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Oct 01

9 Expert Tips To Instantly Improve Your Business’ Cash Flow

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, October 01, 2017

Guest Post by Float

There are many reasons why you may want to improve cash flow in your business. Maybe you’re looking to free up some cash to put towards growth, or maybe you’d like to build up your cash cushion to protect yourself from any bumps in the road.

Whatever your reason, we’ve got you covered. Sue Hirst, director of CFO On Call, gives us her 9 expert tips you can use to improve your business’s cash flow.

Improve cash flow by doing these 9 things

How to increase your cash in-flows

1. Increase revenue from sales

Review your marketing methods to increase leads or customers. Take your website, for instance. Is it getting enough traffic? Does it have engagement methods, such as landing pages and offers?

Review your sales methods to increase the conversion of leads to customers. Do you have a sales process in place or is it a bit ‘ad hoc’?

Review your pricing to increase the average sale amount. Analyse your best-selling products and services which will have the most room for a small price increase. Even a small percentage increase goes straight onto your bottom line! That is, a small price increase is different from selling more stuff or services as there aren’t any extra costs associated.

2. Increase ‘other’ cash in methods

Business loans: explore the various different providers of loans, not just your own bank. To do this you’ll need to present your business as an attractive proposition to a lender. This means providing them with accurate financial information that tells a story of a healthy business with good prospects to grow.

Issue shares: look into how you can bring in new shareholders. You will need to consult with an accountant to ensure you do it the right way and that it complies with corporate rules.

Sell some assets: review your assets and decide if some are obsolete and if funds from selling them off can be better used elsewhere.

3. Get paid faster

Review your customer payment process starting with ‘terms of trade’, invoicing, methods of payment, statements, follow-up calls, payment arrangement, and debt collection procedure. By looking at each step of this process, you can determine what’s working and what needs improvement. If you’re a Xero user, consider using Chaser to automate the task of chasing clients to pay their invoices.

4. Speed up project times

Use an application to manage jobs and avoid holdups. There are thousands of systems available online today that can save you lots of time and help you to work out profitability on jobs, as well as accuracy of quoting/budgets.

5. Sell off slow-moving or obsolete stock

Do a stocktake and review your stock management system to see which inventory is slow moving. Whilst it may feel difficult to sell obsolete stock at a lower price, the resulting funds can be much better utilised buying new items that will provide profit and cash flow, rather than sitting around collecting dust on the shelf!

How to tighten up your out-flows

6. Reduce expenses

Review every line of your Profit & Loss Report and ask yourself:

  • Why are we spending this money?
  • Can we achieve this outcome more efficiently and cost effectively?
  • Should we stop spending this money?
  • Can we get a better deal from this or another supplier?

7. Slow up payment to suppliers

We’re not suggesting here that you ruthlessly use suppliers as a bank, however we often see credit terms not being utilised and suppliers paid too quickly. This is a big waste of available cash for your business.

If you’ve been dealing with a supplier for a while, it might be a good opportunity to review the arrangement and see if you can get a better deal. Be armed with good information about what business you’ve done with them to support your request.

Also set up a competitive environment with suppliers, if you have more than one option. It may seem a bit heartless, but at the end of the day you’re here to make a profit.

8. Arrange to pay off tax debts

Some tax authorities will work with you to pay off tax debts over an arranged timeframe. Don’t automatically assume you have to pay off the whole amount at once. If you don’t ask you’ll never know.

9. Delay payments to shareholders

It’s tempting when you see the business making a profit, however if you pay dividends too quickly it could put a strain on your cashflow. Before making this decision you should create a detailed cash flow forecast, to ensure it won’t cause cash flow issues in the future.

That’s where we come in. Float can help you create powerful, actionable cash flow forecasts that update automatically from your accounting software, saving you time and giving you the confidence to make the right decisions.

Start your 30 day free trial now.

Sue Hirst is the director of CFO On Call and author of the e-book ‘The 7 Key Numbers That Drive Profit and Cash Flow’.

Oct 01

Is Ecommerce Really Killing Brick and Mortar Retail?

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, October 01, 2017

Guest Post by Vend

Let’s get straight to the point: ecommerce is NOT killing brick-and-mortar retail.

At Vend, we firmly believe that physical retail is very much alive, and we’ve said it again and againBut to continue to drive this point home, we thought we’d get a second opinion and some actual data behind this claim.

So we caught up with Neil Saunders, the Managing Director and a Retail Analyst at GlobalData Retail (formerly Conlumino). Neil analyzes a number of things connected to retail, including shopper behavior and trends, channel dynamics, brand preferences and more. We asked Neil about his thoughts on ecommerce vs. brick-and-mortar, as well as the trends he thinks will make the biggest impact on the industry in the next five years.

Check out what he had to say:

1. How much is ecommerce or Amazon *really* to blame for the poor performance of several physical retailers — particularly department stores?

There is no doubt that Amazon has been disruptive, it has been one of many competitive forces that have reshaped the retail environment. These have raised the bar for all retailers and have made doing business faster-paced and more challenging. Arguably, Amazon’s acceptance of lower margins has put the squeeze on many other retailers who have had to reduce prices to compete.

However, as much as all this is true, Amazon has also become a catch-all excuse for all manner of retail ills. This is largely unjustified and does not stack up against the data, especially when it comes to the department store sector.

Collectively, customer numbers and the market share of department stores has waned. The interesting point, however, is that Amazon is not the primary beneficiary; other physical retailers like TJX, Ulta, and the own-brand stores of premium players have gained more of department store losses than Amazon.

The reasons behind the defections are also revealing. The vast majority of those no longer shopping at department stores have left because the product, store environment, or service was not up to scratch. In other words, department stores have pushed their customers away much more than Amazon — or any other retailer — has pulled them away.

Key takeaways:

  • While Amazon has pushed many retailers to compete on price and convenience, it isn’t the primary reason why consumers have stopped shopping at physical retail (i.e., department) stores. GlobalData’s findings indicate that consumers are flocking to other physical retailers like TJX and Ulta.

  • What’s the reason behind the deflections? According to Neil, the top three reasons for spending less at department stores in 2016 were lack of interesting products and services, uninspiring shops, and an unpleasant shopping experience.

  • In other words, market share isn’t being stolen by external forces like Amazon. The factors driving shoppers away from department stores and still within the retailers’ control.

2. Can you give examples of brick-and-mortar retailers that are doing well? What are they doing right and what do they have in common?

Despite the negative headlines, there are a surprising number of physical retailers performing well. Many of these are discount focused and include TJX, Ross, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Burlington.

The appeal here is primarily good value for money — they give the consumer a lot of bang for their buck. However, in the case of players like TJX, the constantly changing assortment and treasure hunt nature of the store also provides entertainment and a reason to keep visiting.

In spite of its size and maturity, Walmart is also doing well. Walmart is a very solid retailer with excellent retail disciplines; it is also improving the shopping experience and investing in new formats, businesses, and initiatives. It serves as an example of what can be done when entrepreneurialism and a culture of change are rooted in a corporation. Target is also starting to produce better store numbers, mostly driven by its newer shops; these are much more experiential and engaging for shoppers.

Outside of some of the price-focused players, middle and premium retailers are also thriving. Sephora, Ulta, and Lush are all growing strongly and taking share. Excellent store experiences, the integration of beauty services, and a good omnichannel approach have helped all three. Coach is now doing better which is largely down to improved product and a better in-store experience.

Although these retailers are different, the thing that ties them together is evolution. None of them have stood still; they have all adapted and innovated in the face of consumer change. That stands in very direct contrast to retail dinosaurs like the department stores.

Key takeaways:

  • Who is taking market share from department stores and underperforming retail? Discount-focused retailers such as TJX, Ross, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Burlington because they offer great value for shoppers’ money.

  • In the case of TJX, the retailer is always freshening up its assortment, and so shoppers experience a “treasure hunt” whenever they’re in the store.

  • But many middle and premium retailers (e.g. Sephora, Lush, and Ulta) are doing well, mainly because of their beauty services and omnichannel approach.

  • The common denominator with all these retailers? All of them have evolved, innovated, and adapted to the changes in the market.

3. Where do you see retail going in the next five years? What can retailers do now to prepare?

Over the next five years, retail will become more digital — although the vast majority of sales will still go through stores. This ultimately means omnichannel — creating a seamless customer proposition across the various channels and routes to market will be vital.

The rise of digital will also drive changes in the approach to store expansion and growth. The days of one-size fits all store model are fading, and the future will require a more flexible approach with a variety of store formats designed to address different locations and markets.

There will also be an increasing polarization between those retailers that focus on value and price, and those that concentrate on added value. For the former, automation will become a more significant part of the business model. For the latter, service and experience will be the order of the day.

Above all else, success in retail is as much about innovation and future thinking as it is about running the core business well. This requires a cultural change from one focused on processes to one focused on entrepreneurialism and ideas. For many traditional players, this is arguably one of the most difficult things to accomplish.

Key takeaways:

  • Expect one-size-fits-all (i.e. traditional) store formats to decline. Retailers will increasingly establish a variety of store formats to address the needs of different

Oct 01

The Best Xero Add Ons for Business Funding

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, October 01, 2017

Guest Post by Float

Whether you’re trying to bridge a cash gap or secure funding to grow your business, the Xero marketplace offers a suite of apps that can help

Whether you’re trying to bridge a cash gap or secure funding to grow your business, the Xero marketplace offers a suite of apps that can help. From add ons that help you to secure funding to ones that help you manage it, there’s something to help you every step of the way.

Because of local regulations, finance solutions tend to be specific to different countries, so we’ve split the options out for you:

Xero apps for funding UK businesses

Xero apps for funding US businesses

Xero apps for business funding in Australia

Xero apps for business funding in New Zealand

Best Xero Apps for Securing Funding (UK businesses)

Invoice FinancingMarket Invoice

Market Invoice allows you to access funds tied up in your unpaid invoices, freeing up capital you can use to pay bills and staff wages or gives access to money that can be used for growth.

This add on connects to your Xero account to automate the application process, meaning there’s no need to upload documents. Once your account is set up Market Invoice will display the invoices in your Xero account and you can then choose which ones you’d like financed. You could receive 90% of your invoice’s value in 24 hours.

Line of CreditIwoca

Iwoca supplies businesses with a flexible line of credit of up to £100,000. This means that if your business is approved for £100,000 of credit then you are free to borrow what you need up to this amount and you only pay for what you borrow. One benefit of a line of credit is that it provides flexibility; you can be sure you have finance in place to purchase equipment when needed, weather a sales downturn or pay an unexpected bill.

The connection with Xero simplifies the application process and speeds up approval times. Credit rates are based on your business performance, which is assessed via your Xero account. You could have access to funds in a matter of hours and you only pay interest on the amount of money borrowed and the number of days you have the funds.

Tip: Apply for your line of credit when your credit score is strong and revenue is up, this will greatly increase your chances of approval.

Cash AdvanceLiberis

With a cash advance by Liberis you could be paid an advance on your credit and debit card takings giving you access to funds in as little as 24 hours. Their link with Xero provides a streamlined process meaning you get a quote in 60 seconds, your application takes 5 minutes and finally, the link to your Xero account will provide automatic updates to reflect the status of your advance.

80% of applications are accepted and because repayments are taken as a percentage of your card drawings this saves your business from being locked into consistent monthly repayments that can be crippling if you have unpredictable revenue.

Best Xero Apps for Securing Funding (US businesses)

Invoice financingFundbox

Fundbox let’s you access the money that’s tied up in your customer’s unpaid invoices, you could receive the cash in a matter of days instead of the weeks or even months you’d normally expect to wait. Fundbox offers ‘peace of mind guaranteed’ so that your operations don’t grind to a halt when things get tight.

Linking your Xero account ensures you don’t need to upload any financial information, Fundbox can get all the information they need from your accounting software. You can be set up in minutes and the clearing fee will be fully displayed for each invoice you choose to fund, meaning no nasty surprises at the end of the month.

One caveat is that you do need to have at least 6 months of data in your Xero account. But we feel this is a fair tradeoff for instant access to working capital.

Working Capital LoanKabbage

Kabbage offers working capital loans of up to $150k to help you meet payroll, cover general expenses and pay your suppliers during slow months. The whole process from application to approval takes about 10 minutes, and while this is a little slower than some of the other apps on the Xero marketplace getting a loan from Kabbage still comes in light years faster than getting a loan from a bank.

You only pay for what you use, with repayment terms sitting between 6 and 12 months, and there are no fees if you decide to pay your loan off early.

It’s worth bearing in mind that to qualify for a small business loan your business needs to be at least a year old. You should have revenues of $50,000 annually or $4,200 per month over the last three months.

Line of Credit & Invoice FactoringBlue Vine

Blue Vine offer 2 financing options, access to a flexible line of credit and an invoice factoring service. With the flexible line of credit you could have access to up to $100k approved within 24 hours, meaning your business will have the funds available when needed. You can expect fixed repayments terms over 6 months and interest rates starting from 6.9%.

The other funding option available through Blue Vine is invoice factoring. You could free up the cash your business has trapped in unpaid invoices, allowing you to borrow up to $2.5 million against your receivables due within 90 days. You could have the cash in as little as 1 day and choosing to factor your invoices through Blue Vine means you will be able to fund only the invoices you want, instead of your whole ledger.

Best Xero Apps for Securing Funding (AU businesses)

Working Capital LoanMoula

Moula gives you fast access to up to $250,000 of working capital and repayment terms of between 6 and 12 months. The link to Xero means you can apply online in just 10 minutes and you could have the funds in your account in 24 hours. What’s more, thanks to their partnership with Xero, Moula are offering savings of between 2.5% and 5% on the APR of your loan.

To be eligible for a Moula loan you must have an ABN or ACN, been operating for at least 12 months, a fair or better credit history and at least $5000 in monthly sales.

Line of CreditWaddle

With a line of credit from Waddle you can draw funds from your unpaid invoices allowing you to bridge cash gaps. Waddle provides a no obligation finance offer of up to 80% of the value of your invoices (with a limit of £1million) and your funding allowance will automatically update as you raise invoices.

You only pay for what you use and you won’t be locked into any contracts. Rates start at 6.95% per annum and their link with Xero means you could be setup in minutes.

Working Capital LoanCapify

If you are looking for working capital for your business, you can access up to $400k through Capify. Their link to Xero means you could have a decision in 60 seconds (that’s even accounting for the seconds it takes to connect your account!). You can then expect to have the funds in your account within a matter of days. You don’t have to manually provide any financials, Capify can make their decision from the numbers in your Xero account, making the process even smoother.

Capify offer flexible repayment terms between 3-12 months. Additionally, if you’re a seasonal business then capify offer a ‘flex’ programme which allows you to match your repayments to the highs and lows of your business.

Best Xero Apps for Securing Funding (NZ businesses)

Invoice financingFuelled

Fuelled is Xero’s first lending partner in New Zealand and offers a cash advance of up to 90% of your invoice. You typically receive the cash the same day, which helps to avoid the cash crunches caused by lengthy payment terms of up to 90 days. This frees up cash that can be used to pay bills, take on projects or buy more stock.

Fuelled doesn’t lock you into any long term contracts or charge set monthly fees and their link with Xero means no paperwork so you can get the cash

Line of CreditWaddle

As above, this Sydney, Australia, based app has expanded into the New Zealand market, offering their Easterly neighbours equally enticing terms on lines of credit. You can get up to 80% of your invoices value (up to $1million) with rates starting at 6.95 per annum. Linking Waddle to your Xero account means you could be set up in minutes.

Best Xero Apps for Managing Funding (Global)

Cash Flow ForecastingFloat

Now that you’ve got the funding, it’s time to make sure you are spending it wisely!

A cash flow forecasting app such as Float will help you to confidently manage a cash injection to ensure you are able to cover costs in the long term. You can also model scenarios to project the impact of different funding amounts and how they will help you reach your business objectives. But most of all, Float is an indispensable tool to safely grow your business as you can identify exactly the right time to seek funding and see when to reinvest at the click of a button.

So whether you are looking for funding or looking to manage the funding you already have, the Xero ecosystem has an app to support you every step of the way.

Oct 01

3 Simple signs your business is ready for a payments platform

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, October 01, 2017

Guest Post by SimPRO

At a certain point, every growing business needs to take a leap and invest in new technology. It can be daunting and expensive, but the rewards can greatly outweigh the costs and stress.

Collecting payments earlier to help manage your cashflow is one of the most important aspects of any business. This is one area where technology can make a huge difference.

So what are the signs that you should consider an integrated payments platform like simPRO Payments?

1. Escalating debt or administration costs

If chasing late payments is taking up more than 5% of your time as a manager, or administration staff are spending more than 30% of their time chasing payments, you need a payments partner.

While some clients will always be stubbornly resistant when it comes to paying their bills, others simply don’t have an easy way to settle their accounts. By making it easier for your customers to pay, a payments partner can free up both your time and your staff’s time to focus on more productive tasks.

2. Your average collection period is worse than average

Outstanding payments, or ‘Accounts Receivable’, can be one of the most significant assets on an organisation’s balance sheet. As a percentage of total assets, accounts receivable has been estimated to constitute 20% for large organisations and 30% in small/medium sized organisations.

A recent study found that the average amount of time it takes for an invoice to be paid in Australia is 26.4 days overdue – the worst of any country in the world! In Mexico, the second-worst offender, that figure is 18.6 days overdue. Compare that with Japan, where on average invoices are paid 6.5 days early.

If you don’t already track it, you should be fully aware of your Average Collection Period (ACP). If you are unsure on how to work it out, get your accountant to create a report.

While there is no definitive guide to what is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ ACP, the Australian average should be a starting benchmark. If you are outside this average you need to look at what is causing payments to be so slow and investigate in solutions, including partnering with a payments company.

3. Your interest bill is climbing

One of the most obvious signs that your cashflow is being impacted by late payments is the amount of interest you pay when borrowing money to fund your day-to-day operations.

Most businesses will often have some sort of overdraft facility that allows them to meet their obligations while they wait for their outstanding payments to come in.

While interest rates are falling, this interest bill should be getting smaller. If you are paying more interest now then you were a year ago, it is probably because your debtors have been extending their payment terms.

Is it time?

While every business is different, these are just three simple ways you can use to identify and measure the impact of late payments on your business. The solution to these problems is never simple, but partnering with simPRO and making it easier for clients to pay should be the first step.

To help, NECA SA members use simPRO job management software for free!

As a NECA SA member, you’re eligible to receive one simPRO Service office licence and one simPRO Connect field licence free for the life of your membership. A saving of $1176 per year!

Terms and conditions apply. Please see the website for details.

Oct 01

4 Tell tale signs that you need a new HR system

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, October 01, 2017

Guest Post by Employment Hero

These days, managing HR in a growing business is a constant task. As an HR manager, you’re probably overloaded with work and you never seem to get to the bottom of it all.

It’s not unusual to rush from meeting to meeting, extinguishing fire after fire. You’re always checking your e-mail and making countless phone calls.

But there’s a big difference between being productive and just being busy. And if you’re always busy being busy on admin-based HR tasks with no time for strategic HR thinking, it probably high time you made a change.

Here are four telltale signs that you need a new HR system.

Sign 1. Onboarding is all paperwork

The onboarding of new employees is a crucial time to time to give your new hires a thorough understanding of your company’s history, culture, and mission, and how they fit into the bigger picture and can contribute to the greater success of the company.

But, in too many workplaces, onboarding is all about paperwork. And much of a new employee’s first day, is all about completing one document after another. This includes:

  • Signing a letter of engagement;

  • Acknowledging your code of conduct;

  • Filling out the tax declaration form;

  • Completing their superannuation choice form; and,

  • Giving us their bank account details.

For new starters, it’s dull, and it’s tedious, and for some, it’s a real let down. But it doesn’t have to be this way when you enable new hires to complete onboarding essentials online, allowing them to fill out and sign all of their onboarding paperwork well in advance of their start date.

Tip: It’s important to make an employee’s first days, weeks and months, memorable for all the right reasons. By streamlining your onboarding process with an HR system, you can save yourself so much time, free yourself up from tedious paperwork, and  make your new starter’s time with you more productive and enjoyable from day one. 

Sign 2. The data you need is always hard to find

If you’re still filing everything away in paper files in a bank of filing cabinets, it’s not only inefficient, but you’re probably putting the business at risk. Paper-based filing systems are only as secure as the people who have access to the office where they are located.

Even if you’re the holder of the key, when bulky filing cabinets start to fill up with overflowing manila folders, it becomes difficult to keep the information organised. If you face an underpayment claim, or are undergoing an audit by a Fair Work inspector,  think of the time it takes to hunt down those important documents. It can be seriously stressful, and seriously time consuming. And with no audit trail, who can say that it hasn’t been altered?

Tip: With cloud HR software, you can free up your day and have meticulous files at your fingertips whenever you need them. In fact, online HR software like Employment Hero can save you an enormous amount of time across a range of HR tasks. As all your HR data is encrypted in the cloud, you’ll also have peace of mind that everything’s secure from login to logout.

Sign 3. Human errors keep tripping you up

Sometimes, the sheer volume of paperwork and duplication from manual processes can be simply overwhelming and keeping you away from doing more strategic work. Spreadsheets are probably a large part of why you’re always busy doing busy things. They are also notoriously prone to human error.

With manual data entry, any kind of formula mistakes can seriously mess with everything from managing holiday allowances to your payroll calculations. And it can take ages to unravel it all when something goes awry.

Tip: If you’re still doing payroll manually or keeping data in spreadsheets, it’s high time for an upgrade. For many businesses, the answer lies in having a single platform with integrated HR, rostering and payroll which eliminates the need for data double-handling. 

Sign 4. You’re busy being busy updating HR files

Employee self-service is all about helping employees and managers build a more self-sufficient work environment. Having HR self-service functionality is a must as it allows your colleagues to perform routine HR tasks themselves, rather than relying on you to do it for them. This includes updating their personal details, as well as acting as viewing and acknowledging workplace policies and other HR documents.

By reducing your employees’ reliance on you to perform day-to-day support tasks, you cut costs and response times while improving efficiency, productivity and compliance.

Tip: With a cloud-based employee self-service system, your employees can access the system from home. They can view work schedules to see when they’re rostered on, view payroll information, and request annual leave, all without calling on you.

 

Free eBook

If you’ve recognised some of these telltale signs, it’s a good time to start thinking about the right HR software for your business. For help doing this, download our free eBook, The HR Manager’s Ultimate Guide to Choosing HR Software. It’s a step-by-step guide on documenting your requirements, shortlisting your systems and ultimately choosing the right HR software for you and your business.

GET THE GUIDE TODAY!

Employment Hero is Australia’s first all-in-one cloud HRIS offering a comprehensive HR software, payroll system, and employee benefits platform in one easy solution. Trusted by Australian businesses, Employment Hero is about making rostering, onboarding, performance management, time tracking, payroll, and award interpretation a snap. Employment Hero’s HRIS also integrates with Xero, MYOB, KeyPay, and Accountright Live. Stop wasting time with spreadsheets, and request a demo today.

Oct 01

3 Forecasts Your Business Needs To Succeed

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, October 01, 2017

Guest Post by Float

Forecasting is the process of estimating the effects trends, costs and external factors will have on your business in order to give yourself time to prepare.

This is integral to business planning and the more accurate your forecasts are the better you know your business.

There are many different forecasts you can create for your business but here we are going to focus on the 3 key forecasts your business needs to succeed and how to start creating each of them.

Sales forecast

A sales forecast is an approximation of the monthly sales expectations of your business. This is usually drawn up once a year and helps you to set targets and keep your business on track for success. This is one of the most important forecasts your business can create as it helps you manage production, staffing, finance and cash flow. It is important to note that a sales forecast is only useful for your business if it is realistic.

The easiest way to start creating your sales forecast is to look at last year’s sales, this will give you a good starting off point. The next step is to add in your assumptions for this year. How many customers do you hope to add? What do you expect your average sales price to be? Are there any changes in the market you need to be aware of? By asking yourself these questions and answering them honestly instead of optimistically you can start to craft a solid sales plan that should be reflective of what’s to come.

Cash flow forecast

A cash flow forecast is a crucial component of planning for the future of your business. It takes all of your known cash inflows and outflows in a given time period and couples them with your expected income and expenses to create a picture of how your businesses finances will look in the coming weeks, months and years.

Your cash flow forecast is an indicator of the financial health of your business and will alert you to any cash shortages or surpluses well in advance, giving you time to seek finance to bridge your cash gap or reinvest excess cash into your business for growth. You can also use your forecast to measure the effects of different decisions on your business’s cash flow through scenario planning.

There are 2 ways to create your cash flow forecast. The first of which is the indirect method, which involves using the figures from your P&L and balance sheet to derive your forecast. This is most accurate for long term planning but can be unreliable in the short term. The second way of generating a cash flow forecast is the direct method which takes all known cash inflows and outflows (and their timings) and uses them to build a forecast based on actuals, which is highly accurate in the short to medium term. This method can take hours to do manually every month due to the sheer number of transactions that need to be tallied – that’s why we built Float. Float connects to your accounting software to automatically read all of your bills and invoices (both paid and unpaid) to give you a powerful forecast at the click of a button.

Balance sheet forecast

A balance sheet forecast is an important document that lays out account balances for assets, liabilities and equity in a specified period of time (usually the end of the accounting year). Businesses use this forecast to measure working capital and assess the need for additional financing. Bank managers use this to determine a business’s likelihood to pay back a loan and trade suppliers can use this document to help decide if credit is given.

The balance sheet forecast is also referred to as the statement of financial position. To create your forecast you should start by consulting your sales forecast as your projections of other balance sheet items such as inventory, accounts receivable and accounts payable will be highly dependent on sales. From this you can then start to add in projected asset, liability and equity items, after these have been added you should include in any financing you expect to receive.

There we have it, by producing these 3 vital forecasts you can measure success, anticipate and give yourself time to prepare for any changes and plan for business growth. The most important thing to remember when creating business forecasts is to be realistic, as the more honest you are with yourself the more accurate and useful your forecasts will be.

Oct 01

Teamwork: A Key Ingredient For A Successful Business

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, October 01, 2017

Guest Post by Unleashed

Employees who feel part of a team where people have their back so to speak, and are there to support them, generally feel a lot happier and more positive to their work. Happy, positive people are more proactive and work harder. So this would be a great thing for the company, as you can imagine. But how do you promote teamwork in the workplace where individuals have been used to operating under the premise ‘every man for himself’?

Reward teamwork

Recognition or incentives to promote teamwork is very effective. When teamwork is made to be a focus and a key objective with rewards for when it is achieved, then a clear message is sent and staff can appreciate the importance of it. As with all things, changing an inherent culture that is years-strong can be a tricky business but if you stick to it, with time, change will happen.

Know the person not the employee

It is much easier to feel part of a team and trust your team members when you know them as a person and what makes them tick. Certainly, it is very important to have clear boundaries between work and home for work-life balance, however this should not necessarily extend to bonding with your colleagues. Encourage social activities as a team and bonding outside of work where each man or woman is on a level playing field and comes as a person with a background, interests and passions. In doing so, you will find that the team will function better together and will achieve more success in their work.

Define an objective and individual roles

Now that you have promoted teamwork by incentivising it and creating the opportunity for bonding outside the workplace, it is time to focus on what the team must achieve. Teamwork is a lot more achievable when goals and objectives are clear to everyone. Therefore, it is imperative to define a project focus as a team and then identify individual roles and what each person will achieve with respect to their strengths. In doing this, team members will grow to understand each other’s deadlines and responsibilities, which creates both understanding but also a level of peer pressure which keep the less focused people on track.

A growth spurt can stretch staff time very thin and it can be very stressful, so making it easier for your team to get the work done should be a focus for growth. Implementing an automated, specialised inventory management software package will reduce the big and small frustrations in day-to-day inventory control, and it will let your staff focus more of their energies on growing the business.

Welcome all ideas

Effective communication is the key to any great partnership and the same is true of a team. Encourage good communication by having an open, non-judgemental platform for ideas so that people will feel supported to speak up and voice their ideas. In conjunction with learning to communicate ideas effectively comes the need for effective listening so that those ideas may be heard. Some personalities will find this difficult to do, just as some will find it difficult to voice their opinions appropriately but both should be encouraged in an open and professional manner.

Make every minute count

One of the surest ways to exacerbate the workforce is to utilise their time with unproductive meetings. This is a common occurrence in many workplaces and places more pressure on staff as they have to achieve the same amount of work in less time while the time they had was spent in futility. In fact, a survey conducted by Microsoft Office revealed that professionals spend approximately 3.8 hours in futile meetings. It is not realistic to expect a team to function properly without team meetings, however an investigation into the operational management of Whole Foods Market showed that ensuring status reports are written and distributed prior to the meeting allows colleagues to be up-to-date with the status of projects and endeavours prior to the meeting so that each hour spent as a team can be used effectively for strategic decision-making.

No-blame game

It is inevitable that with many personalities working together, there will be issues. However these can be used a strength and do not need to spell disaster for the team, they simply need to be managed effectively. Encourage direct communication between individuals so that issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Foster a no-blame environment so that the focus remains on the individuals finding a solution that is acceptable to all parties involved. Ensure all disputes are clearly and respectively dealt with while being documented every step of the way. By encouraging staff to resolve things themselves with the objective to be a well-functioning team, you are empowering them and creating a respectful, open and collaborative environment.

Oct 01

Encourage teamwork in the workplace to enhance stock control

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, October 01, 2017

Guest Post by Unleashed

In any business, large or small, good teamwork is essential for morale, productivity and efficiency.

In particular, working in a warehouse environment can prove challenging, involving many demanding and often painstaking jobs. In this article, we assess some primary ways to encourage good teamwork which can help make stock control and work life easier for everyone.

Implement Lean Manufacturing For Better Stock Control

Lean manufacturing can help to improve teamwork in the workplace because of its emphasis on producing more with less. This means less time wastage, better stock control and a more efficient use of resources, as well as less overheads to mass produce. Lean manufacturing can encourage better teamwork during the production process by reducing the work load and fostering a more efficient, more productive work place.

Lean manufacturing also streamlines the manufacturing tasks involved, facilitating a smoother production process by improving organisational structure. This will help to boost individual morale and therefore team morale, making for a more pleasant working environment.

Communication

The productivity and efficiency of your business depends on your employees having good communications skills, especially where jobs require working together. Aside from this, keeping an open line of communication between staff members is a good way to build interpersonal relationships which can act to boost overall morale. Keeping up morale is particularly important where staff are required to carry out difficult or strenuous warehouse operations as a team.

Lee Fisher, an HR manager at Blinds Direct, argues that role switching is a great way to give staff members an appreciation for roles other than their own. With this method, each team member switches roles with a colleague, helping to build interpersonal relationships with others and fostering collaboration. This sets a great precedent for later work, and is a great way to break the ice between new employees.

Good communication is also key to ensuring good stock control, especially in larger operations where multiple departments need to work together. Without an open line of communication between everyone involved, mistakes can be made which may have ongoing consequences.

Leadership

A good leader will boost morale, encourage cohesion and facilitate collaboration between staff members by leading by example. Ensure your team is being managed or supervised by someone with excellent team-building skills, to keep the group unified. A good leader is also a reliable one, so ensuring your staff have someone dependable to lean on is a great way to encourage unification and cooperation among staff.

According to career advisor and hiring manager of ResumeCompanion.com, Lauren McAdams, rotating staff in different leadership roles is an essential method for improving teamwork. Giving individual staff members different leadership roles in a variety of projects demonstrates your trust in them, and this boosts morale. Moreover, if staff members feel appreciated they are more likely to work harder and encourage others to do the same.

Lastly, a successful leader can help ensure accuracy and efficiency of stock control procedures, acting as an overseer. This way, staff have a singular, reliable individual to liaise with regarding any inventory issues, preventing mix ups and confusion that can occur without clear supervision.

We operate in four currencies and needed a program which could work back and forth for us. The other wonderful feature we couldn’t live without is the ability to handle our landed costs in one step.

Setting Goals

Setting both short and long-term goals for the group is an excellent way to bring staff together, by providing an incentive to cooperate and work as a team. It is also a good idea to be open to reevaluating these goals according to staff needs.

Acknowledge Staff Strengths

Pay attention to the strengths, special talents or skills of each individual team member. Acknowledge these strengths and come up with ways in which your staff can put their special knowledge to good use. Doing so will demonstrate that you respect your staff as individuals, and this will give them an incentive to work with others and to lead by example.

Oct 01

Should Your Business Give Trade Discounts?

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, October 01, 2017

Guest Post by Unleashed

Many businesses use trade discounts to simplify variable pricing, protect a market recognised price point, stimulate sales or reward customer loyalty.

There are a number of sound reasons to consider giving trade discounts to specific customers. So, should your business consider a trade discount?

What are trade discounts?

To understand whether trade discounting is appropriate for your business, it is important to understand the difference between consumer discounting and trade discounting. In the consumer and retail context, we often think about discounts as fixed reductions in the price of a good or service. So, for example, a $5000 lounge suite may be on sale at a discounted price of $3500 – or 30% off. The 30% discount is available to all customers – albeit potentially with conditions, such as joining a loyalty scheme.

Trade discounts are similar, but differ slightly. Essentially, a trade discount involves a supplier of a product publishing a single price list (or, in some cases several classes of price list) rather than negotiating the pricing of each individual item with every customer. Suppliers are then able to offer certain customers a specific reduction in price – typically a certain percentage discount. Let’s look at three reasons to offer a trade discount.

Reason 1: You Want a Simple Way to Offer Variable Pricing

Chances are, your business has some customers who will happily pay higher prices than other customers. If you can identify these customers, one way to ensure that customers pay as much as they are willing is to negotiate pricing with each individual customer – working item by item. This can be tedious, and the large amount of haggling required can prevent you and the customer from forming a good customer-supplier relationship.

Offering trade discounts provides a ‘quick and easy’ solution. You publish a base price list, which you make available to customers. You then negotiate a discount with each customer. The discount you negotiate with each customer should, in aggregate, roughly approximate the discount you would have negotiated on each individual item. This strategy is less appropriate where you sell a range of products with significantly different margins as a savvy customer could take advantage of the across the board discount to purchase a large amount of low-margin product.

Reason 2: If Pricing is Commercially Sensitive

One of the ways that the B2B environment differs from the retail environment is that in the B2B environment, your pricing may not be widely known and may be commercially sensitive. For example, if competitors know the lower bound of your pricing, they may be able to more easily undercut you. Trade discounts are an appropriate response to commercial sensitivity – your business is able to publish a base price list that contains the information your business wishes to share with the world at large.

Reason 3: If Customer Loyalty is at Stake

Manufacturers and wholesalers often generate significant goodwill through the use of trade discounts. Businesses are just as receptive to discounts as individual consumers, so offering trade discounts can be a simple way to become a preferred supplier. A fixed percentage discount directly increases the customers’ own margin, so if your business offers trade discounts, your products are likely to make up a larger proportion of your customer’s inventory mix.


Oct 01

Action Planning for client success

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, October 01, 2017

Guest Post by Spotlight

I'm delighted that our new Action Plan release featuring visual goal tiles, progress-trackers and due dates is now live - bringing this great combination back together again! True advisors don't just talk about the numbers, they set goals with clients and work alongside them to see the actions achieved so that goals are realised. Setting goals is a powerful connector between an accountant and a client, preferably covering Financial, Business and Personal goals for a complete and holistic overview.

With Spotlight Reporting featuring financial and non-financial analysis, visuals, an Executive Summary of highlights and recommendations, external content insertions as needed, and now also Action Plans, Spotlight truly constitutes a complete 'Board Pack' for advisors to share.

Check out our Action Plan next time you use Spotlight Reporting, and start setting goals with your clients!