Let’s be honest…

Michael Lewis’ Truth or Dare…

Politicians are renowned for saying one thing but meaning something completely different. It’s been going on for years and we just seem to accept it – maybe even expect it.

When this type of language creeps into the workplace it can have detrimental effects. The last thing we want is for our offices to become a haven for double speak and muddled communication.

When we don’t say what we think, negotiations become long and drawn-out; meetings go forever and are boring; people make poor decisions and may even take unwanted action. All of this can be avoided with a little honesty.

Imagine a situation where negotiations are fast and fruitful, meetings concise, honest feedback and new ideas are welcomed and everyone can challenge anyone – no matter how senior (or junior) their position. That sounds great – perhaps utopian – but why is it so hard to be honest in the workplace?

Here are a few small tips to encourage honesty in your workplace.

1. Listen to someone’s viewpoint and be inquisitive. People won’t speak out unless they know they will be heard and understood.

2. Accept that honest mistakes will happen. Stress the importance of addressing mistakes as soon as they happen. Honest mistakes are most damaging when they are swept under the carpet for fear of retribution or looking foolish in the eyes of others.

3. Promote communication in varying forums. Some people may be reluctant to speak up in front of a large group or in a formal setting, so offer more private and casual avenues for feedback.

4. Say it like you mean it.  If you say something in a joking manner the joke could be on you if your message is misunderstood or not take seriously. Cut the distractions and cut to the chase.

5. Say what needs to be said and don’t leave out the important bits. Be honest and thorough!

BTW, if you don’t like this blog post it’s OK to tell me. I appreciate your honesty!

Talking a Whole Lotta App

Mark Brown says…

If you’re anything like me, your smart phone is probably within arm’s reach 24/7. And like me, you’ve probably experienced those moments of panic when it inexplicably goes missing or god forbid, the battery dies and there’s no charger in sight!

So, why not make the most of this close relationship and utilise your phone to improve your productivity at work?
Here are a few apps that aren’t super cool, but are really clever and useful…


If you work from multiple computers, across various devices or share documents with colleagues, you’ll be well aware of the pain of having multiple versions of documents or having to transfer files via email or USB drives. This is where Dropbox shines!
Dropbox is a cloud-based storage service which automatically synchronises documents across all devices on which it’s installed. You also have the ability to share specific files or folders with colleagues as required. Dropbox fully integrates with your systems and acts like a normal folder, so there is no need to alter the way you operate.


Gone are the days of scribbling details into a little handbook of all your car trips to substantiate your business usage. With this App you simply enter a few details of your trip and the app takes care of the rest for you. Once you complete your 12 week period, you can simply email reports straight to yourself or your accountant. All reports are based on ATO guidelines and have been approved for use by the taxation office.


The name says it all really.
GeniusScan saves the day whenever you need to make a scan of a document and you’re out of the office. Utilising your smart phone’s camera, the App captures an image of the document and processes it by automatically cropping, rotating and adjusting colours to create a quality PDF file. You can then email, save or add to your Dropbox folder for later use. Simple as that!


If you’re struggling to find the time to manage all your business’ social media pages then this one might be for you. HooteSuite can aggregate all of the common social media sites into the one app. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more can be integrated with your posts being pushed to one, multiple or all sites at your choosing. There is also a desktop version of this App for the office.

What Apps can’t you live without?

A Win for the ‘Small’ Guys

Andrew Hurley writes…

I’d like to discuss a decent change to the tax law that stands out from the vast majority of changes because it actually benefits Small Business financially; simplifies admin; reduces compliance costs and may cure a few headaches as well.

In the past, switching clients to SBE (Small Business Entity) was something that accountants might not bother with, but the benefits have now reached a tipping point in my opinion. You may not be getting the maximum tax breaks possible unless you do. Has your accountant switched your business over to a SBE?  If the answer is “No”, then read on…

Over 2 million small businesses with an annual turnover of less than $2 million may be able to access a range of tax concessions not available to larger businesses. Such concessions include  Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, GST and FBT just to name a few but it’s a tax break for small business effective 1 July, 2012 that could have a significant impact on your bottom line whilst simplifying  your tax affairs.

Earlier this year, the Australian government announced instant asset write-off and simplified depreciation changes for small business.  These changes enable small businesses to write-off depreciating assets costing less than $5,000 (up from $1,000) in the income year in which they started to use the asset, or have it installed ready for use. This limit was subsequently increased to $6,500 as part of the carbon pricing announcements.  It also allows for most other assets to be depreciated in a single pool at a 30% rate.

This benefits you by claiming $6,500 as many times as you like off your taxable income! For example, you need a new computer system which has an invoice value of $50,000 – if each individual asset eg hard-drive, monitor, printer etc  is under $6,500 then you write-off the whole $50,000, reducing your  taxable income for the year 2012-2013 year by $50,000.

Cash flow a problem?  No worries – finance the computer system and you still take full advantage of the immediate write off and have the added bonus of claiming the interest when the goods are used for business use purposes.

Small businesses no longer have to wait for end of financial year purchases as a tactic for maximising depreciation benefits.

It is wise to consult your accountant on these changes to make sure that you are getting the full benefit of the new ruling.

A Successful Day – Every Day!

Emily Lylak susses ‘Success’…

Ever have one of those days when it just feels like you’ve achieved nothing? It’s 3pm and your list of things to do remains unchanged , but you’ve been busy ALL day?  Where has the day gone and why don’t you feel productive?!?
We all can relate, but following a few simple tips everyday, can make everyday that little bit more successful.
1. Get a Good Night’s Rest
Not only does sleep deprivation kill performance, it also kills creativity and memory too. Going a full day without sleep or a week of sleeping four or five hours a night is like being legally drunk, the impairment equivalent to 0.1% blood alcohol. You wouldn’t drive your car drunk, so don’t drive your business drunk either!

2. Eat Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. True Story. Many studies have shown that skipping breakfast can diminish concentration levels and reduce performance levels. Eating first thing not only improves your memory and allows you to focus better it may also reduce the risk of illness and the numbers on the scales.

3. ‘Check-In’ with your Boss and/or Employees
Touch base with your colleagues. See what they’re up to and if there is anything you can help with, or vice/versa. Not only can this build relationships, it can also make work flow more effectively. However, if you’re a supervisor, don’t get checking-up confused with checking-in. Micromanaging can lead to staff feeling that their judgement, talent and skills are not valued. Checking-in promotes communication, collaboration and sharing. It will create stronger bonds with your colleagues and an improved ‘open-door’ environment.

4. Prioritise & Tackle the ‘Big Projects’ first
If you’re getting a good night’s sleep and eating breakfast, the morning should be your most productive time of the day. So utilise it! Tackle the big projects first. Set-aside some time in the afternoon, during your downtime when you’re least productive to respond to emails and return calls. Manage your distractions and stop checking your email every five minutes! It’s highly unproductive and takes time and concentration away from the important tasks.

5. Make a ‘To-Do’ list the day before
Write your ‘To-Do’ list for the next day before you go home – you’ll be surprised by how much this can help. Prioritise your tasks and the next day when you come in, you can dive right into work and tackle the important tasks first.

Seems pretty simple right? Well – it is. Everyone can follow these simple and effective tips and make every day a successful day.

Build a Better Team – At No Cost!

Leigh Harink  Talks Teams…

During the summer I’m the president of a cricket club and I also captain a team of ten diverse characters from whom I must extract the best possible performance.

In business or on the sporting field a good leader uses similar concepts to get the most out of their teams.
Whilst a reward system linking realistic expectations to incentives is always a winner, it only forms part of the picture. These are some simple methods through which you can get the most out of your team without using the words “budget” or “target”.

1. Give your team members the freedom to succeed or fail
o No one wants to be micro-managed.  It’s important that your team members have the freedom to complete their role without having someone standing over them. You’re only going to make them dependent on you, stifle their creativity and increase your workload.
o Everyone has their own individual style and flair, let them show you what they’ve got – you may learn something.

2. Treat mistakes as a learning experience
o At uni,  I was told the story of an employee who lost several million dollars of his organisation’s money and was called in to his boss’s office. Expecting to lose his job,  his boss asked him “What have you learned from this mistake?” The employee explained that he would approach the situation differently if he had his time again and asked if he was being fired.  His boss replied “Why would I fire you now? I’ve just spent several million dollars on your education-  learn from your mistakes!”
o A mistake can happen once or twice but come the third time… something’s wrong. Ask yourself “is the problem at your end or theirs?” Explore whether you have given them the required tools, knowledge and support and ask if  there’s  more that you can do to help them.

3. Give your team members an area of responsibility
o This gives them something to take some pride in and focus on whilst helping increase the output of the collective.
o If a team member wants to take on a project, then do what you can to encourage them in that pursuit.  Don’t be afraid to say “Yes.”

4. Actions speak louder than words. Lead from the front
o The “Do what I say, not as I do!” method of leadership doesn’t work unless you’re a parent withholding pocket money. Lead from the front, practice what you preach and your words will carry more weight with your team.
o Have you ever noticed that you pick up phrases and habits from people that you spend a lot of time with? Set a great example and your team members will pick up your good habits.

5. Don’t be stingy with encouragement
o A simple “Well done!” or acknowledgement of improvement costs nothing, is easy to do and goes a long way towards increasing the morale and performance of your team. It’s always reassuring to know that your efforts aren’t going unnoticed and that you’re on the right track.

Are Meetings the New Black?

Brett Cox’s musings on  ’Meetings’…

During the 70s, 80s and early 90s management by meetings became the “in” thing, to the point where the term “management by committee” was coined.  It seemed to get to a point by the mid 90s that things only happened if attached to a meeting and subsequently the term “meeting” was starting to become a dirty word. Management and team members alike would cringe at the thought of more time in meetings saying things like “When will I ever get time to just get on with doing my work?!?”

But I believe that the “stink” attached to meetings might just be starting to blow away.  And what it’s revealed is that the old style, long, sit down meeting is being replaced by short, sharp meetings that focus on two key things:

1. What’s stopping/blocking you from achieving your goals today?

2. What jobs/tasks are you going to get done today?

Get your team members to really “own” these two questions and work with them to remove the barriers and get small wins each day and watch them fly.

These are quick (ours are 9 minutes) daily, stand up meetings where all our team contribute, helping each other to smash through road blocks.  Even better, accountability and ownership increase as each person is setting their own targets and announcing them in front of the group. The key to making this work in your business is “consistency”, doing this at that same time every day (e.g. A 9 minute meeting at 9 minutes to 9).  It  blew me away to hear that this seemingly simple concept is one of the keys to the success behind some of the most successful businesses in the world including Apple & Dell. This isn’t about micro management, this is all about focus and accountability and aligning the whole team on a regular, consistent basis.

We have worked with some of our clients to roll out this simple process – and even the biggest sceptics have become converts.  Project turnaround times improve dramatically, staff become more positive (even challenging and pushing each other to meet stated outcomes) and productivity improves.  Taking the time and having the discipline to consistently implement a daily meeting process (whereby you challenge each team member with the two ‘power’ questions above) is one of the smartest businesses decisions you will make.  I can also highly recommend you take the time to read “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” by Verne Harish. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, take it!  Visit his website if you want a greater insight on how to get the most from implementing this strategy.

So yes, meetings are the new black. The 2012 model is much sleeker and sharper than the 80s and 90s models. Just like the music, clothing and hairstyles!

Value Goes Beyond the Bottom Line

Michael Lewis gets to the bottom of it…

Most people in business look to the “Bottom Line” as the key measure of their performance.  If your sole  measure of success is “How much money did I make this year?”, you’re not looking at the full picture.

Your success in business should be measured by more than just profit and this is particularly the case in times when, due to economic or other external factors, you haven’t gone as well as you have in the past.

Measuring the value of your business from year to year is an important gauge of success and doesn’t always relate to the profit you have made. You can still grow the value of your business even though the bottom line is not growing. This is because there are many factors that influence the valuation of a business other than profit.  Building successful customer and supplier relationships, continually refining  product and service offerings and development of successful management systems are all valuable in their own way, and worthy of just as much consideration as the attention-hogging  “Bottom Line”.

Growing the value of your business can also provide you with lifestyle benefits as well as increasing your personal wealth. For instance, did you realise that the less your employees rely on you, and your customers need to see you – the more valuable your business is!  This means that your business runs properly while you’re not around and it becomes more attractive to buyers should you wish to sell. This is especially important when you are near retirement or planning your next business venture.

Ask yourself, “What am I doing to increase the value of my business?” and remember – it’s not all about profit.

Would you ask your hairdresser to fix your car?

Stuart Major talks hair, cars and communication skills…

Why is it that so many people take advice from Their Mate at the Pub rather than seeking the assistance of a professional…????

We invariably see new clients whose financial health is in poor condition and when quizzed about how this has come about, they simply refer to advice (WTF?) they have previously sourced from friends and workmates.  Most of the time a simple phone call to their accountant could have prevented what turns out to be timely and seriously costly mistakes.

Would you ask your local hairdresser how to fix your car?  Probably not!  Why then when contemplating buying a holiday house in a superannuation fund do some people turn to the person they’re sharing a glass of red wine with on a Saturday night?  It doesn’t make sense!  Every person’s circumstances are different; there can’t possibly be one solution that fits all.

For all of our mates (aka Clients) we encourage them to call and discuss any decision with us.  Sometimes, in fact a lot of the time, a solution can’t be found straight away, but with further discussion, and some research if needs be, a good piece of advice is communicated.

Maybe the accounting profession needs to take a good hard look at itself and realise that a lot of accountants are perceived to be inaccessible and poor communicators; something we are not!

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