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Still using spreadsheets for rosters, timesheets, and payroll?

The administrative load involved in efficiently rostering staff, preparing accurate timesheets, and ensuring that everyone is paid correctly can be a huge burden on a small business – especially if you are doing it all manually.

If your business involves shift work or hourly work in hospitality, retail, healthcare, construction, security, or similar fields it can be even more challenging.

Fortunately, if you're running Xero as your accounting software, like many small and medium-sized businesses, help is not too far away.

Read more…

When a prospective client asks you for a quote, it's a powerful opportunity to make a sale. In fact, with the right response you may be able to 'seal the deal' almost immediately.

But if you take your time to respond, provide wildly different quotes for similar work, or otherwise send bad signals about your business, you could easily lose that client. Which is a pity, because it seemed they really wanted to do business with you.

That quote (or proposal, which we'll get to in a moment) is where you can win the client over and get the sale.

Or lose them both.

Read more…

"Signing on the dotted line." It wasn't all that long ago that phrase meant signing pen-on-paper. Increasingly these days it can also mean signing on-screen with a stylus-or even with your finger tip!-or by using your computer and keyboard.

So why have many businesses moved to using electronic signatures? What are the advantages over using pen-on-paper for signatures on agreements?

In a word, efficiency. Electronic signatures provide efficiency gains at every point of the legal document process: from distribution, to storage, security and retrieval.

Why are businesses now finding the use of paper-based contracts and legal documents so inefficient?

Read more…

As much as you try to share skills, knowledge and information in your company, you probably have some people who are key to your business' success.

It might be a Director or the CEO, whose vision made it a success in the first place. It might be your star salesperson, or someone in your IT area who knows the system backwards. It could even be someone who doesn't create any revenue but does a fantastic job of boosting your company's reputation or perhaps running your admin and back office systems.

Now, what would happen if you suddenly lost one of those key people?

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Cloud computing and web-based apps have undoubtedly improved business efficiency. But once you and your team start using various online apps, one aspect quickly becomes inefficient (not to mention downright annoying): having to repeatedly enter usernames and passwords to log in.

It's bad enough having to enter a multitude of login credentials when you first open the apps each morning. But many apps automatically log you out if you haven't been using them for a few minutes. And while it's a nice security feature, it means you have to repeat the entire process whenever you take a breather.

Wouldn't it be great if a 'master control' app could automatically enter your username and password whenever an app asked for them? Of course, you'd have to log into the master control app first, and that login process would have to be very secure. But just imagine how much time and frustration it could save.

The good news is that, to quote an all-too-familiar phrase, "There's an app for that". In fact, there are quite a few password manager apps available.

Read more…

Debtors and late-payers: the bane of every business owner.

No matter how profitable your business is, it won't survive without good cash flow. If you can't pay your bills on time, you may end up trading while insolvent. And that's not just bad business-that's illegal.

But to do that, you need your clients to pay their bills on time. And that's something you can't always rely on. Sometimes they forget. Sometimes they don't have the money. And sometimes they just decide they don't want to.

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Whoever said, "You can never have too much insurance" obviously never had to pay the premiums. Still, there's no denying the fact you need it to protect your business and its assets.

So you probably have building and contents, public liability and public indemnity insurance. But what else should you get cover for? What else can you get cover for?

The answer to the first question really depends on the type of business you own. As for what you can get cover for, you may be surprised.

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If you're still paying your employees' super with bank transfers (or worse still, cheques), then you need to change the way you do things-and fast.

From 31 October 2015, if you made super contributions for 20 or more employees you had to start making those payments online.

That means you can no longer pay by cheque (yes, some super funds insisted on being paid that way). And chances are a bank transfer won't cut it either because you'll also need to include other details such as the employee's name, Tax File Number and Super Fund member number.

Read more…

While everyone wants their businesses to be successful and operate for a long time, you may not necessarily want to remain at the helm.

At some point, you may want to pass the business on to your children, or to someone else in the company. You may want to sell your share to your business partner. Or you may want to sell the business to another person or company, and retire on the proceeds.

Ideally, you will choose the timing and method of your exit from the business. However, the way life unfolds sometimes, business owners do not always have a choice in what happens, or when.

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

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

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

Read more…

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