Blog

Sep 03

4 Reasons DIY Bookkeeping may be costing you

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Thursday, September 03, 2015

I found this article on a blog by Matt McFedries a business owner based in NZ and I wanted to share it here as I thought it captures the essence of the "value" you get from engaging professional bookkeeping services rather than seeing it as a "cost" to your business. It also supports my work & life mantra " Work Smarter, Not Harder ". I hope you enjoy reading Matt's article:

Four reasons DIY bookkeeping is capping your business growth

I went for years doing my own bookkeeping. I thought I was saving money... but in hindsight I think the cost of not having a bookkeeper was far greater.

Here's why.....

Reason 1: Sporadic bookkeeping habits slow you down

If you don't have up-to-date data on how your business is tracking weekly or at least twice a month it's hard to change your tactics throughout the month to improve your results.

For example, if it's clear mid-month that your income is not reaching budget, then at least you have the rest of the month to focus on closing more deals. Remember there's only 12 months in the year – the more months you can 'win' the better. Finding out at the end of the month that you missed the mark is not ideal.

Reason 2: You'll miss opportunities to make/save money

Having an expert or third party reviewing your books on a regular basis is likely to yield opportunities to save on tax or make other financial decisions to optimise your position. Some of the best advice and insights I've had have come by simply having a 3rd party opinion from someone viewing my business from the outside.

Reason 3: Every decision you make taxes your brain

Every decision you make costs you. Some people have a greater capacity to make decisions than others. Let's say you could make 100 decisions each day across your business, how many of those decisions would you spend on deciding how to reconcile your bank? Or is your brain put to far better use elsewhere in your business?

Reason 4: It lightens your load. Wouldn't that be nice!

Everyone that's started a business understands the true cost. It's measured in risk, stress, time away from family and the inability to switch-off outside of 'typical' working hours. Having a bookkeeper that's on your team, enabling better decisions, suggesting ways to save you money and increasing your financial IQ can provide a significant relief to the constant battle you face each day to build your dream.

Lastly.

I believe there's two types of business owners in this world. Those that value their time and those that don't.

Unfortunately our DIY mentality can really hold us back, we end up working harder, not smarter and we do it for years on end. It might be time to wake up.

Jun 05

7 Tips on how to Develop a Small Business

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Thursday, June 05, 2014


There a many things you need to do to build a successful business. Here are seven top tips :  

Must focus functions: 
1. Leadership & Direction  
2. Marketing & Sales  
3. Product & Service Fulfilment  
4. Administration & Finance.

Delight your customers. Focus on their needs rather than on getting them to accept what you have to offer. Surveys show that most customers change suppliers because of the perception that their current supplier doesn’t care about them. So focus on delighting them.

Get good people around you. This applies to mentors and mastermind groups - people with experience from whom you can learn, gather ideas and fast-track your success. It also applies to your advisers and to the people you employ as your business grows.

Work 'on your business, not just 'in' your business. It is easy to get so focused on the demands of delivering products and services that we ignore the other elements of building the business. Allocate time to work on things such as your marketing, strategic direction, planning, and both personal and business growth.

Learn and implement. We received an email from a client recently thanking us for introducing them to a Xero 'add on' because it dramatically increased their efficiency and productivity saving them $000's of dollars. The key message here is that they implemented the information received. Knowledge without implementation is just knowledge. Knowledge plus implementation equals unbelievable results.

Make sure that you have passion and that comes through all facets of your business

Remember that your business is a means to an end, not an end in itself. To be successful in business you need to lead a balanced life so don’t become so absorbed in your business that it becomes your life and everything else falls down around you.

May 27

Is your business drifting along? 5 Ways to "Reignite" your Business

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I don’t watch a lot of television, but recently watched a show called Kitchen Nightmares hosted by the infamous Gordon Ramsay .

If you are not familiar with the show, Gordon, one of the world’s best chefs and restaurateurs, goes into a failing restaurant with the goal of helping the owners turn it back to profit within just five days.

After watching a couple of episodes, it became apparent that he follows a simple formula.  Five steps which are universal and principles which can be applied to any business or industry.

So if you’d like to break through your business plateau and achieve greater heights, read on and consider putting these ideas into practice.

1. Get Re-Inspired

When Gordon Ramsay arrives at a restaurant, the business owner is completely flat, bereft of ideas and hope. 

Months or even years of hard work and dwindling profits have taken there toll and the owner is in complete survival mode and stressed to the max. At this point, Gordon could launch into ‘lets fix this’ and ‘lets fix that’, but it would be a complete waste of time, because you can’t achieve anything if you are mentally and emotionally spent.

So Gordon initially works with the owner to help them re-ignite their passion. He believes that if a business stinks it’s because the owner stinks, so that’s where he starts – from the top down. Often he will start with a basic question: “Why did you go into business?” 

When you are in a state of perpetual stress or exhaustion, you can't possibly expect to run at optimum capacity. No wonder you cant get inspired or excited. So if that’s you: stop now, take a breather, break and do whatever you need to do to get re-inspired. Think about why you went into business in the first place? What are the things you love about what you do. Get back to basics.....

Question : What can you do to re-ignite the passion for your business?

2. Own a Niche

Once the owner is in a more positive state and has restored some energy,  they can start to look at fixing their problems. The first step is is to clarify their niche. What’s a niche? It’s the position that you hold in someone else’s mind. The problem is, that many businesses try to play it safe and when they start struggling they go after any opportunity that moves. They try to be "all things to all people".

Someone says, “Do you do pizza?” And the owner says, “No, but we will tomorrow,” The owner then tells their chef, “Go buy whatever you need to buy because we’re making pizza.” “Oh and arrive two hours earlier because you need to prepare all of the dough.” Once this happens a few times you start to lose your edge. You go from ‘that business that does amazing food and great service’ to ’that restaurant that tries to cater for everyone but not very well’. This then spills over to the culture and 'feel' of the restaurant which looks sloppy and unstructured.

Gordon coaches "you need to stake your claim". “We’re going to be the most authentic Mexican restaurant in Sydney”. Then make all your food, decor and service decisions based on that claim, without deviating. Remember you can’t be all things to all people, so pick something you are passionate about and put all your focus and energy into it...consistently and stick to it!

Question: What's your niche? Is it clear and can customers see and feel it?

3. Trim the Fat

Once Ramsay has helped the owner to identify and own their niche, the conversation invariably rolls onto the menu ie the products they are selling. In almost every single case I have seen they are offering way too many things on their menu. In fact, one Indian restaurant was offering over 150 items. Gordon says, “We need to cut this down to around 12″.

As you can imagine this conversation goes down like a lead balloon, because it sounds crazy, right? And completely counter intuitive. But as Gordon explains, you can’t be remarkable if you are doing too many things. And remarkable is what you need to be because people can get "average" anywhere and what's more never go back.

Furthermore, with a smaller menu you can buy stock in bulk, preparation is much easier and meals get served a lot faster. The result is lower costs, better quality and faster service, which ultimately means a lot more profit.

Question: What can you 'trim' in your business?

 4. Communicate Effectively

Once the niche and products are nailed, the next major problem area to work on is People and Culture. After years of stress and financial pressure, relationships are usually at breaking point. Gordon normally handles this by getting everyone together.

He then goes through one person at a time and asks, “What’s going wrong? What’s broken? And how should we fix it?” Now whenever this happens I’m always amazed at the looks on people’s faces. They’re shocked, because they’re literally hearing everyone’s ground breaking wisdom for the first time. You think if a business was struggling they would be talking about this sooner, but in most cases, these owners have never bothered to ask anyone else’s opinion.

Once everyone has shared and the owner has really listened, Gordon encourages everyone to start adopting their new behaviours and work together as a unit, rather than despondent individuals. Over the next few days he keeps reinforcing and reminding people to speak up and to listen intently when others are doing the same.

Question: How often are you asking your team questions and 'really' listening?

 5. Create an Experience

With staff communication back on track, now it’s time to focus on the most important person in any business – the customer. Usually the business owner has been so preoccupied with his or her own drama they don't see they are coming across often cold to their customers and at worst, completely rude!

With their focus back on track, Gordon rallies the troops and tells the team, “We need to create a knock-their-socks-off experience for your customer.” This involves all of the things that staff know, but over time have forgotten or lost – things like being enthusiastic, eye contact, smiling and helping customers into their seats. Then once customers are feeling good, Gordon encourages them to bring alive the menu and continually ask if they’d like another drink or if they’d care for dessert. Clearly all factors that help increase the restaurants average dollar sale.

But ultimate true test is to create an experience that will make the customer want to come back and feel compelled to share with friends and family. Repeat customers and referrals – the life-blood of any business.

Question: What are 10 things you can do to 'WOW' your customers?

Final Thoughts

While Gordon is over the top at times  and the subject matter about restaurants, the lessons learnt are valuable and apply to any business or industry.

The biggest 'takeaway' for me is that every business is a reflection of the owner or 'leader'. It all starts with "me". Ofcourse,  staff have a role to play, but if they are not performing, it is up to the 'leader' to show the way, be clear and demonstrate the desired behaviours and mindset. Only then can we expect our staff to follow.

So try it. What have you got to lose? Follow the principles above and enjoy putting them into practice. You may be very surprised with the outcome !

Nov 22

10 tips for the new financial year

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Friday, November 22, 2013

What can do to ensure a smooth-running, stress-free 2014 financial year? Here are my top tips:

1. Pay your tax on time: As simple as it may seem, this is crucial if you want to avoid the penalties of late payments.

2. Establish a budget: Take some time now to plan your budget for the year. Not your scene? This is something we can assist you with – and it’s cheaper than you think!

3. Get on Xero: Don’t just believe us… we are one of 200,000+ businesses globally onboard and it really is as good as they say. Try your free trial here. Already on Xero? Great! Only six more top tips to check off your list!

4. Reconcile reconcile reconcile!: The more often, the better. It will save you time and confusion later down the track.. and let’s face it, it’s pretty satisfying!

5. Stay on top of outstanding debtors: If there’s no cash in the bank, this could be a reason why.

6. Don’t make blind decisions: Seek advice before making any major decisions, like purchasing new equipment.

7. Use the correct account: Ensure you use the right bank account for your purchases, if you can, keep your business and your personal purchases as separate as possible.

8. Get the best deal: Review your company’s finance and loan situation to make sure you are getting the best deal that you can.

9. Are you adequately covered?: Make sure you are covered for the risks associated with your business. Talk to your adviser if you’re unsure.

10. Use payroll software: With so many good options out there, there is no need to be wasting your time with antiquated payroll systems. This also goes for job management, communications, accounts and document storage. Xero has a great payroll system inbuilt.

Nov 05

Overcoming the five fears of change

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Tuesday, November 05, 2013

All progress is the result of change. So fearing change or fighting change is the wrong way to go. Instead, choose to change. Fight the fears that block your change. And look for the progress that will come your way.
All progress is the result of change. Unfortunately, change isn't all that easy. Change is challenging and sometimes messy. You make a few changes in your business or in your life, hoping for better results, but you're going to experience some obstacles and setbacks along the way. And if you're not careful, you may get discouraged and quit or you may not even try to change anything for the better. You just settle for things the way they are.

By contrast:

Change champions don't QUIT and don't SETTLE

As Arnold Bennet puts it, "Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts". You simply have to accept that fact and work your way through them.
To get you started on your journey to becoming a change champion, you need to...

1. Overcome the fear of the unknown

The fear of the unknown is normal. After all, when you leave the familiar, when you leave the status quo, when you step outside your comfort zone, you can't be sure that your new way will be better or even work. So you're bound to have some of this fear. You're bound to feel a bit lost and disoriented.

Change management solution: "Choose growth"

Take a bit of advice from the greatest psychologist of the 20th century, Abraham Maslow. He said, "One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again".

2. Eliminate the fear of failure

This fear is also quite common and very normal. After all, when you set out on a new venture, when you try to change something at work or at home, you're going to experience some failures along the way.
Unfortunately, change losers have the irrational belief that they should be good at something the first few times they try it. And when that doesn't happen, when they experience some failure, they convince themselves they shouldn't have bothered to try. They give up at the first signs of difficulty and quit the change process soon after they start.

Change management solution: "Get a healthier understanding of how change works"

Realise that the start-to-finish line in the change process is not a straight line to success. The line will almost always have some failure bumps along the way. As Susan Jeffers writes, "After serious consideration, I have come to the conclusion that if I haven't been making any mistakes lately, I must be doing something wrong!" In her book, Jeffers advises us to "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway".
Change champions know this. They know that change requires risk and risk involves setbacks... so they allow themselves some no-fault, no self-condemnation, trial-and-error learning experiments. They set their goals for change, but they don't set their goals to be instantly successful in that change.
And if that sounds a little too soft for you, look at all the people you admire in your life or throughout history. You'll soon learn that every one of them failed, but it wasn't their failure that made them great. It was their ability to push aside the fear of failure and overcome their failure that made them great.

3. Fight the fear of commitment

To make change work for you, you must make a commitment to the change... but commitment frightens a lot of people. So they avoid it by using "mush language" saying such things as, "I'll think about it... We'll see... and... I want to keep my options open". Code words for fear.
I understand. Commitment is scary because it forces you to look at yourself and ask yourself some tough questions. You have to ask, "What do I really really want? And once I know that answer, what am I willing to do to get those things?".
Unfortunately, change losers get sucked into this fear. Rather than get gut-honest with themselves, rather than decide what they really want, rather than commit themselves to doing what needs to be done, they find it a lot easier to whine about things than do something about those things. Commitment-averse people need to realise they don't have to change everything.

Change management solution: "Focus on what needs to be changed and keep the rest"

It's what change champions do. And it's what effective leaders do. They make change, but stand for values that don't. As one very successful executive told me, "My job is to help people identify the habits and assumptions that must be changed for the company to prosper. At the same time, I have to help my people identify the values and operations that are so central to our core that if we lose them... we lose ourselves."

4. Dismiss the fear of disapproval

Everybody wants to be liked and everybody wants their efforts to win the approval of others. But when you start to stir things up, when you start to change some things, you can be sure some people won't like you or what you're doing. They may make cruel, critical remarks or they may flood you with their forecasts of doom and gloom. And all that disapproval may stop you from starting or finishing the change process.

Change management solution: "Take in the disapproval with a grain of salt and an ounce of discernment"

In other words, some of the criticism is not worth your time and attention. As author and speaker Zig Ziglar says, "Don't be distracted by criticism. Remember the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you."
Other criticisms may come from good-intentioned and well-experienced people. They may know some things about your proposed change that you need to know. Treat their comments with discernment. Take what is useful and throw the rest away.
And finally, in your quest to become a change champion ...

5. Discard the fear of success

It's a strange fear. Just about everybody wants to be successful, even more successful than they are now. At least that's what they want on a conscious level.
Deeper down, however, success can be difficult to accept. When you're successful, you stand out from the crowd and some people would rather blend in. They don't want the spotlight focused on them because that might feel uncomfortable and make others feel jealous.
Other people know if they're successful, they'll simply be given more than their fair share of the work. After all, when a manager wants to get something done, he's much more likely to give the work to a person who has already proven he can and will it get done, than a person he'll have to watch, goad, and push.

Change management solution: "Relish your success instead of settling for mediocrity"

Change champions do this all the time. When they look back over their careers and their lives, they know their best memories and best feelings are connected to achievements. They're not connected to those times when they did just enough to get by. So they discard the fear of success and relish the payoff that comes with all their hard work.
All progress is the result of change. So fearing change or fighting change is the wrong way to go. Instead, choose to change. Fight the fears that block your change. And look for the progress that will come your way.
Action tip: 
Which of the five fears listed above gives you the most trouble when it comes to making a change? What are you going to do about it?