Customer service makes small businesses the first choice of consumers

Zendesk has released a newly commissioned report titled Big Expectations, Small Businesses: What Customers Want, revealing that small businesses have a distinct advantage over big businesses when it comes to the customer service they provide. In fact, customers are happy to pay more to a small business for this reason alone.

Almost all customers reported clear benefits from working with a small business when compared to a larger company. It’s the small, personal touches that make working with a small business so good. For customers, it comes down to working with someone who knows their specific situation and creates the feeling of having a valued relationship.

Beyond this, customers enjoy working with small businesses as they feel good about supporting smaller organisations and find the relationship convenient. As a result, customers are actively looking for ways to support small businesses. Over two-thirds of customers will find ways to work with small businesses – even when it is less convenient for them.

Amy Foo, Managing Director, Zendesk A/NZ said, “Australia is well known as being a nation that champions the underdog, and it is no different when it comes to purchasing behaviour.

“Small businesses have a unique advantage in the personalised, earnest customer service they provide, giving them the one up on larger businesses. By maintaining a focus on providing positive and unique experiences, small businesses have a great opportunity to be competitive against bigger, more well-known competitors,” Foo added.

With almost all Australians reporting a good customer experience with small businesses, this has a big impact on behaviour. Nine out of ten customers will positively change their buying behaviour following a good customer experience – by buying more or recommending a brand to friends and family.

While this is a clear advantage for small businesses, customers have now come to expect a high level of customer service. To meet these high expectations, business owners should ensure they are communicating with customers when, how and where they want.

Digital channels like social media, live chat and texting have become increasingly popular methods of communication. Yet, small business customers still show a preference to look for self-service options before reaching out. Making it easy for customers to answer their own questions is the first step in providing good customer service.

“One thing is clear – it’s not just about providing the best experiences for the customer. Small businesses should also be thinking about their front-line employees. Armed with the right tools and resources to have a complete view of the customer, they will be empowered and enabled to create better customer experiences,” Foo said.

Click here for original article source


Rebranding? Here’s why you don’t let your domain name lapse

Have you ever wondered what happens to domain names that you let lapse after your business is bought/sold or you rebrand and change to a new domain name? In this article, we'd like to share a true story, written by an experienced business writer, Ingrid Moyle.

True story

I admit to being one of those people who didn’t think too deeply of the implications when I let an old domain name that I had traded under for many years go.

After all, I had been trading under the new domain name for a few years, and the only emails that were going through to my old email address were spam, so no biggie if I just let it lapse. Right?

Wrong!

Scammers and hackers are always looking for new ways to do their thing, and re-registering lapsed domain names is simply the latest in their long arsenal of ways to stuff-up business owners.

In my case, the scammers found a way to circumvent the auDA domain name registration rules to re-register my expired domain name.

They then organised hosting with a hosting provider with a murky reputation and proceeded to scrape a full copy of my website from many years ago and make it live once again in a zombie parody of what it once was.

The scammers then filled the zombie site choc-full of malware and had the e-commerce component of the site redirected to their personal PayPal accounts.

For good measure, they added a stack of add-on domains selling male enhancement medications under my old domain name.

Why is this an issue?

Remember when I said that they scraped my content? This included photos of me and all of my marketing wording.

If someone searched for my name, my company or my services, the zombie site would pop up in the Google’s search results, and legitimate clients checking out my business would either pick up a dose of malware for their troubles, or potentially buy a product and get nothing in return leaving them less than impressed with my business.

But wait. There’s more.

They also added in a catchall email to the account, which meant that anyone sending email to the old email address communicated directly with the scammers and not me.

A growing security problem

The zombiing of websites as a way to either deliver malware or access old emails is rapidly becoming a significant security issue for business.

Gabor Szathmari, a cyber-security expert in Australia, had his company re-register six domain names of law firms in Australia that had re-branded to test the scope of the problem.

They then set up catch-all email accounts to monitor emails coming into the old domain names.

As part of the research, they were able to:

  • Access confidential documents of former clients;
  • Access confidential email correspondence;
  • Access personal information of former clients;
  • Hijack personal user accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) of former staff working in their new jobs; and
  • Hijack professional user accounts (Commonwealth Courts Portal, LEAP, etc.) of former staff of the businesses.

In other words, if you let your domain name lapse and at any time you had an email account attached to the domain, you are potentially leaving your business wide open for disaster.

What happened in my case?

I would like to tell you that getting the domain name back from the scammers was super simple and straightforward. It wasn’t!

Stopping the scammers had more twists, turns and heart-stopping moments than a Marvel movie.

Getting the scam site taken down, the domain name registration cancelled and getting it back under my name took loads of paperwork, legal advice, a battle with an SEO company who got in the middle at the wrong time, and a few too many late nights and alcoholic beverages.

However, finally, good prevailed, and my old domain name is back under my control. Sure, it is now radioactively toxic from an SEO perspective, so will never again be used to host a site, or be redirected to my new site, but at least that is one cybersecurity gap closed.

Should you let your domain name lapse?

Domain Names are the new cyber vulnerability. The new rules for every business, no matter the size, is if you have ever had a domain name registered that had a website on it and/or an email account linked to it, NEVER LET IT LAPSE.

Domain names are something that you need to keep for life. Yes, you can let your hosting lapse if you don’t need a live site anymore, but never let your domain name lapse. Keep it under your control at all times.

And if you have changed your domain name and let your old one lapse, your first task for today is to see if you can re-register your old domain name. Do this before you take the first sip of your coffee (it is THAT serious)!

Source: FlyingSolo July 2019

 


Getting a tax refund, bonus or inheritance - Top tips to make the most of your windfall

Getting a tax refund, bonus or inheritance - Top tips to make the most of your windfall

If one of your employees or yourself receive a tax refund, bonus or inheritance here are some smart ways to use this money that will give long-term benefits. At this time of year, your employees may be receiving a windfall. Please feel free to pass on these great tips. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Pay off your debts

You could use this money to pay off any short-term loans or credit card debt you have. Or, you could use it to reduce your personal loan or mortgage.

Smart tip

Pay off higher interest debts like payday loans or credit cards first.

If you have more than one credit card, pay off the one that charges the highest rate of interest or the smallest debt first. For more information, see our webpage on how to pay off multiple credit cards.

Paying off debts means you'll pay less interest and save money. Find out how you can reduce your debts faster by making extra repayments.

Work out how much you'll save in interest by making extra repayments - credit card calculator

Create an emergency fund

If you don't already have one, start an emergency savings fund. Open a high interest savings account and, if you can, aim to build up 1-3 months' worth of living expenses, so the next time life throws you a curve ball, you'll be ready to face it head on.

Compound interest will help your money to grow. For example, $3,000 in an account earning 3% interest would grow to $3,485 in 5 years' time. If you deposit extra money into this account, your savings will grow even faster.

See how compound interest increases your savings - compound interest calculator

How Australians spend their tax refund

Take a look at our tax refund infographic to find out the average refund and how people spend it.

Contribute extra to your super

Making extra contributions to your super can really boost the amount of money you'll have to live on when you retire.

If you're on a low income, the government will match your after-tax super contributions with 50c for every dollar you contribute, up to a maximum of $500. For more information on boosting your super see super contributions.

Work out how contributing more to super can affect your final super payout - superannuation calculator

Consider investing your windfall

Investing your windfall can help you grow your money and keep it safe. If you choose to invest, make sure you take the time to consider your investment goals.

If you're new to investing, our section on investing smarter is a great place to start.

If you would prefer to rely on professionals who are skilled in making investment decisions, you might consider a managed fund. These types of products give you access to a range of investment types with the benefit of having a professional investment manager choose which individual assets to invest your money in.

Get financial advice

For large amounts of money, such as an inheritance or a redundancy payment, you might consider getting professional financial advice. An adviser can help you develop a plan to make the most of your money.

We have tips on what to look out for when you are choosing a financial adviser.

Commit to making the most of your tax refund

Publicly committing to your goals is a great way to motivate yourself to achieve the things you're aiming for. Decide how you'll use this year's tax refund to boost your finances, and share it on your own Facebook page.

I commit to making the most of this year's tax refund, instead of spending it on something I don't really need. SHARE TO Facebook

You could also follow MoneySmart's Facebook page. It's a safe and supportive community that will encourage you to stay on track to reach your money goals.

Don't have Facebook? Here are some other options

If you don't use Facebook, or would prefer to make a commitment another way, why not write it down on a post-it note and keep it in a place where you'll see it every day.

This could be:

  • in your wallet
  • on your bathroom mirror
  • on the fridge
  • above the coffee machine
  • near your desk at work.

Alternatively, set a reminder in your calendar about your tax refund commitment when you lodge this year's tax return.

Think through your options and use your windfall to give you a real financial boost.

Source: ASIC's Moneysmart July 2019 

Reproduced with the permission of ASIC’s MoneySmart Team. This article was originally published at www.moneysmart.gov.au/life-events-and-you/life-events/getting-a-tax-refund-bonus-or-inheritance

Important note: This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account.  It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.  Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns.

Important
Any information provided by the author detailed above is separate and external to our business. We do not take any responsibility for any action or any service provided by the author.

Any links have been provided with permission for information purposes only and will take you to external websites, which are not connected to our company in any way. Note: Our company does not endorse and is not responsible for the accuracy of the contents/information contained within the linked site(s) accessible from this page.


5 Habits to use technology more mindfully

Technology has become imperative to our daily work, activities and social life. It is an expectation that we are always “connected” to maintain our place in modern society. So, what do we do? What does using technology to enhance our lives, but not detract from it, really look like? I believe that, as in most things, balance is the key.

Keeping technology usage in balance is equal to keep consumption of anything in balance. We can overeat, over-shop, over party, oversleep, and the list goes on. It’s even possible to drink too much water, which seems crazy, but it is true. Minimalism has found its way into our thoughts when we consider needs versus wants for our home decor, our closets, our food, even our finances.

In contrast, technology can feel like a need versus a want, so it is harder to minimize this category of our lives. I have found multiple effective ways to balance my technology usage AND remain connected. The core always goes back to asking yourself that classic minimalism question, “Does this add value to my life?” Once you determine yes, this or that technology adds value to my life or is a need, then making sure using the tech doesn’t leave you feeling used in return is an absolute must!

5 Habits to Use Technology More Mindfully 

If we find the balance that works for us, we can utilize tech as a way to enhance our lives and prevent the negative effects of over-consumption. The below actions can take dedication to embrace, but when you do, your technology usage will improve your life, not detract from it.

Habit 1. Phone Minimalism

Let’s start here and take the phone for its primary purpose, not as a smartphone with its many uses. The “smart” things I will cover separately below. I consider the phone one of the most infiltrating forms of technology in the world, even without the added smart elements. This device is the first one that we decide is a need not a want, so it is the first to get abused and hardest to keep in balance.

TURN OFF YOUR RINGER MAJORITY OF THE TIME

Most of my friends do this; I love them for it. When I hear a phone ringing, it is almost shocking to me these days. It is disruptive to your company if you are with someone and its as annoying as a car alarm to strangers when you are out. It’s best to limit your use of this feature for you and everyone else.

How? An obvious answer is to turn off the ringer. I got so used to this that now I only turn my ringer on when I am waiting for an urgent call, or I have flexible time and am open to a spontaneous call from someone. I know that’s not feasible for everyone, though. A solution for this is iPhone's impressive feature called “Do Not Disturb.” Other phones have this feature, but it’s called something different on each device. Essentially, this is like a call screener.

You program in specific numbers that you must pick up if they call, like your child’s school or your sick relative. When the numbers you programmed as VIP call you, your phone rings as normal. Every other call is silent or is sent directly to voicemail depending on your device settings. Think about which numbers you would pick up even if you were in the bathroom, or in an important meeting. Those are the ones you might add to this feature. All others can usually wait to get a call back shortly after you realize you missed the call.

Phone Screen Minimalism

MINIMALIST PHONE SCREEN

This has been an amazing life-changer for me. When you pick up your phone, what are you looking for? Usually, it’s something specific. You’re checking for missed calls or messages. As soon as the screen lights up more often then not you see a long list of notifications and when you enter the phone you see red bubbles with numbers that are growing by the second. These red bubbles are found on many apps that update regularly and capture your attention.

More often then not you are drawn to click on the app and see what notification you missed. That was not your primary purpose for picking up your phone. You didn’t miss any calls, yet all of a sudden 15 minutes have disappeared reviewing app notifications that were not time-sensitive at all. So, making the primary screen clear so it doesn’t distract you from your purpose is important.

How? Screen Minimalism will look very different for each person depending on what matters to you and comes in 2 primary parts.

TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS

Turn OFF notifications for any apps that aren’t time-sensitive. This is specific to each person. Keep only the ones that truly matter to you. As an example, I have turned off almost ALL of my notifications. Consider what information you find valuable and actionable and important to receive so instantaneously. Everything else, turn off the notifications for and proactively look around in your phone to address the rest when you have set aside the time.

CLEAR YOUR HOME PAGE

This may seem radical but can be the most effective minimal phone technique. If you light up your screen to minimal or no apps you atomically will take a pause and ask – “What was I looking for?” The magic happens at this moment. Sometimes you were looking for nothing! The amount of times we pick up our phone is habitual, not purposeful.

A person committed to minimizing their tech will approach it purposefully so they are doing something proactively not reactively. Clearing your home page can be the perfect catalyst to help with this.

Habit 2. Email Minimalism

This is another technology need that easily becomes overwhelming. When my email red bubble grew to the number 911 – yes, nine hundred and eleven unread emails – I decided that was a sign! HELP!

My email seemed to scream at me and I spent considerable time over the weeks after that researching and brainstorming the best way to handle my usage of my email so that it can be a tool for me, not a source of stress. The following we essential in getting me very close to inbox zero more often than not.

UNROLL ME

The biggest culprit of email stress for me is the flood of emails from signups that you didn’t sign up for, that you only needed once, or that you want at a lower frequency. Enter Unroll Me. I am sure there are better, similar services out there now but this one was the best I found a few years ago when I minimized my email.

It works like this: You get ONE email with a chosen subset of your emails listed inside, similar to an email news feed. Instead of opening each email separately you get one email with visual images of your emails in a thread. To me, it feels like Instagram within an email for all your “rolled up” emails in your inbox. This feature makes reviewing email very quick and easy. It also consolidates a large chunk of your “junk mail” into one email so your overall inbox receives fewer emails and is cleaner.

What is most amazing about this service and what got me out of the 911 email zone was its super quick unsubscribe feature. Within the Unroll Me account, you can scroll through all of your email subscriptions like a checklist. You can select whichever email you no longer want with a little checkmark and “unsubscribe” to a mass of emails at the same time!

The first time I did this I had over 200 subscriptions, many I never signed up for! I unsubscribed from over 100 email subscriptions within 5 minutes and felt a weight lift off me. Now, I regularly set aside time to go into the software and unsubscribe to a set of email subscriptions all at once. It feels amazing. Bye inbox clutter.

STOP CHECKING YOUR EMAIL

This doesn’t mean what you think it means. Instead of constantly checking your email, set aside a significant amount of time to check your email deliberately. It can be once a day, once an hour or once a week. Setting aside a block of time to look at your email ensures that when you open your email that you have the time to reply or give attention to whatever action you read.

I can’t count the number of times I used to open my email, scroll through it, see I have 5 different emails that need my attention and close my email because, after checking my email, I didn’t have the time right then to reply. The emails that needed my attention stayed unread and in the back of my mind were added to the “do later” list.

You probably know where this is going. Later didn’t happen for the majority of emails and I got up to 911 unread emails. Oops! Now, I open my email when I have time to answer, delete or archive whatever came through and I have been able to keep my inbox at 25 or fewer emails majority of the time.

Habit 3. Social Media Minimalism

SOCIAL MEDIA DATE

Make Social Media enhance your life by setting a social media date with yourself. No one feels good emerging from a Facebook, Instagram or YouTube vortex. You look at the clock and are in disbelief of the time that went by, this is the vortex. Don’t let it take your time, choose to give it your time during “x”. Some examples of “x” are, only look at Social Media on your commute, on your lunch or after dinner. Setting this date will make it a proactive enjoyment, not a time drain.

THE COMPUTER IS KING

Look at your Social Media primarily on your computer instead of your phone or tablet. On a computer, you can set your social media pages to open to a specific subset page instead of your feed. If you open to your feed we are caught by curiosity right away. When you enter deliberately to your calendar of events, a favourite group or your personal page you will select more mindfully where you go from there to invest your time consciously while on the platforms.

Stop and think who you are curious about and type their name in, send them a message or better yet after viewing their profile get offline, send them a personal message via phone and make their day. To often we are consuming and scrolling but the real point of social media is connecting – use it that way or let it go.

SET AN ALARM OR TIME LIMIT

This is very effective. If you know you only want to use social media 1 hour or less per day monitor your usage and get your life back. Living minimally involves valuing your time. It doesn’t come automatically. Most of us have to practice the discipline and there are many tracker apps to help with social media specifically based on your device. Use them. You will be shocked to see your usage.

At the end of the year, you can easily amass 2 full weeks on social media. Would you rather have done something else with those two weeks of your life or did the time spent online add to your life? For me, there is always a tipping point. I learned my perfect amount of time spent online by timing myself and adjusting accordingly.

Habit 4. The Internet Vortex

My absolutely most effective internet vortex prevention tool has been to create a “research later” list. You were just going to look up something, 3 hours later you have read and watched so many things you wouldn’t be able to recall any of the information even if you tried. You also didn’t get the information you went on the internet for in the first place anyway.

This is the struggle with the internet. There is SO much information. Instead of getting trapped in the vortex when you just needed to look something up, create a list of things to look up later that you check off one by one while you are online. This will make sure you are using your time and the internet effectively.

Habit 5. Selective Specialty Devices

There are so many smart devices now it is important to make sure these are enhancing your life not taking your life. Gaming Consoles, TV, Home Stereo, Smart Watches, Activity Trackers… Smart – Lightbulbs, Door Locks, Toothbrushes, Water Bottles (yes, these are real and will track your water consumption for you). When you choose which of these to bring into your life ask yourself, “Does this make my life better, easier, AND when I use it is it a good use of my time?”

Only you get to decide but make sure it enhances not detracts from your life. Gaming is the perfect example. For some, it is a community, a decompression activity, a sport or just a playful past time. It can turn into a stressful activity, an activity that leaves you without much-needed sleep and it can slowly replace meaningful face to face connecting with other people. Be honest with yourself and choose to use devices in a way that leaves you feeling your best. Your future self looking back on your life will thank you.

Hopefully, these have offered you some new, easy to incorporate habits and at the very least, I hope you try 1, dedicate to it and let me know if you notice any changes. I am counting on it that you will feel the difference!

This article by AnneMarie Skin Care was originally published at https://www.foodmatters.com/article/5-habits-use-technology-more-mindfully


10 Minutes with Matt Drew – His views on the economy, success, technology and more

1.Interest rates are at an all-time low. What effect do you believe this will have on a small business?

With interest rates at record lows, there is an opportunity for small businesses to borrow funds to invest in their growth. Whether that be to bring on more staff, spend more on marketing or possibly to access the Small Business Instant Asset Write Off by purchasing new equipment and claiming an immediate tax deduction for assets costing less than $30,000.

2.We have recently seen the introduction of Single Touch Payroll [STP]. How important is it that business owners embrace technology rather than shy away from it?

Like it or not, we are now operating in a digital age, and it is essential that business owners keep up with changes in technology or risk being left behind. In some cases, for example, STP, business owners are left with no choice but to embrace technology to meet their obligations as the Government pushes forward with its plan to move more and more functions into an online environment.

Change can be scary, and it is always tempting to stay in our comfort zones and simply maintain the status quo. However, by embracing technology, we can bring new opportunities to our businesses to help them grow and prosper.

3.How does McPhail & Partners keep up with technology changes?

For us, it really comes down to a combination of connecting with the right business partners and having a team with curious minds. Technology is developing so fast that it’s impossible for a small business to keep on top of everything. We have strong partnerships with our IT and Software providers who keep us abreast of significant developments that can positively impact on our business.

We also encourage our team to investigate ways to improve our internal processes and procedures where they feel we could benefit from new technologies. For example, the team is currently looking at utilising some of the Xero Apps to streamline the expense claim process and integration with our payroll system.

4.What would you say are the most significant risks to business at the moment?

Risks will vary from business to business and from industry to industry. For example, in the retail space, those businesses with physical shopfronts face the challenge of more people buying online rather than in-store. The hospitality industry faces reputational risk as social media can have such a powerful impact, both positively and negatively, on their businesses. Cash flow is always a challenge for small businesses, particularly those in the building and construction industry where significant resources and finance are required up-front.

It is crucial for all businesses to understand the risks specific to their circumstances and put plans in place to minimise the impact these risks can have.

5.What are the biggest pitfalls when selling a business at the moment?

I think for someone selling a small business, the biggest challenge is harnessing their emotions and looking at things objectively. A potential buyer is looking at the purchase as a business decision and will look at the financial performance, market position and perhaps synergies with their existing business.

They don’t see the years of blood, sweat and tears that have gone into developing your business, or all those late nights at the kitchen table doing the BAS returns or paying the accounts. With all that effort that has been put in to build the business, it can be difficult to set realistic expectations of its true market value, which can make the negotiation process extremely stressful and challenging.

6.Small business is the cornerstone of the Australian economy. Do you believe there is enough support for a small business owner; affordable support to help them navigate running and growing a business in today’s times?

There is a lot of support out there for small businesses, but business owners might not be aware of the resources at their disposal. Having a strong relationship with your Accountant and, if relevant, your bookkeeping is essential as we can help to guide and advise you.

Additionally, the Government has some great resources available for free online which can assist with running a small business such as Business Victoria (www.business.vic.gov.au), the Fair Work Ombudsman (www.fairwork.gov.au), the ASIC (www.asic.gov.au) and even the ATO (www.ato.gov.au).

Outside of these Government resources, there are also other organisations that businesses can join, such as the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.victorianchamber.com.au), to assist. It is also a good idea to join your local council business group where you can network with other local business owners to share ideas and hopefully build your referral network.

7.Five years from now, what can we expect from McPhail & Partners?

As part of our ongoing succession plan, we will see some changes of the next five years as we look to position the business for hopefully another 75 years of success. We will still maintain the values that we pride ourselves on, such as honesty, integrity and professionalism so that we can continue to provide our clients with the level of service they expect.

We are always looking at ways to improve our service offering to meet the needs of our clients, which we will continue to do. This will come from a combination of engaging with new technologies, keeping up to date with legislative changes and also developing new skills and offerings to help clients navigate through their own financial journeys.

8.We live in an App era! There seems to be an App for everything these days even budgeting and rounding up Apps to help save money. What’s your advice about using these Apps? Can they be useful when it comes to budgeting?

There are several great apps out there that can help you track your finances and manage your budget. The challenging part is having the self-dedication to update and review them regularly and to hold yourself accountable for the results.

These Apps do serve a purpose but should be used as part of the bigger picture of managing your overall financial objectives.

9.McPhail & Partners has recently moved offices. ‘They’ say that moving can be one of the most stressful experiences known to man! Having been through the process, what advice would you give to others that are considering relocating?

DON’T DO IT! Just Kidding!

Honestly, it was a stressful process at times, and we certainly learnt some lessons throughout the move. In hindsight, there were some things we did really well, but equally, there are some things we would have done differently if we had to do it again. The key items I would highlight for anyone looking to move would be:

-Have a clear plan of what you want to achieve but be flexible and open to change as the process unfolds

-Set a realistic budget and don’t overextend yourself

-Communication! There are so many moving parts, and there needs to be clear communication between all the stakeholders, so things run smoothly

-Ask for help – you can’t do everything yourself (especially if you are also running your business) so build a team and engage others to help you

-Enjoy it – despite all the stress and long hours involved there is real satisfaction in seeing your vision for the future of your business come to life in front of you


A guide to working with independent contractors for small business owners

Hiring independent contractors may be an effective way to get more work done without onboarding new, full-time resources, but there are a few things small business owners should be aware of before taking the plunge.

If you need to start delegating tasks in your business or don’t have the necessary expertise in-house to complete certain jobs, you may want to hire a contractor.

Here is the rundown on everything small business owners need to know about working with independent contractors.

What is the difference between an employee and a contractor?

Employees, whether part-time, full-time, or casual, are hired to work within someone else’s business.

They’re paid a wage and receive entitlements during the year, such as annual and sick leave.

Their work is performed on site, in most cases, and there are other controls about how, where, and when they do their job.

Independent contractors, on the other hand, differ in a variety of ways.

READ: Employee or contractor? Know your obligations

Although there is no one factor or combination of factors that determine a worker’s status, usually contractors:

  • Are their own boss, working for themselves but selling their services to others
  • Control their working times and work as many hours as are needed to complete a job
  • Work from home or other premises of their choice, or complete work on business premises for a short amount of time
  • Provide their own equipment and tools
  • Create their own processes to complete tasks
  • Accept or refuse work as they see fit
  • Work for many clients at once

Also called ‘sub-contractors’ or ‘subbies’, independent contractors are hired to complete a set task or project based on terms set within a contract.

They’re paid per hour, per day, per task completed, or via another agreed calculation.

Contractors can choose to delegate or subcontract some of their work if they want to, too, unless this has been specifically forbidden in their contract.

Businesses often hire contractors for their specialised skills, when such skills are required for a short, or pre-determined, amount of time.

The rights and responsibilities of businesses hiring contractors

If you decide to hire a contractor for a project, be aware that your rights and responsibilities are different from those when dealing with employees.

Unlike with in-house staff, when you use contractors, you don’t have to pay them sick leave, annual leave, superannuation, or other related benefits.

You don’t have to take tax out of your payments to contractors, either (although contractors may request this in rare cases). Tax matters are up to independent contractors to sort out.

READ: Changes to Taxable Payments Reporting in 2019

Businesses negotiate a set price for the work contractors are to perform and pay them accordingly.

Independent contractors supply an invoice for the work. Businesses must make payment within the agreed-upon timeframe noted in the contract and/or on the invoice.

If unhappy with the work done by a contractor, entrepreneurs should read the contract to understand payment terms and conditions.

Contractors usually bear the responsibility and liability for poor work, but not always.

Try to resolve payment issues amicably, or make use of a mediator. You may need to get legal advice, too.

Don’t just withhold payment if you’re not pleased with a contractor’s work. Doing this can give them the right to terminate the contract because you failed to meet payment obligations. Contractors might then claim damages from you for that breach.

Contractors are not entitled to a minimum wage, but they’re after an acceptable rate for their work. They typically always bear the financial risk for making a profit or loss for each job.

Under the Fair Work Act, contractors are protected from various adverse situations, though.

For example, as a business owner or manager, you can’t terminate a contract because a contractor made a complaint to a regulator about their workplace rights.

Businesses must not threaten to take action against contractors as a means of coercing them not to exercise their workplace rights, either. Nor can they force contractors to join (or exclude themselves from) a trade group or other relevant association.

The Independent Contractors Act also protects self-employed workers in the matter of contracts.

Contractors can ask a court to review contracts they see as harsh or unfair.

If a case goes to court, factors considered include contract terms, bargaining strengths of each party, unfair tactics used against any party, and the comparison of the total remuneration against standard industry rates.

Be aware that if courts deem a contract to be harsh or unfair, they have the power to order contract terms to be changed (e.g. added, removed, or edited), to nullify certain terms of the contract, or to set aside the entire contract so it no longer has any effect.

Since contractors typically work off-site, businesses aren’t usually responsible for keeping contractors safe.

Contractors need to take out their own insurance and legal covers to protect themselves and others, as applicable.

But, if a contractor does have to work at your business site or use your equipment, your firm could be liable if harm comes to the contractor as a result of your dangerous workspace or equipment.

Contractors are usually liable for any defects or other problems with their work, too, although again, this can vary from contract to contract.

The pros and cons of hiring contractors

There are numerous reasons to hire a contractor. Benefits include:

  • Quick access to the additional skills, experience, or technology your business needs, particularly during growth stages or periods of uncertainty
  • Organisational flexibility, since you hire contractors only when you need them
  • Ease of termination, as you can end most contracts with just a few weeks’notice
  • Lower overheads due to the fact you don’t need to pay superannuation, holiday pay, sick leave, and other benefits
  • Reduced legal liability as contractors provide their own insurance

There are also some potential downsides to be considered when hiring contractors rather than employing people in-house. For example:

  • Lack of stability in your business, because contractors come and go
  • Time wasted training contractors how to do tasks to your liking; contractors take knowledge with them once a contract finishes
  • Less team cohesion, since contractors work independently and usually don’t get involved in team discussions or events
  • When you use contractors, you don’t end up adding value to your core business. Over the long term, investing in employees often pays better dividends than spending money on contractors year after year
  • While you will likely get a contractor to sign a non-disclosure agreement, there are risks in giving them access to sensitive information

Utilising contractors in your small or medium business can be a smart tactic in many circumstances. But, always do your research, be careful about which contractors you hire, and get advice from accountants and lawyers to ensure adequate protection before going ahead.

The information provided here is of a general nature for Australia and should not be your only source of information. Please consult an experienced and registered business advisor, as well as a professional legal advisor, as each individual’s circumstances will vary.

Source: MYOB

Reproduced with the permission of MYOB. This article by Kellie Byrnes was originally published at www.myob.com/au/blog/.

 

 

 

 

 


John Peiper from Peiper Signs

Peiper Signs is a long-standing business which has built an excellent reputation. In this article, John shares his secrets to success and longevity.

1. J&J Peiper has been in business since 1981; what’s your secret to business success?

Working hard and trying to do the best possible job for the client that you would want to be done for yourself.

2. J&J Peiper is a family owned business. Many people shy away from working with their family. What is your advice about successfully working with family members?

All of our boys (4) have worked for me and my wife Jennifer, through schooling and beyond at various stages, we have enjoyed their involvement immensely.  They have all moved on to their chosen fields now with Jennifer, I am still working in the business. My advice would be to listen to their ideas and work as a team.

3. What challenges do you face as a small business owner?

The challenges of a small business are trying to juggle the workload when you are really busy. You have to learn to prioritise the jobs which need to be completed first.

4. How has McPhail & Partners helped you over the years?

Wayne Durdin has been tremendously helpful through our journey, offering advice and knowledge freely.

5. Technology has changed dramatically since you first started the business – how do you remain at the forefront of your industry?

When I started in the signage field as a 17-year-old most signage was done with a brush and paint which was time-consuming, but enjoyable. Overtime machines came into play that cut vinyl letters then going to machines that print the total sign.  Signwriters have always picked up whatever was new to aid us in the production of signs.

6. Who inspires you?

My father was most likely my inspiration at the beginning teaching me to work hard and be honest.

7. What marketing activities have you found over the years have worked?

Having your vehicle sign written is a great way to promote your business. Always have business cards printed and ready. Have a web page and online presence.

8. How have customers’ expectations changed over the years?

I don’t think customers have changed over the years as long as you give them value for money and honest personal touch.

9. What advice would you give to someone that wanted to start a business in today’s world?

Network and give people the best advice that you can. Have business cards and signage to promote yourself.  Always remember word of mouth is valued highly.

10. What have been three valuable lessons you have learned since growing the business?

Don’t be money hungry, do the right things, and the money will look after itself. Always keep track of invoices and follow up to make sure all is paid in a reasonable time. Look after your clients, and they will look after you.

For more information about John and his business, click here.


Shining the light on Monika Murti, Accountant at McPhail & Partners

Monika Murti joined our team last year as one of our Accountants. We sit down with Monika this month so that we can learn a few more things about her that may not have been revealed during the interview stage! Thanks, Monika for being so candid in this interview and for all your hard work; it's great to have you in the team!

What three words would you use to describe the culture at McPhails?

Professional, Supportive, Motivated

Monika, you are a working mum who is also studying. What are your tips for juggling all the priorities that you have?

My tip would be to plan, plan and plan for the week. I would do my schedule for the week on Sundays. I wake up an hour earlier than the kids to prep lunches. The night before I organise school uniforms and make sure their homework is done and make dinner for the next night. When kids are in bed, I study.

The world is changing so quickly these days. What advice will you give to your children about career choices in the future?

I would let them choose what they wanted to do and support their choices. I would encourage them to work hard towards their goals and that it's ok to change your career if you decide it’s not for you.

What does a typical day look like for you at work?

I start my day with a morning coffee, check my emails and get started on preparing accounts and returns for clients.

Who inspires you at McPhails and why?

Matthew Drew. His inspiring in-depth knowledge of Accounting principles and tax concepts at such a young age is truly inspiring. Also, he is a very hands-on and supportive leader and injects huge amounts of enthusiasm and energy to the team and the business.

What role do you think continuing education plays in the level of success a business can have?

It definitely gives business a competitive advantage and keeps them relevant.

If we were to come to your house for dinner tonight who would cook and what would we eat?

I would cook and I would cook Indian food, lamb and chicken curry with rice and roti.

Cat or dog person?

Dog person

If someone gave you $1,000 what would you do with it?

I want to say I would go on a family holiday to Fiji, but I would probably pay the bills with it.

If you could have a gigantic billboard erected anywhere to get a message out there, what would it say?

Live in the present.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received yourself?

Once you become comfortable in your own skin, you can accept others for who they are.

You’re faced with a mammoth task at work - how would you tackle it?

Make a list of all the tasks that need to be done and schedule the priorities first and then start working my way through the list.

What is one thing the team at McPhails don’t know about you yet?

I love going to craft and food markets.

Thanks, Monika, we're definitely coming for dinner!


Introducing Sue Karzis, CEO, State Schools’ Relief

Introducing Sue Karzis, CEO, State Schools’ Relief

1 in 10 Victorian state school students is supported by State Schools’ Relief. Alarming numbers which have been growing over recent times.

Only 5.4% of fortune 1000 companies are led by women. Another alarming fact. However, the good news is that at State Schools’ Relief Sue Karzis leads this major not-for-profit [NFP] organisation.

We sat down with Sue to learn more about her role and the role which SSR plays in our children’s everyday lives. Thanks, Sue.

1. Congratulations on being the first female CEO of State Schools’ Relief. Prior to being appointed did you realise you were making history?

I had absolutely no idea! I am excited to make history though, especially if it encourages other women to put themselves forward for leadership roles.

2. Being the first female CEO since the organisation started in 1930, what challenges have you faced?

The challenges I have faced are the challenges that most CEOs in NFPs face – that is, how to increase fundraising, revenue, improve systems and processes and become sustainable into the future. I have had lots of support from the SSR Board, so I am very lucky.

3. Do you believe that women bring a different perspective to senior roles?

I think that women often approach leadership differently. I think that the traditional notion of power is an antiquated one and leaders of today need to be collaborative and coach staff to achieve a shared strategic vision. For staff to be engaged, they need to buy into what the organisation is trying to achieve. In the case of State Schools’ Relief, our staff understand the huge impact that our work has. Last year alone, we assisted over 56,000 children and young people with school uniforms, shoes and other educational resources. Our mission is to remove the barriers that underprivileged children face so that they can engage with education and realise their full potential.

4. What makes you smile at work?

The feedback about what a difference we make in the lives of children – when I am having a bad day, I often look at it and it puts everything into perspective.

5. What frustrates you at work?

When IT doesn’t work! Other than that, delays in getting things done. Once I have an idea, I really want to see it through, and it can be hard to be patient.

6. The topic of women in the workforce especially the number of senior leaders is very topical, why do you think that is?

I think that as women, we are living in a watershed moment; what is happening with the #MeToo movement reflects a new awareness of women’s rights and is highlighting areas where there is an obvious disparity. To have only 5.4% of Fortune 1000 companies led by women shows that despite best efforts, the glass ceiling still exists, and women are not attaining leadership positions at the rate that they should.

7. What do you believe organisations need to do to improve the number of senior female appointments?

I think that female leaders need to mentor their colleagues and ensure that they are championing them, creating opportunities for them to step into leadership and supporting the sisterhood rather than seeing other women as competition. We need to tackle unconscious bias so that when hiring, we don’t have a preconceived idea about potential candidates, and we need to keep talking about the issue and empowering women of all ages to feel like they are worthy of the top jobs.

8. Which leaders inspire you and why?

The leaders I find most inspiring are humble and inspired by their own experiences to make a difference. Rosie Batty inspires me with her strength and determination and Malala, who has overcome the voice of young women battling discrimination and adversity all over the world.

9. How do you measure success?

Success to me is measured by the impact you are having. Leading an organisation like State Schools’ Relief, I know we are having a huge impact on the lives of those we help.  From an organizational perspective, achieving strategic objectives, such as establishing a social enterprise to retail our school shoes with a view to funding our charity is a true measure of success.

10. What does a typical day look like for you?

Most mornings I try to catch up on emails, I have at least 2-3 meetings most days as well as attending stakeholder events and media opportunities whenever required. In an organisation like SSR, I am fairly hands-on, so I am often involved in operational matters and meeting with staff to solve problems on a daily basis.

11. How would others describe your leadership style?

I have been told I am transparent, hands-off and I trust and empower those around me to make decisions and feel invested. I believe that any leader is only as good as the team that they have around them.

Thank you, Sue. For more information about State School’s Relief please visit their website by clicking here.


Community values & professional services - two key pillars to success for Marriot Support Services

Janine Simpkin, CEO, Marriott Support Services speaks with us today about the organisation she is proud to lead. In this interview, Janine shares how the organisation creates exceptional opportunities and support for people with disabilities, what it takes to lead a business in today's times and how others can get involved in such a wonderful and much needed support service. Thank you, Janine and congratulations on the success of Marriot Support Services, its social enterprises and the fantastic work you, your team and the volunteers conduct.

  1. Where does the funding come from to support Marriott Support Services and what does the organisation do?

We are moving to The National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS] which is a new way of providing support for people with a disability, their families and carers. Marriott supports over 100 people with more significant disabilities. We focus on their strengths and help them to reach their potential in whatever space they choose like employment, volunteering, social connection or skills development and learning. Sometimes that is by accessing their community with help and other times by upskilling them in areas where they can learn to be more independent like learning to use public transport. Many of the younger ones in this group will move to less support or employment options as their skills increase. It is all based on individuals and their goals in life.

  1. Can you explain about the two social enterprise businesses which Marriott operates?

We have two social enterprises. The first, Marriott Industries employs about 85 people with disability to work in our warehouses. We pack gifts for Xmas, repack items from overseas and pack sample bags for new mums or events. We pack spices into jars to sell in gourmet shops and complete light assembly jobs; these are a snapshot of some of the work that we do.

Our second social enterprise is the Enviro-Management Services which is classified as a large business that tenders for work in the open market. Enviro integrates people with disability into crews and work is always off-site. We hope to expand this service to training people with disabilities with the skills to work in the open employment market.

Both social enterprises contribute to our bottom line – thus allowing us to be innovative and strategic in the way we deliver services. However, we do rely on financial assistance for the added extras that can change someone’s life forever. Our new Enviro project will not start until this happens.

  1. If an organisation is looking to recruit and support a person with a disability what advice could you offer them?

Look at someone’s strengths. Design a job around the person, what can they achieve – chances are the time you spend doing this will create a loyal employee who will be hard working and dedicated. With the NDIS there is customised employment support which will help the individual learn a new skill or modify an existing one. Everybody, regardless of education, race, socioeconomic situation or abilities have strengths and areas that need some work – a person with a disability is no different. They can learn, adapt and will always work harder if they are doing something that they are naturally good at – as we all do. People with disability have been found to be very loyal employees with less absenteeism.

  1. What types of volunteers can add value to Marriott Support Services and how can someone get involved?

Marriott loves volunteers. Our Community program has volunteers to support art, tennis, dancing, cooking, basketball competition and gym– and so the list goes on. Volunteers also help out with admin – as we run on the “smell of an oily rag” and want to use our resources in more direct support. We have skilled volunteering too like with marketing or IT; almost any skill is great to have in a volunteer and can be short term or long term. We also have corporate volunteers, like from NAB, who come in groups as part of their corporate social responsibility programs.

  1. How would you describe the auditing team at McPhail and Partners?

Very reliable, approachable, pleasant and communicative. Let’s not forget extremely thorough, all of the qualities we admire and need in an auditor.

  1. What makes you smile at work?

My staff and the way they communicate with everybody – regardless of their abilities. Corridor chats with staff and the people we support uncover so many good stories, and we tend to be very open.

  1. What makes you feel frustrated at work?

Compliance to the extreme, however absolutely required in this field. We work with a marginalised and vulnerable group who need extra support and protection.

  1. How would you describe your leadership style?

Open, honest, consultative, and I work to people’s strengths. I believe a CEO should be the face of an organisation and lead by example, especially in this field.

  1. Industries are extremely competitive nowadays, how does Marriott Support Services remain relevant and competitive?

We are honest about what we do well and work to our strengths. We work well with “behaviours of concern”, these may limit someone’s ability to participate in the community, and we have great success in enabling people with behaviours of concern to be able to engage with the community by learning to manage their behaviours. It is life changing for the individual and their families. Another strength is getting people into employment, and that is also life-changing, giving some financial independence, developing skills and peer connections is excellent for the individual, their family and the community.

We use our local community and partner with them to expand opportunities and build social inclusion. For example, we have a small group volunteering in a commercial kitchen in an aged care facility to develop their skills and social connection and maybe a pathway to training and employment. We will do everything we can to help an individual reach their goals. We are also not afraid to say that someone may be better with another organisation that better suits their interests or needs. This will always be with an organisation that we trust and know well. We are “niche” in the support we provide and work closely with our community to develop and grow to meet their needs.

  1. How important is social media to Marriott Support Services?

In the past, we have worked on “word of mouth” and reputation. We recognise that to remain viable and grow in the spaces that we wish to expand we need social media. Social media is a wonderful way for the people we support to connect and grow and to reach new customers. We use stories to inspire people to aim high and to follow a dream and to inform people about what is out there, for example, helping people understanding the NDIS. Social media is an excellent way for us to communicate and we are always looking to improve.

For more information about Marriott Support Services visit their website by clicking here.

1 Marriott_Industries_Portraits_15112017_Janine_0776_04 copy