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Have you given any thought to which business structure is right for your business? We’ll be honest and admits it’s not usually the first thing that comes to people’s minds when starting or buying a business. However, the way that you structure your business plays a significant role in how it functions down the track.

In NZ, there are three common business structures, along with some which are not so common. We’re sticking with the most common of these structures today, though if you think another type would be better for your business, get in touch and we’ll help you sort it out.

The three most common NZ business structures are:

  • Sole trader
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability company

To help you decide which one you should choose, we’ll work through them individually.

Understanding the Sole Trader Business Structure

A sole trader structure involves only one person: you. It is the simplest structure in which you are the only individual who is liable for every part of your business. This doesn’t mean that you have to do it all alone as you can hire employees to help you run it. You’ll just need to register yourself as an employer with the IRD and meet the required obligations.

As a sole trader, you use your IRD number for tax purposes, filling in a personal tax return. You can claim expenses to lower the amount of tax you pay and generally, any business losses can be offset against any other personal income. Trading under your own name is fine, as the operational life of this business structure simply depends on you.

The advantages of choosing to become a sole trader include:

  • it is quick to set up with no red tape
  • there are no legal fees to pay during the establishment phase
  • you receive all the profits
  • you’ll have total control of the entire business
  • no business name registration is required
  • you can change your business structure easily in the future

Downsides to being a sole trader are:

  • you are completely responsible for all debts and claims
  • your assets can be at put at risk
  • harder to get finance should you need it
  • more difficult to sell as a working business
  • can be harder to grow a business using this structure
  • there are no shares to sell to raise capital
  • you are responsible for your KiwiSaver contributions

For further advice and information about this business type, get in touch.

Understanding the Partnership Business Structure

The partnership structure is often used by two or more professional individuals who already have experience in running a business. There are no rules regarding how much each partner can own, meaning an uneven split of 95% to 5% is acceptable. What does happen though, is the profits you receive and amount of work you are required to do often depends on the ownership percentage.

Instead of the partnership paying tax, each of the partners themselves is responsible for paying tax based upon the profit share they receive. To avoid problems, it is seriously recommended that there is a legally drawn partnership agreement which sets out all the details on how the partnership will be run.

The pros of choosing a partnership business structure include:

  • everyone shares costs and responsibility
  • relatively simple and low cost to run
  • each partner can focus on their specialities
  • you can offset losses against your other income
  • partners can bring in capital investment to the business
  • the running tasks of operating a business are shared

The cons of choosing a partnership can include:

  • each partner has an equal share in the business’ liabilities and debts
  • you need to make decisions with your partners
  • disagreements amongst partners are common
  • you can’t sell shares
  • you are responsible for your KiwiSaver contributions

To discuss if this structure is right for your business, get in touch with us.

Understanding the Limited Liability Company Structure

Commonly referred to as a company, a business with this structure is separate from the business owners. In other words, a company is a separate legal entity.  Any money earned will belong to the company and will pay its tax at the corporate tax rate. The shareholders then receive the profit from the company, who then individually pay income tax on this.

The shareholders, AKA the business owners, have less exposure to any financial or legal issues relating to the business.  So, while the company has full responsibility for all its own financial and legal obligations, the liability of the shareholders is less. This means a shareholder is only responsible for any personal guarantees they have given and losses to the dollar amount of their shares.

The advantages of choosing a company business structure include:

  • less personal responsibility for business debts and liabilities
  • easy to sell or pass on ownership
  • shareholder profit distributes are flexible
  • lower tax rate than top personal rats
  • easier to get funding approved
  • seen as a highly credible business structure by the market
  • easy to keep growing

The downsides include:

  • more red tape and paperwork to do
  • need to register business through the Companies Office
  • more time consuming to get up and running
  • higher establishment and compliance costs
  • often require more investment to grow
  • you are responsible for your KiwiSaver contributions

It is important to note, that the limited liability company is only one of three company structures. It is the most common one though. Others include co-operative companies and unlimited companies. To discuss which company structure is best for you, get in touch with us today.

Where to Next When Choosing a Business Structure?

While there is a simple tool available on the MBIE website to help select a business structure, there is no substitute for personal advice. As accountants and business advisors, we deal with these structures daily, putting us in the best position to help you make an informed decision. To make a time to discuss your business with one of our business advisors, book your free 30 minutes chat with us via our website now.

We’ve heard this before: the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global health and financial crisis that has caught many off guard. While the threats to human life are very real, the damage to the health of businesses is really just starting to show. In the coming weeks and months, many businesses will be in a fight for financial survival.

The seriousness of the disease and the lack of a vaccine (at the time of writing this) have prompted governments around the world to impose strict measures to contain the virus. These restrictions in people’s movements and the temporary lockdown of non-essential services have definitely taken a toll on businesses and families across the country.

While there has been a lot of talk on how to avoid contracting the virus and how businesses can operate safely to adapt to the current conditions, this article will focus on helping you manage the financial survival aspects of your business during COVID-19. Read on for our tips on cushioning the impact on your business.

Update Your Financial Records.

The first step in planning your financial survival in such a difficult environment is getting a crystal clear and up to date understanding of the financial position of your business. This means updating your financial records and keeping them in order as frequently as possible. Knowing things such as your cash position and assets that can be sold quickly will go a long way in helping you make informed business decisions. Good records build a solid foundation for a successful business. They’re also really important when applying for loans or government grants, subsidies and assistance.

Examine the Financial Health of Your Business.

Following on from the first item, it is important to get a good grasp of your business’ current financial health through a careful analysis of your books and statements. By looking at key financial figures, you will get an idea of how your business is doing. You can see fundamental factors such as the liquidity and solvency of your business which will help you decide on the best steps forward as you deal with the crisis and the aftermath. Chat to us for help with these financial pieces.

Improve your Cashflow.

A lot of businesses across the country are facing cash flow problems at the moment. If you are one of them, you’re certainly not alone. However, the key here is not letting the problem worsen or become unmanageable.

Preparing a cashflow forecast should give you some forewarning before issues even arise and will allow you to address them early on. By quantifying your forward bookings, forward orders, and work in progress, you will get to identify future cash flow and plan accordingly.

You can also take the following measures to boost your cash flow:

  • Identifying the demand for your products or services, so you’ll know where to focus on and where you can reduce stock orders
  • Cutting back on unnecessary expenses
  • Urging your debtors to pay you, negotiating on a payment scheme that will work for both of you
  • Seeking payment extensions or debt re-structuring
  • Invoicing as soon as you deliver the product or service
  • Seeking external investors or lenders
  • Taking advantage of financial support from your government

Increase Online Sales Where Possible.

With the government implementing stricter restrictions to prevent the further spread of the virus, you should find ways to move your products and services online – if you can – and continue to serve existing and new clients. The situation that we are in is forcing business owners to re-imagine their business and re-evaluate their business models. You’ve got to adapt and be resilient. It’s those businesses that will survive.

Survive 2020 by Managing Your Financials

It’s safe to say not many of us factored a global pandemic into our 2020 business plans. Although there is no foolproof strategy to get through what’s proving to be a turbulent 2020, the tips for financial survival shared here should be able to give you some guidance on minimising the risks to your small business.

Want some more help? Our team of advisors love to help businesses. We’ll help you develop a plan to weather the headwinds of the coming months, while saving you time and money along the way. Contact us today and we’ll work through it together.

Having a desk job suits many of us down to a tee, but can come at the expense of our health and well-being. A sedentary desk job and lifestyle can lead to increases in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and a decline in mental well-being.

Before you pull out the old ‘but people have had desk jobs for hundreds of years’ excuse, remember that our lives have changed greatly since then. We are on the whole less active at home, drive almost everywhere and eat a lot of high calorie and processed foods. These things are only making it more important for those of us with a desk job to keep active during the working day. At MBP, we’re all about looking after the financial health and well-being of our clients, but also their physical too. So, here are a few suggestions on how you can increase your activity levels in the office like we do.

5 Ideas for Keeping Active at Your Desk Job

It’s time to stand up and get active while in the office. Five activities you could choose to try and implement into your daily desk job routine include:

  1. Using a standing desk or desk raiser – alternate between sitting and standing at your desk throughout the day. If you don’t have a standing desk available, add a desk raiser for your laptop to sit upon, or make one using materials you have around the office or home.
  2. Sit on an exercise ball – a chair may be super comfy, but it lets your body relax into a position without effort. When you sit on an exercise ball, your core muscles are forced to work. You sit up straighter with improved posture, and you can also move your backside around too.
  3. Walk around the office – instead of sending emails to others in the office, get up and walk to them if you can instead. Walk the long way to the coffee machine and even take your coffee outside to stretch your legs.
  4. Stretch breaks – set your time to stand up and do some stretches every hour. Arm swinging, leg lunges, squats, walking on the spot and shoulder shrugs are great active activities.
  5. Take the stairs – where you can, skip the elevator and take the stairs instead. You could even get off the bus a stop earlier or park the car further away and walk to the office.

If you have any additional staying active at work ideas, drop your suggestions in the comments below. As always, the team here at MBP are here to help, so if you have any questions about the running of your business (not your running program), please get in touch as we’re happy to help.

Originally Published 7th May 2020
Last Updated 30th August 2020

The government has announced what COVID-19 Alert Level 2 will look like for New Zealand.  The decision to shift to Level 2 is yet to be made.  Cabinet meets on Monday to decide if, and when, the shift to Level 2 will occur.  However, all indications are that Level 2 will begin from next Wednesday, but the Prime Minister has signaled that Level 2 may be phased in over a period of time to reduce the associated risks.

The framework for Level 2 significantly removes many of the strictest restrictions of COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 & 4 which will be a much-welcomed relief for our collective sanity and a major boost for the economy.  The changes resemble a first step towards something like a return to ‘normal’. However, it isunlikely we will return to a true ‘normal’ until COVID-19 is a distant memory and a vaccine is available. The road ahead is long and we are truly only just starting the journey.

Like the shift to level 3, it is fair to expect an initial rush of people wanting to get out and spend. Be prepared to manage an influx of orders or customers, you don;t want your restaurant, cafe or store to be the reason we get kicked back into Level 3 or be shamed in the national media for any failings.

Basic Principles for Alert Level 2

Level 2 was described by the Prime Minister as a safe reopening of the economy.  The fundamental principles include:

  • People should stay at home if they are sick (as you always should!); and
  • Anyone with any cold or flu symptoms should be tested; and
  • Enhanced hygiene measures need to be in place (regular cleaning of high touch surfaces, etc); and
  • Contacts need to be traceable (i.e. a guest register will be required for somewhere that strangers can be in contact with each other); and
  • Social distancing (2m) remains for contact with strangers, but can be somewhat relaxed for non-stranger interactions; and
  • Bubbles will be a thing of the past; and
  • No gatherings of more than 100 people (inside and outside); and
  • Contactless payment will no longer be required; and
  • Borders remain closed, but domestic travel can resume.

The Government is working on a nationwide contact tracing technology that will be based on QR codes, but it does not sound like that will be ready in time for the shift to Level 2. As with most things, you’re better to have a plan for your own business rather than waiting on the government.

Update: The NZ COVID Tracer App is now live. Displaying the app’s QR codes to enable people to sign-in is also now mandatory for all businesses. To create your unique QR code, Click Here.

Alert Level 2.5 – Adjustments Following Auckland Cluster

The government has mandated the use of protective masks on all public transport from Monday the 31st of August.

Gatherings in Auckland will be limited to 10. However, there are no travel restrictions so people from Auckland can travel freely nationwide. It is important to maintain social distancing and the other basic principles of Alert Level 2.

It is advisable to wear a face covering or mask whenever you leave your private home. Masks will be a part of our daily life until Alert Level 1. Read more on how to wear a face covering safely and make it part of your routine.

What Alert Level 2 Means for Businesses

If businesses can safely trade within the Level 2 framework, they will be able to do so.   The shift to Level 2 will provide the first opportunity to trade for about 7 weeks for many businesses, including some of the hardest hit industries.

Like the shift to level 3, it is fair to expect that there will be an initial rush of people wanting to get out and spend.  Consumer confidence is extremely low, so consumer spending will almost certainly fall to far lower than normal levels at some point after this initial rush.  Therefore, businesses will want to make sure they are prepared and can reopen safely in those first few days.

The Prime Minister today described how certain industries will be able to operate.  Here is a brief summary:

Retail – can trade with enhanced hygiene measures, especially for high touch surfaces.  Numbers of customers in the store may need to be managed for larger retailers to ensure social distancing.

Hospitality – Unsurprisingly hospitality has the toughest requirements.  A hospitality venue will be subject to the “3 S’s”:

  • Seated – patrons must be seated.
  • Separated – there must be physical distancing between the tables.
  • Single server – each table must be served at the table by a single server.

These requirements may mean that it is impractical or uneconomical for certain hospitality venues to reopen at Level 2. This specifically applies to some bars and nightclubs. However, some restaurants will also not be able to seat a viable number of patrons or will simply not have the required number of staff to enable single server service per table.

Hairdressers and beauty salons – can resume seeing customers but will need to wear personal protection equipment due to the prolonged close proximity to customers. Masks or facial shields are the key items to be worn. Regular hand washing with soap and water is more practical and effective than gloves in many instances.

Sport and recreation – Gyms, pools, parks and museums, etc. can all reopen, subject to necessary precautions.

Sports can resume on a case by case basis.  A domestic rugby and netball competition will start as soon as possible.

Education – Can resume subject to necessary precautions.  Schools will resume the first Monday after the announcement.

Take a Precautionary Approach to Health and Safety in Your Workplace

While COVID-19 is in or community, caution is the best cause of action. You don’t want your business to be ground zero of the next cluster.

Cleaning is key for all businesses. We recommend bathrooms and high touch surfaces are cleaned as frequently as possible. Tills/EFTPOS machines should be sanitised after contact payments, hands should be washed at least every 15 minutes and bathrooms should be cleaned as often as practicable given their levels of use.

If your team can work from home, encourage it. The non-taxable $20/week allowance to help cover costs of staff working from home has been extended by the IRD until March 2021. They have also extended the time frame for making non-taxable payments of $400 to staff to reimburse them for the costs of setting up a home office. You can make these payments with no reimbursement evidence (receipts, etc.) and with no payroll or FBT implications.

Encourage the wearing of masks in your business when social distancing is not possible. This is not a requirement but is a cautionary approach that should see the risk of COVID and flu spreading in your workplace drastically reduced.

With everything we have learned over the past few months, take the time this week to review your internal Infection Control and Prevention Policy. Make the required updates and discuss these with your team.

Book in a Free Chat with one of our Experts

Need to discuss your plans for moving forward? Click HERE to book a free 30 minute chat with an MBP Business Partner. We can advise on everything from tax to payroll, human resources, cashflow and more.

New Zealand will move down to Alert Level 3 from start of business on Tuesday 28th April 2020. The change in the alert level will mark a shift from ‘essential’ business operations to ‘safe’ business operations, with many strict restrictions still in place. For the construction industry, this means a return to work, provided specific heightened health and safety standards can be strictly adhered to.

We have had a number of discussions with our building and construction sector clients in recent days and know this will be very welcome news. To ensure that the last month (soon to be five weeks) of lock-down have not been a very expensive waste, it is essential to follow the new industry guidelines.

Health & Safety Guidelines for Construction at Level 3

Last week, Construction Health and Safety NZ (CHASNZ) in conjunction with the joint government/industry Construction Sector Accord developed and released detailed construction health and safety standards and protocols for the residential, civil and vertical construction sectors.

Each construction site operating at Alert Level 3 (or level 2 when we get there) needs to have a Covid-19 Control Plan in place. The plan will guide how the principal or main contractor and contractors will manage work on site and the controls they will use to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Responsibility for Administering COVID-19 Control Plans

The Covid-19 controls are over and above the existing health and safety plan requirements for residential construction sites. It is the responsibility of the site owner (the party responsible for overall site coordination) to ensure this plan is in place.

The site owner may be a client (e.g. in the case of a self-managed renovation); a group home builder; a project manager; or a small builder / contractor. There must always be a nominated person on site when work is occurring who is responsible for administering the Covid-19 management plan. This can be shared among multiple people from different contractors for an individual site if required.

Read the CHASNZ Protocols

The Covid-19 Health and Safety Protocols for Residential Construction Sites outlines the minimum standards to be implemented at residential construction sites. These protocols apply at Alert Level 3 and 2 and supplement the Covid-19 Standard for Operating New Zealand Construction Sites developed by CHASNZ.

Download and read the residential requirements for construction in Alert Level 3 here, and find out more about the requirements for other types of construction here.

Need some help getting your head around the new protocols? Book in a chat here.