businessman, productivity

What is labour productivity and how does it impact your business?

Unlocking the Power of Efficiency

Insights and Strategies for Small Business Owners

If you or your clients are looking for ways to grow profits, drop prices or pay staff more, then one strategy is to lift productivity in your business. But what is productivity exactly (hint: it’s not about working longer hours), and how can you lift it in your small business or practice?

What is small business productivity?

Small business productivity is the measure of how much value a business can produce using the resources it has at its disposal (ie staff, capital, materials). It’s usually measured using the dollar-value of outputs per hour worked or per employee. To put it more simply: sales/hour or sales/employee. Generally, the higher the sales/hour, the more productive a business is.

New insights on small business productivity

A new Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI) report has been released, Small business productivity: Trends, implications and strategies, looking at recent small business productivity trends across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. In addition to trends and insights, the report also provides some tips on how you can lift productivity in your business and for your clients.

Measuring labour productivity isn’t new, but what’s out there is generally broader, slower to be released and covers longer periods of time (quarterly or annual). Methodologies also tend to differ. This XSBI data is the first time that small business labour productivity has been measured using anonymised and aggregated data (not surveys) for small businesses only, on a monthly basis, and using the same methodology across each country.

Technology can improve productivity

One of the main findings of the report was evidence of the productivity boost small businesses can get from embracing digital tools.

General economic wisdom is that small businesses tend to have lower productivity than large businesses. But the study found that, particularly after the pandemic, small businesses tended to have higher productivity growth when compared with data covering all businesses in a country.

One reason for this result is down to a key characteristic of the small businesses in the XSBI data set – by definition they all use at least some form of technology (like Xero) to help run their business, and they have an accountant or bookkeeper too. This finding really highlights the benefits that digital technology (or digitalisation) can deliver to small businesses that embrace it, especially with the help of their advisors.

It also highlights the huge opportunity available to governments from policies that encourage all small businesses to embrace digitalisation in their operations.

How did the pandemic impact productivity?

Unsurprisingly, productivity in all three countries took a hit during the peak pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. Many small businesses were forced to temporarily close but still paid their staff, thanks to government wage subsidy schemes. This meant that even though businesses were paying staff, they were producing or selling much less, resulting in much lower productivity.

Once economies re-opened, sales took off but small businesses struggled to find more staff. Existing workers had to step up and lift their productivity to keep up with the surge in customers. As things settled down, this post-pandemic ‘productivity spike’ unwound due to slowing sales growth and the need to train some of the newly hired staff. Come December 2023, all three countries’ productivity has slipped below pre-pandemic averages.

This softening of productivity over 2023 adds to the economic challenges we face: how to lift economic growth and get inflation back to normal as quickly as possible. Boosting productivity is a great way to do both of these.

What does this mean for your business?

Productivity is about working smarter – it’s not about working longer hours. If you and your clients already use tech tools in your businesses, then you’re already ahead of your competitors that aren’t. But that doesn’t mean your businesses are as productive as they could be. To help understand how to lift productivity in your businesses, Xero has put together a handy guide: Increasing productivity in small business.

The steps you and your clients can take fall into four broad areas:

  • Find tools that amplify your work and invest in them. You could start this by simply finding out which Xero App Store apps might be useful to add to your stack and help you run your business better
  • Reevaluate your current processes: are they really working?
  • Set your workers up for success through upskilling and training
  • Harness your entrepreneurial skills to build a business that operates at its full potential


Learn how to take advantage of all Xero’s cool and sophisticated bookkeeping features, with personalised training from a Notch Above Bookkeeping Certified Xero professional. Book personalised Xero training »

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Goal setting

A compass for your business

Goals provide a compass for our businesses and enable us to celebrate when we succeed.

Goals also help tie teams together with a common purpose.

Surprisingly, many business leaders cannot articulate a clear set of goals, yet goal-setting lays the foundation for strong business relationships.

Recently, we worked with a group of businesses to set goals in the areas mentioned below.

These goals are all related in interesting ways. It can take time to get clear on goals but the business benefits are substantial.

What are your business goals? Can we help you define your goals? Contact the team at Notch Above Bookkeeping on 1300  015 130.

goal setting infographic














































customer reviews

Google’s April 2023 Reviews Update

How will Google’s update impact business?

Experience Matters

Google’s April 2023 Reviews Update will have a significant impact on businesses that rely on online reviews to attract customers.

To ensure that your business continues to be visible in search results, it’s essential to focus on providing high-quality reviews that offer valuable information to potential customers.

One of the key things to keep in mind is that reviews should be written in a clear and concise manner.

This means avoiding irrelevant information or going off-topic. Reviews that provide helpful information about a business, its products, and its services will be more likely to appear in search results.

Another important consideration is the use of keywords.

Google’s algorithm will now prioritise reviews that contain relevant keywords related to the business or product being reviewed. This means that businesses should encourage customers to include relevant keywords in their reviews to increase the visibility of their business in search results.

Notch Above Bookkeeping is a team of certified Xero bookkeepers and BAS Agents. Whilst we help small business owners right across Australia prepare their BAS returns and streamline their bookkeeping processes, payroll and accounting records, we like to keep an eye on the bigger picture. Contact us on 1300 015 130.

Article first published by Viva Digital on 20 April 2023 at

Overview of Crisis Management for Business Leaders

Crisis Management Overview

We know that business is unpredictable and factors beyond our control can leave a business in dire straits.

Even the largest, most well-funded and successful businesses can face crises… and most will rise to the occasion and emerge stronger.

Let’s look at what business owners can do to reduce risk and properly deal with a business crisis.

What is a business crisis?

A situation or disruption which leaves a business at severe risk in terms of reputation, commercial or financial strength—

Some common examples include serious disruptions to operations, social media attacks, product recalls, data leaks, labour issues, lawsuits, or allegations of wrongdoing against employees or owners.

How can business owners avoid a crisis situation?

They can’t completely avoid all potential crises because many factors are outside their control.

But they can prepare, at least for known risks. The fact is, however, that some of these risks are very remote and many business owners are unlikely to invest heavily to take precautions.

Token actions also don’t help. That means taking action for the sake of taking action… to feel like you’re in control.

In many cases, it’s better to invest in being ready to handle a crisis rather than trying to prevent them.

So how should business owners ‘handle a crisis’?

The response to a crisis should be thought of as a process. Each situation is different but a crisis response process will usually involve:

  • Getting together the facts (perhaps by interviewing people involved or listening to the news).
  • Communicating to stakeholders who ‘need to know’ these facts (perhaps the leaders of the business who need to take action).
  • Assessing the risk which may not be immediately apparent. In that case, consider a range from ‘worst case’ to ‘best case’ and how much damage will occur in each scenario.
  • Defining the risk. For example, is this reputational, financial, operational, or commercial risk?
  • Quantifying the risk. How much is at stake in each scenario?
  • Escalating appropriately. This means getting people involved who can make necessary decisions given the nature and quantum of risk. That could be a senior manager or the entire board of directors.

Very few crises require a business to deviate from a process like the one detailed above. An unprecedented natural disaster might be a situation requiring actions outside of existing processes. But that’s the exception.

What are some challenges with a crisis management process?

A significant challenge when responding to a crisis is people not wanting to disclose all of the facts, because they may be viewed as culpable. Ideally, the business culture should not punish people for bringing a problem to light or making a mistake — not immediately, and not the first time, anyway. A mistake can be seen as an opportunity to improve something in the business.

How can business owners build a culture to improve the response to a crisis?

Again, each business is different but consider:

  • Getting the team (or a small group) together to define the potential risks to your business. You will probably find people in different roles have different perspectives on this.
  • Build and document procedures to react to these crises. Use the above points as a guide and get buy-in from the team.
  • Empower people to act quickly when a crisis is in their area of responsibility.
  • Favour processes that protect the customer, because the risks are likely to be greater where customers are adversely affected.
  • Err on the side of overcommunication. More information is better.

Most crises will be averted…or at least dealt with. What happens when the crisis is over?

Post-crisis, get together to analyze the cause and strengthen processes to avoid recurrences. Encourage team members to spot systemic weaknesses and continuously improve processes so that emergencies become rare.

Remember that if you do the ‘small things’ well, you probably have good processes and discipline which will equip you to deal with bigger challenges. So build a culture of doing everything well, even the ‘small stuff’. And strive for continuous improvement.

How ready is your business to deal with a business crisis? It’s worth taking a few moments within your planning processes to consider this.

keyboard and coffee

Automating Your Business

11 actionable areas to automation

We like to see highly efficient businesses… because that leads to more profit, a higher valuation, and happier stakeholders.

Automation is one way to increase efficiency.

The benefits of automation include:

  • Eliminating or reducing hours spent on repetitive tasks to improve productivity
  • Making processes cheaper, faster, and less error-prone
  • Improved reporting and data analysis, leading to better decision-making
  • Standardisation of processes, resulting in more consistent outcomes
  • A team focused on more productive activities (without the distraction of mundane work)

Automation is not a new idea but the opportunities to automate continue to grow all the time.

Let’s look at some business areas where automation has proved to be particularly impactful.

1. Marketing

Marketing Automation Software (MAS) can manage outbound marketing campaigns, measure lead generation, analyse customer behavior and simplify sales processes. A close ‘relative’ is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software that manages existing customer relationships to improve retention and generate additional sales.

2. Data Sharing

Businesses need to efficiently store and share files internally and externally. There are inexpensive ways to do this, for example, through Google Docs and DropBox. Automated File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) software solutions move files to servers which enables efficient, secure data sharing.

3. Business Reporting

All businesses generate data… but data is worthless unless converted into reports for analysis and review by managers. Automation tools make these reports available in real-time or as frequently as the business needs them. Some reports also forecast future performance to support decision-making.

4. Communication

Given the complex (internal and external) relationships in business, it is not surprising that communication is a hugely time-consuming activity. Automation helps in various ways, such as setting up alerts or reminders to take action effectively and on time.

5. Email Communication

Many employees rely on email as a primary communication tool but don’t necessarily use it efficiently. Automation tools can help organise stacks of daily emails, sending automated responses to some and directing everything else to specific folders for further attention. This leads to efficiency and more impactful communications.

6. Meetings

Many businesses use calendar tools to set up and organise meetings. Meeting automation platforms (MAPs) are used to support the meeting itself and improve communication before, during, and after the meeting.

7. Bookkeeping Tasks

Bookkeeping can involve many manual steps but automation of Accounts Payable saves time and money in the processing and payment of bills. The same can be said for invoicing, tracking accounts receivable and expense management.

8. Facilities Management

Automation enables consistent, centralised processes which provide a high level of service and maintain audit trails. This applies to any facilities challenge such as building security, repairs, energy management, vendor management, incident reporting, escalations, safety, etc.

9. ERP Integration

Larger businesses may use an ERP system IN ADDITION TO automation tools to get information from – or feed information into – the ERP. With all systems working from the same dataset, companies get a single, unified source of business data, which guides major business decisions.

10. Hiring

Hiring employees is a process from job posting to onboarding. Human Resource Management Systems save time in managing candidates, making offers, and developing employment agreements. A well-organised recruitment process also reflects well on your business, especially in a challenging hiring environment.

11. Employee Analytics

Managers need to track employee performance and behaviour, ideally through automated customised reports. Understanding this data helps improve employee productivity, satisfaction, and retention.

Investing in automation tools requires a commitment to change. Best to appoint a ‘Change Champion’ to drive the implementation (versus leaving it to a group who take this on ‘part time’).

And measure ROI over two years or more because it can take that long to see the fruits of an investment in automation.


4 Priorities for Successful Businesses in 2023

What’s your business strategy for next year?

Where will you focus and why?

We got together with a group of high-performing businesses to discuss their priorities, especially the ‘big picture’, strategic ideas.

Here’s the list we came up with. How does this compare with your focus areas in the coming 12 months?


Business owners tend to take on a huge volume of work themselves. It’s challenging to get it all done… and it wears them down.

Why don’t they delegate more? Some worry that work quality will suffer. Others say there is simply no one to delegate to. In both cases, they have failed to invest the time to build an organisation that can absorb more work. This is bad for the business because it cannot scale AND for the owner who continues to work excessively. It is also bad for employees, who don’t get the opportunity to step up.  Sure they may make errors… but we all started somewhere. And if they can’t successfully complete their work, you should find new people. Or perhaps outsource.

Focus on Value Creation

Business owners should aim to create a valuable business, and that means one NOT dependent on any one person (or a few people). A valuable business relies on good products, sound processes, a competent team, excellent technology and relevance in the market.

Very few business owners focus on value-creation and need to shift their mindset FROM “I work to supply widgets” TO “I am building a business that provides widgets”.

In the latter case, the objective is to set up other people, processes and technology to complete the work to the satisfaction of customers. With that in place, the owner can focus on other activities and the business is WAY more valuable.

Leverage Customer Relationships

For most businesses, there is huge unlocked potential inside the EXISTING Client base.

This should be a major driver of growth and the good news is that you don’t have to sell a lot more to every customer. A well-run Customer Classification exercise usually reveals a few customers who are in need of more services. Then you can get really precise about understanding those needs and offering them a relevant, profitable solution.

In many businesses, these opportunities go wasted as the owners get super busy with day-to-day work and become reactive versus proactive.

Digital Marketing

High-growth businesses increasingly understand how to present themselves in a digital world. This includes publishing content to stand out from the competition and ensuring they reach a clearly defined target customer. They measure success and constantly improve the approach to attract more quality leads.

Traditional marketing like networking in business groups and referral programs will continue to be valuable… but a digital strategy is increasingly important in high-growth organisations.

So there you have the key strategic objectives of some high-growth firms for the coming 12 months. Of course, there’s a ton of detail that supports these ideas and each business will have a slightly different set of priorities.

Need help increasing business efficiency or personal productivity? Contact Notch Above’s team of Xero Certified Bookkeepers on 1300 015 130 today.

mental health

Wellbeing for small business owners

Wellbeing support available for small business owners

The Queensland government has unveiled an $8.76 million wellbeing package for small business owners in need of mental health support.

The Small Business Wellness Package is for Queensland business owners in the process of starting or currently running their own businesses.

A $3 million Small Business Support Service Fund, which will assist with alleviating stresses for small business owners, is included in the package.

Six new wellbeing coaches will also be implemented in Cairns, Mackay, Townsville, Toowoomba, and North and South Brisbane under the wellness package, joining the existing state-wide network of more than 40 rural, tourism and small business financial counsellors.


Looking for a Xero Certified Bookkeeper for your business? Are you drowning in paperwork? Cash flow keeping you awake at night? Learn how Notch Above Bookkeeping can solve all these problems, and more. Contact our team on 1300 015 130 Australia-wide.

Source: Business Queensland

team meeting

8 Best Practices in Delegation

Successful Delegation to Drive Business Performance

As Accountants, we like to see our clients operating at high levels of efficiency and generating healthy profits.

Many businesses invest a significant amount in human resources including compensation, recruiting, training and benefits so it’s important to use these resources wisely.

One thing that prevents business owners from getting the most from their team is the failure to delegate work. The most successful ones might demonstrate boldness, clarity, flexibility, consistency, and communication skills… but high on the list is the ability to delegate.

What do we mean by delegation?

Delegation occurs when one team member requires another team member (usually a subordinate) to take on one or more of their tasks.

Why would we delegate?

The main reasons are:

  • Productivity: The delegating team member is now free to take on other tasks, presumably tasks which add more value to the business. This enables growth and efficiency.
  • Skills: Some people are more skilled at certain tasks than others. Wherever possible we want tasks allocated to the most skilled people because they will get the best outcomes.
  • Training: One way to learn a new skill is to practice it. Certain tasks can be delegated in order to develop the skills of other team members.

So why is delegating difficult?

Delegating means taking risks. Some people will not succeed at tasks delegated to them. That causes frustration for your team and maybe your customers. Time is wasted if tasks need to be redone. This encourages the philosophy that I may as well just do this myself. It’ll be quicker.

What are some Best Practices in delegation?

This has been studied at length by prominent thinkers such as Dr Stephen Covey and others. Here are some ideas that may apply to delegation in your business.

1. Explain why the task is important

Delegation is more likely to succeed when people understand and acknowledge the IMPORTANCE of the task. On the other hand, a feeling that the task is irrelevant or something you just don’t WANT to do will encourage the wrong results. Explain who will benefit – like colleagues, the entire business, your customers, your vendors, etc and HOW they will benefit. The more measurable the benefits, the better.

2. Play to team members’ strengths

Delegate to people who are likely to succeed with that task. There are never guarantees… and sometimes it’s appropriate to delegate challenging tasks. However, if there’s a strong chance of failure, delegation is probably not the best course.

3. Set the rules or guidelines

Delegation often fails when the scope of the task is poorly defined. Compare these examples:

Please get together all of the financial reports for my upcoming board meeting. Thanks.


Please get together all of the financial reports for my upcoming board meeting. The priority is the P&L and Balance Sheet and we won’t be needing the Cash Flow Analysis. I want to check over the P&L before you send it to all 6 board members. This should be complete by Friday morning at the latest. Please ensure the logo is correct and at the top right of each document. Thanks.

4. Provide resources

Building on the above example:

Take a look at the reports we used last month and please stick to that format. Jim can help with accessing the financials in the accounting system if you run into problems. Mary has the updated board member list. I’m always here if you run into any difficulties.

5. Make the outcomes measurable

You want to be very clear about when the job will be complete and the goal is reached. Here’s a bad example:

Can you look into the software we could use for an Employee Survey?

For one thing, there is no deadline and the instruction will trigger many questions. Is there a budget? Or any specific functionality we ‘must have’? What’s the timing for deployment? What’s wrong with the software we used last time? What did we learn from that experience?

The point is it’s difficult to create accountability unless you have some clear, measurable outcomes. And accountability is good for both parties.

6. Show there are consequences

Be clear on what will happen (good and bad) if the task is completed (or not completed) properly. You want your colleague to feel invested in the outcome. They should share in the success of the project but also be responsible for any failure. This will lead to a more focused and diligent approach.

7. Put things in writing (and follow up)

This reduces the possibility of confusion and creates a record of your request. For repeatable tasks, you will also build a template which can be reused.

8. Trust!

Everyone starts somewhere. Even the most accomplished people have failed at certain tasks previously. But somehow they learned, probably because someone entrusted a task to them. Mistakes will be made and patience may be required. A good leader will understand the risk associated with the task and manage this carefully. They will also recognise that there is great value in empowering an employee to do something independently.

There’s no doubt that most managers could delegate a lot more work which would free them to focus on more productive tasks. That’s good for them and the business as a whole. It’s also good for the Accountants who like to see more profitable clients!

Need help increasing business efficiency? Contact Notch Above’s team of Xero Certified Bookkeepers on 1300 015 130 today.

keyboard and coffee

Businesses urged to safeguard digital identities

Priority access to .AU web domain names

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman is urging Australian businesses to protect their online assets as the cut-off date for priority access to register for their shortened domain name approaches.

.au direct has launched. If you have priority, apply for your matching name by 20 September.

Direct domain names: the new .au digital address

Time is running out for businesses to secure the latest .au domain name resource and prevent an unrelated party setting up shop at the internet’s latest address. The .au domain is here!

Anything that you see on the internet, irrespective of whether it is an online store, employee portal, customer forum or article, has a unique address. This address falls under a domain name.

Domain name registrations are not just an administrative or record-keeping task for a business — they are an essential tool when it comes to carving out an exclusive identity online. Ownership of key domains can ensure customers are transacting with an authentic trader and helps prevent unauthorised third parties from capitalising on a business’ valuable reputation. Maintaining a suite of domain names also enables a website to have improved search engine rankings, consistent branding and establishes a business identity in a global online trading environment.

Businesses will have no doubt encountered some of the different third-level domain (3LD) options already available for domains in Australia. The domain name ending in .au indicates that the people or company operating the site has a business presence or connection with Australia. Soon we will have a new, snappier namespace available at the second level (2LD) domain. It is essential that traders identify whether they are eligible and take steps to secure this asset in the current priority period.

Eligibility for priority access to the .au domain

The .au domain is in high demand, so it is vital that Australian businesses take the necessary steps as soon as possible to place themselves at the top of the queue. According to data published by the Australian Domain Administration (auDA), more than 3.5 million .au domains are already reserved as at August 2022.

A business can reserve a .au domain if it already has a 3LD .au domain name registered. The existing 3LD .au domain name must have been registered before 24 March 2022 to qualify for priority status. auDA will reserve an equivalent domain name for existing registrants, provided the existing registered domain complies with eligibility requirements.

Businesses have until 20 September 2022 to apply for priority status of the exact .au match of an existing 3LD .au domain name registration. Under the priority process, names that are exact matches will be put on ‘priority hold’ to prevent them from being registered by others. The purpose of this is to give existing registrants the ability to register their priority status of the exact match. This priority holding period ends on 20 September 2022.

If no one applies for priority status, the available .au domain names are released from priority hold on 3 October 2022, after which anyone from the public can seek registration through an accredited registrar.

Source: TaxVine