Accounting News & Blog

Are you sure you want to start a business?

People start businesses for all kinds of reasons ranging anywhere from a purely commercial decision through to a personal desire to make the world a better place. It can be driven by a bucket list or a major crisis event, such as suddenly finding oneself unemployed because of a global pandemic! No matter what, people who start businesses will all have something in common, and that is that they’ve identified a gap in the marketplace, some consumer problem to be solved, which they feel they’re capable of filling.

Taking the first steps.

The first step or main task is to identify that awesome potential in an idea. Then you’ll need to invest the necessary energy and resources to give it life. Our job as accountants, bookkeepers and business advisors, is to help you reach your goals by helping you manage risk, finances, make investment decisions, plan and implement your growth strategy, all while meeting your financial and reporting obligations along the way.

To succeed, you’ll need to understand your market and your customer’s needs. You’ll need the ability to respond to changing market conditions and build your business on strong foundations. The success of a business in the long term is influenced by so many factors and they’re not always within your control. Far too many factors to cover within the context of one blog but suffice to say your approach and preparedness are critical.

How good is your idea? Is the timing right?

Researching your business idea or concept will give you the best chance at success. Ask yourself and seek answers for the following questions;

  • Am I solving an actual consumer problem?

  • What’s my USP (Unique Selling Proposition?)

  • How many players are in the market already? Am I better? Faster? Cheaper? Smarter?

  • Who is my target market?

  • Are people prepared to pay for me to solve this problem? If so how much? It's important to know how much people will truly value what you sell or do.

  • How often will people need my product or service?

  • Analyse your idea using one of these tools; SWOT, PESTLE, STEEP, Porters 5 Forces, Critical Success Factor Analysis or Scenario planning. Do this regularly as part of your strategic business planning.

  • Write a draft strategic business plan and refine it with your accountant and/or business coach.

  • Find a good marketing consultant to help you develop a marketing plan.

  • Engage experienced professionals to help you. Did you know that Rowe Partners offer strategic business advice, business performance assessments, and business planning?

Do you really have a head for business?

When you start a business, it’s important to consider your motivations and carefully consider if you’re truly ready, willing, and able to take up the challenge. Are you one of those super diligent workers that has always worked in a business as if it’s your own? If so, chances are you’ll do great at running your own business. But if you’ve always worked for other people, it’s likely you haven’t had to deal with the mundane aspects of business such as human resources, WH&S, bookwork, payroll, PAYG withholding tax, leave entitlements, superannuation, GST, FBT. These things can be overwhelming. You need the right systems and support network in place. The great news is that there are affordable outsourced resources like our Rowe Partners Business Support Services available to handle this for you so you can focus on the aspects of the business that need your unique expertise. Our team can support you with all aspects of business bookkeeping, or just some of it depending on your skills and needs. Once we understand your business goals and needs, we’ll set you up with a no-fuss combo of cloud-based software systems. As you’re focussed on getting the business up and running, you can be confident knowing we’ve got an eye on your cash flow and have got your back with the ATO. There are some excellent software solutions and apps for accounting, bookkeeping, planning and document management that will make your task easier. Ask your Rowe Partners accountant.

Prepare to battle your demons!

Make sure you’ve got a strategy to achieve your goals and to battle those demons before you start. You'll have many moments of doubt along the way. We suggest that you write down your own success goals and develop a plan to achieve them. Anticipate some of the hurdles you might face and think through your response. We don’t all measure success the same way so your goals will be very personal. You may not need to run a global empire to be happy. Some people run successful businesses with a couple of products and just a few staff or even no staff at all. There’s no right and wrong but you need to decide early.

Managing Stress

You’re going to get stressed. Make sure you’re in the right frame of mind to deal with it and for the long haul. For example, if you’ve recently been made redundant or are under financial pressure when you start, it could undermine your confidence and willingness to take even calculated risks so…surround yourself with good, experienced, and positive people. Avoid people who don’t believe in you or your vision. You don’t need to take everyone on the journey with you. Sometimes, the most well-meaning, protective people can drag you down so make sure to maintain healthy boundaries.

Having a great team around you will help. Include in yours a trusted Rowe Partners accountant and/or financial advisor, a lawyer, business coach, IT guru, technical or subject matter advisor and marketer on your team. And again, implementing good bookkeeping and administrative processes early will save many headaches later and help you avoid drowning in paperwork.

Read the Rowe Partners blogs and our Rowe Partners Facebook page. We provide a lot of good business-focussed content.

Dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s.

Get clear about business structure

Setting up the right business structure to suit your needs is particularly important. So too is protecting your business. You need to be able to imagine your business into the future and prepare for possibilities. The ripple effects of an error in the early stages can be costly.

What business structure is most suitable? Talk to your accountant first! You’ll need an appropriate, legal, and compliant business structure to suit your needs. If you’re planning to operate across borders or globally, you’ll need to ensure your business is compliant in all markets. Advice on structural setup will vary depending on your requirements, who owns the business, how you’re raising capital, your level of exposure and sometimes what roles people might have in it. Your Rowe Partners Accountant will be able to go through the pros and cons with you but essentially, you’ll have four main options;

  1. Sole trader

  2. Company

  3. Partnership

  4. Trust

Protect your assets in case of “What If?”

What if your business takes off? That’d be awesome right? Well yes. Absolutely. However, it may also open you up to risk and unscrupulous behaviour from competitors. There's an old saying "there are no friends in business". At Rowe Partners we don't subscribe to that at all. Developing good business relationships and networks is often critical to success but we do recommend that you take precautions. Your new-found enthusiasm for your business could blind you potential issues. Take an eyes-open approach and if you’ve done your research well in the first instance by completing a competitor analysis, you’ll know who the other players are in the market, the size of their business, their products, market positioning, services etc. but you will still need to protect your investment. You’ll be developing assets which represent a value to the business. At some point when you need a clear understanding of how much the business is worth say for selling the business or accessing finance, it will be important.

Whilst the cost of defending a breach of copyright, for example, might be prohibitive, there’s no point giving an untrustworthy person the keys to your house. Make sure to;

  • Register your business name with the Australian government and other key markets if operating internationally. and be sure to conduct a search of both your business names and domain names first.

  • Obtain an Australian Business Name (ABN) or Australian Company Name (ACN) registration

  • Register for taxes such as GST, PAYG and FBT

  • Trademark any brands and protect other Intellectual Property such as designs, patents and unique methods or processes.

  • Decide what sort of business you want to operate - Bricks and Mortar? Online? Bricks and Clicks? A franchisee? Provide specialist services as an independent contractor? Knowing this will influence the many choices you will need to make.

  • Always protect your reputation. With the ability of social media to spread damaging negative opinions and reviews fast, it pays to focus on customer service. Know your responsibilities and your rights. Grow your fan base!

  • Take a professional approach to legal matters pertaining to your type of business. Get a good basic understanding of contract law, privacy, anti-spam, WH&S, consumer law, tenancy, defamation etc. and if anything tricky comes up, see your lawyer.

  • Know what help is out there. As Australia begins its economic recovery post-COVID, there is likely to be lots of support by way of Government programs and grants. Keep an eye out. If you're eligible, why not apply for funds or assistance?

  • Secure all financial, supply and logistics contracts, licencing or franchise agreements, leases, cyber, business names, domain names and social media accounts.

  • Be cyber safe. Keep a record of passwords in a reputable password manager, keep thorough records of client information in a quality database (preferably a CRM) obtain SSL certification on domain names, use 2-factor authentication for all accounts and install high-quality cybersecurity software on your systems. *Ideally you should have an IT expert conduct a security risk assessment.

Money, money, money

The start-up phase of a business is financially risky. It requires a significant investment of resources and you need the capacity to make important, real-time business and financial decisions. Develop good open communication with your bank and/or investors and set up a system to facilitate this. Secure your financial resources and budget for cash flow. Ask your Rowe Partners accountant about this.

Good luck and remember we are here when you need us. Call 1800 04 7693.

The Prime Minister recently announced a number of changes to JobKeeper that may affect you if you are currently receiving the payment. The great news is that the program has been extended for a further 6 months out from 28 September 2020 to 28 March 2021 but some of the eligibility criteria have changed. This means that some may no longer be eligible to receive the payment and may need to move across to Jobseeker, or make some significant business decisions in light of the changes.

According to the Treasury website,, "...from the 28th September 2020, eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment will be based on actual turnover in the relevant periods, the payments will be stepped down and paid at two rates." Business & NFP Eligibility (from 28.9.20)

  • To be eligible for JobKeeper, businesses (with an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less) will need to demonstrate that their actual turnover for both the June 2020 quarter and the September 2020 quarter has declined by more than 30% compared with their actual turnover for the June 2019 quarter and the September 2019 quarter.

  • For Australian Charities and NFP Commission-registered charities (excluding schools and universities), the test is 15%.

  • Businesses and NFP will need to assess their eligibility for JobKeeper again in January 2021.

Payments (from 28.9.20)

  • The payment rate of $1,500 per fortnight for most eligible employees and businesses will be reduced to $1,200 per fortnight.

  • Employees and business participants working fewer than 20 hours per week will receive a reduced payment of $750.

  • Rates will change again in January.

It's worth noting that;

  • Those not meeting the new JobKeeper eligibility criteria remain eligible for JobKeeper until 28 September 2020.

  • JobKeeper remains open to new applicants provided they meet the new eligibility criteria.

  • Alternative tests will be available to businesses for which comparing turnover with the prior year does not provide an accurate measure of their decline in turnover for each period.

  • Other JobKeeper eligibility criteria have not changed.

If you're a business already receiving JobKeeper and need clarification about your ongoing eligibility, feel free to get in touch with your Rowe Partners accountant to discuss. If you're a new business or NFP applicant for JobKeeper we can also work together to ascertain your eligibility. We're standing by ready to help. Call 1800 04 7693 to make an appointment.

COVID-19 has changed so much for all of us. It's been about 6 months now since we began to comprehend the enormity of this pandemic. Still, the situation changes constantly. The end is not in sight and logically it's beginning to take a toll on the mental health of Australian business people, workers, those displaced from work as well as people in our broader community.

In addition to trying to keep businesses running financially during this very difficult time, business owners and managers have the added responsibility of caring for workers as well as customers, themselves and their loved ones. Some of us are going to be doing better at the moment than others but we're all in this together and ultimately have the same end goal in mind, to be free of COVID-19 and see our country return to some kind of normal.

Now that the dust of the initial crisis has started to settle and we're adapting and responding, it's a good time to consolidate some thinking about how we manage into the future and build our repertoire of interpersonal skills so we can provide care to those struggling under pressure.

Important signs and what to look for

It's important to be aware of some common signs that could indicate others may be experiencing difficulty. Here are some tips in what we thought might be a handy reference tool for when you're dealing with complex mental health matters in your business or workplace.

Who would have thought we would experience a pandemic in our lifetime! It's the thing of movies, not something any of us would have ever seriously contemplated. So it's totally natural that we and many people we know will feel overwhelmed at some point. And when that occurs, despite caring and being concerned, we may not quite know how to help. People are individuals all having a unique lived experience of COVID-19 and respond differently to stress. The feelings and fears raised by this situation are not normal every day worries. How do we determine if, when and how to intervene or support? Especially when we ourselves might be dealing with unprecedented pressures. It can be helpful to defer to a process of logic during stressful times to make such determinations. Remember, you don't have to be perfect in a problematic mental health situation at work but being well informed, reasonably well prepared and well-intentioned will undoubtedly be beneficial.

When you need to provide hands-on help

Though it may not work for everyone and seeking professional help is always a great option if you feel out of your depth, these steps may help you to create a healthy space for communication, notice signs of stress and have an appropriate structure in place for providing mental health support in a work setting.

1. LOOK & LISTEN What are people are saying? Whether you're a boss or a worker, we all need to look out for each other. This is by no means an exhaustive list of what signs to look in others for but consider are they;

  • Confused, irrational or unusually moody. Are they having mood swings?

  • Unable to switch off. Are they ruminating about the future?

  • Are they making mistakes at work?

  • Distracted or disengaged?

  • Lonely or seem to lack confidence?

  • Complaining about feeling unwell, tired, being in pain, headachy or nauseous?

  • Having trouble at home or juggling too many responsibilities?

  • Missing loved ones or their usual lifestyle activities as a result of COVID-19 restrictions?

  • Having financial difficulties?

2. CONSIDER the best time and place to start a conversation. Use discretion and ensure your approach is made with the best intentions.

3. EMPATHISE Try to understand their world and what is going on in their lives that may be contributing to stress and reducing resilience.

4. AVOID Judging. One person's circumstances or their ability to cope with an unprecedented situation like a pandemic is no reflection on another. You may be a "tough it out, soldier on" type whereas another might be more sensitive. Men and women often have different coping mechanisms. People of different cultures, young people vs older people too, these are not wrong, just different.

5. UNDERSTAND when you seek to understand and support rather than judge, your approach is more likely to be successful.

6. THINK Determine if your help is needed or wanted. Sometimes a friendly ear or a warm smile and a casual chat are all that is needed.

7. DETERMINE if you actually have the capacity to help. You don't have to be the one! Try not to be offended if someone prefers not to open up to you but is perhaps more comfortable speaking to someone else. These situations are not always logical or a reflection of their respect for you.

8. THE CHAT Some people are naturally good at this stuff. Some not so good but if you're a manager or boss, it is more than likely it's one of your responsibilities. Once it is clear that a staff member or colleague may need some support and you've determined that you're in a good place to provide it, at an appropriate time for them you can start a conversation.

9. BE PRESENT find a quiet place where neither of you is likely to be distracted. Turn off your phone and block out your diary. Close indoor blinds and the door to your office. Turn off your computer. Make sure to allocate adequate time to allow for natural flow of conversation and limit the temptation to rush or interrupt.

10. ENQUIRE It's ok to ask "What can I do to help?" You don't have to be a hero. Sometimes you're not the best person to provide help. For example, if you are also stressed or don't have a trusted relationship with the other person, trying to "fix" them or help them "get over it" could do more harm than good. If the person feels that their job could be under threat by disclosing personal information they WILL NEVER OPEN UP and you could lose a valuable worker, colleague or friend. Try to create a safe space.

11. LISTEN ACTIVELY This requires more than open ears. Engage in good eye contact, open body language, use a calm voice and most of all;

  • Take what they say seriously. Don't be dismissive or minimise. Their concerns may not seem important to you but they are important to them. Avoid challenging their perceptions. That's not your job.

  • If you don't quite understand, gently encourage them to explain.

  • Repeat back what you have heard to ensure it's accurate "So I think what I'm hearing is that your household finances are very stretched right now and you're concerned about job security. Have I got that right?" Only when you have accurate information can you provide an adequate and appropriate response. You don't have to give immediate solutions. Coming back to someone is ok.

12. BE PREPARED Have some resources handy such as brochures, or phone numbers for support services. If you're a manager or business owner, review staff records for insights such as increased sick leave days, requests for pay advances or workplace conflicts. If the conversation is likely to get emotional, have some tissues handy and some drinking water. Understand what leave options are available. If your workplace has an Employee Health Program, make sure you have contact information or a brochure handy.

13. ENCOURAGE action, healthy eating, downtime, exercise or spending time with pets. When people take action they need they feel more positive and more empowered. Gently offer some suggestions for positive steps people can take to care for themselves. Offer access to leave.

14. RESPECT privacy and boundaries. Above all, no matter what is shared with you or by whom, you are obliged to be professional and keep confidentialities.

15. SUPPORT or REFER If you're not the best person to help, the best thing you can do is to connect the person with someone who can. Use trusted proven resources. If you are particularly concerned for someone's well being it may be worth contacting an organisation such as Lifeline Australia for guidance (13 11 14). Be positive about the advantages of talking to professionals such as counsellors or psychologists. It's never a sign of weakness to seek help.

16. CHECK-IN follow up with a care call. Schedule a reminder to check-in. If they're really struggling, make that sooner rather than later. Stay in touch.

17. SELF CARE you're important too! When you are responsible for other people in the workplace, it can be easy to forget self-care. You are no good to anyone if you're burnt out. Focus on healthy eating, exercise or spending time in nature, in the garden, with loved ones or with furry friends. Tune Out. Turn off the TV and take a break from social media. Perhaps just check in once a day for a while. Listening to music is another great way to transport your mind to a happy place.

Where to now?

If you've read all the way through this blog, there's a pretty good chance you're a caring, responsible and considerate human being who gets that life at the moment is tough for a lot of people. That's really key to being able to help others. Try to relax. Remember where you saw this blog so you can come back to it should the need to help someone else arise. People in Australia, especially in South Australia, have shown that looking out for each other during COVID-19 the answer to finding a new, healthy way forward for us all.

Thanks for doing your bit. Stay well!

Helpful Resources

Thanks to Dr Mark Pearson from the University of Sunshine Coast Director USC Counselling and Wellbeing Clinic, whose recent presentation Mental Health Awareness & Support in the Workplace (during COVID-19) helped to inform this blog.

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Rowe Partners Pty Ltd (ACN 105 365 688) as an agent for Rowe Partners Partnership (ABN 65 250 711 759). Directors: R P McDonald FCPA, C R McKnight FCPA, P J Connolly MIPA, F B Cammarano AIPA, M R Nutt CPA. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation other than for the acts or omissions of financial services licensees.

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