what confidential information an employer has to give an employee. The employer must give the employee confidential information where it relates to them but does not have to provide confidential information on anyone else if doing so would involve an unwarranted disclosure of their affairs. Nor are employers required to give confidential information that legally must stay confidential, or where there is a good reason to keep the information confidential (for example, to protect the business’ commercial position). Where allegations are made against an employee, the employee should still know the identity of their accuser and the nature of allegations made against them unless there is good reason to keep this information confidential.

Collective bargaining

The new collective bargaining framework includes provision that collective bargaining does not have to be concluded, though employers will not be able to end bargaining or refuse to enter into a collective agreement just because they object in principle to collective bargaining or collective agreements. A party to collective bargaining can apply to the Employment Relations Authority for a determination as to whether bargaining has concluded.

Employers will be able to opt out of multi-employer bargaining from the start. New employees who are non-union members are no longer covered by terms and conditions of a collective agreement for the first 30 days of their employment. Employers may respond to partial strikes by imposing proportionate pay reductions and unions must provide advanced written notice of any proposed strikes and lockouts.

ERA determinations

There are also changes to when and how the Employment Relations Authority must give preliminary findings and determinations following an investigation.

Xero News – Quotes now available

Xero have released a long awaited feature in the past week – the ability to produce quotes.

Many Xero users have been providing quotes by creating a draft invoice but now that quotes are available it offers a much better way of providing and managing quotes to help you improve your sales results.

To read more click here for Xero’s blog post

You access quotes by going to Sales and then selecting quote from the New drop down
You access quotes by going to Sales and then selecting quote from the New drop down
You can add an expiry date on a quote and a reference to help your customer identify who requested it or what job it relates to.
You can add an expiry date on a quote and a reference to help your customer identify who requested it or what job it relates to.
Email quotes to your client or prospect and send a copy to yourself right from within Xero.
Email quotes to your client or prospect and send a copy to yourself right from within Xero.
Options including marking quotes as accepted or declined, copying to create a similar quote or cancelling quotes.
Options including marking quotes as accepted or declined, copying to create a similar quote or cancelling quotes.
There is a dashboard for quotes showing your how many quotes are in each stage and making it easier to manage your sales and billing process.
There is a dashboard for quotes showing your how many quotes are in each stage and making it easier to manage your sales and billing process.

Incoming ….

inbound marketing

The last few years have seen a new wave breaking in the marketing world. You may be aware of it under different labels, but ‘inbound marketing’ is an umbrella term for the change.

The bedrock of marketing was always outbound strategy:

  • the print advertisement
  • the billboard
  • the commercial on TV or in the cinema (remember going out to the movies?)

Market share used to be heavily influenced by how much you could afford to spend on advertising. So the companies most likely to succeed were those who could afford billboards and full page ads. Smaller competitors had to be a lot craftier, the quality of their products or services had to be outstanding and their appeal to niche markets was often their secret weapon.

Today’s customers are much more proactive about seeking out products and services for themselves, empowered by their confidence online. If they want a plumber or a palm tree or a book on rare birds, they’re more likely to begin their search on Google before they reach for the yellow pages or walk into a shop. They don’t only search online. They compare prices and features. They look at product surveys and access customer reviews.

By the time they email, pick up the phone, or complete the online form on your website, they’re more than likely well informed about you, your business and what you have to offer. And they’re already inclined to buy your product or use your services. They’re a prospect who’s generated a lead for you and they’ve invited you to contact them. You don’t have to cold call them. You ‘warm call’ them. Of course, it’s up to you to delight them from there.

Businesses have been quick to recognise the need to connect with the new style of customers. They’re making it easy for customers to find them with inbound marketing strategies. Inbound marketing outperforms outbound strategies and is cheaper.
An eConsultancy survey from 2012 found the cost of acquiring a new lead was $346 using outbound marketing strategies, yet only $135 using inbound strategies. So, while larger companies have been quick to spot the trend, many smaller businesses are finding inbound strategies well within their reach and their budget.

The message for your online strategy is: make it easy for customers to find you. Make it enticing to stay and play. Offer takeaways with sufficient value for web-surfers to be happy to exchange their contact details for your white paper or presentation or your podcast. Create opportunities to interact with potential customers so your web presence is less of a billboard and has more potential to personalise future contact.

Avoiding the January Blues

Avoiding the January blues

Many people kick start the New Year with a myriad of resolutions, from keeping fit to losing weight or achieving financial goals. However, many of those resolutions fail to embody anything remotely close to working life. The first week back is usually a slow one; clearing out the inbox (usually spam as most other people were also on break) dusting off the keyboard and restocking the cupboard with fresh new stationery.

So when your employees hit the deck with the January blues, here are some ideas to instil excitement and motivation.

Know your team

Inspiring your team can start even before the New Year kicks off. If you give out Christmas gifts at the end of each year, do your research first. Find out about your team and ensure you’re getting each and every one of them something that is thoughtful and representative of how you see them as individuals. If specialised gifts are not within your budget, ensure you do something, whether it be a Christmas party or even a personalised card that lets each of your employees know how much you’ve appreciated their efforts throughout the year. By feeling this appreciation, they are more likely to come back to work in a positive frame of mind.

As a by the by, when you’re planning the office Christmas party, if it’s likely to be especially festive, make some provision so that people don’t have to drink and drive. Often someone’s willing to volunteer as sober driver but give it some thought and talk it over with the team so there’s a plan for everyone to make it home safely.

Include your staff in the company goals

In your initial meeting at the beginning of the year, let everyone know what the overall plan is for the year and where the business is going. Sit down with each staff member individually and chat about personal career goals, how you and the company can help to achieve these and reiterate the importance of the company values. This makes each team member feel valued and appreciated, with the knowledge that you care about his or her future.

 

Make it fun

In this initial meeting, make sure you include some exciting goals and talk about ideas for functions and team outings. It’s good for your crew to have something to look forward to. More importantly, make sure it happens. You don’t want to plan big and be greeted with exasperated sighs and rolled eyes for not following through on promises from previous years.

Keep it moving

Is everyone in the team already a bit nostalgic for the days on the beach? Or are they talking about their healthy lifestyle resolutions? Would they be up for a detox week at work? Programme some healthy shared lunches, with everyone bringing in their favourite salads and juices. Make the most of the long summer days and go for a walk in the sun during lunch or before work. Make a date to go out to a local lookout for a scenic moment. Get the blood pumping with a game of touch after work.

Leave room for treats

Build in some reward moments, too. Simply surprise the team with an occasional morning tea treat. Or, if people are in the mood to be social but a little cash-poor after the holidays, suggest an evening get-together at someone’s house for DVDs and snacks.

These ideas can also be helpful tools to check in with your team throughout the year. Open communication, positive attitudes and keeping everyone in the loop is just the start to maintaining motivation and keeping energy levels up. This can encourage respect and in turn, reinforce staff retention and loyalty. By treating your employees as valued team players, you can have a far more productive and efficient year ahead.

 

Xero Tips & Tricks – including setting a budget in Xero

slider

 

Xero Tips & Tricks

One of the things that we have learned with Xero is that many of our clients needs are different and that knowing how to use Xero properly is an important part of the picture and that is why we have been investing in our own training and in developing ways to get more education around Xero to our clients.

We have found that the best method to provide education to as many clients as possible is to create training videos.
Xero have developed many videos which can help, especially with how to use the functions generically.  Here are a few examples.

 

We have also developed our own training videos and will be prioritizing future videos, based on feedback from our clients.
Here are some videos that we have created
Creating invoices in Xero
Getting Paid faster
Bank Transactions
Budgets & Reporting

Quick Budget

We hope you get value out of the videos and if you have any feedback or ideas for future videos then please complete our very short Xero survey.

 

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.

Sales

“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

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.