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Rental Property Claims

ATO auditors have recently completed over 300 audits on rental property claims and “found errors in almost 9 out of 10 tax returns reviewed”. He said the most common errors the ATO is seeing are:

  1. incorrect interest claims for the entire investment loan where it has been refinanced for private purposes
  2. incorrect classification of capital works as repairs and maintenance, and
  3. taxpayers not apportioning deductions for holiday homes when they are not genuinely available for rent.

Regarding the first category of incorrect claims, interest can still be claimed where a loan has been refinanced. However, the borrowed funds must still be used for a deductible purpose (i.e. in relation to the rental property). Where the refinanced amount is used for a non-deductible purposes (for example, to buy a boat or car, or to make repayments towards the family home), the interest that relates to that portion of the refinanced amount will no longer be deductible.

In respect of repairs and maintenance, in a rental property context, repairs generally involve a replacement or renewal of a worn out or broken part, for example, replacing worn or damaged curtains, blinds or carpets. Maintenance generally involves keeping the property in a tenantable condition, for example repainting faded or damaged interior walls. By contrast examples of capital expenditure include:

  • replacing an entire structure or unit of the property (e.g. an entire fence, kitchen cupboards, stove etc.)
  • improvements, renovations, extensions
  • initial repairs to defects that existed when you first purchased the property.

These types of capital expenses are not immediately deductible, but rather must be claimed over a number of years.

The finally category of mistakes, involves claiming a deduction for expenditure relating to the property, even though it is not being rented out, or it is not genuinely available for rent. During these periods, expenses cannot be claimed. To be clear, expenses may be deductible for periods when the property has no tenants and you are not occupying it, providing it is genuinely available for rent. To evidence this, you would need to show that it is being given broad exposure to potential tenants, such as online or newspapers advertisements etc.

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Ever wondered what Influencer marketing is all about?

With more choice than ever in consumer goods, brands are turning to individuals who will promote products to their large social media fan base.

Each new trend is often an iteration of a previous way of doing things. Companies have long used celebrity endorsement to advertise their brands to customers, but influencer marketing is a bit different.

Made possible through social media, the influencer is not necessarily famous, but they do have a huge online following, whether that’s on a blog or vlog (video blog), Instagram or Facebook. These are people whose full time job is to review or demo products to their fans and followers. And it can be incredibly powerful.

Influencer marketing is based on a relationship between the influencer and their fans. They tread the fine line of balancing the needs of the brand and maintaining the trust of their fan-base. Authenticity is vital and that’s where live-streaming comes in. Because live-streaming is unedited, it is seen as more authentic and real.

China’s top live-streaming influencer, Viya is a Key Opinion Leader (KOL). She has built up a follower base on Taobao of nearly 6.5 million in just 3 years. Her followers, who are all ages, are ready to buy whatever she recommends. In a livestream event in August, Viya facilitated the sale of tens of millions of products from more than 40 New Zealand and Australian brands to her millions of fans.

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5 key things to get right when starting a business

5 key things to get right when starting a business

Starting your own business is a BIG leap of faith. Will you find any customers? Will you make enough income? These are questions that any founder will ask themselves.

But with the right planning, preparation and support, you can set the best possible foundations for your new enterprise, and take some of the guesswork out of becoming a business owner.

Building the right foundations

So, if you’ve got a great business idea and you’re eager to get your company off the ground, what are the key foundational elements you need in place?

To get your new company trading smoothly:

  • Define your vision and goals – so you know WHY you’re in business, what success will look like and who your target customers will be. If you’re clear about the ‘why’ from the outset, every decision will be easier. Think about who your product or service is aimed at, what their needs are and how your solution solves this.
  • Have a robust business plan – providing you with a clear route map for achieving your goals, with budgets, targets and pre-agreed timelines to meet. This doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking but it will need some thought. A good business plan will evaluate the idea and feasibility, as well as identifying opportunities and obstacles.
  • Get the finance you need – so you have the capital required to start trading, with enough in the bank to cover operational overheads and start generating income. A solid business plan will help you gain buy-in by proving the idea for investors.
  • Measure your performance – once you’re up and running, record and track all financial and non-financial data, so you can measure how well you’re performing and identify, early on, the areas that need attention.

Talk to us about setting up your new business

If you’ve got a world-beating business idea and the ambition to become a business owner, come and talk to us. We’ll help you flesh out your vision, write a workable plan and get your finances in shape for the next stage of the startup journey.

Get in touch.

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The Five A’s of Change - a process to achieve continuous improvement

The Five A’s of Change – a process to achieve continuous improvement

Whether it’s a new focus, a new venture or a new year, consciously recognising the process required to change can vastly improve your outcome.

The Five A’s of Change breaks it down simply:

1. Awareness.
First we must be aware of what needs to change. Perhaps we want to work smarter, not harder, so we can have more family time and better financial returns.

2. Acceptance.
We have to accept that in order to work smarter we will need to do things differently. There is no magic bullet; effective planning is critical to achieving change.

3. Action.
Once we have a plan; we must actually implement it. Taking action can be simpler than imagined; one step at a time, the momentum for change will grow. But, if we don’t act, planning is pointless.

4. Accountability.
Having someone independent to hold us to account is typically a foolproof way to ensure we act. A bit like going to the gym before work… we’re more likely to show up if we’ve committed to a friend or paid for a personal trainer.

5. Acknowledgement.
Humans are habitual creatures. It takes 21 times to change a habit. By celebrating the success of taking action and forcing change, we help to reinforce that good behaviour. The reaction is a chemical one.

This powerful model is simple and effective. Consider the things in your business that you would like to change and what stage in this process you’re at. What is your next step? Whatever your current situation, empower yourself and make a commitment to real change.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”– Socrates

Need help making change stick? Check out how we can help you with planning and accountability.

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Taking the pain out of pricing - how much should you charge?

Taking the pain out of pricing – how much should you charge?

Figuring out how much to charge is a big learning curve for any business owner. The answer to how to approach it will fluctuate as circumstances and markets change. It is important to revisit the question throughout the lifecycle of your business.

There is no magic formula

All businesses are unique, with an individual offering of products and services. Before you set your pricing, It’s important to look at the whole picture. This will help to ensure you are being strategic and not just following trends.

Gather the dataTo get started, you need to gather as much information as possible. Block out some time to sit down with your business data and strategies. Pricing is essentially figuring out where your products and services are positioned in the market. So keep your business strategies top of mind. It doesn’t have to be a confusing exercise. Just grab a coffee get started.

Here are the first steps to consider:

  1. Record all the costs involved in production. Make sure you include indirect costs, such as assets, insurances, licenses and legal costs.
  2. Now that you have your outlay, consider your current profit margin or what margin you require. Remember there is a difference between net and gross profit margins. Net margins take all operating costs into account.
  3. Do your competitor research. Be thorough in understanding the market and what others are charging for the same service or product or variations of this. What unique selling points (USPs) does your business have that allow you to vary your prices?
  4. Think about your offerings. What extra benefits or offerings do you have that can affect your pricing? Think about cheap and no-frills on one end of the spectrum, versus high-end premium products. Can you create different products at different prices to cater to different segments of the market?

Don’t forget to check in on your pricing regularly to make sure you’re keeping up with your customers and staying ahead of the game.

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Is your business attracting the right talent?

Is your business attracting the right talent?

When people talk about ‘brand’ they often think solely from a customer perspective. However, a strong ’employer brand’ is also critical, in order to attract the right talent to your business. A company’s employer brand is twice as likely to drive job consideration as its company brand. With a shift in skill-set requirements across most industries, and Gen Y entering the workforce, it’s more important than ever to attract the right potential employees.

So how do you go about attracting great talent to your business? Laura Weaving, Founder of Duo Global Consulting has the following tips:

Your Employer Brand

Gen Z and Gen Y candidates are 61 percent more likely to choose a job based on the perception of the business as an employer. When you have a role to fill, make sure you:

  • Describe the great working environment in your job description and publish this on your website and on social media
  • Add a careers page, with details on the company culture as well as the job
  • Provide some insight into company life, or why people would want to work for you.

Establish your Employer Value Proposition

This is your unique set of offerings, associations, and values that positively influence target candidates and employees. Overall, companies without an employer value proposition and a weak employer brand, report a cost per hire that is almost double that of companies with a strong employer brand. Without it, it’s extremely hard to attract the right potential employees and even harder to hire someone who is the right fit for your company.

When it comes to attracting talent, a strong employer brand therefore not only increases consideration, it is also a smart business investment.

Additionally, if an organisation has a strong employer value proposition and employer brand, especially one that resonates with current employees, it will also have a significantly lower staff turnover rate. Companies with a stronger employer brand have a 28 percent lower turnover rate than companies with a weaker employer brand.

The first step to developing an employer value proposition and effective employer branding is to assess your audience. Organisations need a strategic platform, with a compelling message at its core. This message should be the result of a thoughtful research program which assesses target audiences, tests messages and highlights the mediums in which ideal talent pools will consume your employer information. Without them, you will most likely execute the same recruitment programs over and over again, with the same average results.

Communicating your Employer Brand

Build personas of the types of talent you’d like to hire. And from here you can build your profile of your ideal candidate. These can include:

  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Personal activities
  • Aspirations and goals
  • Values
  • Personal life and family situation.

Once you have that profile, build your questions to ask in order to ascertain whether potential employees fit your ideal profile. You can tailor the advert and medium to speak to that profile.

Succession Planning

You should be looking at what positions you will need to hire in six to twelve months and what skills are required so you can build an internal talent pipeline. You don’t want to be working against the clock when the need arises to hire. Work ahead of that point and build a relationship with your ideal candidate. Additionally, with a lot of ideal candidates being already happy in their current roles, you will require the time to build that relationship.

Ensuring that your employer brand expresses your culture, environment, values and strategic vision is important. Investing to strengthen your employer brand, if done right, should help increase consideration of your company, lower recruiting costs, and decrease voluntary turnover.

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What is employee engagement and why does it matter?

What is employee engagement and why does it matter?

An engaged employee is a team member who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work, and who takes positive action to further a company’s reputation and interests and achieve their goals.

More importantly, what does a disengaged team member look like?
The symptoms range from a negative attitude, poor communication, absenteeism, lack of initiative, laziness, lateness, lack of participation, and doing the bare minimum at work… all the way to actively damaging the company’s work output, culture, and reputation.

The impact of having a single disengaged team member can be catastrophic.
The effects are not limited to their own poor productivity and output. This person can infect the core of your culture; damaging morale and lowering the performance of the entire team. They could even cause the resignation of a key team member or, if client facing, cause irreparable damage to your brand.

Improved employee engagement leads to improved productivity and performance.
Numerous studies have proven that companies with engaged employees significantly outperform others. Why is this? People who are engaged in their role want to come to work, therefore take fewer sick days. This ultimately leads to reduced team turnover and less unproductive time spent recruiting and inducting new employees.

Not surprisingly, team members who are engaged feel more supported by their peers and are more likely to work collaboratively, leading to significantly less re-work and wastage. Also, fewer workplace accidents and incidents occur when team members are engaged. All of the above reasons contribute to much higher productivity and profitability.

The Engagement-Profit Chain* is another take on why engagement improves performance:
Engaged employees leads to… higher service, quality, and productivity, which leads to…higher customer satisfaction, which leads to…increased sales (repeat business and referrals), which leads to…higher profit levels, which leads to…higher returns.

There is a difference between employee happiness and employee engagement.
Your team could be happy but not necessarily working efficiently and productively to deliver optimum outcomes.

A number of factors can influence and improve employee engagement. These include developing and utilising Core Values, documenting an effective Organisational Chart, providing clarity on the roles and responsibilities in your organisation, and introducing KPIs to help define what a good day’s work looks like for your team.

Need help building a happy and high-performance working culture? Get in touch.

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” – Doug Conant

*The Engagement-Profit Chain was created by Kevin Kruse

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Funding is the key to your growth plans

Funding is the key to your growth plans

Sourcing the right funding for your business can be the first step in achieving your growth goals, or the helping hand you need when you’re in a cash flow hole.

Cash is king when it comes to funding your growth plan. But with the funding market now bursting with a huge choice of traditional and alternative finance providers, knowing what type of finance to opt for, and from which provider, can be a complex decision.

Choosing the right finance for your business

The type of growth you’re aiming for will determine the kind of finance that’s most suitable. So, if a quick cash injection is needed to hire extra staff, you might opt for invoice financing. Whereas a long-term scale-up project would need a larger secured business loan, or private investment.

To make your funding search successful:

  • Know what you need to borrow and why – be clear about your goal, why it’s business-critical and where the additional money will be used.
  • Have a clear budget and a healthy balance sheet – lenders will take you more seriously if you’ve estimated your growth budget and your financials are looking healthy.
  • Look for the best terms and interest rates – a loan on unfavourable terms will be more of a hindrance than a benefit. So shop around and look for providers who can give you the deal that you’re looking for.

Talk to us about accessing the best funding

If you’re looking to access additional finance, we’ll help you work out your budget and search for the best possible funding options – providing the money you need to meet your business goals.

Get in touch and we can help you find your ideal funding.

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Set your business up for success with the right structure

Set your business up for success with the right structure

The structure of your new business has repercussions in terms of tax, costs and the protection of your assets. When you decide on what structure you’ll use, keep in mind your future plans, because this may impact your decision.

There are three main structures you could consider.

Sole trader:

If you’re operating on your own, this may seem an obvious choice. It’s a quick one to set up and incurs minimal costs. Bear in mind that a sole trading business can be trickier to sell, and you are taking on greater personal risk in establishing the business. It may be worth looking into how you can protect your personal assets, should anything go wrong.

Partnership:

If you’re working with a partner, you could consider this option. It lets you share the load, along with the costs of getting a business established. You’re also sharing the risk and potential liabilities.

Company:

Setting up a company means more admin and higher costs to get going. You’ll become a ‘director’ as the person who runs the company, and a ‘shareholder’ as a part-owner. Companies have additional reporting duties, but you assume less personal risk. Also, the clear structure and reporting involved, may set you up for an easier sale when the time comes.

You could also consider setting up a trust, but as this is a relatively expensive and complex undertaking, it’s less likely you’ll go this way initially. You can change the structure as your business develops, but it’s important to consult with your accountant, lawyer or advisor as you go.

Before deciding, think ahead to the future you want for your business.

Ask yourself:

How am I hoping to grow the business? If you plan to bring on additional people to run the business alongside you, a company or partnership arrangement may suit.

When do I want to sell the business? Again, while selling any kind of business is possible, the clarity provided by a company may be an advantage and make your business more attractive to a buyer.

How sure am I that this business will succeed? It may be that you are setting out to prove a concept or explore a business idea. If this is the case, you may not look to incur too many costs up-front, and a sole-trader or partnership model may appeal.

Whatever you decide, make sure you understand the tax implications. Talk to us before setting out on your new venture.

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Performance Reviews

Conducting successful performance reviews

Your staff are the backbone of your business, and their success is going to help your business succeed. An important, but often-overlooked part of this is holding regular performance reviews.

Rather than being an administrative drag, or something that you or your staff members dread, performance reviews can be a really valuable and constructive process. They can enhance your relationships with employees and the performance of your organisation. Here’s what you need to know:

They need to happen on a schedule

Whether they are every year, every six months or even every three months, it’s important to set a schedule and stick to it. If it comes to the day and your employee finds that their meeting with you has been bumped due to a ‘more important’ commitment, this can send a very clear message to them about how much you value their contribution. Instead, make sure you both know when these meetings are happening. This will also give both parties time to really consider what you want to discuss. Turn up prepared and ready for a two-way conversation.

Prepare for the meeting

Whether you’re having a tough conversation or giving praise, go in with specific examples, and chat with other senior team members to get their supporting feedback. It’s important that you pay special attention to anything that isn’t borne out by the experience of other staff members. This is a valuable opportunity to examine any biases that you might be holding. A tough process, but a necessary one for any manager.

Create the right environment

Put some thought into the environment you want to create. If you have a strong relationship with your employee and you’re looking forward to another constructive conversation, perhaps this is a chat that can happen over an off-site coffee. If this is a more serious check-in chat, make sure you’ve got a private meeting room where you can both talk candidly without worrying about anyone listening in.

Keep a record

Working with an employee over time can be a wonderful thing for your business. It’s really important that you have records which reflects the progress that they have made and the ways in which you have been able to support them. It’s essential to take notes during each meeting and record these notes in a way that you’ll easily be able to access later. This also gives you a reference for what you need to follow up, such as whether you’ve discussed a schedule for a pay increase, professional development opportunities or additions to the employee’s role.

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