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Apr 16

Crowdfunding: New Ways To Fund Business Startups

Posted by Ross Griffiths on Thursday, April 16, 2015

So you’ve got a great idea for your business, but you don’t have the funds right now to get it off the ground.

You could try applying for a government grant, but it’s often a long and arduous bureaucratic process of form filling and there are of course no guarantees you’ll get the money. Some governments also offer tax incentives for research and development, but usually you need to spend the money before you can get it back.

And there are private investors—’business angels’—too, if you have the contacts and know how to structure and negotiate a good deal that you won’t regret in the years to come.

‘Bootstrapping’ is the most common way that businesses fund their startup phase. This is where entrepreneurs fund the startup business out of their own savings and even from their credit card limits! High risk, but the bootstrapping advantage is that the founders don’t have to give away equity or control to other investors.

The downside is that bootstrapping can lead to under-capitalisation of the business, which can starve it of the cash the business needs to fund its growth.

You have to admire the entrepreneurial spirit. Small business is the engine room of the economy.

But what if you’re not able to tap into government grants, private investors or your don’t have sufficient funds for your startup idea?

Fortunately, it’s not a dead-end. There’s another relatively new way for your business to get the money it needs: crowdfunding.

With a little help from my friends

Crowdfunding is defined as the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via a web-based independent crowdsourcing platform.

Compared with other ways of raising money through multiple smaller investors—such as by issuing a prospectus or other traditionally regulated disclosure documents, which could also extend to completing the complex and expensive Initial Public Offering (IPO) process—crowdfunding is a relatively simple, easy and inexpensive process.

Crowdfunding is essentially a process of explaining (selling the idea of!) a proposed venture or project, and then asking for pledges from the public. In return, those who pledge receive rewards. These rewards can include early access to the product or service, or copies of the proposed book, album or movie, or (depending on the crowdfunding platform used) even equity in your company.

You just need to offer something that motivates people to help fund your crowdfunding campaign.

Two crowdfunding models to choose from

When you set up your crowdfunding campaign, you specify: 

  • the amount of money you hope to raise 
  • the time period you want to raise it in.

What happens at the end of that time period depends on the funding model you’ve chosen.

With the ‘all-or-nothing’ model (used by crowdfunding sites such as Pozible and Kickstarter), if you don’t reach your target then nothing happens. You don’t get any money, and your backers don’t get any rewards.

If your campaign is successful, then you get the money (less the fees charged by the crowdfunding site), and the backers get their rewards.

With the ‘flexible’ model (used by Indiegogo), you get to keep the money you raise whether your campaign is successful or not. However, you may be charged higher fees if you don’t reach your target. (You may also be legally obligated to give rewards to anyone who has given you money for your campaign. Be sure to study the crowdfunding platform’s terms and conditions before you start your campaign.)

How much are you willing to reveal?

The secret to a successful crowdfunding campaign is giving people a compelling reason to back it. And according to Johanna Baker-Dowell of Strawberry Communications, that means telling your story.

“Speak from the heart and help your supporters understand why the project is important to you and why they should pledge to it. Use words, videos, photos and whatever else you can think of to share your story.”

There’s a fine line between telling your story and giving away your intellectual property. So when you’re telling your story, make sure you don’t reveal too much.

Thanks to the internet and crowdfunding platforms, entrepreneurs now have more options and a much better chance to get the funding needed for their startups.

The “Ask and you shall receive” principle might just hold true? It’s certainly a matter of, “Ask and you shall find out!”

If you’d like to bounce any of your business startup ideas off us, or ask us about the various funding strategies you have available to you, get in touch and we’ll make a time to have a chat about it over a coffee.

Mar 16

Your business, government grants and tax incentives. Are you cashing in?

Posted by Ross Griffiths on Monday, March 16, 2015

Thomas Edison once said that “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration”.

Unfortunately, going from that inspirational idea to the finished product takes a lot more than hard work. Just like Edison, you also need to invest in a lot of research and development.

And R&D doesn’t come cheap.

Fortunately the Federal Government helps business in two ways: Grants and Tax Incentives

Government Grants - What’s available to you?

You might be surprised to find out just how many different government grants and assistance programs are on offer. The Federal Government’s GrantsLINK website helps you work out the grants your business may be eligible for. Click Business and Industry on the left of the screen and you’ll see pages of grants listed. Depending on your type of business, different grants might be applicable.

The Grants & Assistance Finder on has a more detailed listing of grants and assistance programs. You can filter on State or Territory and Type of Grant or Assistance.

Get in touch with us if you’d like us to shortcut the process for you, and we’ll let you know which grants are worth applying for in your situation.

Keep in mind there’s no guarantee a grant application will be successful. That’s one reason the next type of assistance is so appealing

The R&D Tax Incentive - Are you eligible?

Innovate, and you reduce your tax. That’s the idea behind the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive. It provides R&D tax offsets to encourage businesses to innovate and engage in R&D.

Businesses conducting R&D may be eligible for:

  • a 45% refundable tax offset (that’s equivalent to a 150% deduction) for eligible entities with an aggregated turnover of less than $20 million per annum, provided they are not controlled by income tax exempt entities
  • a 40% non-refundable tax offset (equivalent to 133% deduction) for all other eligible entities (entities may be able to carry forward unused offset amounts to future income years).

The program is jointly administered by AusIndustry and the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

To register for the tax incentive you must lodge your application within 10 months of your company’s income year.

Each year you must apply to register for the R&D Tax Incentive. This is a self-assessment process for companies using the R&D Tax Incentive Online Eligibility Tool. This will give your company an indication of its eligibility.

It’s important that your company keeps adequate records throughout the year to show it carried out eligible activities in incurring the claimed expenditure.

If you’re eligible for the R&D Tax Incentive but not applying for it, you’re leaving cash on the table. We can help you make sure you tick all the relevant boxes so you don’t miss out.

If the government is offering your business financial assistance through tax breaks, take them!

A little perspiration will be worth it

Remember Edison’s words. The ‘perspiration factor’ can’t be avoided. You need to apply for the grants and tax incentives, but the effort can be well worth it. And we’ll share the load with you.

Drop us a line and we’ll make a time to catch up and have a chat about your eligibility and the next steps required.

Feb 18

Get It Done. Get It Read. Get Ahead.

Posted by Ross Griffiths on Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Success in business requires a number of essential ingredients. A sound strategy. A robust business model. Effective planning. Strong financial control and bookkeeping. A good team. Great systems. Measurement. Focus.

But you know what? Even all those elements are not enough without this skill: Execution.

Call it “Getting Things Done”, making things happen, the action habit, extreme focus… call it what you like, for many entrepreneurs it’s what separates mediocre from magic. It’s the difference between a business that plods along from one year to the next, and one that grows, evolves, impresses, enriches.

Execution is a skill. Sadly, we’re not taught it at school. (Gee, but we all use those good ol’ quadratic equations each day!) The good news is that, as adults, we can go out and find the information and principles of effective execution, then apply them. Daily.

To fast track you on your journey towards becoming brilliant at execution, here are some books that we highly recommend that you not only read, but you study, practice, live by:

Read (or listen) to those books, and your mind will be permanently re-wired. Obstacles and frustrations will become Projects, Tasks, or Wildly Important Goals. And you’ll have a pragmatic framework for achievement and creating the change you want in your business.

And in your life. It’s powerful stuff.

We’d love to hear of your favourite books on this ‘execution’ topic. Please share them in the Comments below, and after you read (or if you have already read) any of the books above, please share with us the key principles and practises that have made the biggest difference to you in terms of “getting things done” and executing your ideas.

Jan 06

Your 9-Point Checklist for Paying Less Tax This Year

Posted by Ross Griffiths on Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Most people think ‘tax time’ is after the end of the financial year, when you get your tax returns prepared.

For the financially savvy, however, tax time is a few months before the end of financial year.

Why is that?

Those who best (and legally!) minimise the amount of tax they pay understand that once the financial year ends, many of the options available to save tax, disappear.
It’s all about planning ahead, to get ahead.

To get the ball rolling on your tax planning this year, read the following 9-point checklist, then
get in touch so we can make a time to sit down with you to assess which of the following preventative measures can be done for you in your circumstances.

Depending on your situation, this tax planning process could save you many thousands of dollars.

As you read through the checklist, highlight each item you think is relevant to you and then bring the article with you to our meeting…

❑ Review debtors

Your income tax is payable on any invoices you’ve issued, even if you haven’t been paid. Don’t pay tax on any invoice you know won’t ever get paid. Review the list of those who owe you money and write off those bad debts now.

❑ Review your stock levels

The value of your closing stock directly affects your business profit because the higher your stock value, the higher your profit and therefore the higher your tax. Review and identify obsolete or old stock and scrap it or re-value it to its correct value. Individual items of stock can be valued at cost, market value, or replacement value.

❑ Review your business assets

Write off any obsolete asset and claim its remaining book value now. There are also new ways assets can be depreciated, called pooling, that will increase the depreciation expense. This isn’t suitable for all businesses, but it is worthwhile reviewing.

❑ Defer income — A simple tip that can defer a lot of tax for you

If your cashflow allows, you may consider deferring some of your invoices until July. If the income was not invoiced this financial year, it can’t be taxed this financial year. Before taking this option we recommend having a budget to manage these months income and expenses. We can help you with that.

❑ Review your invoices issued

If you have invoiced someone in advance for services you will provide in the next financial year, then you may not have earned that income in this tax year. That income may belong in the year you provide the service. Again, this is something we can work out with you when we meet for tax planning.

❑ Pay the June quarter superannuation

Superannuation if paid on time is deductible when paid. Since you have to pay the 9% superannuation by 28 July, bring it forward a month and pay it now and claim the deduction now. Why wait a whole year to reduce your tax?

❑ Using all of your superannuation cap

If maximising your superannuation is part of your retirement plan, then don’t forget to contribute as much as you can into your super fund. We can guide you as to how much you can contribute. It’s a missed opportunity not to do this each year.

❑ Employee bonuses

Bonuses to employees are deductible when the business has committed to paying them and it is not subject to any discretion. So finalise and sign off on the bonuses to be paid and reduce this year’s tax.

❑ Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

Minimising your capital gains tax is often about timing. Ensure the asset has been owned for at least 12 months. If you already have a capital gain, are there any investments making a loss you can sell? Do you qualify for any capital gain rollover relief concessions? (Again, we can guide you here.) Capital Gain Tax (CGT) is a whole topic on its own, and the potential savings are so great, it is definitely an area in which you should seek our guidance.

If you ticked any of the above items, then we need to talk. And soon.

Call us now on 03 8669 1751 or email us on to make a time to meet and discuss your tax planning options.

Dec 22

Where Did It Go?: Taking The Mystery (And Pain) Out Of Managing Your Money

Posted by Ross Griffiths on Monday, December 22, 2014


Finally. An Easy Way to Track your Personal Spending Patterns.

Financial Misery or Financial Happiness. What Makes the Difference?

Most people will quite literally earn millions of dollars in their lifetime. Yet many people struggle financially and live from one pay period to the next.

With the ageing population and many Baby Boomers now continuing to work—at least on a part-time basis—past the traditional retirement age, people are working more years than ever. Even if a person works only 40 years, at average earnings, that's a lot of money.

It is said, “Money talks”, but for many, all it ever says is, “Hello, and Good-bye”.

Have you ever found that the month lasts longer than the money? Or have you ever got your tax return and looked at all the money you have earned over the past 12 months and then thought, “Where has it all gone?”

You're not alone. And the good news is, now there's a simple solution.

There's a great quote from Charles Dickens’ book David Copperfield where the character Mr. Micawber says to Copperfield, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

This is so true, regardless of the income level.

Yet keeping track of what you spend your money on, for many, is too hard, too laborious. The benefits of doing so are obvious to anyone, yet the discipline to keep all your receipts, enter the information into a program like Quicken Personal or MS Money (or just to write it into a paper ledger), and keep that going consistently over time is beyond most of us.

Well ... and here's the good news ... what if a piece of software could track and categorise what you spent your money on, but it involved very little effort by you?

Imagine the clarity you'd get if you knew exactly how much you have spent and what percentage of your income is going on the various areas including mortgage/rent, vehicles, groceries, schooling/education, eating out, entertaining, mobile phones and internet, medical and pharmaceutical, and so on.

For most people, it would be a real eye opener.

It is said that knowledge equals power.

That is very true when it comes to your personal finances.

Once you can objectively see exactly how your lifestyle and your habits—that is, you—are spending your money each year, and month-to-month as you go, you then have the power to make decisions on where you can change your spending (and saving!) habits.

In this information age and electronic era, many of us use credit cards, debit cards and EFT when buying things. We have now reached a point for the first time in history where more money is exchanged electronically than through cash transactions.

That's a lot of transactions. And it's a lot of data.

This data is available to be analysed on a societal basis, industry basis, business basis and ... a personal basis.

And that's where a brilliant tool comes into play: Xero Cashbook

Here's how it works ...

Xero Cashbook is online software. It's the non-tax-tracking version of the Xero software used by businesses.

It analyses and categorises all your electronic transactions to give you a snapshot of your complete financial position in an instant. This also organises a view of all your bank accounts and credit card accounts in one place. Very handy.

This is precisely what a lot of people have been waiting for: An easy way to track and control your finances.

Xero Cashbook categorises your spending and saving, so you can tell whether your money is being used for essentials or you're splashing out on other things.

If you are concerned about security, Xero protects your financial data with 128-bit SSL encryption, the same as online banking. Your data is well protected.

You can also invite people you trust, such as your spouse, accountant or other financial advisor, to access your Xero reports for free. This means that as your advisors we can see the true picture of your finances and spending habits, and help you stay on track.

This allows us to help you plan ahead and make the most of your money.

You will never before have felt so in control of your personal finances.

Being web-based, rather than being stuck on one computer like traditional software, you can access Xero from home, work and even on your smartphone such as an iPhone and Android device.

If you'd like us to step you through getting set up with Xero Cashbook, or their Xero equivalent for Business, or both, get in touch and we'll hand hold you through the process. It's not difficult, and once your bank accounts are set up, it happens automatically from there.

The way we see it, the more clients we help keep track of their finances in such an easy way, the more clients who will prosper and find financial happiness instead of financial misery, to paraphrase Dickens' Mr. Micawber.

Your next step ... Call us on 03 8669 1751 or email us on to make a time to meet and discuss your options. We'll then outline the costs so you know exactly what lies ahead.

It's time to stop saying "good-bye" to so much of your money each year!

Dec 05

Social Media: Should Your Business Take It Seriously?

Posted by Ross Griffiths on Friday, December 05, 2014

Isn’t Twitter a waste of time? Isn’t Facebook for the kids?

Not anymore.

It’s true that Twitter and Facebook started out with very ‘non-business’ objectives. The founder of Twitter actually did invent it so you could tell everyone you were going to the shop to get some milk; and anyone who has seen the movie The Social Network knows about the very lowbrow origins of Facebook.

Other social media platforms include LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Foursquare, Quora, Tumblr, Vine, Flickr and MySpace, among others.

In recent years savvy marketers and business owners have worked out how to use social media VERY effectively for communicating with the market place, in a new way.

Traditional marketing, like advertising, is a monologue. A one-way conversation, coming from the advertiser. There’s no interaction in a TV or newspaper ad.

Modern marketing—including social media—is about engaging in a dialogue with people. It’s about creating two-way, value-adding conversations (albeit, online ones) with people who are interested in what you do: your ‘followers’, ‘friends’ and ‘connections’. It’s about helping them, listening to what they have to say, and letting them know about useful, relevant information.

This creates a sense of community and stronger relationships. Certainly stronger than any advertising can ever create. We have entered a whole new era, and social media is not just reshaping the marketing landscape, but it’s changing journalism and media, and is even acting as a catalyst for social change, allowing people to combine their collective voice. We’ve witnessed that in world affairs, for example in Egypt where Facebook was used to organise protests.

If you’re still not convinced that your business should actively get involved with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or other social media platforms, consider the flipside.

Can you afford not to at least monitor Twitter, for example, to see what is being said about your industry, your business, you? Using social media management software like TweetDeck, HootSuite or SproutSocial you can efficiently monitor your various social media accounts using the one app to display your feeds from a number of different platforms, notifying you when people mention you, your brand, reply to you, ‘favourite’ or ‘like’ your updates and posts, and so on.

We think it makes sense for any business to monitor what’s being said about them—and about their competitors—in social media.

We also know of many success stories of small business owners who are using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as a very effective way to generate referrals and to drive traffic to their website.

Social media works if you learn how to work it.

Obviously the purpose of this article is not to teach you how to use these tools. That would take a book or complete course, not an article.

Its purpose is to open your mind to the possibilities—if it hasn’t been opened already—of how your business can learn to use and benefit from social media as part of your business’ marketing mix.

To start you along that learning curve, take a few minutes to watch this Socialnomics video. The statistics mentioned in it are phenomenal.

At the 1-minute mark you’ll see a quote by best selling author Erik Qualman, “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.”

And at the 3:50 mark, “Social Media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.”

We are just starting on the path of learning how to best use social media, and by no means are we proclaiming any degree of expert competency. (Yet!)

The question, we believe however, is not whether your business should use social media, but how should your business best use social media.

Oct 13

51,000 Reasons to Care: Has Your Regular Contractor Become Your Employee?

Posted by Ross Griffiths on Monday, October 13, 2014

In a lot of situations, hiring a contractor to get a particular job done makes perfect sense. It may require expertise or skills none of your employees has. You may only need someone for a short time frame to clear a backlog of work. Or maybe you just want to avoid having to go through a formal recruitment process. 

But be careful. Even though you hired them as a contractor, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) may actually see them as an employee. And the penalties for disguising an employee as an independent contractor (known as “sham contracting”) can be up to $51,000 per instance.

So how can you tell whether your latest recruit is an employee or a contractor? Well, here are some of the major differences between the two.

1. Where and how they work

An employee is considered part of the business, and in most cases works on the premises (unless they’re telecommuting). They generally have to accept any work assigned to them, and can’t ask someone else. And they have do the work themselves.

A contractor, on the other hand, runs their own business. And while they may be asked to work on the premises, they can work pretty much anywhere they can get the work done. They can also sub-contract or delegate the work to someone else.

2. How they’re paid

Employees are paid regularly for the time they work, by the item or activity they complete, and/or a commission.

Contractors have a contract stating the work they’ll do (but not how they’ll do it), and for how much. And while they can ask for partial payment up-front, they’re generally paid when that work is completed. 

3. Tools of the trade

Employees are given all the tools they need to do their job, whether it’s computers, earthmoving equipment or anything in between. If they need something else to do their job, the employer either buys it, reimburses them or gives them an allowance.

A contractor will have their own set of tools, which they use to perform the work they’ve been asked to do. If they feel they need another tool, either to complete the job or to do it more efficiently, they use their own money to purchase it.

4. The risk factor

Employees aren’t under any financial risk while they’re working. They don’t make a profit or a loss--the company does.

But contractors can make a profit or a loss on every job they do. If they finish the job quickly, they’ll still be paid the same amount than if they took their time. But if the job takes longer, or they have to put in more work because the job was done poorly, they could well make a loss.

5. Entitlements

Employees are entitled to receive superannuation contributions from their employer, which gets paid into a nominated superannuation fund. They are also entitled to paid leave (e.g. annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, long service leave), or a loading in lieu of leave entitlements if they’re casual employees.

Contractors are generally responsible for paying their own superannuation, although in certain situations they may be entitled to receive superannuation contributions. And they don’t receive any paid leave.

6. Tax

Employees have tax deducted from their pay by their employer, whereas contractors pay their own tax (including GST) directly to the ATO.

Of course, the distinction between employee and contractor isn’t always so cut-and-dried. A contractor may have all of their equipment supplied, or get paid every fortnight. They may even receive superannuation contributions.

Fortunately the ATO has come up with an Employee/Contractor Decision Tool to help make the distinction. By answering a series of questions, you can quickly see whether the ATO sees your latest recruit as an employee or a contractor. 

Paying someone as a contractor when they’re actually an employee can have serious consequences for your business. As well as the financial penalties, your business may end up with a bad reputation that drives both customers and potential employees away.

So use the ATO’s decision tool and if still in doubt, get in touch and we’ll help you make sure your contractor isn’t really an employee.

Sep 01

Business Owners: Are You Inadvertently Putting Your Family Home At Risk?

Posted by Ross Griffiths on Monday, September 01, 2014

As a business owner, there are plenty of things you need to manage, and two of the most important of these are assets and risks.

In other words, building your wealth and protecting your wealth.

There’s no point building a lot of wealth if the way you have things structured behind the scenes means that someone could take your assets away from you.

Sadly, many business owners are in precisely this predicament...

...without knowing it!

Following are some crucial concepts that, if you as a business owner don’t understand them and put protective measures in place, your family home (and all personal assets of you and your family) are at risk of being lost if someone decided to take legal action against your business.

Consider these facts...

  • Your business faces unpredictable risks through interaction with employees, customers/clients and creditors.

  • This means there is potential to be sued by a variety of parties. Where there are agreements in place, sometimes disagreements later result. This is life. It makes sense to accept that, and plan and protect yourself, rather than hope it never happens.

  • Litigation, sadly, is increasing each year, largely driven by lawyers offering ‘no win, no fee’ services.

  • This encourages people to ‘have a go at you’ through legal action. They have nothing to lose, after all.

  • This means you need to ‘build a wall’ between your business risks and your personal assets otherwise you risk losing it all.

  • This ‘wall’ protects you and your family from losing assets such as your house or personal investments, if your business was to be sued.

  • The wall is created by clever use of companies, trusts and also deciding who within a married couple, for example, should and should not be a Director of each company. This is a key point. One seemingly simple mistake in this area can cost a family their house.

  • The standard type of will puts your family’s assets at risk, because if the person who dies holds the family’s personal assets in their name, ownership of these assets will revert to the person who through their Directorships in the business, is at a much higher risk of being sued.

This presents significant risk.

So what can you do about it?

If you haven’t looked at your asset protection structure in the past 12 months, you need to make that a priority.

Then this should be reviewed annually.


As your life changes, your asset protection strategies—your ‘wall’—needs to be checked that it is still appropriate.

As part of this process we also ensure your wills and estate planning are in order. Remember, the standard type of will can bring down your wall.

In addition to wills, there are other important documents to have in order such as an enduring power of attorney. This is a legal document that can give someone else—the person you choose—the power to make personal or financial decisions on your behalf.

You see, it is far more common for someone to become incapacitated through accident or trauma such as stroke, than it is to suddenly die. If this happens to you, you may not be able to communicate your wishes and make decisions when you need to.

The consequences of this are dire and tragic.


It’s all about choices and about ensuring you protect your family and your assets. Without sound asset protection and effective wills and estate planning in place, the legacy you have been working so hard to build may not end up in the hands of the people you intend.

The potential tragic nature of this type of scenario is why we feel so passionate about asset protection and estate planning ... because it’s all about protecting the families we serve.

If you’re anything like our many other clients who have these structures in place, we think you’ll find the costs of ‘building these walls’, so to speak, relatively minor compared to the protection they give you and your family.

Your next step ... Call us on 03 8669 1751 or email us on to make a time to meet and discuss your options. We’ll then outline the costs so you know exactly what lies ahead.

Aug 06

Is Your Business Drifting Along, or Sailing its Charted Course? 3 Reasons Your Business Needs A Budget Now

Posted by Ross Griffiths on Wednesday, August 06, 2014

For many, the word ‘budget’ is about as appealing as the word ‘diet’.

It seems to imply what you will go without, rather than what you will achieve.

To a successful business owner, however, the word ‘budget’ has a very different meaning.

It’s more like a map than a diet.

It’s an outline of where you want to take the business, and what you need to achieve to get there.

Running a business without a budget is like a ship’s captain setting off on a voyage without a map. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it. Who would do that?!

Yet this is, figuratively speaking, what many business owners do.

Successful business owners, on the other hand, not only set clear targets and budgets each year, they monitor them closely each month, even each week, and adjust them as they go throughout the year.

Here are 3 compelling reasons your business needs a budget, now ...

One: If  you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know you’re not already there?

If you’re not satisfied with how your business is performing, unless you set clear goals for where you want to take it, it’s probably as good as it is ever going to get. At best, it will just meander along, subject to the whims and vagaries of the economy and general market conditions.

The good news is that your business doesn’t need to meander along.

The first step in charting a clear course for growing and developing your business is objectively measuring ‘where it’s at’ right now.

And the numbers do tell a story.

For some, they act as a wake up call. For others, they just confirm the journey’s starting point.

It’s paradoxical that a large part of the value in a business budget is not in the numbers themselves. It’s in the realisation and acceptance of where you are and where you want to be.

The numbers are just the signposts for the journey.

A factual look at the numbers that describe where your business is right now takes away all the subjectivity, opinions and ‘reasons’ (often excuses, disguised as reasons).

This is the naked truth.

In fact, it is like standing on the scales, naked, looking at yourself in a full length mirror. That may or may not be a pretty sight!

For your business, these factual numbers are the sales, the variable costs, the margins, the overheads, and, lastly, the profit.

After all your work, this is the profit you’re left with.

Then comes the first of a series of ‘hard questions’ ...

Are you happy with that profit? Is it worth it? Or are you dissatisfied? Then ... What do you want those figures to look like?

Answer those questions, and you’ve just described where you want to be.

Congratulations! You have charted your course which is the first step to maximising your success.

Two: What’s more important to treat? Symptoms or causes?

As you well know, sales just don’t happen. Costs don’t just drop because you want them to. Sales and costs are a result of other underlying factors.

Put another way, they are symptoms of causes.

The business budgeting process quantifies the symptoms, and by asking a series of ‘What leads to this number?’ questions, it also identifies the underlying causes.

For example, underlying factors contributing to a sales (revenue) figure could include:

  • the number of calls made,

  • the number of customers walking through the door,

  • the percentage of conversions of enquiries or walk-ins to sales,

  • the dollar value of the average transaction, or simply

  • where your marketing is targeted.

These are all called ‘drivers’.

The sales figures are simply a result of these drivers. 

Costs are no different ...

For example, the rent paid may be a result of the storage you need for your stock levels. Wages costs may be blowing out as a result of overtime paid but underlying that may be inefficient staff.

Or a lack of clear processes. Or both.

So in reality what came first was not the sale or the cost, but their underlying drivers.

The budgeting process forces you to name and to quantify these underlying drivers.

That’s one of the most valuable aspects of preparing your budget. Not the budget itself, per se, but identifying your business’ drivers.


Because then you can focus on improving them.

That’s what will produce the improved results in your business. No looking at last quarter’s figures. That’s history.

It’s more fun to create history.

And that is, in essence, what you are doing when you are in your own business. You are captain of your own destiny, and you can steer it in any direction you want.

Note that word ... direction. Key point. Have one.

You will be amazed at how well the budgeting and planning process will get you very clear on your direction.

Three: Budgeting is not about accounting. It’s about being accountable

Once you are crystal clear on the handful of drivers that creates your business’ results, the next question is ... 

What are you going to do about it?

Your budget won’t just give you a monthly sales target, for example, it will help you quantify the drivers that will produce the result.

For example, if next month’s sales target is $120,000, that figure is not your focus. Not on a day to day basis. Knowing the drivers, your focus will instead become 25 calls per day (Driver No.1) at 80% conversion rate (Driver No.2), with each customer buying an average of $300 worth of products (Driver No. 3).

Now you and your staff have crystal clear focus and are 100% accountable.

That’s good for them, and good for you and your business. (Tip: People in a business want a clear scoreboard and a ‘game to play’ so they know whether they are winning or not. Research has found that a lack of measurement in a job is demotivating to a staff member. See Patrick Lencioni’s books such as 3 Signs of a Miserable Job for more information on this topic.)

Knowing these drivers, and quantifying a target for each ... you can ask questions like:

  • Have the 25 calls been made today?

  • If not, why not? Is the target realistic?

  • Does the team need training?

  • Do they need better telephone equipment or dialling software? - Or just more focus?

  • Or guidance on what their task priorities should be?

  • Or a combination of these?

  • Are we being effective and converting 80% of the calls?

  • Again, if not, why not?

You can then decide to improve skills, or systems, or attitude, or all three!

As you can see, the power of the budget is in the process of preparing it, and then the budget itself is a tool to hold you accountable to the measurable indicators you’ve chosen.

An added layer of accountability is ... us.

We work with a number of clients where, on either a monthly or quarterly basis, we act as a sounding board and independent party to ask you the hard questions about the drivers and the results. This focuses your mind, allows you to form a clear Action Plan to improve results, and then increases your chances of success because you know you need to ‘report in’ to us next time.

It’s a brilliant process, that both we and our clients enjoy because it works wonders!

To take more control of your business and its performance, get in touch to make a time to come in and see us.

Depending on the size of your business, we might work out that a quarterly process might work best (and be the most feasible, cost-wise), or your business might be at a point where monthly or even weekly guidance would be ideal.

Either way, we’ll outline your options and your costs so you know precisely what’s involved.

We look forward to helping you chart your course, helping to get a clear direction, and then keeping you and your business on course.

After all, you won’t end up at the ideal destination by drifting ...

Your next step ... Call us on 03 8669 1751 or email us on to make a time to meet and discuss your options. We’ll then outline the costs so you know exactly what lies ahead.

Jun 03

It All Begins.....

Posted by Ross Griffiths on Tuesday, June 03, 2014

It all begins...

Welcome to the first blog from Ross Griffiths at BTNA.  After many months of deliberation about what to write it has come to this, a where did we come from and where to from here?

I cut my teeth in the mecca of small accounting practices in the north western suburbs of Melbourne, in and around Essendon and Moonee Ponds. After 15 years of working in the area I could never quite believe why so many accounting practice had flocked to the area. Perhaps it was the high net worth individuals attracted by the private schools in the area, perhaps it was the café culture of Keillor Road and North Essendon Village, perhaps the accountants were the high wealth individuals attracted to the schools?   Perhaps I will never know the answer, to be honest I am not too fussed anymore.  I now find myself in Melbourne’s Inner West.  Home of the Western Bulldogs, home of the freight docks, home of oil storage and Coode Island, home of Francis Street the suburban truck highway, but gee I love it all!

Much to my dismay I had no idea that Melbourne’s inner west modern café culture existed before being introduced by my partner a little over 2 years ago when we bought a house in the area. We are fortunate to live a stone’s throw from Yarraville Village and we love everything about our hood; from the sun theatre and pop up park, to the cafes, village store and a kransky’s outside Andrew’s Choice on a Saturday morning. If you haven’t been to Yarraville Village, come check it out, it’s quite a unique street scape incomparable to anywhere in Melbourne. Now we find ourselves venturing further afield to Seddon and Footscray, over the last 2 years these two suburbs have exploded!  The food (hello roti road and 8bit), the people, the sense of community…. For me, the west is the place to live and is now the place where I want to grow and share my accounting ninja skills.

In Essendon, it struck me that no accounting practices didn’t seem to compete with one another.  Everyone did the same thing, the same way.  This was good for business I guess, no one seemed to poach clients from one another, happy days amongst accountants in Essendon! 

This is changing though.  People are becoming more aware of what an innovative and progressive accountant can do for their business market-place, the landscape is changing and it’s changing fast. Gone are the days of presuming you will retain clients for life just by logging some kick ass tax returns and business activity statements. If you can’t deliver on client’s needs, wants and desires, they are off to the next guy down the road.

When the opportunity came up to rent an office in Gamon Street I was very excited to actually join the inner west business community, to take it one step further from being local to being local business owner and to start my own change.  

So, this is where we are now.  In the 11 months we have been operating it has been extremely rewarding to give something back to this area.  I’ve developed my business in a new direction, moving away from just core compliance (of course we can lodge a kick ass tax return) , to a value add business advisory firm driven by technology solutions that make it possible to deliver on client needs, wants and desires.   Where BTNA is part of your business team.

Xero is the centrepiece of this change, providing us with real time information about how your business is performing - not last year, not last quarter, not last month, but up to yesterday.  Now that is powerful stuff! This real-time information allows us to identify trends, problems, opportunities for the clients as well as using information to driver smarter and better business decisions, as all business decisions should be driven By The Number’s (bad pun intended). 

The greatest part for me is that BTNA spends less time crunching the numbers and more time supporting and explaining how your numbers can help create opportunities and make good decisions.   Whether that chat is in the BTNA office, your office or even the local café or pub, let us see what BTNA can do for you.