You’ve got a business, so you need to post on all of the social media platforms, right? Wrong. In New Zealand, the four main social media platforms used are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram (Social Media Stats).  This doesn’t necessarily mean they should be your default platforms though. Picking the right social media platforms involves first understanding who your target audience is and identifying the platforms they use.

How to Choose Social Media Platforms for Your Business

You’ve probably got a go-to social media account where you go to catch up on what your friends and family are doing. It would be normal to think that you should have a business account on there too. The issue is though, your audience may use a completely different one! Of course, the far simplest way would be to ask your audience what they use. The problem is though when you are in the early stages of setting up a business, real customers are short on the ground. You could ask those in your target demographic though.

Assess Your Demographics

To make an informed social media decision, you will need to look at your audience’s demographics, including:

  • Age
  • Male or female
  • Where they live
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Finances
  • Education and career
  • What content they like to see and share

Assess the Social Media Platforms Demographics

From here, you will need to choose platforms based upon your analysis of your target audience’s demographics and the types of user each platform tends to attract:

  • Facebook – over 60% of all men and ¾ of all women over the age of 18 use Facebook. This tends to be an informative platform, used a lot for visual and text-based information.
  • Instagram – most users are under 30 years old, and it’s reasonably evenly split between males and females. Instagram is a highly visual platform popular with artists and those selling products to consumers.
  • Pinterest – a highly female-dominated platform, with 44% female and 16% male. Around 37% of all adults under the age of 50 use Pinterest regularly.
  • LinkedIn – a business-orientated platform, users are evenly split between male and female. LinkedIn is mostly used for networking with other business owners and employees, making it great for B2B promotions.
  • Twitter – a very American based social media platform, but one which is growing in usage by NZers. Slightly more men than women use it, and it is predominately text-based.

Get Started With Your Chosen Social Media Platforms

Your next step is to get started using your chosen platforms, and for that, we’ve got just the article for you. Our Beginners Guide to Social Media for Your Business will walk you through the benefits of using social media, developing a plan to use it and how to create content for it. What are you waiting for: get started now!

If you’ve been waiting for a sign telling you it’s time to smarten up your financial literacy knowledge, this is it. Financial literacy, or the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions about money.

What is Financial Literacy?

  • Being able to set and keep to a budget
  • Understanding how different taxes work
  • Filing a tax return
  • Reading financial statements
  • Creating financial reports to make decisions from
  • Being able to pay all your bills when they are due
  • Protect your personal information from identity theft
  • Knowing how loans work and which types suit your needs best
  • Understanding how compound interest and interest rates work
  • Being able to work on reducing debt
  • Having a fully-funded emergency fund
  • How life and other insurance policy types work and benefit holders
  • Making regular contributions to a retirement fund
  • Paying cash rather than with credit
  • Identifying if something is a need or a want
  • Being able to comparison shop for a major purchase
  • Understanding the pros and cons of debit and credit cards

It would be fair to say that financial literacy means different things to different people. We can also say that a person can be financially literate in both their personal and business lives too. All too often though, neither occurs and what results is life harder than it needs to be.

Being accountants, bookkeepers, business advisors and most of all, real people with a genuine desire to help, we’ve put together some simple ways you can improve your personal and business financial literacy.

Easy Ways to Improve Your Personal & Business Financial Literacy

The truth is, matters and it affects every part of our daily lives. From where we live, what car we drive and how much we spend at the supermarket, we’re seemingly ruled by how much money we have and what we choose to do with it. By raising our level of financial literacy, we are better placed to make informed decisions which will benefit rather than hinder our lives.

How to Build Your Financial Literacy

  • Taking a workshop or course – both Westpac and ANZ offer free training, be it a webinar, a course or a one to one meeting.
  • Using free financial tools – ASB and Kiwibank both have free software available on their websites which will help you track your spending and help you understand what to do regarding budgeting, dealing with debt and saving.
  • Reading up – there are many great resources available online which contain information on all sorts of financial matters. For starters, the information available right here on our website is something you must check out. Sorted is also a good one which springs to mind, and they offer a large range of free tools and guides on everything from retirement planning to getting out of debt.
  • Ask for expert help – if there is a specific area you need help with or even a general introduction towards understanding finances in general, see us first. We look beyond the numbers to identify the gaps you need help with filling and create a plan to help you achieve your financial goals.
  • Get a handle on your budget – a budget lays out how much money you have coming in and what is going out. By writing down what money you have coming in, and allocating each dollar to a specific thing (food, petrol, housing, debt repayment, savings etc), you are taking control of your money and making it work for you.
  • Set SMART financial goals – a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-limited increases the likelihood that you will reach it.
  • Listen to financial podcasts – Dave Ramsey is an American guy who is 100% committed to teaching financial literacy, so is worth listening to. A quick search on iHeart or Spotify will bring up others too.

If you’re sitting on the fence as to whether it is worth the effort to grow your financial skills and knowledge, keep reading. We’re moving on to explaining the reasons why you should boost your financial literacy next.

Why Financial Literacy Is A Must Have Skill

The benefits of building up your financial skills and know-how include:

  • Being able to repay and avoid debt
  • Gaining control over your money
  • Being able to live the life you want to lead
  • Understanding the importance of saving as soon as possible
  • Setting and working towards achieving financial goals
  • Having no worries about where the money is coming from to pay bills
  • Being able to retire without relying upon the government for a pension
  • Knowing how to cope when life throws you expensive challenges
  • Ability to be able to save for major purchases without needing a loan
  • Knowledge to make investments which give you a good return

No matter what state your finances are in, it is never too late to start improving them. It is also a great time to start teaching your children about making smart money choices, helping them avoid costly mistakes and decisions in the future.

Specifically Looking at Financial Literacy Requirements for Business Owners

As a business owner, a different or wider set of skills and knowledge is required to be financially literate. A 2014 NZ study asked small business owners what financial literacy skills were necessary to run a business successfully. They said:

  • Understanding how to price products accurately – having a price which customers were happy with, plus which covered costs and provided a profit
  • Keeping accurate records of income – this could be from a cash register or internet banking or using software such as MYOB or Xero.
  • Managing debtors – knowing what to do to get paid by debtors or creditors.
  • Manage expenses and control outgoings – paying rent and taxes, machinery upgrades and power bills, having enough money to pay for expenses is essential.
  • Maintaining accurate accounting records – choosing to use the services of a professional bookkeeper or accountant made running a business far easier.
  • Understanding the requirements around having staff – sick and holiday pay, KiwiSaver and overtime.

The good thing about being a business owner is that you can always outsource the management of your accounts and paperwork. What you can’t outsource though, is the need to understand (at least in general terms) your business’ financial state. Rather than struggle alone trying to understand all the terms and numbers, come and have a chat with us at our Taupo office, via phone, email or web-based. We would love the opportunity to make managing your personal and business finances as pain free as possible.

Outsourcing. Does it sound such a scary word to you? For many new and small businesses, the answer is a resounding yes! Outsourcing involves paying someone to do something related to your business. If cashflow is short or you struggle with the thought of others doing something for your business, outsourcing be thought of as a big no-no.

We thought it was time to shed some light on this ‘bad word’ known as outsourcing, explaining the benefits of doing it and identifying exactly what tasks can be outsourced.

What is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing is the hiring of a freelancer or business to do a particular job for you. A good example is engaging the services of a bookkeeper to keep your accounts straight. You pay them to do things specific to this task. You remain in full control of what they are doing and your business.

By far the biggest hurdle for new businesses is getting over the mindset of having to pay someone else to do something they believe they could do. We completely get that. When you have a new business, it’s ‘your baby’ in a way and you want to do everything to help it grow. Becoming a jack of all trades and a master of none is very common. It’s the master of none that is the concerning aspect. By doing absolutely everything, you are not focusing specifically on your strengths; the things that are going to help grow your business. Instead, you spend more time than necessary having to get your head around figuring out (and possibly doing a poor job) how to do something. It’s this task you could have outsourced, and while it would have cost you money, it frees up your time to use your strengths and grow your business. A far better alternative, in our opinion.

Why is Outsourcing a Good Idea?

The best way to answer this is by listing the benefits that outsourcing can provide you with. They include:

  • Saving you time, which saves you money – forget spending 12 hours doing your accounts, when a bookkeeper could do the same amount in one hour!
  • Frees you up to do the things you enjoy doing – you don’t need to do everything, and that especially means the things you dislike doing. You also don’t need to work every hour of every day, which means you can still have a life outside of your business.
  • Cheaper and less hassle than having an employee – there is no overtime, holiday pay or KiwiSaver to worry about. You simply have a contract with the person or company you are outsourcing to, which states what you want them to do, when they’ll do it and how much you will need to pay.
  • Giving you access to new skill-sets – not everyone is good at writing, sewing or using social media. If you are not confident or have little knowledge about a task needing to be done for your business, outsource it to someone who does know what they are doing.
  • You choose how long you need their services for – whether it is for one day a week, the next two months or only at certain times of the year, you decide.

There are also three things to look out for which should be triggering you into thinking it is time to outsource:

  • There is a more cost-effective way to get tasks done
  • Some tasks take too long for you to complete
  • You are unable to do what really needs to be done to grow your business because you are stuck doing the mundane daily business tasks

Once you’ve decided to outsource, next comes deciding what that task will be, and who will do it for you.

Choosing What Business Tasks to Outsource

Start this process by firstly identifying the challenges you are facing in your business. These may include chasing unpaid invoices, posting on social media, not having any free time anymore or struggling to understand how to take your business to the next step. Note down the tasks you enjoy doing and where your strengths are, as well as the ones you hate doing and struggle with completing.

This list should have identified a number of business tasks. Group them into levels of importance and consider which ones you would be happy to give to someone else to do. You’ll also need to consider the cost of outsourcing each task and if outsourced, what return will it give you back in terms of you being able to do something else?

Common tasks new and small businesses outsource include:

There are some tasks though, that shouldn’t be outsourced. These are the absolutely critical things your business does that nobody outside of it would understand how to do. This can include things such as professional development, company culture, manufacture of a highly specific product, or particular service.

Once you have identified exactly what you want to outsource, it’s time to find the right person or company to do the work.

Choosing Who to Outsource to

While it’s not as time-consuming as hiring an employee, it does take time to find the right person to outsource your work to. If you haven’t already got someone in mind, a good place to start your search would be to ask for recommendations. Word of mouth is one of the easiest ways to find and learn about potentials. You can get honest feedback from others and no sense of pressure to hire them.

Otherwise to find freelancers or companies are to look for recommendations on websites, social media or networking groups. Visit their website and learn more about the services they offer and how they work. Many are happy to have a free chat with you to discuss your needs and explain how they could help meet them. If you are wanting to meet in person, then choosing someone local becomes important. But if you are happy to chat via Skype, phone or email, then their location shouldn’t be a factor in your decision.

It’s also important that you contact your shortlist of potentials to ‘interview’ them, in a way. Asking for references or clients to talk with helps you learn more about how they work. You’ll also see what their communication is like, be it by email or phone. It’s a good idea to use their services in a small scale first, before signing any long-term contracts. In regard to the contract itself, read the fine print regarding any cancellation or other penalties you may be up for.

At MBP Online, it’s true that you can outsource all of your accounting and bookkeeping tasks to us. But we can also help you with keeping on top of your taxes and making future plans to grow your business. Based in Taupo (where our espresso machine is always on for clients), we work with both local and NZ wide businesses. Get in touch and let’s have a chat about your needs and how we can help.

Is business insurance really necessary? If so, what types of insurance might I need? These are two questions business owners often ask, especially if they are just starting out. Business insurance can seem like an unnecessary expense, especially when things are financially tight and profits are small or non-existent. We think this issue is an important one to address though, and that’s what we’re focusing on today.

11 Reasons to Say Yes to Business Insurance

We’re not insurance advisers; we’re accountants, bookkeepers and business consultants. What we do know though, is that the benefits of having business insurance provides are well worth the expense. Here are 11 reasons why you should say yes to insurance for your business:

  1. Some contracts, such as entering into a contract for a lease on a business site or a loan with a bank or financial institution require business insurance.
  2. Most trade shows require exhibitors to be insured.
  3. Financial protection for natural disasters such as flooding or fire, as home policies most likely won’t cover any business-related property or tasks.
  4. To protect against harm to property or person.
  5. Keeps your business going financially if something unforeseen is to occur.
  6. Assist with costs needed to correct any cyber crime harm.
  7. Cover from employee theft and damage.
  8. Stock protection and replacement.
  9. Protect your business from high litigation costs should you get sued.
  10. Business insurance is a tax deductible expense.
  11. Gives peace of mind that if something happens, you will not suffer financially.

Next, we’ll discuss the many types of business insurance, helping you decide which ones your business needs.

8 Types of Business Insurance to Consider

There are eight types of insurance you should consider for your business. They are:

  • Business asset insurance, which covers property, buildings, machinery, office equipment
  • Business interruption insurance to cover for acts such as flood, theft to cover loss of income and employees’ wages
  • Key person insurance, especially in a small business this can be very important as it may rely on one or few staff to run it
  • Vehicle cover for company cars
  • Professional indemnity insurance, especially when you are offering a service like professional advice or consultancy.
  • Public indemnity insurance protects against damage to public property by you or your employees
  • Statutory liability insurance for protection against unintentional breaches of NZ law
  • Cyber insurance, for loss or damage to data

Business insurance is a small expense which brings great peace of mind to business owners. While it is something we strongly recommend, we suggest chatting with a business insurance advisor for personalised advice to meet your own requirements before making any decisions. Not really sure where to start or who to talk to? Get in touch with the team at MBP and we ca help point you in the right direction.

Thinking about hiring your first employee? Reaching a point in your business where you need an extra pair of hands is a milestone to celebrate. It is also a time when you recognise that in order to grow your business, adding new team members follows along naturally.

Before you start asking for resumes, there are some steps to follow first:

  • Assessing if you are truly ready to hire your first employee
  • Identifying the role, they will play by creating a job description
  • Calculating how much it will cost you to hire an employee
  • Deciding how you will manage the hiring process
  • Learning about your employee’s legal rights and entitlements
  • Choosing a payroll system
  • Onboarding your new employee

We’ll cover each of those here today.

Are Your Ready to Hire Your First Employee?

How can you tell when the time is right to hire your very first employee? Here are some signs to look out for:

  • You are so busy that you can’t do all of the work yourself
  • Your business is growing and your cashflow is above what you planned for
  • You are ready to grow your business but can’t do it by yourself
  • Your customer service levels are dropping as you can’t provide excellent service by yourself anymore
  • You need new skills to work alongside yours to grow your business
  • There are new services or products you want to offer, but you don’t have the skills to do them yet
  • Your free time has completely disappeared, and you’d like some of it back

It’s going to be a combination of these signs that demonstrates to you the need to considering hiring your first employee. Talk things over first with a trusted advisor if you are unsure if it’s the right step for you and your business.

Writing a Job Description for Your First Employee

When taking on a new employee, you need to have a very clear understanding of what you want them to be doing. This means nailing down the specific roles they will be performing for your business. Creating a job description will help you identify their day to day responsibilities and tasks, the skills, experience and qualifications they will need to perform the role, the hours they will work and what their salary will be. You will also need to be clear on:

  • The type of employee they will be – casual, contractor, permanent, part-time, full time
  • The amount of responsibility you are happy to delegate to them
  • What resources you will need to have before they start, such as equipment, insurance, and wages
  • The specific skills they need to be able to demonstrate they have
  • What training you are prepared to offer, or if they need to be fully trained already
  • The number of hours it would take to do specific tasks each week

All of this information can be put together into a comprehensive job description which can be given to prospective employees and help you create the advertisements for hire too.

How Much Will It Cost You to Hire Your First Employee?

Here we’re not only talking their wage or salary, but also holiday pay, KiwiSaver contributions, business insurance, training, new equipment, uniforms and recruitment costs. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website has a handy Employee Cost Calculator which is free to use and can help you identify how much it will cost.

How Will You Go About Hiring Your First Employee?

You’ll need to decide if you will manage the entire recruitment process yourself, or if you will hire a professional to help you do this. Besides your budget, there are a few things to consider if you should use a recruiter to help you or not, depending on how confident you are with:

  • Writing job advertisements
  • Analysing CVs
  • Performing interviews
  • Making an offer to an applicant
  • Creating employment contracts
  • Checking references

There are pros and cons for both, but for your first employee, we’d recommend getting some support when you do it.

Understanding an Employee’s Rights & Responsibilities

Employment legislation is present for a purpose: to avoid employees being used and ripped off. Neither of you can opt-out of these entitlements, and they are valid regardless of any signed contract. To understand fully the minimum rights of employees, we recommend taking a read of the Employment New Zealand website’s employment rights guide. Generally speaking, an employee’s rights include:

  • Pay at or above the minimum wage
  • Paid time off and public holiday entitlements
  • Sick and bereavement leave
  • Maternity leave
  • Overtime pay
  • Leave for jury service
  • A safe working environment free from discrimination

Once again, a recruitment or human resource professional will be able to assist you further with these, helping identify specific ones in your unique situation too.

Choosing a Business Payroll System

It may not be too much of a biggie with just one employee, but what if your business continues to grow to five or twenty employees? A payroll is a list of your employees and contains information about the money you pay them, including tax deductions. You can run your payroll by:

  • Good old traditional pen and paper spreadsheets
  • Outsource to a payroll professional such as ourselves
  • Use a DIY software which can work out things for you, but you need to make payments
  • Full-service software which does everything including making payments on your behalf

Doing the payroll means you’ll have to do things such as calculate gross pay, pre-tax deductions including KiwiSaver, PAYE, taxes on benefits, student loan repayments, pay the wages, file and pay taxes and deductions, plus keep all of these things on record for at least seven years!
One of the things we’re here to do is to help you decide which payroll system suits you best, and even assist you with the running of it if required too.

Onboarding Your New Employee

The contract is signed, sealed and delivered. It’s time for your new employee to start work. This means you’ve already organised the equipment they will be needing to use, gotten all of the digital systems ready such as IT logins and let your insurer know they need to adapt your coverage. You’ll also have to start an employee file, where you keep information about them and their role, plus all of the specific onboarding requirements:

  • Health and safety policies
  • Dress codes
  • Hours of work
  • Detailed training required
  • Access to the workplace and other tools
  • Organise holidays and leave
  • Introducing to customers
  • How reviews will be done

Many businesses spend time creating a written onboarding process to make things easier for the first and subsequent employees.

Here at MBP, we like to think of ourselves as our client’s right-hand helper (not man, cause we’re all equals here). From accounting to bookkeeping services, business development and planning, we do it all. Get in touch with us today or check out our business packages to learn more about how we can help you grow your business.