A business mentor can help you take your business to new heights: but only if you choose the right one. From offering advice, support and a listening ear, business mentors understand and really ‘get it’ when it comes to the struggles a business owner faces. Like everything though, all business mentors are different, with varying strengths, experiences and interests. Therefore, choosing the right business mentor becomes your first task in your search for business support.

What is a Business Mentor?

Business mentors are experienced business professionals who have made the decision to give back to newbie (or relatively new) business owners. They’ve been where you are now, understand the ups and downs of business life and want to help you develop your business.

A great business mentor will aim to:

  • Build a longterm relationship
  • Share their experience and knowledge
  • Support you
  • Offer new ways of doing and looking at things
  • Introduce you to their business network
  • Analyse where your business is now and identify where you want it to be
  • Help you clarify your business goals and objectives
  • Assist with business planning
  • Offer solutions to solve business-related problems
  • Provide constructive feedback

Many people have heard of Business Mentors New Zealand, which are a not-for-profit organisation which pairs up volunteer mentors with mentees. They work with clients throughout the country and it’s fair to say are the most well-known mentoring organisation. Many new or developing business owners have used their service with great success, but there are other options which can provide a service which is as good or even better.

Our team of business advisors can also provide business mentoring services. The benefit of choosing us is that we can provide a more in-depth and overarching service, including:

  • Working with you to write and assess your business plan
  • Help you to create your businesses core values
  • Improve your bookkeeping and accounting practices
  • Assist with an organisational review
  • KPI coaching
  • Business coaching services

Let’s now take a look at the reasons why you should work with a business mentor this year.

Why Should I Work With a Business Mentor?

A business mentor will not do the work for you. They’re not going to tell you what to do either, but rather make suggestions based upon their experiences and knowledge. This offers you plenty of benefits, including:

  • Reducing the level of risk you face when making decisions
  • Helping you focus your attention on the details which really matter
  • Challenging you to step outside of your comfort zone
  • Holding you accountable for your decisions by setting and following up on goals and milestones
  • Support you to leverage a range of networking opportunities
  • Being a sounding board for new and rehashed ideas
  • Helping you to step back and take another view of your business
  • Assist with understanding the legal and tax obligations of running a business
  • Providing a fresh perspective
  • Helping to implement business changes
  • Support with marketing ideas and implementation

A business mentor helps to stimulate new ideas and support you as you implement them. They are someone who really ‘gets’ what you are going through, having been there and done that themselves. Providing a service which cannot be offered by well-meaning friends and family, they are highly valuable business professionals – if you choose the right one.

Key Questions to Ask When Choosing a Business Mentor

When using the Business Mentors New Zealand service, you are matched with a mentor of their choosing, not yours. While this can and has worked successfully in the past, it doesn’t always. Other than the application fee, their service is free though, which is a big plus.

On the other hand, when you have the option to choose between different mentors or different companies which offer mentoring services, you hold the power. You are able to pick a mentor who has the specific skills needed within your industry and has a personality you feel comfortable working with.  You’ll also have more say in what areas you receive help with, when and where you meet, as well as choosing the level of support and assistance you require.

Therefore choosing a mentor can be a bit like holding an interview. You want to do enough research before you approach them to ensure they will potentially meet your needs, as well as ask questions to them directly. Some of the key questions to ask a potential business mentor include:

  • What is something you wish you should have done differently? Why?
  • What used to be your biggest weakness?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • How do you stay connected within your industry?
  • What could you offer me and my business?
  • What type of communication would you prefer we used?
  • How would you move my business to the next level?
  • How do you rebound from failure?
  • What did you like best when you were just starting out in business?
  • Where do you find inspiration from?
  • How do you balance work and home life?
  • What key values do you hold close?

The answers to these questions will help you gauge more of an understanding of who they are and what they can offer. That way you can pick the mentor who is the best fit for you and your business.

Tips On Finding the Best Business Mentor for You & Your Business

A great business mentor will be around for a while, making spending time picking the right one well worth your time. To help you select the best possible mentor, here are some tips to help you:

  • Be sure you understand the role of a business mentor – know that they will be able to support and provide direction to you, but will not do the work for you.
  • Take time to find the right one – it is well worth spending time researching and then interviewing prospective mentors. Feeling comfortable with your decision is vital, as you will relying on their advice and skills. Make sure you feel you can trust them.
  • Choose a compatible person – this will be someone with similar values to you, who you are happy to work with, find their personality works well with yours and is totally committed to building a positive working relationship to help your business succeed.

Then let’s talk money. If you are paying for the services of a business mentor or advisor, understand what the costs will be. Are you charged per hour, meeting, month or each time you contact them? If you are signing a contract, be sure to check out the clauses regarding the cessation of services too.

Our team provides business development services to people like you all throughout New Zealand. Whether you want to visit our Taupo office, fill up our email inboxes or meet regularly online, we’ll work in whatever ways suit you best.  Get in touch with us now and together we’ll help you move your business to where you want it to be.

A business is only successful when it has the best people, processes and data. Without accurate, reliable data, a business has no solid base on which to make any informed decisions regarding sales, marketing or people. This is why making a decision to outsource your bookkeeping can be a beneficial and profitable thing to do.

Accurate Data Relies on Accurate Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is so much more than just running invoices and clicking ‘OK’ to reconcile transactions. Many business owners like to do their bookkeeping themselves, they often shouldn’t. Most business owners are no more expert at their bookkeeping than an accountant or bookkeeper is at building a house or fixing a car.

Bookkeeping feels easy. It feels like you’ve got your hands on your business finances. It feels like you’re saving money by doing it yourself.

In our experience, it’s best to outsource your bookkeeping to an expert.

Why You Need to Outsource Your Bookkeeping to an Expert

Better Data, Better Decisions

Bad bookkeeping leads to bad data. When you are looking to make informed decisions for your business, you need the best data possible. When you make decisions based bad data, you make bad decisions.

Outsourcing Your Bookkeeping is Cheaper than DIY

Yes, you have to pay for bookkeeping. However, a Certified Bookkeeper is quicker than you. This means far fewer hours spent by outsourcing your bookkeeping. You can then better invest your time in the activities that you love and that increase your turnover and profitability.

Expertly Implemented Automation can Streamline Your Business

When set up properly, there is a lot of great modern tech solutions that can help to automate your bookkeeping and streamline your business. An expert bookkeeper can help to highlight solutions that can best work for your business and implement them properly to automate parts of your business. Automation drives accuracy and helps to keep your data up to date.

Your Outsourcing Bookkeeping Questions Answered

Surely my software does my bookkeeping for me?

Software like Xero is an awesome tool for bookkeeping. But that is all it is, a tool. Bookkeeping (and accounting) is a lot easier with the use of tools like Xero. However, there is still a real need for quality control and insights from experts.

Software can be a dangerous and messy trap for DIY Bookkeepers. The ‘OK’ button in Xero, for example, can be addictive and misleadingly easy. Just because the ‘OK’ button has popped up doesn’t mean that the suggestions that the software is making are correct. Modern accounting software has good and improving AI ability to learn. However, it learns from its users so it and its suggestions are only ever as good as its users. If the users are making errors, the software will suggest that you continue making these same errors. This saves you time but compounds your errors and can create quite an expensive mess to clean up.

How can outsourcing my bookkeeping be cheaper than doing it myself?

It might seem impossible that paying someone else can actually be cheaper than doing your bookkeeping yourself. An expert, Certified Bookkeeper can often actually save you both time and money while boosting your bottom line.

Your time is one of the most important assets you have. Your time is best spent being invested on productive, value adding activities. Bookkeeping is not a good use of your time. A Certified Bookkeeper is going to be a lot quicker than you, meaning a fraction of the time it takes you to do the same tasks.

Let’s run some numbers. In 2019, the average salary in New Zealand was around $76,397.00. This translates to about $39.00 an hour. As a business owner you should be aiming to be above average to compensate you for the added risk of being self employed, but lets stick with the average. We find that a professional bookkeeper is capable of processing data two to three times faster than a DIY bookkeeper and with no errors. This highlights an average DIY time cost of $97.50 for each hour of professional bookkeeping time. The errors that DIY bookkeepers often make are generally fixed by accountants at end of year at accountants rates. If we assume three hours of accountant clean-up per year, this is likely to be around $345.00 at least.

Most small business owners can save at least 20 hours of admin time a month by outsourcing their bookkeeping. This equates to $808.75 a month in average DIY cost per month. If the work is then done on average 2.5x faster by a Certified Bookkeeper then the cost of outsourcing is likely to be roughly $520.00 a month, plus gst. This equates to savings of at least $288.75 per month, or $3,465.00 per year.

These savings can be even greater with MBP. Our bookkeeping service pricing decreases the longer the work takes us. Our entry-level plan to outsource your bookkeeping can help you to save an extra $80.00 a month plus gst.

The added value from having quality, reliable data to make informed decisions is priceless.

Why would a bookkeeper do themselves out of a job by automating my business admin?

Some don’t. You shouldn’t be working with these bookkeepers. It is important that you are working with a tech savvy bookkeeper who can advise and leverage technology to streamline your business.

It is also important that your bookkeeper is able to comprehend your overall business strategy. With this understanding, they will be able to best advise on the solutions to best automate your admin and free up your time to move towards your goals quicker.

What is automation?

Modern software like Hubdoc, Zapier, Receipt Stash, Fergus, and many others can make manual data entry a thing of the past. This saves you time, money and improves the accuracy and reliability of your data. These software solutions are like your silent assistants, working quietly for you 24/7. They help to keep your business books tidy and up to date and streamline the processes for your bookkeeper.

In order to benefit from automation, you need to select the right solutions and implement them properly. An expert MBP Business Support Advisor will be able to help you identify and implement the right solutions for you. No solution is set-and-forget.

Outsource Your Bookkeeping for Better Data and Reliable, Accurate Bookkeeping

To find out more about the benefits of outsourcing your bookkeeping to an expert, get in touch with the expert ICNZB Certified Bookkeepers at MBP. The great thing about working with MBP is that the longer it takes us, the less you pay. We therefore have a vested interest in working for you in the best, quickest way possible. Our fixed price bookkeeping packages start from just 45 an hour plus gst.

One of our Business Support Advisors will be in touch with you for a free consultation. They will review your business processes and identify activities you can outsource to boost your bottom line. They will also look for opportunities to automate processes using leading technology solutions. Click here to book in a chat with an advisor at a time that is convenient for you.

You’ve got a tight budget, so any free marketing ideas you can use are a huge bonus. Thankfully, you’ve got an awesome business and accounting team in MBP which love nothing more than helping you out…which is why we’ve put together this collection of 12 brilliant free marketing ideas for you!

12 Effective Free Marketing Ideas

Marketing is a great tool you can use to promote your business and attract new clientele. One big problem though: traditional marketing can be very expensive. If only there were some free marketing ideas you could try instead …

Well, there are, and we’ve made a list of 12 for you to try:

  1. Offer a free initial meeting – ideal if you offer a service, encourage new leads by giving them a short 20-minute consultation.
  2. Use social media often – it’s free as long as you don’t pay for advertising! Use the most suitable platforms for your audience and offer a 20/80 spilt of promotion and entertainment/useful help.
  3. Host a free online event or class – give your audience something of value by teaching them something online. You could even do this on social media, YouTube or use free webinar software.
  4. Send email newsletters – send regular newsletters out to those who have signed up for them. Growing your list can be hard, but things such as offering a discount or the chance to win a prize for an email address.
  5. Join a free B2B networking group – there are plenty of both online and face to face networking groups to which you can promote your business within.
  6. Volunteer – giver your time to a local charity, getting your business name out there and growing your brand awareness.
  7. Write guest articles – write articles for other websites in return for them telling their readers that you were the author and sharing a link to your business website.
  8. Enter business awards – look for the creditable and free business awards around NZ that you can enter. As well as helping you focus on your business and receive valuable feedback, you may also be promoted as an entrant or winner.
  9. Ask for testimonials from your clients or customers – use these to help promote your business to your followers. Social proof is a highly effective way of increasing sales.
  10. Create a lead magnet – a lead magnet is something that you give away in order to obtain an email address. It could be an eBook you have written or a checklist on how to do something.
  11. Create a QR code – make yourself a QR code and use it in your marketing efforts to encourage people to follow your brand. Adding it to posters, business cards and on social media works well.
  12. Cross-promote with other businesses – ask another business to shout out to their followers about you, and in return, you’ll do the same for them.

Build A Brand

Finally, spend time focusing on building your brand identity, the major factors which make your business stand out above your competitors. Take a read of our article How to Create a Stellar Brand Identity, and then get in touch to discover the many other ways our business services team can help you grow your business.

If financially things aren’t looking that great, you may be considering declaring bankruptcy. Making your debts go away may seem like the obvious solution, but there’s a lot to consider before you do. While bankruptcy can clear your debts from the time you lodge a debtor’s petition with the Official Assignee, it’s far from being the end of your problems.

We’re going to take a look at what declaring bankruptcy really means financially and personally, how bankruptcy works, alternatives to bankruptcy, applying for bankruptcy and what happens afterwards.

What Does Declaring Bankruptcy Mean?

When you declare bankruptcy, you are effectively saying that you are unable to repay any of your debts. This means that you are insolvent, and cannot pay any of your debts when they are due. If you have a debt of over $1000 or greater, you are eligible to apply to the Official Assignee for bankruptcy.

If you are declared as bankrupt, most of your assets can be confiscated and sold by the Official Assignee. The exceptions to this are personal belongings, tools for work, household furniture and appliances to a set value, a vehicle worth up to $6500 and cash up to $1300. The Official Assignee can shut down your business and sell its assets, sell your home, take any money you are given, cash out your term life insurance and any other savings.  If you have gifted money to others within the past five years, this can be taken back. The same goes if you transferred your assets to a family trust.

Alternatives to Declaring Bankruptcy

If your debt is smaller than $47,000, you could consider a No Asset Procedure or Debt Repayment Order instead. Both of these are formal alternatives to being bankrupt:

  • No Asset Procedure – best suited if you have no assets and owe between $1000-$50,000. You can only apply once, and it is a less formal situation with shorter consequences to bankruptcy. It is usually discharged after one year.
  • Debt Repayment Order – if you owe less than $50,000 in unsecured debt, a Debt Repayment Order can give you extra time to repay your debts. The Official Assignee and DRO Supervisor will work out a repayment scheme you must follow. Your assets remain in your control and your name is listed on the Official Assignees website. It is discharged once the terms of your order have been completed.

Other things you can try to do to help avoid a bankruptcy include:

  • Sell your assets – things such as clothing, jewellery, furniture
  • Cancel any subscriptions – things such as pay-TV, newspapers and magazines
  • Set a budget –identify ways you can cut costs and pay creditors
  • Restructure your debt – put into one low-interest loan
  • Offer creditors a final sum payment – sometimes creditors will accept a amount smaller than the total debt just to claim back something financially

The consequences of bankruptcy are quite severe, so if you can, seek other alternatives.

Consequences of Being Declared Bankrupt

Yes, once declared bankrupt, you will be released most types of debt that you listed in your application. However, there are other consequences including the seizing of all of your assets, except for the minimum as we mentioned above. Other consequences or implications include:

  • Negative credit rating – this can affect your ability to borrow money or obtain credit in the future. It can also make it harder to rent a property.
  • Banks may close your account or refuse you to open one.
  • All of your income and expenses must be declared to the Official Assignee.
  • Power, phone and insurance companies may refuse to provide services to you.
  • Your employee may not want to employ you anymore based on that your bankruptcy is a risk to their business.
  • Your details and related information can be seen online.
  • The Official Assignee may want to sell assets you own jointly with others.
  • You cannot travel overseas without the permission of the Official Assignee.
  • You cannot run a business or be employed by a relative.
  • You cannot take any legal action against anyone.
  • If applying for credit over $1000, you must declare you are an undischarged bankrupt.

Then there are the social implications, where people treat you differently and this can cause significant difficulties.

How to Apply for Bankruptcy

You can apply for bankruptcy by completing a debtor’s application to the Official Assignee. This can be done online. When filling out a statement of affairs form, you will need to list details about your assets, cash and debts. Once the Official Assignee has declared you as being bankrupt, most of your debts will cease and creditors will not be able to contact you for repayments.

Appointed to administer the Insolvency Act 2006, the New Zealand Insolvency and Trustee Service is responsible for controlling all No Asset Procedures, Debt Repayment Orders and bankruptcies. It is then the job of the Official Assignee to collect and sell your assets to repay your creditors.

Once your application has been made, the Official Assignee will be in contact within 10 working days and ask for any necessary information. If your application is successful, your details will be published on their website, newspapers or NZ Gazette, and your creditors will be sent a report about their next steps in getting their money.

What Happens After Bankruptcy?

Once declared an undischarged bankrupt, creditors can no longer contact you and ask for money. They instead need to work with the Official Assignee. You will though, need to cancel any current direct debits you have made and seek permission from the Official Assignee if you want to go overseas, be self-employed or employed by a relative.

You remain an undischarged bankrupt for three years, but your name remains on the Official Assignee’s website for seven years, or indefinitely if this is not your first bankruptcy. Its is obviously not ideal to be declaring bankruptcy multiple times. If you have paid your debt in full or have a significant change in income and can now pay your debts, you can apply for an annulment. You can also apply for early discharge to the High Court but seek legal advice first.

Once three years have passed and you are discharged from bankruptcy, the restrictions placed on you are no longer valid. You regain control of your finances, can become self-employed and travel overseas when you wish.

It is seriously recommended that you do not wait until things get so bad financially that you have no other option than to declare bankruptcy. We recommend coming and talking with us to discuss your options, which can include budgeting, working out debt repayments, identifying assets to sell or ways of generating additional income. It would also be beneficial to look at ways to improve your financial literacy and consider taking some financial awareness coaching if you are a business owner.

If you have found yourself in a challenging financial situation, please seek advice. We’re here to help.

If you sell or make products then you’ll likely have stock on hand or work-in-progress at year end. In order to get accurate figures for your tax and annual financial statements, you’ll need to know the value of this stock. This means you’ll need to do a stocktake.

The end of the financial year (EOFY) comes around like clockwork but for many business owners it can be a stressful time. It doesn’t have to be with the right planning. Planning your stocktake in advance  can save you time and stress and is the best way to ensure that your closing stock figure is accurate and that you aren’t under or over declaring your business performance and financial position.

An EOFY stocktake will show you how much of your capital is locked up in stock. This is a serious consideration for cashflow and will inform your budgets for stock ordering for the year ahead. When planning your stocktake, you should also plan to follow it up with your annual business plan and cashflow forecasting. This will help to inform your overall strategy and help you make sure you are carrying the right amount of stock.

The closing stock figure you get with your stocktake has a big impact on your taxable profit. This means it has tax implications as well as effecting your KPI‘s by making an adjustment to your Gross Profit Margin. This means it really important to get it right. If you need a hand, get in touch with our expert bookkeepers or tax advisors, they can give you some tips tailored to your specific requirements.

With the right plan, help and advice, your stocktake can be painless.

Plan For Stocktake Success

Successful, painless and accurate stocktakes don’t just happen, you need to plan.

The first thing to consider is timing. When you do your stocktake is important. For tax purposes, your end of year stocktake needs to be done reasonably close to your financial year balance date. This is so that you get an accurate and relevant figure for your financial statements. However, you need to select a time that has the least possible impact on your business. It may be that you need to close up early or open late and put in some extra work on stocktake day to make sure you get everything you need done while not impacting your customers too much (and missing sales!).

To keep track of stock throughout the year and make each stocktake easier and less of a ground-up exercise, we recommend planning mini-stocktakes throughout the year. Your end of year stocktake will then be based on more up-to-date figures and should be less of a chore. Software like Vend makes it easy to run partial stocktakes.

Get The Right Software

These days there is a niche piece of software to simplify every part of your business. Your stock is likely one of your biggest assets so deserves a dedicated, expert solution. Using inventory management software makes monitoring stock a breeze throughout the year. Solutions like Vend and Dear are worth the investment. They allow you to get accurate information in a timely manner and make informed decisions.

Get The Stocktake Team Together

If you have a lot of stock, getting some help will make things a lot easier. If you have staff then it makes sense to use them. They know your business and your products so they will be able to spot things that are out of the ordinary, damaged or obsolete. Using your own staff is likely more expensive than using students or other casuals but you’ll often get a better and more reliabel result, allowing you to make better informed business decisions.

Clear The SLOBs

March is often full of stocktake sales. There’s a simple reason for this, stores want to clear their SLOBs while optimising their tax and financial positions.

SLOBs are your SLow-moving and OBsolete stock. This is the stock you really don’t want to carry through to next year and is a much greater benefit to you converted to cash. Carrying too much stock isnt a good thing for many reasons. Holding stock that isnt selling takes up space in your warehousing and shop floor. This costs money in lease and other overheads for every day it sits there. There is also a daily risk that items get damaged and their realisable value decreases as a result. There’s also an added benefit, it’s also a lot easier to count less stock.

Sort Out The Stock Room

When you first set up your store you probably had a meticulous warehousing layout. However, as soon as the orders start flowing the order tends to go out the window. Its common for stock rooms to devolve into a bit of a mess with the same items stored in several different locations. This can be an expensive issue as its harder to fulfill customer orders on time, its harder to monitor stock levels and you’re more likely to order replacement stock that you don’t actually need.

To make your stocktake easier, quicker and more reliable, invest some time in making sure your stock room is well organised.

A well organised stock room not only speeds up stocktake but also speeds up order fulfillment and monitoring for the right time to order replacement stock.

Verify Your Purchase Data before Stocktake

Take some time to look through your inventory system and check that the cost prices you have recorded are accurate.

If you import stock, ensure you have accounted for the full imported cost, including customs charges, duty and currency fluctuations.

Store Sold Or Shipping Stock Separately

If you’ve sold something and the customer has paid for it, it shouldn’t be included in your stocktake. This is another reason why you need to sort out your stock room before stocktake.

Items that are sold should ideally be stored in a separate area of your stock room so that you can ignore them easily during stocktake.

Count Everything

Accuracy is essential. Your stocktake determines the value of your stock that is deducted from your direct costs. This increases your taxable profit. It is tempting to simply make a guess, especially if the total value of your stock is below $10,000 and you are allowed by the IRD to make an informed estimate rather than do a physical count.

Taking the time to do a physical count is a valuable exercise for your business. It informs you what is selling and what is just sitting on shelves, it lets you confirm that you do in fact have exactly the products that you think yo do but most importantly, it makes sure you pay the exact right amount of tax you need to.

Count every item. Open boxes to check the correct stock in in there (and isn’t damaged). Mark off the sections that are counted but leave a note pad there to record any movement of items out while the stocktake is underway.

Review Everything

Once in a blue moon, a physical stocktake matches perfectly to your industry software. In most cases, there are variances. If the variance is material (more than a certian percentage you deem to be significant) then recount the stock affected to double check.

Missing stock can be cause by any number of issues. These could be simple accounting errors, software coding errors or even theft. Regular partial stocktakes can be an early warning system for issues in your business, allowing you to make any required changes before they become serious issues in a years time. This could be implementing better warehousing, security or ordering process.

Start Planning For Next Years Stocktake

Every stocktake is a valuable learning experience. It can help to inform your stock purchasing for the year ahead but also the way that you store and move stock through your business. Use it as a time to optimise your stock room layout, establish efficient and simple systems for partial stocktakes throughout the year, and up-skill yourself and any staff on best practices with stock ordering, dispatch and warehousing.

If you would like to discuss your options for more efficient business systems, software or processes with your stocktake, get in touch with the team at MBP. Our Business Support Administrators, Business Advisors and Accountants can help your to plan for a painless stocktake. It might seem like a chore, but it can be a really valuable exercise when done properly and with the right support.