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Its a struggle for many business owners to find the time to work on their businesses rather than in it. If you’ve got limited time and want to get maximum impact, follow our top three weekend business planning tips below. Ideally, the process should take no more than an hour and should give you a solid base to set some goals and make some quick decisions about actions you can take in the next 30 days.

Tip 1: Look Back for Trends

Look at your previous financial information. Go back through your previous annual financial statements and your year to date data. Look at key items like revenue, gross profit and expenses.

The more data the better. Two to three years data will give you a simple trend, five years will give you much greater insight. If you’ve only been in business for a year, use last years budget versus actual.

Plot the year to year changes in percentage terms. If you use Xero, you can add in a formula to your Profit & Loss report to automatically calculate these key figures for you.

How have things changed over time? This is your trend. Use the formula above to make sure gross profit percentage is either holding steady or is increasing.

Is any change in revenue matched with changes in direct costs or overheads? Variable costs like purchases of stock should fluctuate as sales do.

Ideally, small percentage growth in gross profit should translate to larger gains in net profit (your bottom line). This is because your overhead expenses should be pretty static while your direct costs vary with sales levels. If this isn’t the case, look for outliers.

Is there an expense that’s throwing things out of whack? If one item seems to be a little out of control, it needs to be looked into as soon as possible.

Tip 2: Look Forward for Targets

Once you’ve established trends, use them to set targets.

There is nothing wrong with using a quick and dirty uplift to carry forward financial targets for the next month or so. This works well for the short term but for long term success, you really need to set aside the time to invest in your business with some well considered goals and targets.

Take your average annual growth that you’ve highlighted above when assessing percentage gains and trends. Carry this forward from the most recent period to the next for your revenue, direct costs and any other variable expenses. Keep your standard fixed overheads static or adjust by a small percentage to allow for inflation in phone, power and rent charges.

Break this uplifted budget down into monthly chunks. This will give you a month to month target for your financial performance. This then allows you to analyse how many products or services you need to sell to achieve those targets.

Tip 3: Set Actions for Quick Wins in 30 Days or Less

Once you know your trends over time and have used them to set targets, make a list of the things you need to do in the next month to make it happen.

Follow-through is where most business owners fall short. The effort put into your planning is wasted if you don’t set actions to take to work towards your goals and deadlines for executing those actions.

To avoid failing your plan, set some actions to take right now that will be easy to execute and have a big impact. These are the things you can do right now and will have an effect in 30 days or less. Its important to knock out these quick wins now so that you can focus on long term projects the next time you do a business planning session. Quick wins will also help to stop you from feeling like things are happening too slowly. Growth and development is

Some Simple Places to Look for Easy Actions and Quick Wins

Where can you streamline expenses and overheads to avoid eroding your profit gains while maintaining quality of product or service? Look for ways to save on phone, power and other overheads.Is there anything that looks out of control or not in keeping with the trends you assessed earlier? These expenses need to be managed quickly.

Can you get a discount by paying annually rather than monthly? Most subscription based things are a lot cheaper if you avoid financing them over the year and pay annually instead. This can have an impact on cashflow so you don’t need to do it all at once. Look for when things come up for renewal and start saving excess cash to pay them annually at the next renewal. This can have massive savings for things like software subscriptions, ACC and insurance premiums.

What marketing, events or networking opportunities are coming up that you could use to drive engagement and sales? Book yourself into some of these some of these.

Whatever actions you take, make sure they are in support of your short and long term business and lifestyle goals. Most importantly though, make sure you actually follow-through.

Invest in Some Professional Help

Outside support and guidance can be invaluable.

At MBP, our Business Advisors advocate our ‘three F’s’: Forethought, Forecast, Follow-through.  We run business planning workshops to help with your forethought. Our MBP Business Advisors also run cashflow forecasting and management sessions to help with forecasts. They also offer monthly or quarterly coaching sessions to help keep you on track and follow-through with your plan throughout the year.

If you need more active and regular one-on-one support, an accountability coach might be exactly what you need. We strongly recommend AJ Pipe as an independent accountability coach. AJ will “lovingly kick you up the bum” and offer you invaluable support to put your plans into action and will hold you accountable for those actions throughout the year.

If you’d like to discuss your options for planning, coaching and support, get in touch with the team at MBP today. We’d be happy to run through the results of you following our weekend business planning tips in a free Proactive Accounting Meeting.

The New Year is a time for setting goals and targets for the months head. Its also the best time to make sure you have the best people on your team to help you achieve those goals and targets. That makes it a great time to look for a new accountant.

Your accountant is one of the most important people on your team. They might not be the first person you’d consider. However, a having an approachable, proactive accountant can be the difference between success and failure.

When is it Time to Consider a New Accountant?

Any time is a good time to look at your options. Whether you want better results, better service or better value for money, its always a good time to look for your best fit.

If you aren’t happy with the services provided, don’t feel your treated properly or are not getting value for money, its definitely time to switch. No matter what time of year it is.

Take the Time to Find the Right New Accountant

Regardless of how long you’ve been with your current accountant, a new accountant could be the perfect match for you. Not all accountants are created equal and every single business is different. To get the best value from the relationship between you and your accountant, you have to be a good match.

For example, at MBP, we have a set of unwritten ‘clubhouse rules’. These aren’t anything hard and fast but are a way for us to get to quickly understand how a new business will partner with us. We use the term partner instead of client because its far more appropriate. We consider all of our clients to be our MBP Business Partners. As such, they get the best partner level service, direct access to the team and generous discounts on business products and services. If we don’t think a business will fit in comfortably or won’t be a good fit, we’ll refer them to another firm in our network who we think will be a better match.

Should You Look for a New Accountant with Fixed Fees?

Fixed fee accounting is a great way to ensure that you get everything you need at a price you’re willing to pay. Its also really easy on cash flow as you don’t get stung with any huge bills. The smaller monthly payments make cash flow management a breeze.

Fixed fees, no surprises.

At MBP, we have a range of fixed price packages built for every business. From sole traders to rental property investments, end of year essentials to monthly management reports, we have every solution you need at a fixed fee.

A Proactive New Accountant Will Highlight Potential Issues

Time seems to pass faster than ever in the modern world and in business it seems to fly even faster. Gone are the days when you can afford to only see your accountant once a year to discuss things that happened months ago. To not only stay ahead of the competition but to maintain your financial position in the face of increase competition, you need a proactive accountant.

A proactive accountant doesn’t just sit back and wait. They get stuck into your books throughout the year. At least bi-monthly they will review how things are tracking, and if anything jumps out to them as an issue. This gives you an invaluable opportunity to benefit from outside eyes looking in, holding you accountable and giving you any necessary nudges..

Often, business owners get stuck in the day to day. With a proactive new accountant, that isn’t an issue. You can get stuck into doing what you love while they focus on making sure the big picture is still working.

Is it Difficult To Shift to a New Accountant?

Moving to a new accountant is as easy as having a cup of coffee. In fact, you can sit there and have a cup of coffee while we get it all sorted. The team at MBP do all the heavy lifting, including handling the divorce with your old accountant.

You won’t notice any interruptions and before you know it, you’ll be all moved in with your new accountant and their team.

Make The Move To Modern Accounting With MBP

The team at MBP aren’t your old accountants. We don’t just meet with you once a year, we’re there by you all year long, through it all. With fixed price packages and unlimited communication, you never have to be afraid of getting a bill for a simple phone call or a quick query over email. Our team are here to support you and your business on your path to success.

We leverage the power of the best accounting software and tools available to streamline our services. This means we invest more time in dealing with our clients direct. Unlike old firms, we’re able to give you timely monthly reports, KPI tracking and business coaching in real time.

If its time for a new accountant, get in touch with the team at MBP. We’ll schedule a proactive accounting meeting to see exactly what your needs are and how we can tailor our services to give you everything you need and nothing you don’t.

It’s the word small we’re talking about today when discussing small business marketing ideas. Small in cost, small in time spent, and small in quantity. You could be forgiven for thinking we’re only going to help out small businesses by sharing these fab marketing ideas – and you’d be right!

There’s a big difference in not only the quantity, but also the type of marketing a small business needs to do. Sure, the big guys do it well (think McDonald’s and The Warehouse), but if smaller businesses copied them, things could go poorly rather quickly.

So, being the helpful bunch of accountants and business advisors we are, we’ve put together a great list of twelve marketing ideas specifically for small businesses, like yours!

12 Exceptional Small Business Marketing Ideas

You won’t have to blow your budget or head out of your comfort zone to try these top 12 marketing ideas:

  1. Create great content for your website – you could pay for advertising to send traffic to your site, or you could write such awesome content search engines ranked highly and people shared with their friends. Ads will only send you website traffic when they are turned on; turn them off and the traffic stops too. Great website content is there 24/7, even years later.
  2. Hunt out the ad promos – often major advertisers such as Bing and Google offer discounts or promotions for their services. If you’re going to pay for ads, you might as well get them with a discount.
  3. Host contests – there’s nothing like giving something away to draw in the crowds. You can run the competition via social media and use it to attract the type of customers or clients you want to attract. Be warned that you may attract the professional competition enterers, who are just in to win and not to learn about your business.
  4. Email marketing – some people swear by it, and others avoid it like the plague. Research shows that it does work well to make sales and keep your business at the forefront of a customer’s mind though.
  5. Give out branded balloons – find a suitable event and then give out balloons filled with helium, which are branded with your business details — cheap and unusual
  6. Keep active on social media – if you’re a social butterfly, this will probably be easy for you. If not, then it can be like pulling teeth. On the same platforms your target audience are using, publish regular content including blogs, promotions, and photos of your business.
  7. Push your USP – your unique selling proposition or USP is what sets you apart from your competition. Make sure everyone knows it.
  8. Join online networking groups – yes, it’s mixing with other business owners, but as you build relationships with them, they are more likely to recommend your business to others, or purchase from you directly.
  9. Set up a referral system – target your existing customers or clients by offering them a discount if they refer someone new to you. It’s a win-win.
  10. Create videos – be they unboxing of your products, an instructional video or showing a product’s features, videos are always well received.
  11. Host a webinar – there are many webinar platforms you can do this free through. Use it as a time to demonstrate your skills and knowledge, not a sales pitch.
  12. Partner up – it may not make sense to partner with your competition, but why not join forces with businesses who offer complementary products or services? By promoting each other’s stuff, you increase your visibility.

Remember that if you get stuck, asking for help is one of the best things you can do! Our friendly team are here to help, and if we don’t know the answer, we’ll find someone who does for you. Don’t be shy, get in touch with the team at MBP today.

New Zealand does not have the most liberal tax laws when it comes to making claims for work clothes. This is one thing that our cousins across the ditch are far more generous with.

There is a very narrow definition in NZ tax law and IRD interpretation as to what is a deductible business expense for work clothing. In order to help you avoid making expensive mistakes that could land you with an audit, back taxes, interest, penalties and even home detention, we’ve drawn up this simple list and handy explanation of the law that limits your claims. That’s right, its not just a grumpy accountant that won’t let you claim things, its actually the law.

What Work Clothes Can I Claim As A Business Expense?

If you want to claim for clothes that you (or your employees) wear to work the clothes must:

  • Be a uniform that is distinctive to your business, or
  • Prominently and permanently advertise your business, or
  • Be necessary for protection in the workplace (e.g. protective eye wear, steel capped boots, etc.), or
  • Be required for health and safety compliance on the work site (e.g. high-visibility or waterproof clothing), or
  • Is a taxable clothing allowance paid to employees to purchase their work attire (FBT or PAYE is payable), or
  • Simply is not clothing that you or an employee would wear for private purposes.

Essentially, the simplest test we can think of is that it’s deductible if you only wear it because you have to. To quote the IRD, claimable clothing “only includes uniforms or specialist clothing that isn’t reasonably suitable for private use and is necessary and peculiar to a particular occupation.”

You might get away with it once or twice, maybe even 46 times, but the IRD will likely catch up with you eventually. After filing dozens of flawed claims, a personal trainer was given home detention and hundreds of hours of community work for claiming exercise clothing (among other things) as a business expense. Chances are your new shoes for your real estate work are not allowable (unless they are steel capped for visiting industrial property and emblazoned with the company logo).

What Limits What Work Clothes I Can Claim?

The main thing that limits your claims for work clothes as a business expense is this pesky thing call the law. In particular, two sections of the Income Tax Act 2007 (ITA 2007). These two sections work together to highlight and limit all claims that can be made for business expenditure, including work clothes.

Section DA1: The General Permission

Section DA1 sets the groundwork for all business expense claims as it allows for a deduction as long as there is a nexus, or link, to business activity or income generation. This broad allowance is known as the general permission. You can read the full section here, but for your convenience here is the core of it:

DA1 (1) A person is allowed a deduction for an amount of expenditure or loss, including an amount of depreciation loss, to the extent to which the expenditure or loss is—
  (a) incurred by them in deriving –
     (i) their assessable income; or
     (ii) their excluded income; or
     (iii) a combination of their assessable income and excluded income; or
  (b) incurred by them in the course of carrying on a business for the purpose of deriving –
     (i) their assesable income; or
     (ii) their excluded income; or
     (iii) a combination of their assessable income and secluded income.

For an expense to be deductible, it must first pass the low bar of the general permission test by having a link to your income generation. However, just because something passes this first hurdle doesn’t make it instantly deductible. Other sections of the ITA 2007 act to limit or override the general permission. In terms of work clothes, this is where section DA2 comes in.

Section DA2: The General Limitations

Where section DA1 creates what many might see as the freedom to claim anything and everything, section DA2 firmly squashes most dream deductions.

Of particular note for work clothes is section DA2(2):
“A person is denied a deduction for an amount of expenditure or loss to the extent to which it is of a private or domestic nature. This rule is called the private limitation.”

Clothing falls squarely under this private limitation. You may argue that you need clothes for work but you also need them for basic modesty. When you aren’t wearing clothes for work, you aren’t going to the supermarket naked. Therefore, your clothes fall into the category of being a standard private expense, any business use is simply incidental rather than peculiar.

If you are still confused or on the fence about an item you’d like to claim, get in touch with the team at MBP. What you can and can not claim is not always black and white and each situation has subtle differences that can make a big difference to the deductibility. Not getting your claims right up front can result in back dated tax assessments, penalties of over 100% of your mistake and use of money interest on the outstanding back tax.

This advice is general in nature and should not be relied on as a recommendation. Every situation is unique and requires tailored advice. Get in touch for a free consultation by emailing mailbox@mbponline.co.nz or call us free on 0800 86 85 86.

There’s nothing quite like Kiwi ingenuity when it comes to identifying the best start-up business ideas. A quick look at Taupo’s tourist attractions (and those across New Zealand) demonstrates this perfectly! Who would have thought people would pay money to jump off a bridge with a rubber band attached to their legs? They do though and by the thousands! Bungy jumping is a fabulous example of one man’s ideas becoming a viable business through hard work and planning. We wish we’d thought of it!

However, we digress. What we’re trying to get across to you is that New Zealanders are incredibly talented when it comes to identifying start-up business ideas and then building a business from the bottom up. It does take commitment, time and plenty of due diligence to pick the right one for you though.

Here at MBP Advisors + Accountants, we like making things easy for business owners. That’s why we’re going to walk you through the process on how to narrow down your start-up business ideas, plus share some of our favourite ideas to get you thinking about what would work for you.

Identifying the Start-Up Business Ideas Which Best Suit You

What’s key here is that you pick a business idea or ideas which you like the sound of (unless of course, you’re not having any part of the business at all!). That’s because as a start-up business owner, for the first few years you’ll be living and breathing your business. The number of hours you’ll put in cannot be predicted, but hopefully, the amount of cash can (and we can help with this so give us a call!). Therefore, it makes sense that you only investigate and follow through with ideas which resonate with you and which are viable. This means you’ll need to do a few things:

Know Yourself

You know yourself better than anybody else does, but what we’re asking is for you to do an in-depth self-analysis. This means sitting down and answering the tough questions about yourself, such as:

  • What are you good at doing?
  • What things do you like doing?
  • What do you hate doing?
  • What personal traits do you have which you know would help you grow your new business?
  • Why do you want to start up a business in the first place?
  • What are you prepared to risk to make your new business a success?

Complete Due Diligence

It’s not enough that you love the idea – your potential clients or customers also need to! Someone has to want to (or need to) buy your products or services. That requires your business idea to:

  • Solve a problem,
  • Be worth paying for,
  • Be at a price point which people will pay, but which covers your costs and gives you an acceptable profit,
  • Have its own niche market,
  • Be one you are passionate about,
  • Be tested first upon your target audience, before you go into full production and promotion. After all, it makes sense that your idea receives a great response before you start pouring time and money into it,
  • Be easily marketed.

Due diligence also involves checking for trademarks and copyright, looking at the competition, forecasting your financials, creating a business plan and having it checked, and identifying the tools or/and knowledge you’ll need to organise.

Seek Professional Advice

This may mean talking with others in the same industry as your idea or working with a professional business advisor. We offer a business advisory service where we’ll sit down over a coffee (or via Zoom video conference) and chat with you about your business ideas. We’ll help you pick the right business structure, assist with any due diligence, and walk with you from the planning through to launch and beyond.

All this information is great, (we hear you say), but what if I don’t have any start-up business ideas yet? Then read on, because we’re about to give you a comprehensive list of ideas to get you started!

NZ’s Most Comprehensive List of Start-Up Business Ideas

Not everyone finds it easy to come up with new business ideas. If this is you, don’t stress because we’ve made a list of some great ideas to get you started. It’s important to remember though, that you will still need to investigate each idea fully first and find a way to ‘make it your idea’ too.

  • Social media management – almost every successful business has a great social media presence. Often small to medium-sized business owners are too busy to manage their social media, giving you the opportunity to do it for them – for a fee.
  • App creation – if you’ve got the skills and knowledge to create and then sell apps, go for it! They’re in hot demand at the moment.
  • Chatbot creation – like apps, chatbots are also popular products for medium to large sized businesses to purchase.
  • Virtual assistant – if you’re able to type, get things organised and like helping people, then being a personal or virtual assistant could be a good option for you.
  • Cleaning service – if you have an eye for detail and enjoy keeping fit, then why not offer your cleaning services to homeowners and businesses?
  • Dog walking or pet minding – many pet owners don’t have the time to give their pet as much attention as they’d like. This means they’ll pay you to do it for them!
  • Craft or clothing making – if you enjoy sewing or making things, then why not set up your own business where you sell what you make! Find an area to specialise in, such as wedding jewellery or baby clothes, set up a website and get selling!
  • Wedding planner – you love all that romantic stuff and keeping up to date with wedding trends. Why not use this to become a wedding planner and take the load away from stressed brides?
  • Online teacher – whether you’re a primary or secondary trained teacher, or someone with a Masters in a high-interest subject, share your knowledge with others for a fee.
  • Influencer – this is a relatively new business opportunity. You grow a large following on social media, and then charge other businesses to share their products or services through your channels. This could be on Instagram, Facebook or even YouTube.
  • Voiceover artists – if you love to talk, have a great voice or can pretend to be multiple characters, become a voiceover artist! You’ll need to have a professional set up at home or work, but you can ‘work’ all over the world.
  • Stock photo photographer – if you love to travel, take photos of people or stage photos.  Set up a business selling a subscription to your stock photo website.
  • Course creator – this could work in two ways. You could create and sell courses in your speciality, or you could create courses for others to sell. Either way is a win-win.

There’s nothing quite like being your own boss. We’d love to help you do just that too! No matter whether you’ve got an idea and need help moving forward or have run your own business for a while and need a push to get back on track; we can help! Get in touch with our friendly team today and let’s give your business the attention it needs to succeed.