Hands in Boxing Gloves

Business advice for a new financial year

Another new financial year already!

It has gone quickly so we outline our top tips for business owners starting a new financial year and planning ahead.

Four months ago business owners weren’t necessarily comprehending the full impact of COVID-19 but the reality is that it’s really important to make sure you’ve got a plan in place and that you understand where what your goals and targets are, and how you’re going to get there.

Our advice is to simply start from the top – the 30,000 feet above sea-level view – and ask what your goals are for next 3-10 years:

  • What does that look like?
  • What do you want to achieve from a business point of view?
  • More importantly, where do you want to be from a personal point of view, and
  • How does your business deal fit into all of that?

Then break down your goals into smaller targets. Some business owners use the term ‘chunk’ to describe breaking their goals into smaller steps.

We also encourage you to take a step back and consider doing some market analysis

Understand what is going:

  • Do you know what your customers want now?
  • What will they want next, moving forward?
  • What worked well during COVID-19 lockdown?
  • Will you achieve your goals potentially faster with a new business model?

Define your actions and those smaller goals and then set in place what you to achieve them. Write each down with individual action items and then understand the time frames around as well as what is involved from a resource point of view.

Once you have your initial plan drafted, also consider the financial implications of your proposed actions. Look at your Profit & Loss, understand cash flow and determine if your plans are achievable from financial perspective. Ask yourself what the impact financially is with respect to your action items, then repeat the process until you’re comfortable that you have a plan in place that feels like it is a stretch, but is achievable. Then you can track and monitor performance against it.

With financial business modelling and forecasting, you need to understand what’s the best use of your time. Is it something you can confidently do yourself, or should you be asking your financial partners like Notch Above Bookkeeping or your accountants to do that?

Also keep your longer-term strategy in the back of your mind as you’re ticking off each chunky action item. In reality if you look at Mike Tyson’s trainer, he says everyone has got a plan to get punched in the face, so you have got to be nimble and flexible enough to be able to move quickly if required.

It rings true for business. You never know when something will get thrown at you and COVID-19 was the perfect example of that.

Prefer to watch this topic in video format? Click below or browse all of our video topics here.

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.

Copyright 2020. @NotchAboveBAS and @SalisburyAccts

Xero Payroll

COVID-19 Safe Work Principles

What COVIDSafe return-to-work regulations could mean for business

Following an incredibly challenging period for businesses Australia-wide, we’re starting to see COVID-19 lockdown restrictions ease and a wide-spread reopening begin.

This new phase will set small businesses across the nation on a journey of recovery. It is, however, being approached with necessary caution – complete with a detailed set of regulations to adhere to.

The Australian Government’s framework to create a COVIDSafe society details our new ways of living and working. Designed to keep people safe while returning to greater social freedoms, restrictions are intended to be pared back in three steps (with all steps anticipated to be completed by July 2020).

While the federal government has proposed the plan, the timing of each step is up to each individual state and territory. You can find out what this looks like for you:

With the risk of infection likely to linger for some time, all governments have agreed on a set of National COVID-19 Safe Work Principles designed to help you keep your workplace healthy, safe and virus-free – whatever the industry.
This month, hospitality (cafes and restaurants) and retail are some of the first sectors to begin reopening (while some offices are also being phased open). But with so much information on offer, it can be difficult to know where to begin. If you’re unsure about how the framework will affect your business, please check with us.

Retail

Do I need to have an official plan in place before I open my store to customers?

To reopen and operate your business, you’ll need to have a workplace health and safety (WHS) plan in place. This WHS plan, or a summary of it, should be displayed in your store to show that you’re operating safely. Some higher risk industries, such as retail, also require that businesses complete and display a dedicated COVIDSafe plan to help prepare for the different stages of the pandemic (although it’s recommended that all businesses follow suit). You should revise your plan regularly, especially as restrictions and conditions change.

What physical distancing regulations does my business need to follow?

Throughout all three steps of the government’s COVIDSafe framework, all businesses need to ensure that there is four square metres of space per person with a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others where possible.

How do I figure out how many people are allowed inside my store?

Firstly, if you’re unsure how big your retail space is, take a look at your lease. To achieve the four square metre rule, Safe Work Australia advises calculating the area of the room (e.g length of room in metres x width of room in metres = area of room in square metres), and dividing it by four. For example, if you have a room that is 160 square metres in size, you should only allow up to 40 people in the room.

How do I make sure there is 1.5 metres space between people?

In order to enable workers and customers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart, you’ll likely need to make adjustments to the layout of your space and workflows. This can be achieved by rearranging furniture, making high traffic areas wider and considering floor and/or wall markings and signage to identify distancing requirements. You can find more information here.

What can I do to make customers feel more comfortable during this period?

Returning to retail stores may feel like a big adjustment for some shoppers, and there’s plenty that you can do to make the experience more enjoyable. Beyond in-store distancing and hygiene practices, considerations such as clearly displaying current policies and ensuring that hand sanitiser is easily accessible will go a long way towards putting people at ease.

This is also the perfect opportunity to refresh your window display and make your store as inviting as possible. For further advice, check out this Australian Retail Association guide.

Is it still worth maintaining an online presence now that my store can open?

Online shopping is now an integral part of the retail landscape, and your customers will continue to expect a range of options – especially during this transitional period. As well as increased convenience, having an online presence will enable you to keep shoppers informed of revised opening hours and changes to operations. It can also help ease in-store congestion and open your business up to a whole new audience (with apps like Stripe on hand for international payments).

Hospitality – cafes, restaurants and food courts

Do I need to have a plan in place before I open my cafe or restaurant to dine-in customers?

Just like in the retail sector, to reopen and operate your business safely, you must have a workplace health and safety (WHS) plan in place and display it on the premises. You can find more information here.

How many people are allowed to dine in my cafe or restaurant?

The number of people that can dine in at your venue will increase with each step of the government’s COVIDSafe framework. To find out which restrictions apply, look to your local state or territory government for guidance (see links above).

  • Step one: cafes and restaurants can seat up to ten patrons at a time adhering to physical distancing regulations. Food courts are to remain closed to seated patrons
  • Step two: cafes and restaurants can seat up to 20 patrons at a time adhering to physical distancing regulations. Food courts are to remain closed to seated patrons
  • Step three: cafes, restaurants and food courts can seat up to 100 patrons at a time adhering to physical distancing regulations.

What if my employees can’t maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres when working?

Like all businesses, cafes and restaurants need to ensure that there is 4 square metres of space per person with a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others, where possible.

Of course, it won’t always be achievable for workers to keep 1.5 metres apart. For example, those who work in a small kitchen will find that certain tasks require close proximity to be carried out safely. In instances where close contact is unavoidable, you’ll need to implement other control measures such as staggering start, finish and break times where appropriate. You can find out more here.

How can I make my customers feel at ease during this period?

Many people have pared back their use of cash when making payment in person because of hygiene concerns. By providing contactless payment options, you’ll be able to offer customers both increased convenience and peace of mind. In turn, as well as reducing the amount of furniture within your venue, consider how you can arrange your space to allow diners (and staff) as much room as possible.

Is it still worth maintaining an online presence now that my venue can open?

It may take people some time to return to dining out regularly, which means that staying online has never been more important. Maintaining services such as takeaway, contactless pickups and food delivery boxes will allow diners the space they need to adjust. In turn, your website and social media are the perfect place to communicate your current state of operations.

Offices

When should I tell my staff to return to the workplace?

Steps one and two of the COVIDSafe framework recommend that people work from home if it suits both their needs and that of their employer (with step three allowing for a widespread return to the workplace). It’s important to consider your staff throughout this process, with many businesses conducting surveys to find out when their workers would like to go back and what measures would make them feel safest. When/if you decide on a return to the office, your workplace will need to have a COVIDSafe plan in place and observe physical distancing.

What responsibilities do I have while my staff are working from home?

It’s important to note that the model WHS laws still apply if your employees work somewhere other than their usual workplace. This means that you have duties to ensure their health and safety if they’re working from home. You can find out more here.

What will physical distancing look like in offices?

So you can enable employees to keep at least 1.5 metres apart, you may need to redesign the layout of your office space and alter workflows accordingly. This means saying goodbye to crowded floor plans and closely quartered hot desking setups. You can find out more here.

How can I make my staff feel as comfortable as possible about returning to the workplace?

Returning to the office will be a big transition for your team. There are a number of considerations you can implement to not only comply with government regulations, but also ensure that your workers feel safe and well looked after. These include:

  • Hold gatherings, training or larger meetings online for the immediate future.
  • With the virus known to cling to surfaces, declutter the office and keep desks clear.
  • Ensure that hand sanitiser and wipes are easily accessible.
  • Regular deep cleans as per the government guidelines.
  • Reduce the number of workers using common areas by staggering lunch breaks.
  • Help staff avoid public transport at peak times by staggering arrival and departure times.
  • Consider floor markings and signage to identify distancing requirements.
  • Establish regular check ins to see how your staff are faring with the transition.

Should I consider continuing with flexible working arrangements?

Many businesses have discovered that virtual collaboration and connection can arguably be as effective as in real life. As a result, some are planning on allowing any staff who feel uncomfortable returning to the office (and can productively work from home) to stay put. Other possibilities include having employees split their time evenly between the office and home, or staggering the return by team. One thing remains clear: flexible working is now the way of the future.

How can I make my clients feel as comfortable as possible?

If you run a service-based business such as accounting or bookkeeping, it’s integral to consider your clients’ needs during this adjustment period. Beyond ensuring that waiting rooms and consultation areas conform to physical distancing regulations, steps such as decluttering (this means removing things likely to be handled, like pillows and loose files) and prominently displaying hand sanitiser and signage on the precautionary steps that your business is taking will help to calm nerves.

Many people may still feel uncomfortable visiting your workplace despite restrictions easing. In this case, offering (or continuing to offer) online consultations will provide your customers with the freedom to do what feels right for them.

Across all industries, what can we learn from this period?

COVID-19 has transformed the way businesses across Australia operate. And while the recovery period will likely prove to be both long and difficult, there is much to be learned from the way that entire industries have adapted. Powerful legacies, such as making the move online and embracing flexible working, promise to prove beneficial long after the crisis ceases.

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.

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Source: Xero
cloud accounting Notch Above Bookkeeping Brisbane

Has COVID-19 changed bookkeeping as we know it?

Digital Disconnection

Not putting too strong a point on it, the crisis triggered by coronavirus is an undisputed economic and business disaster.

What happened to businesses that rallied to set up their workforces safely offsite? And when bookkeepers were part of that headcount, how effective did the bookkeeping function remain?

Or how ineffective did bookkeeping become?

Conventionally in small and medium businesses, bookkeeping software is typically installed on a dedicated computer drive, only accessible by a licensed user through a desktop application on a designated machine.

So how is COVID disconnection affecting business performance during a time when we’re all talking about business sustainability and, hopefully, business recovery?

Currently we can’t just leave paper receipts or invoices on your bookkeeper’s desk to process.

Similarly, with that reliance on paper trails, some of us can no longer chase payments accurately, because who knows with any certainty who has paid, or not.

Fortunately, business technology was actively evolving before all this happened to a point that cloud accounting software had solutions for many of these accessibility issues. Bookkeeping software has, in most instances, also been moved to the cloud, and what a relief for those cloud users during these unprecedented times.

Playing catch up

The global spread of COVID-19 contributed enormously to the panicked surge of businesses moving over to cloud-based bookkeeping software. It’s an industry that had been seeing robust growth anyway, but the need to change in order to continue functioning finally pushed many stalwart business owners off the fence of indecision.

But what are the differences between cloud and traditional accounting software? As we see it, there are three:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Business scalability and growth, and
  3. Affordability

Accessing bookkeeping during lockdown

Cloud-based software essentially means that your bookkeeping data is stored on a remote server, and accessed through a highly secure online interface, anywhere with an internet connection. Unlike traditional accounting software, users are not restricted to a single machine from which to access what they need, so access doesn’t stop when the office closes.

It means that financial information is no longer stored locally and, instead, provides multiple authorised users with 24-7 access to real-time data. Managers, accountants, clients and bookkeepers can all be in different locations and time zones and yet continue to monitor and control a business’ financial position.

Growing bookkeeping with the business

Growing a business can be an expensive exercise for business owners who rely on traditional accounting software. Hiring an additional bookkeeper? Better purchase additional computer storage, upgrade the local server, and increase bandwidth access to it as well. If you don’t, things can slow down and suddenly two bookkeepers are working at the rate of one.

The impact of COVID-19 on bookkeeping practices has forcefully demonstrated the sheer versatile scalability of cloud accounting. It’s up to each software provider to manage server space, speed and performance which, usually for the cost of a monthly subscription, is much more financially flexible.

And that brings us to cost

Fewer local servers mean less office area is required to house them. That’s certainly one way to reduce the expenses that come with a larger property footprint.

Most cloud accounting software providers offer access on the basis of a monthly or annual subscription fee, usually including all the server storage you could need.

The software is online and updates itself at the source. No more paying for IT Support to come in and install updates on everyone’s individual machines.

At times like these, businesses either flourish or are incapacitated, whether that’s long or short term, who knows? Monthly subscriptions offer flexibility to businesses that need to respond to COVID-19 by standing down employees onto JobKeeper and then reinstate them on a rapid turnaround.

Notch Above Bookkeeping can help your business during COVID-19. We can review your existing bookkeeping system and then help you install updated software, configure your security settings, import your business data (chart of accounts/suppliers/debtors/employees) as well as setup your invoicing, payroll and taxation requirements so that your team can access financial data and operate remotely.

The team at Notch also provides advice on the best Xero package for your business needs. Contact us during COVID-19 restrictions to get your bookkeeping system up to date and working more efficiently whilst your employees are making the best of working offsite.

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Source: Has coronavirus changed bookkeeping forever? (2020). Available at: https://www.accountingtoday.com/opinion/has-coronavirus-changed-bookkeeping-forever
jac gallagher 2017 qld finalist TBWOY awards

FREE Working from Home ATO factsheet

Employees working from home

Home office expenses

If you’re an employee who works from home during the coronavirus pandemic, you may be able to claim a deduction for expenses relating to that work.

If you are working from home, always remember to keep records and receipts for your home office expenses, along with a record of the hours you work from home.

Keeping good records NOW will help to get your deductions right at tax time.

Download the ATO’s PDF poster to help you better understand what you can claim or call Notch Above Bookkeeping on 1300 015 130.

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Disclaimer: This is general advice only. For specific income tax advice please consult a registered tax agent. Source: (2020) Ato.gov.au. Available at: https://www.ato.gov.au/uploadedFiles/Content/IND/Downloads/Working-from-home.pdf
Xero Payroll

Deadline for JobKeeper is extended

Xero users are covered

If you’re one of the 800,000 Australian businesses interested in JobKeeper, be aware that the window to enrol for the subsidy payments from end-March has been extended.

You now have an extra month, as the ATO has set a deadline of 31 May.

Xero has built new tools that make it simple for you to check your eligibility for relief, pay employees a wage subsidy and file required reports to the tax office.

Xero’s developers have build these tools in close consultation with the ATO. The features are designed to streamline the process of applying for and processing government relief. It’s just the start of efforts at Xero to make accessing government help easier, so stay tuned for further updates.

Here’s a brief overview of the steps to take, from getting started to processing JobKeeper payments to your employees.

1. Check whether your business is eligible with our turnover calculator

A key criterion for eligibility is showing that your business’ turnover has dropped by 30%, though there are exceptions. The calculator in Xero can determine how much your revenue has changed over a set period of time.

2. Ensure you’ve set up STP and enrol your business with the ATO 

Single Touch Payroll is the simplest route to receiving a JobKeeper subsidy as you’ll be able to easily report each pay run to the ATO. If you’re not on STP, getting started is simple. Once you’re set up, head over to the ATO website to register your business for JobKeeper. 

3. Enroll employees who may be eligible for JobKeeper payments

Xero Payroll will compare the government’s eligibility criteria and data in Xero to suggest a list of employees who are likely to be eligible. To enrol them, head here and simply click “Start JobKeeper.” Select the fortnight in which you want each employee’s JobKeeper payment to start. While you have until 31 May to enrol, the ATO encourages you to do so by the end of April to ensure you receive your JobKeeper payments as soon as possible. Note the Tax Office plans to pay employers one month in arrears.

4. Report JobKeeper payments you’ve made to employees

Xero added a new pay item, “JobKeeper Payment top up,” so that you can accurately report these payments to the ATO. You just need to add the item to your employee’s payslip. Note that businesses can now process payroll after 30 April and still receive a subsidy. Per the ATO: “For the first two fortnights (30 March – 12 April, 13 April – 26 April), we will accept the minimum $1,500 payment for each fortnight has been paid by you even if it has been paid late, provided it is paid by 8 May 2020.”

The ATO also requires that you report details on your revenue and staff numbers each month, which Xero will help you do. Ask the team at Notch about processing payments.

This is a brief overview and we recommend getting in touch with our team at Notch Above Bookkeeping for detailed advice on the JobKeeper program. If you don’t have a business bookkeeper who is across the JobKeeper payment subsidy scheme, contact us today on 1300 015 130.

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Source: Deadline for JobKeeper is extended. Xero has you covered – Xero Blog (2020). Available at: https://www.xero.com/blog/2020/04/deadline-for-australias-jobkeeper-is-approaching-xero-has-you-covered/?fbclid=IwAR1-gXvIdledLRC1-Orsv1ZHMoEtziMDT6Qiblb5CCU8mOu3B4t-pU3z3Ag (Accessed: 28 April 2020).
cash flow

COVID-19 Cash Flow Boost

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers

Cash Flow Boost not to be offset against existing tax debt in some situations.

The Tax Office has announced that the cash flow boosts will be applied to reduce liabilities arising from the same activity statement but will not be offset against existing BAS debt but rather refunded to you. 

This is great news for businesses that do have an existing debt and will mean that the cash is in the hands of the business to assist during this uncertain time.

For this to happen, however, we do need to ensure the BAS for the March quarter is lodged AFTER 28 April rather than before.  If lodged before the refund will be offset against existing debt first.

For more information on the cash flow boost initiative, please see the tax office website here or get in touch with the team at Notch Above Bookkeeping on 1300 015 130.

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Source: Boosting cash flow for employers (2020). Available at: https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Business-activity-statements-(BAS)/In-detail/Boosting-cash-flow-for-employers/?anchor=Accessingthecashflowboosts#Accessingthecashflowboosts (Accessed: 20 April 2020).

JobKeeper Enrolments Start Monday 20 April

There has been a lot of talk around the JobKeeper payment and at last we have a few more specific details. 

Enrolments will start on Monday and be open for two weeks for the first payment period.

There is a step-by-step process to follow for this scheme which we can do for you to allow you to continue focusing on your business.

The subsidy will be paid for a maximum period of six months, from 30 March 2020 up until 27 September 2020 and may be worth up to $19,500 per eligible employee. It will be paid to eligible businesses monthly in arrears, with the first payment commencing to employers from the first week of May 2020.

Under the scheme, eligible businesses will receive a payment of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee and/or for one eligible business participant.

The questions that need to be answered for your business include:

  • Is my business eligible?
  • Has my business met the reduction in turnover test?
  • Which of my employees are eligible?
  • Do I need to provide top-up payments to employees?

There are changes to the Fair Work Act so that Employers can manage their workforce more flexibly over the next six months.  Please see the detailed information sheet from Fair Work here.  We can’t provide HR advice but this document does summarise the changes.

We could have not foreseen the COVID-19 pandemic and the extent of work required in the Jobkeeper enrolment, applications and ongoing administration that is required to be completed on your behalf to ensure you receive your entitlements. Unfortunately, this is additional work that is outside your current Notch Above Bookkeeping Package.

Please see the details of our offer here.

We are looking forward to managing this process for you.  To ensure we schedule time to register your business during the application open period, please accept so we can schedule in your business application for JobKeeper in our next week’s workload.

Got any questions? Just contact Notch Above Bookkeeping for further clarification on the new subsidy on 1300 015 130.

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Brisbane Bookkeeping Notch Above Bookkeeping

JobKeeper – Waiting on Release of Further Details

No doubt you have questions around the JobKeeper payment and how this works

As you probably are aware the Bill has been passed but as yet we do not have any further details. 

We believe this information will be released shortly and as soon as we know more can let you know.

In the meantime, we encourage you to register your intention to apply for JobKeeper at https://www.ato.gov.au/Job-keeper-payment/ if your business has, or expect it will, experience a drop in turnover.

We can assist with the practicalities of claiming and submitting payment to your employees once the details are released.

There appears to be three areas of work being:

  1. Are my employees eligible?
  2. Has my business experienced a 30% decline in turnover?
  3. What reporting is needed ongoing to receive this payment?

Again, we will let you know what is required when we know more.

Have an enjoyable week ahead and one of our team will be in touch with further details as they come to hand.

Got any questions? Just contact Notch Above Bookkeeping for further clarification on the new subsidy on 1300 015 130.

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notch above bookkeeping

Practical Positivity

Stay safe. Do what you can with what you have. Control what’s in your control.

A framework to help business owners to see their situation through a different lens and move upward.

Help as many people as you can through this period with any spare resources you have, whether that’s time, money or love.

This will not last forever, nor for very long and we will get through this… together… and be stronger on the other side.

  1. MELTDOWN. If you need to have a meltdown, do it. Negative emotions will never go away, only fester. Don’t be ashamed to have a cry and a bit of a panic.
  2. ESTABLISH A BETTER VISION OF THE FUTURE. You and your clients have possibly got quite a negative vision of what’s to come. Armageddon, recession, etc. This needs to change. Start to vision the other side.
  3. SCENARIO PLANNING. Produce a cash flow forecast for the next 3 months. Imagine the worst scenario in terms of sales, then plan for it. Maybe you get no revenue for the next three months? The reality will be much better, but plan for it anyway. This will be a dip. It won’t last forever.
  4. CUT BACK. Cut on any costs that are maybe excessive. You need to be careful with this bit. Don’t strip back operations completely, only those that seem excessive. I don’t mean staff here AT ALL if it can be helped.
  5. GALVANISE YOUR TEAM. Communicate your better vision of the future. They are on this mission with you. They have probably had the same panics that you’ve had. Explain that you’re going to get through this together. The reason we’re cutting back (in the step above) is to preserve your team.
  6. BUILD BACK INTO THE FOUNDATIONS. This is where we look at things you may have been neglecting. Systems, processes, getting your pricing right, marketing. Whatever it is you need to do, build back into these key systems. Some of the peripheral things (maybe small jobs on your to-do list), they aren’t important in times like now. Work on the fundamentals.
  7. SET UP AS A LEADER. This is your time. If your team are working from home, get them fired up, have daily calls, keep everyone positive.
  8. EXPLORE OPPORTUNITIES. What opportunities do you have now to give value to your clients or customers? For your clients, this could be digitisation of your product. It could be new products, new markets.
  9. MARKETING. Don’t be aggressive with selling. Start to build relationships. Be there for your community and the clients or customers that you serve. Invest in long term nurturing processes.

Final Thoughts

These are times when we need to stay calm and rely on reliable news sources and information from State and Australian Government websites. What you see on social media may be panicky and unreliable information – stay away from this!

There are still deadlines we will need to meet for you so that you can receive the Government Stimulus Package amounts that you are entitled to.

Got any questions? Just contact us for further clarification on the new subsidy on 1300 015 130.


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Source James Ashford