Ratio analysis methods for your business
Financial ratios are useful tools for business owners to monitor, analyse and improve their business performance. By using ratio analysis methods, you can gain insight into a company’s liquidity, efficiency and profitability by comparing the information contained in its financial statements.
Solvency ratios measure the company’s capacity to fulfil long-term financial commitments. Debtor days is one of the key measures of this ratio analysis method. It shows the average number of days that a business takes to collect invoices from their customers. The longer it takes to collect, the greater the number of debtor days. When debtor days increase beyond normal trading terms, it indicates that the business is not collecting debts from customers as efficiently as it should be. The formula for working out debtor days is:
(Trade receivables ÷ Annual credit sales) x 365 days
Profitability ratios help measure and evaluate the ability of a company to generate income relative to revenue, balance sheet assets, operating costs and shareholders’ equity during a specific period of time. The net profit margin measures what percentage of each dollar earned by a business ends up as profit at the end of the year, the formula is:
Net income ÷ Total revenue = Net profit margin
Liquidity ratios measure a company’s ability to pay off its short-term debt obligations. This is done by comparing a company’s most liquid assets, those that can be easily converted to cash, with its short-term liabilities. Current ratio indicates whether a company has the liquidity to meet its short-term obligations. The formula is:
Current assets ÷ Current liabilities = Current ratio
Activity ratios measure the efficiency in which management runs the company. Inventory turnover is an important activity ratio, showing how effectively a business is using its inventory. This ratio measures how many times the company’s inventory has been turned over or sold during a specified period. The formula is:
Cost of goods sold ÷ Average inventory = Inventory turnover
Tax time changes
The ATO will start processing 2018-19 tax returns on 5 July 2019 and are expected to start paying refunds from 16 July 2019, with the majority of electronically-lodged current year tax returns completed within 12 business days of receipt. There a few changes to tax returns that individuals should take note of going into this end of financial year.
Private health insurance statements:
From 1 July 2019, health insurers are no longer required to send private health insurance statements, it is now optional to send this information. Private health insurance information will be available in the pre-fill report, expected by mid-August. If it is not populated by then, taxpayers may need to request a statement from their health insurer.
Low and middle-income tax offset:
Taxpayers may be eligible for an income tax offset if they are an Australian resident for income tax purposes or their taxable income is in the appropriate income range. It is not compulsory to claim this offset, the ATO will work it out when their tax return is lodged.
In the event the changes proposed in the 2019-20 Budget become law after 1 July 2019, the ATO will automatically amend assessments. The offset can only reduce the amount of tax paid to zero and it does not reduce Medicare levy.
Employers reporting through Single Touch Payroll are not required to provide a payment summary to their employees as income statements will replace them. Employees can access their income statements through ATO online services at any time. Employees will receive a notification through myGov when their income statement is ‘Tax ready’, so they can complete their tax return. Employees will be able to contact the ATO for a copy of their income statement if they do not have access to myGov.
Making the most out of SEO
Finding the right balance between publishing high-quality content and search engines indexing your website is key to a successful marketing strategy. Copy that is not optimised properly for SEO purposes can end up wasting valuable time, money and energy.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the term used for the methods and strategies used to ensure the visibility of websites on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). SEO optimised content has been written to rank well on SERPs, highlighted the key elements of the website and terms most often used. The use of correct URLs, title, ALT tags and sitemaps all affect SEO visibility.
Place primary keywords in the right places:
Keyword-rich phrases should be used in your headlines and throughout the body of your posts. Placing keywords in both the headline and body will help both search engines and readers searching for that particular topic or phrase. Be careful not to use too many keywords for the sole purpose of SEO as Google will penalise keyword stuffing which will, in turn, decrease your site’s ranking.
Include long-tail keywords:
Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific variations of your primary keywords. These are words that generally get less search traffic but will have a higher conversion value and better quality. For example, if your primary keyword is ‘photographer,’ a long tail keyword phrase could include ‘photographer for weddings’ and so on.
Update your content regularly:
Search engines favour recent posts as they are more relevant and useful to the reader. Updating your content regularly helps to improve your rankings and provide readers with up-to-date news and information about your business.
Write for your audience, not search engines:
When writing content for your site, don’t lose sight of the audience, as they are the ones reading your copy. If your site is SEO optimised but does not deliver interesting, relevant and engaging content for your readers, it is unlikely you will be selling a great deal.
Engage in internal linking:
Internal linking can help search engines crawl business websites more effectively, help specific pages rank well for user search terms and point online users to the content that is relevant to what they are looking for.
Building the right team for your business
While hiring the right staff is a key element when running a business, to be successful you will need to build a strong team. Here are some tips on turning a group of individuals into a cohesive, collaborative team that will help your business to reach its full potential.
Have a vision:
When starting a new business, defining what your motivations are can help you to visualise the type of organisation you want to create. This can help your staff to know what you are aiming for and understand the goals of the business. Don’t just focus on your products or services, outline the principles and characteristics you wish to build in your organisation. For example, some of your core goals may be to have outstanding customer service or to create a supportive workplace. Once you have outlined your vision, you can use it as a guideline for both you and your employees.
Involve your staff:
By getting your employees involved in the day-to-day operations of your organisation, it will allow them to use their strengths to integrate and develop into the business. Challenge your staff by giving them timelines or specific goals to strive for. If they have achieved these, acknowledge their success. This will motivate them to work hard if they know they are being recognised for their efforts. Consider team-building exercises or activities outside of work as a way to foster a friendly and positive environment. When your employees are happy and enjoy coming to work, this will reflect in your business.
Hiring from a broad range of backgrounds will mean that each of your employees will bring different strengths and talents to your workplace. Each individual will have different personalities and offer a unique perspective on how to do their job. Recognising this as an employer can help you to enable each employee to utilise their strengths. This will improve the strength of the team and benefit your business. Clearly define what the role of each worker is, as vague instructions will affect progress and efficiency. Updated task lists may help, as each employee will know exactly what needs to be done and the work will be completed in a productive, cohesive manner.
How the ‘Protect Your Super’ changes will affect you
A number of changes to superannuation will come into effect from 1 July 2019. The ‘Protect Your Superannuation’ Bill passed through Parliament in February and forms part of the Government’s package of reforms that were announced in the 2018-19 Federal Budget.
The new legislation is designed to protect Australians’ superannuation savings by ensuring that their super balance isn’t negatively affected by unnecessary fees on insurance policies. Changes that may affect you are;
For those who do not act before 1 July, your insurance may be deemed inactive. Under the Protect Your Superannuation Bill, super accounts that have been inactive for 16 months will have their automatic insurance cancelled. These inactive accounts will also be transferred to the ATO. Members will be able to ‘opt-in’ to protect their insurance cover and stop their account from being inactive, but this must be done before 30 June. Once the regime has commenced, trustees will need to ensure that they have ongoing arrangements in place to identify members who risk becoming inactive.
Ban on exit fees:
The new laws will remove the need to pay exit fees from all superannuation accounts. Trustees that are currently charging exit fees will need to review the current fee structure in order to implement any necessary disclosure and product changes. This will ensure that exit fees will not be charged on or after the 1 July 2019, the date these changes will commence.
While the policy changes are intended to protect consumers, there may be alarming consequences for those who may not realise their account is inactive and assume that their insurance cover will continue. All superannuation trustees and members will need to review these changes to ensure they are meeting all necessary obligations. If further help is needed about how the changes will impact you, consult your financial advisor.
How to hire the right staff
Finding capable, fitting staff is essential to any successful business. Hiring the right employee can help increase employee productivity, foster a successful employment relationship, and positively impact your business’s overall culture.
Here are a few key points to focus on when looking for new workers:
Look at skills over experience:
People are more than just their resume. A candidate may have experience but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will be a good fit for your business. Instead, try to match an individual’s skill set with those you need in the role, this can help in determining the best fit. Skills in communication, problem-solving, teamwork and initiative are much harder to teach and may be critical for the job.
Ask the right questions in the interview:
A solid interview process is a window for candidates to see how you approach daily work. Planning time for the company mission, questions you want to ask and questions they would like to ask, reflects on your business style and gives an idea of what it would be like to work for you. With that in mind, thoughtful interview questions can help you separate the desirable from average. Create a plan for what style of questions you will ask and how these questions will differ depending on the role you are hiring for. Having a process in place can help with streamlining the interviewing, making it successful and time efficient.
Always be on the lookout for new talent:
Great companies are always on the lookout for new talent as they know and value the contributions of their staff to the business. Making it known that your business is aware of new talent can encourage people to send through their resumes even when there are no openings. Doing so can provide you with a talent pool for when you do need to hire and opportunities to create new roles that can strengthen your business.
What and when you need to report in your SMSF
The event-based reporting (EBR) framework for self-managed super funds (SMSFs) commenced on 1 July 2018. This system allows the ATO to administer the transfer balance cap. Reporting under the EBR framework commences when your first member begins a retirement phase income stream. The transfer balance account report (TBAR) is then used to report certain events and is separate from the SMSF annual return.
An SMSF must report events that affect a member’s transfer balance, these should include details of:
- Pre-existing income streams being received on 30 June 2017 that;
- continued to be paid to them on or after 1 July 2017.
- were in retirement phase on or after 1 July 2017.
- New retirement phase and death benefit income streams including value and type.
- Limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA) payments, including the value and date of each relevant payment, if entered into on or after 1 July 2017.
- Compliance with a commutation authority issued by the ATO.
- Personal injury contributions.
- Commutations of retirement phase income streams that occur on or after 1 July 2017.
Events that an SMSF do not need to report include:
- Pension payments made on or after 1 July 2017.
- Investment earnings and losses that occurred on or after 1 July 2017.
- When an income stream ceases because the interest has been exhausted.
- The death of a member.
All SMSFs must report events that affect their members’ transfer balances. If no event occurs, there is nothing to report.
Timeframes for reporting are determined by the total superannuation balances of an SMSF’s members. In the events affecting members’ transfer balances, reports must be made within 28 days after the end of the quarter in which the event occurs. Unless a member has exceeded their cap and the fund needs to report an event sooner, the first due date for the lodgment of TBARs is 28 October.
Startup essentials to help your business succeed
Starting your own business can be as daunting as it is exciting. There are many aspects that need to be considered when making the change to becoming your own boss. Here are a few of the essentials to get you moving.
Commit to an idea:
The possibilities of what you can achieve are vast but for a successful business, you need to narrow your scope. Entrepreneurship is about committing your time and money to a plan you believe in, so choose your business wisely and devote yourself to making it a success.
Do not go into a business blindly, as a good idea can only get you so far. A business model shows possible investors that you are serious and gives you a blueprint for how to run the business going forward. Look at elements such as start-up costs, risk assessment, hiring and outsourcing when making your strategic, operational and financial plans.
Be in the know:
Having an idea is all well and good but if you do not have the industry knowledge to back it up, your dream may be over sooner than you think. Experiencing an industry firsthand will assist with practical knowledge whilst research can help on a technical side. When you’re creating your business plan, you need to honestly assess your own skills and expertise so you can identify where you could use assistance.
Insurance and trademarks are essential to protecting your property, both physical and intellectual. Though this may not be an exciting step when creating a new business, it is your responsibility as a new business owner to manage the risks associated with your business. Implementing the proper insurance ensures your company is protected in the event of disaster or litigation.
Changes to the ABN application process
The ATO has made recent changes to the application process for an Australian Business Number (ABN). The changes have been made as a measure to protect the process’ integrity and identify those who are attempting to misuse it.
An ABN is a unique 11 digit number that identifies your business to the government and the wider community. The recent changes focus on:
- Ensuring that those who are entitled to an ABN are the only ones who will receive one.
- Identifying people going through the application process multiple times.
- Confirming entitlement and helping people to understand their obligations.
You are only entitled to an ABN when carrying on or starting an enterprise in Australia. An enterprise includes activities done in the form of a business, including operating a charity, renting or leasing property, or acting as the trustee of a superannuation fund. It is compulsory for businesses with a GST turnover of $75,000 or more to have an ABN and be registered for GST. While businesses with a turnover of less than $75,000 can still apply for an ABN and may choose to register for GST, it is not compulsory.
There is no single test to determine cases where you are carrying on a business. However, features of a functioning business include:
- An intention to make a profit from the activity that is demonstrated by a business plan (unlike a hobby).
- The activity is a significant commercial activity that is a reasonable size and scale, involving the sale of goods or services.
- The activity is organised, systemic and is carried on in a business-like manner with records kept.
For businesses that are not yet underway, you would be expected to undertake a number of commencement activities for a successful ABN application. These activities include advertising and setting up social media or a website for the business, obtaining business licences, or consulting with financial, business or tax advisors.
Other reasons that you may be entitled to an ABN are if making supplies connected with Australia’s indirect tax zone (defined as including Australia but not its external territories or certain offshore areas), or if you are a Corporations Act company.
The ATO’s changes better define who is eligible for an ABN, helping business owners to understand their obligations in cases where there may be doubt. Consider consulting your professional advisor if further help is required.
Avoiding unfair business practices under Australian Consumer Law
Under Australian Consumer Law, there are a number of sales practices that are illegal for businesses to engage in when dealing with their customers. Unfair business practices encompass a wide range of activities, such as misleading or false statements and deceptive conduct.
Here are some examples of illegal activities that you should be aware of as a business owner in order to avoid harsh penalties.
False or misleading statements:
It is unlawful for a business to make false or misleading representations about their goods or services that they are supplying, offering to supply, or promoting. For example, businesses may not make false or misleading statements about the standard or quality of goods or services, testimonials from other customers about the goods or services, or their price. While it will depend on the circumstances of each particular case, the maximum fine for this offence is $220,000 for individuals and $1.1 million for a body corporate.
Accepting payment without intending to supply:
Payment cannot be accepted for goods and services if businesses do not intend to supply, they intend to supply materially different goods or services, or if they are aware that they will not be able to supply the goods or services in a timely manner. However, this is not intended to affect businesses who demonstrate a genuine attempt to meet supply agreements. For example, a business may avoid prosecution if the failure to supply was due to something beyond its control.
Businesses are prohibited from acting in a manner that is against good conscience. For conduct to be classified as unconscionable, it is extremely harsh or aggressive where one party exploits another and must be more than just unfair or unreasonable. Examples of this conduct include coercing a person to sign a blank or one-sided contract, failing to disclose contractual terms, or taking advantage of low-income consumers by misleading them about prices. Whether certain conduct is deemed to be unconscionable will depend on the particular circumstances involved and may require legal action. There is a list of factors that courts may consider, including the relative bargaining strength of the parties, and the extent to which the parties acted in good faith.