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Outsourcing for SMEs

Outsourcing jobs used to be something that was only done by large corporations, as economies of scale were required to make it profitable. However, as technology has progressed, an increasing number of small to medium businesses have been outsourcing administrative and customer service roles, including outsourcing some jobs offshore, with the Philippines being a popular destination.

Outsourcing your customer service or administration is something you need to consider carefully. It is advisable to consider what your business might lose, for example, a personal touch with some customers, and weigh this up against the savings you might make. Outsourcing administrative costs can be particularly cost effective for businesses who do not require a full-time administrative staff member.

Additionally, if you need to complete a specific project, for example, the design of a new website, it is no longer necessary to limit your recruitment of freelancers to your locality. Interstate and even international freelancers may be able to perform the work just as effectively, and possibly for a lower rate.

Posted on 25 August '14, under business. No Comments.

Creating a culture of innovation

Innovation is fundamentally important to long-term business success. While you may be able to take on the main role of envisioning breakthroughs for your business, it never hurts to get input from your employees.

In order to ensure that your employees’ contributions towards innovation are as valuable as possible, you need to create a workplace environment in which new ideas are encouraged and celebrated. Here are some tips for creating a culture of innovation within your workplace:

-Keep open lines of communication with your employees. This does not need be limited to your direct reports. If you believe that your frontline staff may have some valuable ideas, extend an open invitation for them to approach you.

-Ensure that you have adequately considered innovation in your budget. The level of resources that should be directed towards innovation will vary greatly depending on the size of your business and the industry in which you operate.

-Celebrate creative ideas, even if they prove to be unfeasible. This will help you employees to feel more confident in bringing ideas to the table.

Posted on 18 August '14, under business. No Comments.

Identifying competition

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, it is becoming increasingly important to be aware of your competition. It is not just the activities of competitors you are currently monitoring that you should take notice of, but also the potential that new, indirect competitors may emerge. The rate at which new technologies are being developed, in addition to becoming increasingly affordable, means that competition may arise suddenly, and from unexpected places.

A good place to start is by listing your top five direct competitors and your top five indirect competitors. A direct competitor is someone who offers a very similar product to your own, while an indirect competitor is someone who may steal market share from you by offering a different product.

Once you have listed your major competitors, you should make a comprehensive list of all of their strengths and weaknesses. From here, you will easily be able to see what advantages and/or disadvantages your business is facing, and hopefully succeed in addressing any issues before they become seriously detrimental.

You should also consider how you can capitalise on singular advantages that your business may have, for example, your location or a consistently loyal customer base.

Posted on 30 July '14, under business. No Comments.

Business awards

Winning a business award can bring about a lot of opportunities for your business. It can be a huge marketing boost and can also help to generate industry recognition, which may help you to attract new and exciting business partners. Employee pride is another major benefit of winning a business award, and it may well help you to attract and retain talent in the future.

There are many business awards that you may be eligible to apply for, but you should always carefully research the reputation of the administering institution. There are several business awards that have attracted criticisms for being non-selective in choosing their finalists, all for the purpose of raising revenue from ticket sales.

As applying for a business award can be an onerous task, you should also carefully consider which award categories you are the most likely to succeed in, as well as which ones are the most closely aligned with your business aims. While application process itself may seem tedious, you should strive to view it as an exciting opportunity for you to examine your business from an overarching perspective, considering your long-term performance, achievements and potential for improvement.

Most award applications require a written submission, typically answering a series of questions and/or addressing criteria. It is advisable to illustrate any claims you make with a concrete example of your achievements. The inclusion of testimonials and relevant case studies will go a long way in making your submission stand out.

Posted on 24 July '14, under business. No Comments.

The importance of reference checks

A recent high-profile scandal, involving Myer executive recruit Andrew Flanagan and his fictionalised CV, has drawn attention to the importance of checking the references of prospective employees. Mr. Flanagan was dismissed on his first day after it was revealed that his impressive career history was almost entirely fabricated.

The first step you should take when checking references is to confirm the concrete facts presented on the prospective employee’s resume, for example dates of employment, job title, level of responsibility and level of reporting. Wherever it is possible, you should try to get the referee to give you concrete examples to back up their claims about the employee. It can also be helpful to ask them to provide examples of the employee’s performance and behaviour in stressful situations.You should contact multiple referees whenever possible, and attempt to construct an image of any patterns of behaviour that the prospective employee might display.

Be aware that many referees will be cautious in giving their responses, especially to questions that are primarily subjective. Many people will also be reluctant to devote a significant amount of time to answering your questions, so you should carefully consider which questions are the most crucial to shaping your opinion, and be time efficient in the way you present them.

Posted on 8 July '14, under business. No Comments.

Etiquette tips for business lunches

Having lunch with a potential client, investor or employee can be a great way to make a good impression while taking care of business matters at the same time. However, there are a lot of etiquette considerations, some of them extremely subtle, that you should be aware of. Here are some tips for conducting yourself at a business lunch:

-When extending the invitation you should always offer your guest a couple of different options for time and location

-Arrive a little early to make sure that your table isn’t in an overly crowded or busy area; this can inhibit productive conversations

-Always allow your guest to order first so that your choices don’t impede their decision

-Either organise payment prior to the lunch or be quick and confident in laying down your card

-Refrain from checking your phone throughout the meal

Posted on 25 June '14, under business. No Comments.

Getting your product range right

As businesses grow, they tend to add more products and services to their range. Research demonstrates that this can lead to reduced sales as customers often become overwhelmed. Creating products with only minor points of difference can also be annoying for customers, as they have to spend time trying to work out which is the right choice. It is businesses’ responsibility to select only the best products to offer customers.

Limiting your range of products/services also demonstrates a degree of confidence in the quality of your products. Not only are customers less likely to purchase a product from an unnecessarily extensive range, but they will also be less satisfied when they do. A customer who is less satisfied is also less likely to purchase the same product again in the future. Additionally, continuing to offer out of date products is not good for your business’s image and brand.

Posted on 20 June '14, under business. No Comments.

Making your office more productive

It is incredible the impact that the physical characteristics of an office can have upon workplace productivity. Elements such as colour schemes and office layout, which may seem inconsequential, can have tremendous impacts on productivity. Here are three things to consider when redecorating your office space:

Lighting: Natural light has a positive effect on people’s mood and tends to improve their work. Obviously letting in more natural light is not an option for most businesses, but what you can do is rearrange your office to maximise your employees’ exposure to natural light.

Colour: While there has been some of contradictory research into the psychological effects of colour, one thing that people seem to agree on is the stimulating effect of bright and saturated colours. Whenever possible, choose vivid colours for office supplies and furniture.

Plant life: A few nice plants around the office will help to brighten the mood and increase concentration levels. A small pot plant on each desk can be a great way to show employees your appreciation.

Posted on 6 June '14, under business. No Comments.

Audit activity on the rise

The ATO’s audit activity is on the rise with key areas including payroll tax and GST.

Payroll tax 

Regulators are looking for those who understate or avoid their payroll tax obligations. A few of the common problem areas are:


-grouping provisions

-interstate wages

-miscalculating the payroll tax threshold


A business that has a GST refund due is likely to be audited. The trigger for a GST audit is often large or abnormal  refunds, however, it can also be as simple as not reconciling the quarterly activity statements.

Posted on 30 May '14, under business. No Comments.

The Data and Payment Standard

From 3 November 2014, employers with 20 or more employees will begin using the new Data and Payment Standard, also known as SuperStream, to make superannuation contributions to their employees.

The Data and Payment Standard will streamline the process for many employers when making contributions. It provides a simpler, consistent method of preparing contributions. In most cases, it will provide a single channel for interacting with multiple super funds.

Employers will make super contributions electronically. The contribution data is sent electronically in message format to the fund and the contribution payment is sent electronically through the banking system.

It will also reduce payment processing costs as the manual methods have been removed. Super funds and its members will also benefit from processing contributions faster and improved data quality.

The ultimate goal is to lead to better retirement outcomes for all Australians including:

-reduced administration costs

-higher lifetime savings

-fewer lost accounts

The data message and payment will be linked by a payment reference number which will enable reconciliation at the receiving fund.

Most of the key components required for this change, including e-commerce infrastructure and software solutions, are currently being developed, trialled and implemented.

Posted on 23 May '14, under business. No Comments.

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