The way we do business is changing
Well now - I spent a fair amount of time typing this post today - only to lose it when the internet glitched! For a business that is reliant on having internet, it's a bit frustrating. oops! 🌐 😾
So let's get to the point - the way we do business is changing. It is our business after all, so why don't we run it our way?
I'll go between we and I a lot in this. I = Melissa. We = Melissa, Craig (her fiance), and anyone else that is associated to our business/es.
⚖️ The 4-day work week is being implemented as of now
I never did enjoy working 5 days of the week. So yeah, not going to. 😃
I would honestly prefer a 3-3.5 day work week - I'll work toward that! 🥅
So as of now - I work Monday to Thursday, 10am to 5pm. I will NOT work on Friday. Sorry folks.
There are many reasons for it but the simplest is, life is for living.
But some reasons in more detail:
- We have kids. Anyone who has children of any age will understand that mornings are not always smooth.
- We're building another business and while it's not yet ready to go public, it'll complement this business.
- I study on Friday. 📚
- We go to personal training twice a week for our physical and mental health. It makes such a difference. It builds accountability for our healthy habits and strengthens areas we have problems with (such as my S1 and L1 discs). I'm extremely grateful for all the assistance (read: paid for) I've received to improve my health.
- We need the balance and is something we will be encouraging with our clients. Running your own business can be overwhelming and stressful and if you're the one doing everything, it's a lot of pressure - you need a break! Everything being: marketing, networking, administration, invoicing, meetings, the actual work itself (whatever that thing is that generates the income itself), planning for the future of the business and your life, researching, upskilling, maintaining knowledge and skills, and more. Then there's home life: cooking, cleaning, yard work, parenting, exercise, etc. It's a lot for anyone!
I don't share the above for sympathy, or to worry anyone. It is to show that we understand what it means to be human and the hard yakka involved in running a business (well, not just one) and trying to be an adult. Sometimes it's struggle town, sometimes it's flourish town and sometimes it's rolling with the waves.
So I've been working on structuring my days to be more productive, to provide focus and enable me to NOT get distracted by that
shiny obj....OOH SQUIRREL! Ideally, my days are also time-blocked to allow time to focus on specific tasks such as admin (triaging my
inboxes, working out who I need to ☎️), planning my work for the day/week/fortnight ahead. To give you an idea of my ideal week (it
does not always go to plan and we are not always able to get things done when we'd like):
Monday - Set aside for the bulk of the Bookkeeping work
Tuesday - Accounting, tax, other work or meetings/training sessions
Wednesday - Business development (all our businesses), and/or accounting, tax, other work
Thursday - Accounting, tax, other work or meetings/training sessions
Friday - Study📓, Preparing for the Future 🔮, NOT working 💖
Continuing Professional Education and Development (CPE/D) is a critical part of remaining certified as a Tax and BAS Agent and needs to be completed throughout the year. It is a requirement of our professional bodies and our registration body for Tax and BAS Agents. I take pride in going above and beyond the bare minimum to stay up to date and on top of my training. Australian taxation law changes quite regularly and CPE/D can be scheduled any time throughout the week.
Just a note: Client work is scheduled often on a first in, first served basis. If all requested information is provided but a statutory deadline is closer than another, some others may be done first (such as activity statements before income tax returns). It's a balancing act and it is not always easy - but I do my best.
🛫 We are going on holidays! Well - we're planning time off - so should you!
It is very common for self-employed business owners to not take time off and end up burned out and resenting even running the business. If they have children and partners, they might not spend enough time with them either and everyone starts to feel a bit unloved - even if it's not true! We are all trying to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads - but at what cost? Well - didn't that get a bit dark??
So - we are going to be taking more time off every year. The aim is to work in 10-week swings with 2 weeks off, and 3-4 weeks off at Christmas/New Year time. It's kind of like school holidays, but for us, it may not generally be during school holidays (or a bit of both) - there are times when we want to head away without the teens, or other kids around. That goal won't be achieved this year though - we'll go for that in 2023.
This year, we have scheduled time in our diary for a number of long weekends (Friday to Monday) throughout the year (and definitely taking all the public holidays off), 1 full week from 1 to 7 May 2022 (my birthday is in there) and 1 to 15 October 2022 to get married and enjoy some kind of honeymoon albeit very brief - the wedding is the 8th. We'll shut down for the Xmas/New Year break on 16 December 2022 (my parent's wedding anniversary) and may be back on 9 January 2023, or maybe 16 January 2023 - not sure yet!
I'd love to go to Perth to visit my family, friends and some clients, but we'll see how that goes. In fact, travelling to any State/Territory or NZ would be great! Ooh, Sydney is apparently coming up very soon (April I think?) for a conference called AUSNOG - exciting!
Funny thing - We were actually meant to have this very week off - but - the teens' Grandad on their Mum's side passed away recently, so their Mum is still down visiting her family. Fair enough! On top of that, some lovely so-and-so's gouged holes in our van tyres and wall of the van (right through and can see daylight!). So $ we would rather put to taking a break and unwinding went to fixing the van instead. Ouch!
🏢 The office in Toowong is open BY APPOINTMENT only
This has never actually changed and it won't change. I like being able to work remotely (all our work is online) - wherever that may be. I like being able to change my environment and we like to travel when we can. What this means is: please don't just pop in and hope we'll be there as it might be a colossal waste of your time and if we are there, it's likely we won't have more than 5 minutes to spare. It really is easy to book an appointment.
Or, if you email ahead that you want to just pop in, be specific about what that means. Something like, "Hey, can I drop off some paperwork you're chasing on X day at Y time? It's the only time I can do this and I know you probably can't chat but it'll help us a lot. Let us know." or "Hey, can I come and deliver you a coffee on X day this week at Y time? I know you're working hard at helping me get my stuff sorted and I do appreciate it - so just want to give you an extra bit of love so you know we do value you and your efforts (and I have some paperwork you're chasing too)".
You know, lovely things like that. We still might not be able to find a mutual time, but it makes it so much easier than back and forth asking what do you mean and when for...that's what the booking system is for to be honest (and the Upload Folders we share with you - I don't want reams of paper filling up the floor - I'm not THAT chaotic). Maybe I should add a "popping in for 5 minutes to drop off paperwork and bring you coffee" as a booking button and only allow it on a fortnightly basis on Tuesday and Thursday. Oh dear.
The East Brisbane location is our virtual office. They handle our phone calls. We don't tend to go there. Please don't turn up expecting us to be there.
📅 Still BY APPOINTMENT - but we have hot desks! 🔥
Open Monday to Thursday 10am to 5pm - by appointment. Book and pay in advance.
Available for hourly, daily or month-to-month hire.
Check out our post about them, and our hot desk page with the nitty gritty and not so pretty.
❌ We have figured out what we don't want in a client
And as part of our business services we offer, we remind people that they're in business not to just earn an income, but to earn a profit, and to build a future - one that will allow them to (hopefully) sell the business, and one day, stop working completely and have a lovely cushion to afford the rest of their life in retirement and transition in to peaceful rest.
BUT - in order to profit in business (among other things) - you need to determine what kind of clients you don't want to service or sell to. You don't want to be caused stress because of someone else's avoidance or lack of planning. And you most definitely want to get paid for what you are worth.
A note about avoidance and lack of planning - many of the professional speakers, authors, coaches, mentors etc out there tout it a lot - "your lack of planning is not my emergency". And it's true. I mean sure, there will be legitimate emergencies (no one plans to lose a finger fight to the table saw), but the truth is, the stress someone has created for themselves by not managing their business requirements, especially their financial management and legal obligations, should not be pushed on to someone else - it is not their fault and if you want to work with them, you need to follow their policies and get in line.
As we said above, we are completely aware that running a business is not easy - going through this process was not easy - but with the legal and professional obligations that go along with running a business, you need to meet these obligations by managing them yourself, or invest in outsourcing them to someone else who is a professional in those areas. It's less stressful for you by having a specialist do it for you - but - you do still remain responsible for the end result, and ensuring your obligations are met. Avoiding them is not the best plan of attack.
When it comes to managing your financial affairs, letting your obligations and paperwork pile up into a mountain strewn all over the place can be overwhelming but it's highly likely that you'll need to outsource this pile, and it will cost you quite the pretty penny that either you don't want to part with, or don't have. Keeping up to date can take minutes a day (obviously, that depends on the volume your business creates each day) which is much more manageable than letting it pile up in to weeks worth of work. If it takes us 2 weeks, it's likely it'll take you twice as long and then someone still needs to check it to make sure it meets accounting and taxation standards.
💭 So for us, we've been thinking about our experiences over the past 20 years and identifying various traits we don't enjoy working with it. It doesn't necessarily mean we don't like the people, just the stress that working with them brings up and if we want to have a business that we enjoy working in, and on, and have a balanced life, then these types of people don't add value or joy to our lives and will more often than not, not be accepted to be clients of ours.
Some of the traits we've identified we don't enjoy working with are:
- Consistently tardy in providing the requested information to us or in the requested format
- Have multiple lodgements outstanding
- Do not value our services or time and insist we put them first - they actually tend to be the above 2 as well
- Don't communicate with us after we send requests for information, or payment (for months+)
- Don't communicate about seeking finance until the financier wants reports. Usually, we've sent requests for information that go ignored for months and it's not until the financier requests this information that it becomes important for them. Then they request we put them first because they don't want to lose whatever it is they've sought finance for. I'm being polite here...
- Has to lodge reports with QBCC
- Insists we sign a letter for anything that says "the client can pay their bills as and when due". We will flat out refuse to sign anything that says this. How do we know? We are not prepared to take that risk because it can mean we lose our licence and no one is worth that. PS banks have risk departments for this purpose - that is for them figure out in their risk profile
- Trying to rush the work that needs to get done - rushing leads to mistakes. We don't want to make mistakes if we can help it, especially if it's being relied on.
- Then there are people that simply won't pay for our services even though they've requested them and signed our agreement. Being a little bit late is one thing, but not paying for months and ignoring correspondence is another. See that note above about not communicating?
Look - I know we can be slow at times to respond if we need to but hopefully, we don't completely ignore our clients or suppliers. Poke me if we are!
We've also realised we do like engineers. We've worked with many over the years and they are fun to work with, they make the work interesting and there's plenty to do. Automation engineers, network engineers, software engineers, software/app developers, engineering engineers. Architects are also quite fun.
💸 Proposals, engagements, workflow and cash flow - Ignition is going to be the tool to do it 🚀
As many clients are aware, in July 2021, we implemented Ignition which all current and new clients are issued proposals for our services from. Upon agreement, the proposal is our engagement letter and it details our terms of engagement, scope of work (services provided) including what is included and excluded, our fees for the services and when these fees are due to be paid (by direct debit). Essentially, if you want us to provide the services, and you're happy with the proposal itself, you'll put in your bank account or credit card details and approve it. Ignition is secure, and they utilise Stripe to manage the payment process. There are no fees to you for us choosing to use this service. YAY!
No agreed proposal, no service. Simple.
Engagement letters are the legalese behind everything we do and we want to make sure our butt is covered - and yours too. We are also not that good at remembering to invoice every little thing we do each month. We should be - it's what pays our bills and wages! No one wants to get a surprise invoice from us for all the little bits and pieces of questions and advice sought over the year - it all adds up and honestly, our advice, it isn't free - surely everyone knows that... So knowing what is included and what isn't, it gives a bit of peace of mind.
Ignition also connects with our workflow management system where we manage our time and invoicing through. If there is no agreed proposal, there is no job in our system, we aren't aware it needs doing.
Don't forget, we charge by the time, AND degree of skill and acumen required and invoicing as we go - or monthly - is much nicer for the client than a sizeable chunk at the end of the year. Now, don't get me wrong, there'll be times where we will forget or "forget" but we're certainly not running a business to lose money or give it away - NO ONE is.
With that - the proposals also contain an element of the following:
- Deposit up front with payment on completion
- Payment up front
- Payment throughout the year on a regular basis such as monthly and/or quarterly
- Or a combination of all of the above
- Some will be fixed fee
- Some will be estimates with a minimum fee
- Some will be a combination of fixed fee and estimates with a minimum fee
Depending on the service provided, cash flow over the year is smoothed out - especially for financial concierge clients, and us - well, for our services anyway. The ONLY thing you have to remember is to have the funds in your account based on the schedule. But the days of us providing credit for 7 or more days is gone. We're not a bank, or a charity and it's not sustainable.
Do you provide credit terms for your clients? Why?
Have you done a credit check on them? Do you know how?
Have you looked at CreditorWatch?
So whether you're operating a small business, or a large business, everyone is getting proposals sent to them for the services we provide. Ad hoc services, regular services, annual services, all of the services.
🧮 Our fees are changing
We have been crunching the numbers lately and we have realised that our fees need to increase. The cost of housing, rent, fuel, food, software, insurance, education, conferences, resources, etc etc etc has gone up, yet we've not really put our prices up in years. The cost to maintain our businesses is going up, and so too must our fees.
We have specialist skills and knowledge that we've learned over the past 20 years, and operate a professional service business (for profit) with which to share our knowledge and skills from. We are consistently adding tools and resources to our belt and adding to our grey matter (or hair).
The benefit of reviewing our figures, utilising Ignition and doing some research is recognising that there is a lot of knowledge and skills that we should be charging for and it means we can build out more interesting and useful packages for our clients - especially financial concierge clients. It is exciting and I can't wait to sink my teeth into defining things even more clearly.
When was the last time you reviewed your prices, services, knowledge and skillset? We can help in this by the way, it's one of the
many services we offer. 😉
And now, on to one last thing which is another specialist knowledge and skill sharing exercise!
✅ 🧾 Tax Planning 2022
So as we've already mentioned, this financial year has been yet another challenging year from both a business and a personal perspective and whilst we would like to think the worst is over, it's quite simply not the case.
Uncertainty remains which will require business owners to be agile, to be strategic and to sharpen their focus on their numbers, their business operations and their direction.
All businesses need to be prepared for rising inflation, interest rates, fuel costs and staff costs not to mention the effects of what's happening globally with the Russian/Ukrainian war and the impending Federal election which could see a change in government. Add to that an unpleasant and unforeseen 2022 tax bill which could be minimised by working with us prior to 30 June 2022.
Here at Nationwide BAS, we are developing a number of planning packages for 2022 and invite you to take us up on at least one of them to not only future proof your business but to give you comfort and preparedness for the year ahead.
Here's a sneak peak of what might be included (it's still a work in progress):
🧸 And one last thing: