Two out of every five small businesses have experienced a cyber attack. That is a staggering statistic. So what are you going to do about it? Now is the time to make cyber security and risk reduction a top priority. It is time to review processes and platforms, and determine what scams or cyber attacks your business may be vulnerable to. Don’t put it off any longer, take steps now to protect your business against cyber attacks.

In 2020 you likely had to move business online to meet the needs of your customers. This means that most small businesses are now storing their most valuable data on digital platforms that often aren’t very secure. Worryingly, almost one fifth of small businesses spent no money on cyber security in the last twelve months. Yet, Scamwatch reports were up 25% in 2020 showcasing the dramatically increasing threat of cyber attacks on businesses.

The most common cyber attacks targeting accountants are:
  • Compromised business emails – cyber criminals access and redirect your emails using stolen or easy to guess usernames and passwords, which often leads to data theft or invoice scams.
  • Ransomware attacks – using phishing emails, cyber attackers attempt to hold your systems and data ransom until a payment is made.
  • Identity theft – scammers will pose as financial or legal representatives in order to access funds.

It is important for accountants and small business owners to understand what risks they currently face and the risk reduction measures they have available to them.

Here are three simple steps you can take to start increasing your cyber security awareness and reducing risk.
  1. Make a list of all the platforms and places you store data e.g. Google Drive, Shopify etc.
  2. Check your passwords to make sure that they are all different and change them if they’re not! Keep in mind, if you can easily remember it, it can probably be easily hacked. Try and use 11-character passwords (or longer) to keep password-cracking tools guessing.
  3. Use multi-factor authentication on everything. This is an incredibly effective way to block 99% of account hackers in their tracks!

Cyber security is a human problem, not a tech one. We’re the ones putting ourselves and our data at risk by using the same weak passwords or opening a suspicious looking file. By becoming more aware of cyber security and implementing risk reduction measures, you can greatly improve your protection against cyber threats.

Get in touch with QC Accountants today if you’d like to get your business set up for the next phase of its evolution.

One of the biggest financial challenges faced by small businesses is operating expenses. According to Semrush, 66% of small businesses face financial challenges, with 43% claiming the most prominent challenge is paying operating expenses. Operating expenses cover labour costs, employee benefits, insurances, necessary tools etc. With 2020 proving to be too much for some small businesses to sustain operations, now is the time to look at your operating costs and determine where you can add value for your audience, and reduce costs for you. Below are some tips to keep your costs down, and your profit margin up.

First, embrace some contemporary business practices which have been steadily reducing operating costs for years.

Utilise emerging technologies – innovations in bookkeeping softwares, business management and CRM systems have made processes quick, painless and effective. They’ve also dramatically reduced the amount of hours and manpower required to get a job done. Another benefit of contemporary digital technologies is the tendency for them to be paperless, eco-friendly innovations, saving you cost on deliveries, waste disposal and physical storage.

Another way to reduce operating costs is outsourcing certain practices to third party experts, who can get tasks done much more efficiently and effectively than in-house employees. This can be particularly helpful for marketing and creative services which is often a common pain point for small businesses.

When it comes to utilising vendors, make sure to shop for the best deal that will bring the most value to your business. Be aware that some deals seem cost effective but include features not relevant to your business, meaning you may end up losing money in the long run. Additionally, ensure vendor invoices are paid on time or early if possible. Some vendors offer discounts for early invoice payments, and most (if not all) will charge extra for late payments.

Finally, analyse your business and determine all operating cost inefficiencies. Check for practices which are out-dated, use old technologies or are no longer useful.

This is an ongoing practice, one where employee participation should be encouraged. First hand experiences of policies and procedures are the best way to determine their efficacy.

Considering small businesses are still in recovery from the year that was 2020, reducing operating costs and increasing profit margins is on every business owner’s mind. Following these practices will help your business rebuild in a self-sustainable way.

Small businesses employ almost 50% of Australian workers, so there is no doubt they are essential for keeping Australians employed. 2020 was a rough year for small businesses, having to adapt to the tumultuous new commerce landscape. Lockdowns, loss of income and insecurity saw businesses struggling. However, strife often breeds innovation, and the world of eCommerce has seen a surge in the last 12 months. So what can we learn from the year that was, and how can you use those lessons to improve your business?

Here’s 3 big things to learn from 2020


eCommerce

Online shopping skyrocketed last year. As areas in lockdown, working from home and physical distancing became a regular part of life. However, consumers’ wants and needs didn’t abate, instead they took to the web. According to PayPal’s 2020 eCommerce Index, over 2 million Australians began doing their shopping online, and around 40% say they will continue this heightened level of eCommerce in post-COVID conditions.

Ignoring these trends will stagnate your business. Take a look at your online presence and analyse it from a consumer’s perspective. Are you accessible? Are you easy to contact? Is your content up to date and optimised?

eCommerce is your new best friend, it’s time to get comfortable with it (if you haven’t already).


Mobile Matters

The use of mobile devices for online purchases has been steadily rising for years. While consumers were purchasing more laptop and PC devices and in fact doing 13% less shopping on mobile devices last year, ignoring the mobile experience is not the way to go.

There is still a market of 50% of Australians who shop from their mobile devices. So how can you optimise your mobile marketability? Consumers are most likely to go with a business who builds trust and security. An online presence should be organised, optimised and accessible, a customer journey that the customer understands. A page that is non-optimised and overwhelming will cause negative reactions and ultimately drive customers away.

Always test your customer experience across all devices to ensure a seamless customer experience.


Social Commerce

It’s no surprise that with consumers confined to home entertainment, social media was a go-to medium for many consumers. Consumers purchasing through social media remains a steadily growing trend currently made by 24% of Australians. The amount consumers spend on social media has also increased from an average $5 to $25 per month last year.

While other consumers aren’t ready to start buying via social media due to privacy concerns, they are still accessing these social media sales platforms to browse products and make informed decisions.

If you haven’t already, invest in setting up a social media presence that invites customers to become more aware of your brand before making a decision.


Wrap up

As the world strives to adjust to a new normal, now is the time to get your business on the front foot by optimising your online presence, analysing your customer journey, and making use of the trends and platforms available to businesses in 2021.

There’s no ifs or buts about it. Your business, no matter how big or small, has likely been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has crippled businesses around the world as they fight to retain customers and find new ways to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving market.

It’s going to take a lot for businesses to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s possible. We’ll explore how your business can succeed as we enter a new normal. It’s important to note that speed is at the heart of these strategies, it’s not enough to rely on revenue rising gradually as the pandemic eases. You will need to rethink the way you do business. From improving your agility, to of course embracing digital, we’ll step you through ways to equip your business to thrive.

Have a startup mindset

Encourage agility by favouring action over research and analysis. Speed can be your friend but make sure things don’t fall by the wayside on your way to the top by establishing accountability. Jump into action, then use check-ins and reviews to hold your team accountable to projects as your business begins to thrive. You may want to implement regular team catch ups. For example, schedule daily team check ins, a weekly 30 minute review, and a monthly 60 minute review.

Embrace digital

The wide adoption of digital technology has been accelerated during the pandemic. To ensure your business thrives, go further than just adopting digital: embrace it. By enhancing and expanding your digital channels, from SEO to video, you’ll be able to accomplish things you wouldn’t have dreamt of a few years ago. Combining new sources of analytical data with your own insights will allow you to make better decisions faster, and improve your customer experience.

Support your team

To stay competitive you will need to rethink your company model and adapt to how your team members work best. With the wealth of technology available to you, remote working is more seamless than ever. It’s possible your business could be even more effective. A survey by McKinsey showed that a majority of businesses who had remote working arrangements had sales that were 31% higher than those operating with only traditional channels.

Be customer-centric

Understanding the needs of your customers has always been critical to a successful business and is now more important than ever. Having a purpose-driven approach to the customer journey will allow you to better understand what your customers value now, and tailor experiences based on those insights to yield greater results.

It’s possible for businesses to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but to really thrive in this new market it’s paramount to adapt and adopt new ways of business. Bring a startup mindset, embrace digital, support your team, and above all focus on putting the customer’s evolving needs first, to help your business thrive.

Get in touch with QC Accountants today if you’d like to brainstorm ideas or get your business set up for the next phase of its evolution.

Cash flow is the number one reason businesses fail. If you’re in this tough position you’re not alone and we’re here to help you get back on top. We’ll outline likely causes of cash flow problems as well as tips to help you deal with them.


What went wrong?

Asking this simple question to better understand the problem is critical to determining what actions need to be taken.

So, what led to your cash flow problem?

Here are three possible causes of your cash flow problem:

1. Sales

There are three common causes for sales issues. If any of the following resonate with you, it’s time to make a change. Consider asking yourself these questions:

Your answers could point to an action plan to get your sales back on track.

2. Expenses

If your sales are looking good, the next step is to look at your expense sheet. If your revenue is strong but cash flow is low, there are likely issues arising after sales are made. Don’t wait until you’re struggling, periodically review your expenses to stay afloat.

3. Collections

If you’re still struggling with cash flow issues but your sales and expenses are looking good, it’s time to dig a little deeper into account receivables. Unpaid invoices are not a normal cost for doing business. In fact, not collecting on a sale puts you in a worse position than if you never made the sale.


Tips To Fix Your Cash Flow

Reduce Your Expenses

In every business there will be expenses that chip away at revenue, from unnecessary service upgrades to ongoing subscriptions. Don’t let expenses impact your business, reduce them to balance your budget and get on top of your cash flow.

Downsize Inventory

Effectively managing your inventory can help alleviate some of your pains. Excess inventory can dry up your cash flow and leave you stuck trying to move it. You may want to discount extra inventory to move it, or consider doing what many small businesses are by using just-in-time replenishment to protect yourself against excessive inventory.

Utilise Accounting Software

If you’re still accounting manually it’s time to get with the times by using inexpensive accounting software and outsourcing options. These will outline cash flow problems before they happen by meticulously tracking your cash flow and providing cash flow projections. Avoid the stress and hassle of manually accounting and use the resources available to you.


Have a back up

Unanticipated cash shortages happen. From bad debts to being paid late, it can be easy to slip into trouble. Plan ahead and have a back up plan, either access to a loan or line of credit, or a cash reserve. By building a cash reserve for hard times, you’ll have support for your business if things go south. Occasionally you may need to borrow money, which isn’t a bad thing. While it’s not there to rely on to solve ongoing cash problems, it can be a great safety blanket if troubles arise.


Wrap up

While temporary cash flow problems are part of doing business, if you’re finding that these problems are ongoing, it’s time to proactively address the problem to get a positive cash flow again.

If you’re having cash flow troubles or want to safeguard against them, we can help. Get in touch with us today!

If you’re new to employing a team (even if you’re not, but you’re not 100% clear) thinking about the difference between a contractor and an employee can be confusing. Furthermore, there are some well established myths that are misleading at the very least.

Even though it can be confusing, it’s important to be clear about the difference, because it has implications for tax and superannuation, for a start.

In this article we’re going to get clear on the difference between an employee and a contractor, and arm you with some of the info you’ll need to decide which is right for your business.

What’s the difference between an employee and a contractor?

Firstly, what indeed is the difference between the two? And how do you identify each type?

The essential difference between the two is that an employee is part of your business and works in your business, whereas a contractor runs their own business. A contractor may be performing work ‘for you’ but they are not your employee.

One of the factors is who takes commercial risk (your business, in the case of an employee, and the worker, in the case of a contractor). Control of the work and direction as to how work is completed are also the domain of an employee, whereas a contractor has control over their work and their independence.

The ATO has a great tool for simply discovering whether your worker is an employee or a contractor.

What are the pros and cons of a contractor?

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of employing a contractor.

A contractor is responsible for their own work. You agree via a contract or agreement, and then it is up to them as to how the work is completed. This is an advantage in the sense that you do not have to manage them, their workday or their hours: they are responsible for themselves. Furthermore, you do not pay them for annual leave, personal leave, or superannuation. You are not responsible for commercial risk.

On the other hand, not having control over their work may not suit your business, if you like to closely manage workers. Outside of the agreement or contract, there is no guarantee that they will continue working for you, so if continuity is important this arrangement may not suit.

What are the pros and cons of an employee?

An employee is part of your business, and as such forms part of the fabric of how your business operates. They are perhaps more likely to adapt your ethos and form part of the culture. An employee is perhaps more reliable as they are paid on an ongoing basis, along with benefits such as leave and superannuation. They can also be managed more closely, as you have more control to direct their work.

Alternatively, you are responsible for the work done by an employee and take on the commercial risk. You are also responsible for paying superannuation, personal leave and annual leave.

How to decide?

Ultimately, every business is unique and the decision about whether to employ a contractor or an employee is yours. Consider the pros and cons we have discussed, and review the ATO article.

We suggest ranking your priorities, such as whether it’s more important to have control over a worker’s hours and direction, or perhaps not having responsibility for risk and super/ leave payments.


It’s always a good idea to get professional advice on decisions such as this, and QC Accountants would be very happy to assist you. Our team of professionals can help you make the decision about which model is best for you.

Contact us on 07 5593 6060 – we are here to help you.

There are many things to consider when starting your own business and while it can be a very exciting time, it can also be quite daunting without sound advice. The legalities need to be carefully understood and this is where a good accountant will be your best friend and advisor. Business registrations can take various shapes and forms and it is best to seek help in educating yourself in the differences and what may suit your needs best.

Below is a basic checklist of the steps required as you navigate the maze. QC Accountants can guide you from beginning to end.

1. Australian Business Number (ABN)

You must have an ABN in order to legally run a business in Australia. Your ABN is a unique number that identifies your business to government institutions and other businesses that you may work with or for.

An ABN is free and simple to apply for through the Australian Business Register, alternatively allow QC Accountants to assist you through this process.

2. Tax File Number (TFN)

It is recommended that you apply for your TFN before you start your business. All businesses that earn income or accrue expenses are required to have a TFN. Your TFN identifies you with the Australian Taxation Office and if your business does not have one you will not be entitled to lodge a tax return.

You can apply for a TFN for your business through the Australian Taxation Office website or ask us at QC Accountants to do so on your behalf.

3. Goods and Services Tax (GST)

You can register for GST once you have obtained your ABN. GST is a tax of 10% added to most goods and services sold in Australia. If your business has a turnover that exceeds $75,000 you must register for GST. If you believe your business will reach this threshold it is advised that you register for GST. This is where expert advice from QC Accountants can help you decide whether or not to register for GST at the outset. If your turnover does exceed $75,000 you must register within 21 days. You can register through the ATO website or allow us to guide you through.

4. Pay As You Go (PAYG) Withholding

If your business takes on employees you may want to look into registering for PAYG. While applying for PAYG is optional it does ensure that all parties meet their end of year tax liabilities and as a business owner you have an obligation to collect tax from payments you make to your employees. At QC Accountants we can advise you on when you may be required to register for PAYG, alternatively you can register through the ATO website Business Portal.

5. Register Your Company (+ACN)

You may want to register as a company if you believe your business is suited to a company business structure. There are many things to understand and consider when thinking of a company business structure and QC Accountants can give expert advice on these. The cost of applying for an ACN varies and you can see more information about applying for an ACN on the Australian Government Business Registration website.

6. Licences and Permits

Depending on the nature of your business you may be required to apply for specific licences and/or permits in order to operate legally in Australia. It is important to understand which industries have requirements for such licences and permits unique to your area of business. QC Accountants can advise on all these requirements and you can also access more information on the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website.

7. Domain Name and Website

Obtaining a domain name and having a website built is not a requirement for any business but it is highly recommended in order for your business to be found easily and for you to be able to advertise to an audience far and wide.

There are fixed costs in registering and purchasing your domain name, after which costs will vary according to the web designer you choose to engage and the nature of the website your business will require. These costs can vary from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars. It is best to shop around and compare before committing to one web designer or deciding to do it yourself.

Your website will create an important first impression to your customers.

8. Business Name Registration

It is not compulsory to register your business name but it does help customers find, identify and connect with your business. You can register many business names under the same entity. Registrations last for 3 years and can be done through ASIC. QC Accountants can guide you through this process.

9. Patents and Trademarks

It is important to protect your intellectual property from others copying your unique branding, your design or your products. Obtaining trademarks and patents will do this. Intellectual property is a complicated area of expertise and it is recommended that you seek out accountants or lawyers who specialise in this field. QC Accountants can help you understand whether you can patent or trademark a specific piece of intellectual property. If needed we can also point you in the direction of lawyers specialising in this field. You can read further information on IP Australia website.

Please contact us at QC Accountants if you are considering registering a new business. Our team of professionals can help you through any or all of the steps above and offer expert advice.

Contact us on 07 5593 6060 – we are here to help you.

The end of the year is a time when many people set goals – both professional and personal. Make it a powerful way to launch into 2021, and hit the ground running in the new year.

We’re here to share why and how to set goals, plus how to achieve them.

Why Set Goals?

Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat (from Alice in Wonderland) famously said that if you don’t know where you’re going “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go”. The same can be said for goals – you need to know where you’re going in order to take appropriate action.

In other words, set goals for yourself and your business so you can focus on action steps to achieve those goals. Get the forward momentum you desire.


How to Set Goals

Setting goals is an organic process – not a static set-and-forget activity. Yes, you may set annual goals once per year, but it’s possible you may need to change them in the face of unexpected factors (global pandemic, anyone?). So we always recommend reviewing them regularly – at least every 3-6 months – to ensure your activities are still driving towards them.

You may have seen this framework for setting goals. We think it’s a great place to start:

SMART
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time-Based

If you follow this framework you’ll set goals that are based on reality and that are taking your business in a positive direction. Even the act of considering what goals are possible for your business can be a revolutionary experience.


How to Achieve Your Goals

It’s one thing to set your goals, it’s completely another to set about achieving them. Here’s our breakdown of how to achieve your goals.

Many business owners set goals. A small percentage of them actually review their goals and revise the action plan around them. Be part of that percentage. 😉


How can QCA help?

If you need some support in putting together your business goals, get in touch. Setting goals often involves financial implications for your business, and we can offer some informed suggestions.

Contact our team of professionals on 07 5593 6060 – we are here to help you.

Keeping great records is important for every business. It’s tied to legal and tax obligations, but it also allows you to keep track of how your business is performing. In this article we’re going to explore the pros and cons of using an electronic record-keeping system, and what you should consider when choosing one.


What kinds of records do businesses need to keep?

When it comes to accounting for your business, there are several types of records you’ll need to keep. These are used for capturing information, generating reports, and meeting your tax and legal obligations. They also help you monitor profit and loss, minimise risk, and protect your rights.

Keep records relating to income and expenses, as well as those showing how you came to a conclusion (i.e. using methods, calculations, estimates). Any records that relate to both personal business affairs should show the portion that relates to your business.

As a general rule, you’ll need to keep your records for 5 years.

Business QLD has a great guide on what type of records to keep.


Why keep records electronically?

Some of the benefits of keeping electronic records are obvious. Using an electronic record-keeping system allows you to easily run reports, quickly search and access information, and often access your records from remote locations. It also provides security in that you are not reliant on a physical copy and the risk that comes with loss or destruction.

The ATO recommends keeping your records using an electronic record-keeping system. Bear in mind the ATO may need to access your records in the future – this is another reason to ensure everything is filed and labelled systematically and is easily accessible.


What are the disadvantages?

While the advantages of an electronic record-keeping system are many, there are a few drawbacks to consider if you’re looking to make the switch.


How to keep electronic business records

It’s a good idea to first chat with your accountant, before making a decision about the software or platform to use.

At QCA, we use Xero but we have experience with other systems. Give us a call to discuss your options.


How can QCA help?

Have a chat with us about the software and platforms we recommend. We’ve seen a few so we can listen to your requirements and suggest some options.

If you’re unsure about whether a specific record must be kept, ask your accountant or financial advisor. It always pays to be safe. Speak to us if there is something you’re not sure about.

If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to contact our team of professionals on 07 5593 6060 – we are here to help you.

2020 has been a year of challenges, but also a year of rethinking. There’s no doubt that lots of new ideas may have passed through your mind. Whether it was rethinking your work-life balance, saving money, or shifting towards a new business plan, there are many ways in which you may have dreamed up new goals for yourself.

Importance of setting goals

Imagine getting into the driver’s seat of a car and starting to drive, with no destination in mind. You may start out with an appreciation of the novelty of the situation, but how long would you drive for, before getting confused, bored, frustrated or lost?

Similarly, in life and business, we need to know what our goals are so we can design our tactics and everyday activities with purpose and direction.

Why is goal-setting important? Other than setting a clear course of action, setting a goal also encourages a new mindset: a mindset that is determined to get where you want to be, to be more organised and mindful about elements that can affect your future goals. Setting up a plan is the very first step of your new journey.

What makes a good goal?

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland

Can you relate to this famous quote? No one wants to work hard, countless hours without getting anywhere. To make your goals reachable, you should know how to design them. Your new goals should be created in a SMART way:

Specific – Try to avoid generalised goals and set a clear direction headed towards where you want to be.
Measurable – Without measuring your progress, you wouldn’t know whether you achieved anything. Include value in your goals where possible, such as reducing your expenses by 10% by the end of 2020.
Attainable – Your goals need to be realistic. Don’t set up easy goals to only brush your ego when achieving them and don’t set goals you don’t believe are achievable.
Relevant – Relevancy is something that should be aligned with your overall vision. Are your goals in line with your personal beliefs or professional life?
Time-Bound – Whether you like it or not, deadlines are crucial to your success. It’s even sweeter when you reach your goals within an allocated time frame.

How to set a goal

Setting a goal can be quite overwhelming and may even feel like an impossible task. The best way to overcome this feeling is to divide your big goals into medium and short term goals. It’s helpful to write down your goals and split them into three categories: short-term goals, medium-term and long term goals.

Short-term goals

Short term goals are goals that can be achieved within a short time. If your big or long term goal is to establish a company by the end of a certain year, think about all the steps that you are missing to close the gap, and that can be done in the near future. It could be anything from getting another part-time job to secure additional funds, doing a training course or researching small business support. Here at QC, we are proud to call ourselves “Solution Providers”, and we offer a full range of business services and advice. Get in touch to learn more.

Medium-term goals

Your medium-term goals take a bit longer to achieve; it can be from a few months to a few years. The medium-term goal is often a result of achieving your short term goals. If you are starting a business and see this as your long term goal, your medium-term goal could be anything from improving your product, to reducing admin costs or starting on your company policies.

Long-term goals

If short and medium-term goals are successful, they compliment the long term goal. Your long term goal should reflect your desired future and be easily adaptable for social, economic and political changes. Your long term goal should also be aligned with your vision for the future. To set up a goal for the next 10-15 years is not an easy task, but keeping in mind the rule of breaking down big plans into small ones is always helpful.

An overall vision or setting up a one-page business plan can also bring more clarity to your goals.

How can QC Accountants Help?

We understand setting goals is not always easy. We’re here to help you understand your options, and take advantage of all the support available to you. Get in touch today.

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