Buy local first this festive season

Broadening your supply chain and buying local dramatically lowers your risk when things get tough.

If you’re a small business who is dependent on a single supplier for your materials, you will have probably noticed just how hard it is to source what you need during a pandemic.

During our first nationwide lockdown, importing materials from overseas was a squeeze, with restrictions placed on goods moving across borders. And when panic buyers caused some product lines to sell out, cascading surges in demand for inputs meant that certain materials were simply impossible to get your hands on. In turn, production couldn’t ramp up quickly enough to meet the volumes required.

Diversifying to lower your risk

To avoid risk, many businesses are now reducing their dependency on single suppliers, especially those located overseas. Whilst international suppliers may have delivered cost savings for your business in the past, the possibility of disruptions in the future might now cause you to think twice.

In response, a trend towards near-shoring is emerging as a replacement for off-shoring. By looking for Australian manufacturers where possible, you not only reduce the chances of interrupted supply, but also cut your transportation costs. Plus, lining up multiple homegrown suppliers helps to keep the local economy thriving.

Using the buy local trend for good

Customers are also embracing the buy-local trend, supporting their neighbourhood businesses and buying Australian-made goods.

Increasingly, they are planning to holiday locally as well. Australian travel routes are now set to reignite well before global ones, meaning people will be venturing interstate and exploring our own backyard first – and needing the services of local businesses along the journey.

Ultimately, the local-first trend is positive for both small businesses and their customers. Why? Because reducing the risk of supply shortages while supporting your neighbourhood favourites is a win-win. As customers continue to buy local, your business can too, all the while reaping the rewards of a more stable supply of materials.

Consider your customer

What locally sourced products are your customers demanding most?

What does ‘local’ mean for your customer – does it mean from their neighbourhood, from their home state, or from Australia?

How can you support your customers’ desire to travel domestically in the short to medium term?

Consider your business

Can you diversify the range of suppliers you rely on and support more suppliers who are local?

Can you rapidly source extra components if demand surges?

Have you got access to back-up stockpiles if shortages emerge?

Are offshore providers suitable for your back-of- house operations or should they be run locally?


  • Review your list of suppliers with an eye to reducing your risk. Check that they can ensure continuity of supply and quick boosts to production if needed.
  • Proudly highlight local sourcing in your product descriptions.
  • Tell your customers the stories of how their food came to be on the plate, or how you are supporting other small businesses in the neighbourhood.
  • Pivot your attention temporarily from incoming international tourists to domestic holiday-makers.
  • Embrace the challenge of selling in your own community – build your local profile and connect with neighbours.

Notch Above Bookkeeping is a team of Platinum Certified Xero bookkeepers and BAS Agents. Based in Brisbane we help small business clients right across Australia prepare their BAS returns and streamline their bookkeeping processes, payroll and accounting records. Call us to find out how on 1300 015 130 today.

Source: Xero

Continuity planning

In uncertain times, having a business continuity plan is more important than ever

One of the big lessons of 2020 has been the need to have a robust business continuity plan in place.

This learning has become all the more pertinent in light of the fast-moving nature of lockdown restrictions, which could change from one week to the next.

For many business owners, the impact of a succession of multiple shocks has made for anxious times. Bushfires, smoke pollution, wild storms, a global pandemic and economic shutdown have taught us that businesses need the capacity to withstand a range of challenging scenarios.

Nobody could have expected this chain of events, and it’s forced small business owners to entirely rethink their approach to planning.

Understanding business continuity plans

A business continuity plan is an outline of the steps you’ll take to help your business be prepared for events that could cause disruption. It’s a strategy to keep you strong in the face of a range of potential future scenarios, whether that’s natural disasters, equipment failure, or a cyber attack. In a crisis, people feel compelled to focus on immediate pressures – the here and now.

As we move through phases of recovery and growth, it can be easy to remain stuck in that mindset, and lose sight of the medium to longer term.

While you work through the current challenges facing your business, it’s a good idea to also keep an eye on future goals and the risks on the horizon. That’s where a business continuity plan can help.

Building a plan that’s right for you

Working with your team, think through which disruptions your business is most likely to face, and which would have the biggest impact. Then write down the actions you’ll take to avoid damage, maintain productivity, and recover. Importantly, your plan should include steps you can take now to prevent business disruption, as well as response strategies that would only be used in the event of an emergency. You might also incorporate the lessons you’ve learnt from the pandemic.

Whichever way you look at it, building some advance planning into the ongoing core work of your business is smart thinking. It provides that little extra peace of mind, knowing that your team has the strength and resilience to keep things moving, even if emergencies arise in the future.

Consider your customer

How will you communicate and connect with your customers during a crisis?

How can your customers best access your products or services during different types of disruptions?

Are there ways you can help your customers meet their urgent needs during future emergencies?

Consider your business

Do you have a way to enter ‘hibernation mode’ and recover afterwards

Are there opportunities to partner with other businesses during a future crisis to ensure mutual survival?

How can you build in time to evaluate and adapt your plan and your regular business reporting as you learn more about the new operating environment?


  • Develop contingency plans to deal with the most likely risks and those that would have the most impact.
  • Review and update your plans regularly to ensure they remain current.
  • Rehearse how you would handle the most probable threats, so that your team is clear on how they can help should the need arise.
  • Reach out to your network to learn from the experiences, insights and advice of other small business owners who have faced disruption before.

Notch Above Bookkeeping is a team of Platinum Certified Xero bookkeepers and BAS Agents. Based in Brisbane we help small business clients right across Australia prepare their BAS returns and streamline their bookkeeping processes, payroll and accounting records. Call us to find out how on 1300 015 130 today.

Source: Xero

Business health front and centre

Keeping health front of mind in every transaction will help make things more comfortable for your customers.

Thanks to the pandemic, health and hygiene are now front of mind for all of us.

We have become more aware of our own health, infection risks, and the precautions needed to protect ourselves and loved ones. Common sense behaviours, like staying home when unwell and frequent hand washing or sanitising are now everyday considerations.

Making it safe to do business

This focus on health and hygiene is here to stay. Your customers are likely to remain vigilant about potential sources of infection and will want to stay safe.

The new reality is a desire for a hyper-clean experience. For small business owners, this means customers will want to know that it’s safe to shop from you, and staff will want to know that it’s safe to work with you.

Taking healthcare in new directions

Beyond threshold issues of health and safety, we’ll also see a growing desire to spot the warning signs of illness, monitor our own health, and seek medical advice.

This means growing opportunities for small businesses to accelerate adaptation to emerging models of healthcare, including home testing, wearable self-monitoring health devices, and home-delivered medicines.

If your small business operates in the health and wellbeing sector, you’re in the driver’s seat to help us all adapt to the new world of healthcare. For others, it’s about keeping things clean, hygienic and safe for everyone who works and shops with you.

Consider your customer

Are your premises ultra-clean and super-safe for customers, and compliant with government health advice?

Do you need your customers to access your products and services differently to keep them healthy?

How can you help your customers take better care of their own health and adapt to new models
of healthcare?

Consider your business

Should you broaden your view of occupational health and safety to include more ventilation, hand-washing stations, or barriers for the protection of staff
and customers?

How will you monitor the way people adhere to new health and hygiene requirements?

How will you check the health of your own staff and ensure they’re okay?


  • Regularly track your compliance with government health regulations.
  • Review the frequency and rigour of the cleaning services for your premises.
  • Encourage the use of sick leave for your staff. No more ‘soldiering on’ if unwell!
  • Streamline transactions to reduce unnecessary waiting times and contact points.
  • Clearly communicate the steps you’ve taken to keep staff and customers healthy and safe.

Notch Above Bookkeeping is a team of Platinum Certified Xero bookkeepers and BAS Agents. Based in Brisbane we help small business clients right across Australia prepare their BAS returns and streamline their bookkeeping processes, payroll and accounting records. Call us to find out how on 1300 015 130 today.

Source: Xero

Three young women preparing and decorating a table outside in a huge garden for a dinner party

Can Christmas parties go ahead during the coronavirus pandemic?

The office Christmas party might not look the same this year

However, it’s still possible to inject some fun into end-of-year celebrations without putting anyone at risk.

Take your party outdoors

This is the safest option, given most coronavirus infections are contracted in indoor spaces, where air currents mean that people generally end up breathing in other people’s exhaled air, even with physical distancing and air conditioning.

With some venues, it will be necessary to book your space. In Canberra, for example, the National Capital Authority (NCA) is promoting the idea that organisations could hold their function in the Old Parliament House Rose Gardens or on Aspen Island. In the spirit of holiday giving, the NCA will waive hire fees, so plan ahead and get in early.

Physical distancing is still important, even outdoors, so dancing, singing and close-up mingling should not be part of the plan. And the ground rules for the event should make it clear that anyone who is unwell, particularly anyone who has any respiratory symptoms such as a cough or cold, must not attend the event.

Hand sanitising stations should be readily accessible, and any hand hygiene risks anticipated and avoided as far as reasonably practicable. For example, you may consider asking people attending to bring their own plates and cutlery, and their own food and drink.

Contact tracing

In addition, public health requirements in many jurisdictions mean businesses and undertakings need to keep a record of everyone attending, the name, phone number, the date and time they attended the venue.

This information is important for contact tracing, in case it later emerges someone at the event subsequently tested positive for coronavirus and may have passed on the virus without realising it.

To properly guard personal information, paper-based collection of contact tracing information should be done on a form that is kept private from other patrons, and secure from unauthorised access over the following weeks. The information can be destroyed after 28 days.

Collection of electronic information (e.g. on an iPad) must also maintain the privacy of personal information and must be done in a way that does not create a hygiene risk. For this reason, devices should not be handed to people attending, but rather collected by a staff member holding the device.

Keep your event small

The scale, nature and venue for your event should be chosen in the light of the local situation. Find out whether you’ll need a COVIDSafe plan, check maps of hot spots for active cases in the areas of potential venues, and make your plans accordingly.

Numbers of people attending will have to be within the allowable limits. Check your local health department to find out what restrictions apply in your area.

Think about using technology

A solution for some businesses may be a hybrid event where some employees are on site and others join in via Zoom or other platforms. This is an ideal way to include vulnerable individuals who may be at risk, for whatever reason.

While ‘virtual mingling’ might not have quite the same zing to it, if you’re joining in from home you can still relax and chat with colleagues, and at least you won’t be having to balance a drink and a plate in one hand while using a fork with the other.

Live, interactive games that online attendees can participate in are limited only by the imagination. Invite staff to make suggestions, and you might be surprised by what people come up with.

As long as it’s safe for everyone, a celebration can be a positive influence on workplace morale and a well-deserved relief, after such a difficult year.

Source: Can Christmas parties go ahead during the coronavirus pandemic? (2020). Retrieved from

Xero Payroll

Making the move online

Having an online presence has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have.

If ever we doubted the power of the internet, the pandemic has confirmed it once and for all.

Not only have we seen an increasing number of people looking online in search of accurate information, but they’re also embracing the convenience and comfort of online shopping as never before.

While this was already a growing trend, having an online presence has become essential for all businesses.

Matching your customer expectations

Now is the time to ramp up your online presence and give your customers the ultra-helpful information they seek. Things like having products on hand and immediately available, easy online bookings and speedy payment options all help to make for a smooth and enjoyable user experience.

To make this work, you may need to boost your back-of-house technology as well. Replacing manual counting of stock with more automated inventory management, for example, is an essential step to providing real-time product information.

The benefits to your business also include quicker order processing, less time wasted on back-end administrative tasks, and cheaper fulfilment costs. A win for your customers, but also a win for you.

Making it social

Taking your business into the virtual world can open you up to a wider audience, far beyond the foot traffic in your local neighbourhood, into interstate and international markets. A good social media strategy can also help you target your marketing more accurately.

Customers increasingly see social media as a customer service desk – an easy place for them to send a query by instant message instead of making a phone call. Resolving queries online is usually simpler for them, and often quicker for you too. As more and more businesses make the switch online, growth in at-home purchasing is set to keep increasing. Rather than fearing your customers’ growing hunger for faster, easier ways to buy online, you can fuel it. Making the move will not only help you to sell in their world, it’s likely to see your business grow in turn.

Consider your customer

How will you stand out from your competitors in an online environment?

Can you personalise your customers’ online experience by tailoring special offers based on their purchase history?

Do you need fewer staff on the shop floor and more online, answering customer queries or reaching out on social media?

Consider your business

Can you modify or remove some of your paper-based systems and use cloud services instead to provide a faster experience for your customers?

Can you use digital tools, such as workflow and collaboration apps, to help your staff work together and plan more efficiently?

If online traffic increases, will you need as much shop floor space? Can you repurpose some of your real estate?

Tips for moving your bricks-and-mortar store online

1. Choose the right platform for you

Rather than looking to a third-party site to sell your product, create a brand and business asset that you have full control over. We recommend going with a self-hosted e-commerce website platform like Shopify – it’s user friendly, so even a novice can set up their own site.

2. Replicate your in-store sales assistant, online

When shopping online, people only have what you give them through their screen. That’s why you need to replicate the in-store experience as best as you can by providing quality images, great product headlines and detailed descriptions. Be sure to answer any frequently asked questions people may have in an easy-to-find FAQ section.

3. Have a follow-up strategy in place

Although people may not buy from you straight away, not only do you have the opportunity to build a relationship with them, you can also retarget them later when they may be ready to buy. Make sure you have automated email sequences and Facebook retargeting ads set up ready to follow people up.

4. Don’t forget about your existing customers

Getting someone to purchase from you again is much cheaper and easier than getting a new customer. Thanks to the customer relationship management system (CRM) within Xero, you can reach out to your entire customer database directly. Connect with your audience by producing engaging, unique and magnetic content.

Four apps to help move your business online

These tools from Xero’s app marketplace have everything you need to streamline and simplify your businesses’ move online.


With Hubdoc and Xero, manual tasks like document collection and data entry are automated, making bank reconciliation and financial document management a breeze. We outline 2 easy ways to do that in this instructional video. Talk with your Notch Above consultant for specific advice about setting up Hubdoc in your business, which is free for most Xero users.


This global commerce company enables you to begin selling online easily. Better yet, it easily connects with Xero via popular app A2X and comes complete with a bunch of handy resources to help you get started.


Say goodbye to clumsy spreadsheets and make paying your staff a seamless process thanks to this clever app that also takes care of scheduling, rostering and processing leave requests.


Thanks to the Stripe and Xero integration, your customers can pay your online invoices using their preferred credit or debit card. This means you get paid easily and on time.

Notch Above Bookkeeping is a team of Platinum Certified Xero bookkeepers and BAS Agents. We help small business owners right across Australia prepare their BAS returns and streamline their bookkeeping processes, payroll and accounting records. Call us to find out how on 1300 015 130 today.

Source: Xero Stronger and smarter: a small business handbook. (2020). Retrieved from

virtual reality mask

Put your own oxygen mask on first

2020 has brought tremendous change and uncertainty on individuals and organisations

For many, this uncertainty can create significant stress and over time can have a serious impact on deep thinking and productivity.

Business leaders have a role to play in ensuring their teams feel supported during periods of ongoing change.

Research shows our mindset contributes greatly to our ability to reduce the impact of our limbic system response. For leaders that mindset can keep our teams in the adaptive ‘sweet spot’ neither under nor overreacting to an evolving situation. This sweet spot is a belief in eventual success, combined with a deep acceptance of the harsh current reality.

“It may feel self-evident to look after our own wellbeing but in times of disruption, the day-to-day things we know we should be doing often fall by the wayside.”

As leaders we need to keep this in mind and help create clarity in our teams to remind them of our shared goals and the journey to get there.

A few habits can make the biggest difference in managing threat levels – taking care of ourselves as leaders, looking after others and delivering on what matters.

Another key aspect is the ‘Knowing – Doing Gap’. It may feel self-evident to look after our own wellbeing but in times of disruption, the day-to-day things we know we should be doing often fall by the wayside. It’s important to intentionally create the space for yourself and your teams and look for opportunities to demonstrate what we know we should do.

What drives you?

Our brains are constantly scanning the environment for anything that might harm us. In fact, there’s significantly more neural ‘real estate’ in the brain dedicated to detecting threat than rewards. It turns out feeling socially threatened or socially rewarded affects the brain in many of the same ways as physical threat or reward.

We can conceptualise this by way of the SCARF model which comes from research into how the brain processes the five different types of social drivers that impact how individuals respond to threat and reward – status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness. Everyone has a different ‘balance’ of each of the SCARF domains, some are more attuned to detect unfairness while others respond strongly to uncertainty or threats to their relative status in a group.

When we experience too much threat our more automatic, primitive brain systems tend to drive our behaviour. Under conditions of high threat, we may experience a fight-or-flight response and it becomes challenging for our executive functions which are involved in high-level thought processes such as critical thinking and creativity, to work optimally.

Create buffers to manage threat

While we can’t always avoid a threat, there are strategies to help manage when one appears. A buffer can help reduce the level of threat by providing a sense of certainty, autonomy, relatedness or fairness and as a result improve focus, decision-making and deeper thinking.

  • Establish a sense of certainty: creating and maintaining a daily routine can help provide certainty. For example, setting time aside every day to get outside to exercise or do an enjoyable activity such as playing a musical instrument.
  • Find opportunities to make choices: feelings of being out of control can be overwhelming. However these feelings can be more manageable when we find a way to gain some sense of control over them. By focusing on choices within our control, we experience an increased sense of autonomy. For example, try to focus on three key things you really want to achieve each day rather than overloading yourself with an unrealistic set of tasks.
  • Build relatedness: sharing experiences and goals with others through virtual meetings or events can help establish a sense of community.

By adopting buffering strategies leaders are not only helping themselves but they’re also helping their teams gain focus and clarity.

Notch Above Bookkeeping is a team of Platinum Certified Xero bookkeepers and BAS Agents. We help small business owners right across Australia prepare their BAS returns and streamline their bookkeeping processes, payroll and accounting records. Call us to find out how on 1300 015 130 today.

Source: Put your own oxygen mask on first. (2020). Retrieved from

Who in your business is eligible for JobKeeper?

Did you know that if your business is enrolled for the JobKeeper Payment, you may be able to claim payments for an eligible business participant?

An eligible business participant is an individual who is not an employee of your business, but who is actively engaged in its operation.

For example, they might manage the sale of your business’s goods or exercise control over your business strategy.

To be eligible for JobKeeper payments, the business participant must be an individual who is:

  • a sole trader (and is not bankrupt)
  • a director of a company
  • a shareholder in a company
  • a partner of a partnership (but not through an interposed entity, for example an individual trustee of a trust that is a partner in a partnership)
  • an adult beneficiary of a trust (who is not the trustee).

The individual must also meet other criteria, including having been actively engaged in the business at 1 March 2020.

You can only nominate one eligible business participant, even if several people meet the criteria.

Unlike employees, the key date for assessing business participants’ eligibility is still 1 March 2020.

As of 20 July 2020, approved providers of child care services can’t claim JobKeeper payments for business participants.

The individual must be engaged in the fortnight that the JobKeeper payment is claimed. For instance, if your eligible business participant is on leave, you cannot claim JobKeeper payments for JobKeeper fortnights that fall in that time period.

From builders to pharmacies, medical clinics to dental practices, Notch Above Bookkeeping has your business payroll covered. If you have questions in relation to eligibility and reporting requirements for the JobKeeper Payment scheme call our team on 1300 015 130 for specific advice regarding your business.

Source: Who in your business is eligible for JobKeeper?. (2020). Retrieved from

city lights

Contact your energy retailer to get help in COVID-19

Small business struggling with power bills as a result of COVID-19 should contact their energy provider as soon as possible to get help.

The Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) Statement of Expectations 2 is calling on energy retailers to extend their support to small businesses and households until at least the end of October 2020.

AER’s message is simple; they expect retailers to offer small business or residential customers who may be in financial stress a payment plan – even if they can’t afford to pay anything right now.

Any customer who is in contact with their retailer should not be disconnected.

If you are struggling to pay your energy bill help is available. Don’t ignore the problem and hope it will go away. Contact your retailer and agree a payment plan that you feel you can afford.

Preliminary data shows that the average energy debt held by households has increased by about 18 per cent between March 2020 and July 2020. With households and businesses financially struggling, and winter bills on their way, your energy provider can provide a range of support to help manage your bills.

Through the AER Statement of Expectations the AER is asking retailers to help small business and residential customers by:

  • providing information about concessions, rebates and other support
  • offering a payment plan that’s based on their capacity to pay with a no payment window if required
  • not disconnecting anyone who is in contact with them
  • immediately reconnecting anyone who may be disconnected once they make contact and waiving any associated fees
  • not referring them to debt collection agencies for recovery actions or credit default listing.

The COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable and the situation can turn quickly. Australians who have lost their jobs or income from their business should expect some protection when it comes to an essential service like power.

It is important though that if you can pay your bill, you do pay your bill. A payment deferral is not a waiver and the AER doesn’t want to see customers taking on unnecessary energy debts.

The AER understands, for a whole range of reasons, it can be more difficult for some customers to get in touch. Retailers should make it as easy as possible for people to get in touch and with pro-active strategies to engage with their customers.

The AER recognises many networks and retailers are providing additional assistance to customers and are reaching out to their customers and encouraging them to get help. This needs to continue, particularly through the coming months.

Source: Contact your energy retailer to get help in COVID-19. (2020). Retrieved from

JobKeeper is changing

Here’s what you need to know

Many Australian small businesses say JobKeeper has been a lifesaver in these difficult times, and Xero Small Business Insights data seems to bear that out. So it’s good to hear JobKeeper has been extended, with some notable changes. We’ve tried to capture what’s new with the wage-subsidy program below.

There are some complexities, so we recommend you see your trusted bookkeeper or accountant for the fullest picture, as well as visit the ATO’s JobKeeper extension page.

Eyes on September

If you want the JobKeeper changes summarised in 15 words, the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers has captured them nicely: “Nothing changes before end-September. Then some employers become ineligible, and some receive less.

You may remember that in your original application for JobKeeper, you had to document a one-time drop in business revenue of at least 30%. It only applied to eligible employees who were with you before 1 March 2020.

After end-September 2020, you’ll need to document an ongoing actual decline of 30% or more. And the decline must be quarterly, whereas at JobKeeper’s launch, you had more flexibility in choosing a period. It will still apply only to eligible employees who were with you before 1 March.

What does this change look like in practice?

For employers to be eligible for JobKeeper payments from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, they must have recorded an actual decline in turnover of 30% or more in both:

  • the quarter ended 30 June 2020 (compared with the same quarter in 2019)
  • the quarter ended 30 September 2020 (compared with the same quarter in 2019)

In the new year, the same pattern holds. To be eligible for JobKeeper payments from 4 January to 28 March 2021, you must have also had an actual decline in turnover of 30% or more in the quarter ending 31 December 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. You can rely on the team at Notch Above Bookkeeping to help you crunch the numbers. And note the ATO does allow for alternative tests.

Smaller subsidy

If you remain eligible for JobKeeper payments after September, you’ll find that the wage subsidy is less generous. The $1,500 flat payment per employee, per fortnight, could drop by more than half. There are no changes to employee eligibility requirements. The changes are as follows.

For eligible employees who work 20 hours or more per week:

  • $1,500 per fortnight payment continues until the fortnight ended 27 September
  • $1,200 per fortnight until 3 January 2021
  • $1,000 per fortnight until 28 March 2021

It remains to be seen whether JobKeeper will extend past March 2021.

For eligible employees who work less than 20 hours per week:

  • $1,500 per fortnight payment continues until the fortnight ended 27 September
  • $750 per fortnight until 3 January 2021
  • $650 per fortnight until 28 March 2021

Remember that as an employer, you must pay your staff before claiming the reimbursement from JobKeeper. So you’ll want to take a close look at your revenue, your payroll and determine how these changes will affect your cash flow. Again, it’s advisable to speak with your bookkeeper or BAS agent to ensure you’re factoring in everything.

From builders to pharmacies, medical clinics to dental practices, Notch Above Bookkeeping has your business payroll covered. If you have questions in relation to eligibility and reporting requirements for the JobKeeper Payment scheme call our team on 1300 015 130 for specific advice regarding your business.

Source: Xero