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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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6 reasons to use a professional

As a business owner or manager, there are always many tasks to do, and often not enough time for them!

Yet many people hesitate in getting outside, professional help for things like writing, design, website updates and bookkeeping; for some, they don’t think they can afford help, others like to maintain complete control, some think it will take longer to find someone than to just do it themselves and another group just wouldn’t know where to start looking for help.

Whatever your reason for putting off getting help, here are my reasons to look and ask for help…

  1. a professional will do the job well – so might you, of course, but at what cost in time? Sure, I could design a website – it  would look horrible and cheap, but it would be done! So for things out of my skill set, it is worth looking for an expert
  2. it saves you time – even if it only takes you an hour a week to maintain your blog or two hours a month to update your accounts, think what else you could do (and how much money you could earn) in that four to eight hours a month…
  3. it clears your head as you don’t have to worry about fitting in that task anymore nor the details of how to do it. A clear head lets you be more productive, creative and relaxed
  4. a professional will probably do it much faster than you – meaning the job will be done and potentially increasing your profits much sooner, especially if you factor in that you would do the task around all your other responsibilities
  5. a professional may be more objective which can lead to better results. For example, I write very concisely and to the relevant point so often cut out a lot of information the business owner includes because he or she is passionate about the topic
  6. the professional can offer an outside opinion and fresh ideas. I don’t know how many times designers I have worked with have taken my outline and come up with something perfect and totally unlike what I had envisaged – in fact, I often ask designers for their input rather than giving them rigid briefs

I know it can take time to find the right professionals to work with. I know it may seem out of budget (but factor in time savings and better results and you may be surprised at the affordability). And I know building trust in others to care as much as you can be hard. Yet I believe it is often worth talking to a professional to find out how they could help.

Do you have any stories about an outside professional helping your business?

Top 10 business saving tips

Lately I’ve heard a few business owners talk about ways to save money in their business so here are my top 10 tips for saving money without scrimping on product/service quality.

  1. review your recurring costs (such as website hosting, bank fees, phone rental and internet service) – it amazes me the difference in prices for the same service so it can be extremely worthwhile to compare what’s available
  2. look for energy efficient options – even if you don’t think the environment is an issue, low energy light bulbs, efficient heaters and the like can save you money especially if you have big premises and/or a lot of staff. This includes things like adding curtains or blinds rather than have temperature gains/losses through windows
  3. compare suppliers periodically – they don’t all adjust prices the same way at the same time and some will offer you great ‘honeymoon’ rates but not be as competitive later. Even if you don’t change suppliers, it will keep you in touch with reasonable industry rates as a reference and negotiating tool
  4. consider who you outsource to – the cheapest price is not always the most cost effective option (putting aside cheapest isn’t always best!) If Sally charges $100 an hour and Mary charges $80 but Sally is twice as fast, paying Sally will probably be the cheaper option. If Sally can also do another task it may be cheaper to use her for both as she knows your business and is already working for you.
  5. send statements and reminder invoices soon after an invoice is due – you will generally get better results for less effort if you ask for money when the project is fresh. Debt chasing is a waste of your resources
  6. buy cheaper when it doesn’t impact on quality. For example, if store A and B sell the same product at different prices with the same level of service, buy from the cheaper store. Likewise, buying 100 pens is often cheaper per pen than buying 10 of them.
  7. recycle and reuse as much as possible. In bigger companies, a fortune can be saved if you use old letterhead or with compliment slips as staff note pads; use the back of envelopes for calculations and scribbles instead of paying for notepads; print drafts on the back of old papers; use incoming packaging to package your products.
  8. turn everything off! Make sure the last person out turns off the lights, get everyone to turn off their computer and monitor at the end of the day, turn off monitors when away from your desk for more than 10 minutes, turn off printers and scanners overnight, and so on – you may be amazed at how much this can save over a year
  9. be prepared and communicate clearly with suppliers and service providers – wasting their time will cost you money
  10. monitor your marketing – if an ad isn’t helping your business then it is a waste of money (and that could include free ads!) Even ads that are working may be made less expensive (smaller size, less frequent use, etc) so try and compare the results

What other ways have you used to save money in your business? How much did it save you?

End of financial year

It’s getting very close to 30 June, but there’s still time to prepare your finances for it. Some things I have been thinking about (and doing in some instances) are

  • to get a tax deduction as a self -employed person, you need to make a personal contribution and submit a Deduction for personal super contributions form to your Fund
  • the super co-contribution only applies if you make a personal contribution by 30 June (and meet certain criteria like income levels)
  • the small business 50% tax break has been legislated, but it doesn’t run out til Dec 2009 so purchases don’t have to be made this week
  • individual tax rates are reducing from 1 July so increasing your deductions this year may decrease your tax more than making the same deductions next year
  • sending out invoices now rather than after 1 July may affect your income levels (depending on how your accounts are set up) and may help your customers with their tax preparation and budgeting
  • organising your invoices and receipts now could mean getting your tax return done sooner, which is great if you’re getting a refund!

How much do you do to prepare for the end/start of financial years? Is this when you do budgets and analysis or do you base that on the calendar year instead?