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Cashflow Tips – What is the meaning of, & what does a Cashflow Statement show?

Cashflow Tips – What is the meaning of, & what does a Cashflow Statement show?

Cashflow Tips – What is the meaning of, & what does a Cashflow Statement show?

The Cashflow Statement is also called the Statement of Cashflows, and here we explain the meaning of, and look at what the statement shows us. It is one of the 3 main financial statements that businesses report on – the other 2 are Profit & Loss, and the Balance Sheet.

The cash flow statement reports the actual cash generated and used during the time interval stated in its heading. The period of time that the statement covers is chosen by the company, for example, “For the Three Months Ended 31 December, 2015” or “The Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2016”. Most common is annual.

The cash flow statement actually uses data and the CHANGES between periods from the Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet, and organises and reports the cash generated and used in the following categories:

Operating, Investing and Financial activities

Business Cash Flow

What the Cashflow Statement shows

The profit & loss or Income Statement is prepared under the accrual basis of accounting, meaning the sales/revenues reported may not have been collected yet. Similarly, the expenses reported on the income statement might not have been paid. You could review the balance sheet changes to determine the facts, but the cash flow statement already has integrated all that information. As a result, savvy business people and investors utilize this important financial statement.

Here are a few ways the statement of cash flows is used.

  1. The cash from operating activities is compared to the company’s net income (profit/loss). If the cash from operating activities is consistently greater than the net income, the company’s net income or earnings are said to be of a “high quality“. If the cash from operating activities is less than net income, a red flag is raised as to why the reported net income is not turning into cash.
  2. Some investors believe that “cash is king”. The cash flow statement identifies the cash that is flowing in and out of the company. If a company is consistently generating more cash than it is using, the company will be able to increase its dividend, buy back some of its stock, reduce debt, or acquire another company. All of these are seen to be good for shareholder value.
  3. There are also some financial models that use the cash flow.

The statement of cash flows has four distinct sections:

  1. Cash generated from operating activities
  2. Cash generated from investing activities
  3.  Cash generated from financing activities
  4. Supplemental information.

The differences in a company’s balance sheet accounts from one period to the next, will provide much of the needed information. The changes—or differences—in the account balances will likely be entered in one of the sections of the statement of cash flows.

Of the four sections of the statement of cash flows, those balance sheet accounts which affect each section include –

1. Operating Activities

This section reports the net income and then converts it from the accrual basis to the cash basis by using the changes in the balances of current asset and current liability accounts, such as:

  • Accounts Receivable
  • Inventory
  • Prepaid Insurance
  • Other Current Assets
  • Notes Payable
  • Accounts Payable
  • Wages Payable
  • Payroll Liabilities
  • Interest Payable
  • Income Taxes Payable
  • Unearned Revenues
  • Other Current Liabilities

Note – as well as using the changes in current assets and current liabilities, the operating activities section may list adjustments for depreciation expense and for the gains and losses on the sale of long-term assets/investments.

2. Investing Activities

This section reports changes in the balances of long-term asset accounts, such as:

  • Long-term Investments
  • Land
  • Buildings
  • Equipment
  • Furniture & Fixtures
  • Vehicles

Investing activities involve the purchase and/or sale of long-term investments and property, plant, and equipment.

3. Financing Activities

This section reports changes in balances of the long-term liability and stockholders’ equity accounts, such as:

  • Notes Payable (generally due after one year)
  • Bonds Payable
  • Deferred Income Taxes
  • Preferred Stock
  • Paid-in Capital in Excess of Par-Preferred Stock
  • Common Stock
  • Paid-in Capital in Excess of Par-Common Stock
  • Paid-in Capital from Treasury Stock
  • Retained Earnings
  • Treasury Stock

Financing activities involve the issuance and/or the repurchase of a company’s own bonds or shares as well as short-term and long-term borrowings and repayments.

4. Supplemental Information

This section of the cash flow statement reports the amount of interest and income taxes paid as well as significant exchanges not involving cash. For example, the exchange of company shares for company bonds would be reported here.

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Business Tips – 21 best business advice tips for success by small business owners who are killing it – news.com.au

Business Tips – 21 best business advice tips for success by small business owners who are killing it – news.com.au

21 best business advice tips for success by small business owners who are killing it – news.com.au

Here are 21 great business tips to get your enthusiasm back and get you focused on what you want to achieve in your business, by Emma Reynolds at news.com.au

STARTING a small business is a dream for many Australians, but it can be daunting.

Here, entrepreneurs who are killing it in a range of industries share their best piece of advice for making your company a success.

1. Deliver a consistent customer experience

Damian Cerini, owner of cycling tour business Tour de Vines, says you need your business to almost run itself before you look at growth. “The thing about working for an employer is that the business model is already set, it’s about the execution of the idea, whereas a new business is about testing the idea first and developing the systems.”

2. Add a personal touch

Angus Askew, co-director of commercial asset financing company Magnolia Lane Financial Services, says: “In our industry like most service industries everyone is essentially selling the same thing, you’ve just got to do it better. Our number one goal when dealing with a new client is to establish a relationship and make them feel special. Make sure you are remembered. We make it our priority to see all of our customers face to face. Create a rapport as this is what will result in repeat business and an income stream for life.”

3. Leverage social media

A strong marketing strategy is essential in every industry, says Anthony Kittel, director of manufacturing firm REDARC. That means social networking — on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or all of the above. “Our brand is everything, so whatever we can do to promote that brand and consumer awareness is critical.”

21 tips Kelly Exeter

Author and Flying Solo editor Kelly Exeter says a less frantic life made her more productive.

4. Write your own business bible

Matthew White, whose firm Ergoflex sells memory foam mattresses, says the volume of information available can be overwhelming. He recommends writing ideas and tips in a notebook or tablet as they come up. “It has helped me make some major decisions, and also saved me hours of searching for something I’ve read somewhere.”

5. Focus on your specialty

In the first few years, there can be a lot of pressure to diversify your offering, says Paris Cutler, director of cake decorating company Planet Cake. “Stick to what you do best and do it better and with more focus than anyone else.”

6. Outsource the things you don’t do

Resist the temptation to chase work outside your offering, and use a specialist to fill in any gaps, says Rhys Roberts from accountancy firm Viridity. “I outsource my HR, my IT, much of my marketing and more. The time you free up you can spend doing what you are good at.”

7. Aim high and be persistent

Determination is one of the vital qualities needed when you start on the long road of setting up a small business. Rochelle Miller, co-founder of fashion retailer Another Love, says: “Believe in yourself and your strengths. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. There will be bumps along the way, but everything has a solution or another option.”

21 tips Andrew Griffiths

Consultant Andrew Griffiths thinks about ways to improve his business each day.

8. Embrace a life less frantic

Kelly Exeter, author and editor of small business community Flying Solo says it’s all about finding the right balance for you. “I am learning that I don’t just need physical space to thrive, I need mental space too.”

9. Follow your own path

Designer and illustrator Beci Orpin says she’s not naturally business-minded, but has always worked really hard and built up a strong folio of work. “My business is all about me: my style and what I create, so an important part of developing that was staying true to myself — not worrying about what other people were doing.”

10. Take time out to think about how to improve

Use your best hour in the day to consider ways of moving forward, advises Andrew Griffiths, a small business author and consultant. He does this first thing every morning. Then, each Friday, “I find a quiet place and ask myself a question: ‘How is my business better this week than it was last week?’”

11. Harness your ‘keystone habits’

Entrepreneur and blogger James Clear says we should find the one or two habits or routines that make everything else fall into place. “Improving your lifestyle and becoming the type of person who ‘has their act together’ isn’t nearly as hard as you might think.”

21 tips Kathryn Hocking

Life coach Kathryn Hocking researches what competitors are doing.

12. Practice mindfulness

Freelance journalist and editor Jodie Macleod says it increases productivity, reduces stress and improves memory and focus. “Mindfulness is when you are aware of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, breath and everything occurring in the present moment, without attaching judgment to those observations.”

13. Every setback is a stepping stone to success

Lucinda Lions from branding agency Slogan Creator says it’s important to stay positive wherever possible, and see feedback, not failure. “I remind myself tomorrow is a brand new day, a new opportunity to think differently and make better choices.”

14. Hire from within your networks

When Sarah Wilson from I Quit Sugarbegan feeling overwhelmed with work, she decided to get an assistant. She put a call out to her community, knowing taking someone on would involve sacrifice. Five years later, they still have a successful working relationship. “Start out small and then leave the invitation open for expansion.”

15. Keep it manageable

Kate James, start-up coach at Total Balance, says it’s important to remember that it’s not all about non-stop growth — bigger isn’t better if you’ve stopped enjoying what you do. “You need to define your own version of success. Mine is that I need to love my business.”

21 tips Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson says you need to know when to ask for help.Source:Supplied

16. Know when to work for free

Vanessa Emilio from Legal123, says sometimes working for free is worth it. “‘Free’ doesn’t mean offering an entire job or product for free. It could mean a free initial consultation, free component of a project or complimentary muffin with every coffee.”

17. Stay excited and believe in your business

SEO copywriter and consultant Kate Toon says start-ups should think about clients’ needs and possible issues and create rational responses to persuade them your business is the solution. “Inject warmth, professionalism and even humour, where appropriate. Being human beats boring every time.”

18. Learn to say no

Recognise when a client has unrealistic expectations and nip it in the bud early, or consider referring them on, says author and media commentator Andrew Griffiths.

Try a formal, structured response and keep returning to it. Try, “Thank you for the opportunity, but we are so heavily committed we can’t give your project the time and attention it needs.”

19. Create fans

If you’re on a tight marketing budget, think about how you can trigger word-of-mouth interest. Warren Harmer of The Business Plan Company mentions a small florist that did this brilliantly by 1) Offering quality; 2) Providing value; 3) Inspiring team members to love their job and clients and 4) Creating a physical environment that excited their market.

20. Turn competition into inspiration

Life coach Kathryn Hocking suggests you research what competitors are doing to help identify what makes you unique. Your relationship doesn’t have to be adversarial: they could be a mentor, partner or friend. “Focus on your own purpose and connect with peers that have similar values and who inspire you to greater levels of success.”

21. Know when to take a ‘dream detour’

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether to grab a fresh opportunity or stick to your path. Business mentor Lynda Bayada says you need to outsmart your head so you can listen to your heart. “Give yourself space and trust yourself. And you’ll find that’s half the battle won.”

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Cashflow Tips – I’m making a profit but no cash – why does this happen?

Cashflow Tips – I’m making a profit but no cash – why does this happen?

Cashflow Tips – I’m making a profit but no cash – why does this happen?

Is your business making a profit but no cash and you wonder why?

This may be because company reports like Profit & Loss may show you are making a profit but have no cash because profit is an accounting record using revenues and expenses, (accrual accounting) which are different from the company’s cash receipts and cash disbursements (cash accounting).

Put another way, there is a difference between revenues (invoiced sales) and receipts (actual cash receipt of payment of invoices (banked)). There is also a difference between expenses (purchase orders still to pay) and expenditures (actual payment of purchases, and overhead expenses).

Examples

  1. As an example a new company that sells $10,000 to its clients in a month and the clients are given 30 days to pay. The company will have $10,000 of revenues in its first month, but the cash will not be received until the second month. If the company’s expenses are $7,000 in the first month, the company will report a profit of $3,000 but will not have received any cash from its clients. It may not have been paid, and it may not have paid its expenses either.
  2. Another company might report a profit of $60,000 in its first year, but during its first year it uses $65,000 of cash to acquire equipment that will be put into service at the beginning of the second year. This company will have a profit, but will not have the cash.
  3. Other times cash is paid out, but the profits are not reduced at the time of the payment, because they don’t pay for expenses but pay loans, payroll PAYG or super or for stock – they go to the Balance Sheet and include prepayments of insurance, payments to increase the inventory of merchandise on hand, and payments to reduce liabilities.

Keep in mind that Profit does not equal cash: It is as simple as that!

Profit is the accounting record of what is left after you have made sales and raised all expenses. Of course, remember there is tax on the profit as well. The remaining amount is then reinvested back into the business or distributed to the owners.

Cash is what the business needs to operate every day and can come from 5 different main sources — profit, selling assets, contributing your own personal funds, bank loans or new investor money.

Cash and Timing

The key to remember is that you don’t spend profit in our business — you spend cash, and it is all in the timing.

There are 2 timing situations to be aware of –

Firstly as the old saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. To make a profit, you first need to purchase goods or services to sell, so you will need cash before the sale is made. By selling your product or service at a higher price than what it cost, you make a profit.  The point is you need the cash before you get the profit, or get credit and pay the supplier later!

Secondly (that catches most businesses) is providing credit to customers. The longer the customer takes to pay, the longer you have to wait for the cash, and in the meantime you have wages, rent, stock and other expenses to pay. This is where the trouble begins and often ends.

Focus on what matters – cashflow

You need to focus on not only profit but also what drives your cashflow. If you have regular loan repayments, rent and other expenses that have to be made on time, then you will need enough cash to cover these while you wait for your customers to pay. Keeping track of your accounts receivable and following up on late payments will definitely help your cashflow. The other thing to remember is if you can get credit from your suppliers, this may mean that you don’t have to pay for stock until you have sold it — again making a big difference to your cash flow.

The business needs to be profitable to stay in business. Be careful of sacrificing profits to generate cash. Offering discounts to pay early will definitely help your cash position but will reduce your profit.

The best management is to make sure you have enough cash buffer to cover ongoing expenses. Having a finance facility (overdraft, credit card) can help that will tide you over during a cash flow shortage, but this will cost in the form of fees and interest, which again, will reduce your profit.

Remember profit does not equal cash!

See more help at Cashflow Tips

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Business Tips – 3 Favourite Productivity Tips

Business Tips – 3 Favourite Productivity Tips

3 Favourite Productivity Tips

A fellow blogger in South Australia – Sarina Abbott shares her 3 favourite productivity tips

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” Dr Seuss

As a business owner, your productive days are the ones that keep you moving forward. They keep you one step ahead of the competition. Importantly, they mean that you can put your feet up at the end of the day with a smile on your face, feeling good about your day and what you’ve achieved.

Today I’d like to share my 3 favourite productivity tips to help you, in Dr Seuss’ words, get on your way!

Play music

Playing music whilst working BUT…only when doing easy tasks I don’t need to think too hard about. For me this includes scanning documents for filing & uploading receipts to my software. It’s surprising how much work you can power through when you have music to boost your mood and it’s almost like a reward for getting through your tougher work earlier on.

Use online invoicing software

Is this how you prepare Invoices? Open up a Word document, change the Invoice number (after checking it’s the next number), add the customer name and details, save it, attach it to an email, type up a professional-sounding email message, send. Oh and remember to back-up all your Word documents in case your laptop fails, etc? Well you have probably already guessed what I’m going to say. Of course there are much more efficient, hassle-free ways to do your invoicing and this includes using online invoicing software. Using your mobile or iPad you can send an invoice to your customer whilst you are right there with them and you know they’ve received it. If you send the same invoices to customers every month, you can set up recurring invoices to go out in a fraction of the time than if you had to do it manually each month…

Do the difficult tasks first

This is a gem of a tip that has really helped me in my business and in life overall actually. It sounds so simple, yet it can have huge productivity benefits. When the weight of a difficult task is lifted off of your shoulders you really do fly through the rest of your day feeling confident and able to tackle anything. I’ve come to believe that success comes to those willing to do the difficult things others put off doing. Pick up the phone and make those difficult phone calls first thing in the morning before you have too much time to think about it. Head out the door and introduce yourself to potential clients. Leave the fun stuff like updating social media until after the uncomfortable stuff is out the way. I tend to overthink things and before I know it part of my day is gone whilst I wait for myself to “feel like” doing the tough stuff. Since adopting the habit of doing the difficult tasks first I wouldn’t do things any other way.

So for me being productive is all about working smarter and not harder, embracing technology and remembering to reward myself. Not all of my days are productive ones, and that’s okay. As a bookkeeper sometimes I get weighed down with the numbers and just need a good break so I can come back and tackle my work another day with fresh eyes!

I think Sarina has great tips – so true!
Especially the tip to do the difficult tasks first – sometimes I just say to myself – JUST DO IT! But I still have days I put off the call or the hard item…

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Cashflow Tips – How to Improve Cashflow in 30 days!

Cashflow Tips – Claiming Business expenses – Consider what you want to achieve

Cashflow Tips – How to Improve Cashflow in 30 days!

One of the services we help our clients with is teaching how to improve cashflow – and our aim is 30 days! – mainly how to get paid sooner is the top issue they face! A simple method we found is simply send statements EVERY FORTNIGHT – the majority of busy business owners and accounts people forget – you are not their priority.

Results we achieve –

  • Frequent reminders has cut accounts payable / debtors from 60-90 days to majority 30 days and fewer in 60 days! – nearly halved the average payment time in many cases!
  • Calls have been more than halved!
  • Regular email saves time, stress and cost! – The squeaky wheel gets attention!

But there are always the stragglers or those in financial stress that may not be their fault, and often they are a bit embarrassed to call to explain – so sometimes a follow-up call is needed.
And then there are the down-right determined to string you out (the old-fashioned attitude to lean on creditors (YOU)), or financially tight businesses that are only in to win themselves – sometimes they may become a loss.

Here are 5 other tips from Elan Pamensky at Dynamic Business

Cashflow is the lifeblood of any business and more SMBs have been destroyed through cashflow issues than from any other cause. The last thing you need is to be stressing about whether you have enough cash to pay your own suppliers when you should be running your business

1. Compare Your Budgeted and Actual Cashflow

When you made your realistic budget for this financial year, you predicted  your income and expenses so that you could use those figures in your planning. The purpose of this budget was to check whether your cashflow was on target and take action if it is not.

If you are having cashflow issues, you need to determine what is at the root of the problem – lack of income, out-of-control expenses, or late payment of accounts by customers are the most common causes. Once you identify the cause, you can do something about it, but it all starts with awareness.

2. Be Clear About Your Payment Terms and Follow Up

You’d be surprised how many businesses forget this step, and it’s one of the easiest ways to improve your cashflow. Clearly defining your payment terms at the start of your relationship can transform the speed at which you are paid, and it also gives you a chance to negotiate.

If you are asking for 7 or 14 days payment and your prospect wants 30, 60, or 90 days you have the opportunity to negotiate a higher fee in return for your concession on terms, and you have the opportunity to ask yourself whether this client is going to be worth working for at all. This also puts you in a much stronger position if they are late paying your invoices because you have already had a discussion about the terms.

Once you have established the terms of payment make sure you follow your clients up quickly and professionally when they are overdue. This increases your client’s respect for the value you deliver, and helps you get paid sooner

3. Invoice Immediately

Businesses that invoice weekly or monthly are more likely to have cashflow problems. If you invoice as soon as you complete a job the chances are you will get paid immediately … or at least on time because a client who has just signed off on a job is probably happy to pay (or at least schedule payment) immediately rather than having it hanging over their head as something to do.

Tradies are particularly guilty of waiting days or weeks to invoice, and often only invoice when they have a cashflow crisis, so using an app, or developing a system that allows you to invoice immediately is an excellent way to improve your cashflow.

4. Plan Ahead for Compulsory Payments

Set aside money as it comes into your account to pay your taxes, GST   and superannuation obligations. It’s best to put this into a separate bank account so you are not tempted to think of it as ‘available cash’ because it really isn’t available at all.

I’ve lost count of the number of business owners who thought they were having an incredibly profitable year, but who discovered that they had forgotten to set aside enough cash to pay their legal obligations and were suddenly plunged into a cashflow crisis in June or December.

5. Consider Ways to Reduce your Stock Without Affecting Delivery

While many businesses need to have a certain amount of capital tied up in stock so that they can provide efficient and timely service, it’s always worth revisiting your stock levels. From stationery and office supplies to spare parts and widgets your goal should be to have enough to operate your business without interruption, but not too much.

Holding excess stock has an effect on your cashflow as well as on your expenses (warehouse and office space) so it’s important to determine the right levels for your business, and to control it carefully. Lower stock levels also make stocktake easier to manage.

In summary, if you implement one or more of these cashflow improvement methods you will find that the additional cash you have available at any time will increase, and you will also be able to look ahead and see when cashflow problems are likely to occur so that you can work around them.

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Business Tips – Being an Open-Book business in a Closed-Book world

Business Tips – Being an Open-Book business in a Closed-Book world

Being an Open-Book business in a Closed-Book world

An interesting look at Open-Book business operating in a Closed-Book World (our own emphasis) as Michael Lumsden writes at Great Game of Business – Our company operates in the outsourced contact centre sector. We tend to have relatively few, big corporate clients with large transaction volumes and long term contracts. This means we have quite high levels of single client dependency so we are always trying to make sure we are delivering great services and anticipating our clients requirements so we can satisfy or exceed them. We do a pretty good job generally judging by our client growth and retention rates.

Most of our clients have heard us talk about open-book management but I am not sure they really understand it or appreciate the role it plays in our success and therefore the outcomes we deliver for them as clients. Often times we feel frustrated with our clients because they treat us in a “closed-book management” style. It is not uncommon for large companies to limit the information which is shared with their business partners / suppliers. Information is power and the traditional procurement led approach to supplier management is designed to help the big corporate protect their position of power in the relationship.

As practitioners of open-book management, we know that there is enormous value that can be created when organizations unleash the power and creativity of their employees. We know that an open-book approach is one of the best ways to win the hearts and minds of the employees. So when a major client imposes either deliberately or through omission a blockage to meaningful information flow between their organization and our employees (who are effectively their employees as far as the customer is concerned) we see a shortfall against the value that could be generated. So it got me thinking about how we can help build better Open Book relationships with our clients.

Here are a few ideas we are going to try:

#1 Teach clients the rules of the Game

 We teach our employees the rules of the game but we have never really made the effort to teach our clients. Our frustration at their “closed-book approach” is our own fault given we have never taken the opportunity to educate clients on the Great Game and how it impacts on our culture and performance as a business. We need to help them understand the open-book management system and agree how we can use information better to our mutual advantage.

#2 Align critical numbers

In our client relationships there is a very strong level of measurement against KPI’s. The critical numbers are usually fairly evident and we have a good ability to measure these and communicate them across our business at an aggregated and individual performance level. The “closed-book” gap with clients is not with what the critical numbers are, but with how targets are set against these KPI’s. Often times clients will set targets that are overly ambitious in the belief that they can drive performance outcomes with their outsourced providers by dangling the carrot just out of reach. If you do manage to reach the level, the bar quickly gets lifted a bit higher. Typically when targets are missed this triggers contract penalties which reduce our remuneration from the contract. This has a flow on effect in that as an open-book company we typically share our client targets with our employees and align their bonuses or “Stake in the Outcome” with the client targets. So if the targets are continually set in a way where they are perceived to be out of reach, the power of the bonus or “Stake in the Outcome” is negated. Again education is required with our clients to demonstrate the linkage between realistic target setting and the Open Book Management system.

#3 Teach clients the value of everyone following the game on a scoreboard

Large corporate companies often outsource parts of their business and keep some in house. They may also outsource to multiple providers. When the large corporate takes this multi-vendor and or in-house / out sourced approach, they will be attempting to derive the value of a competitive champion challenger mindset amongst other benefits . This should really play into the hands of an open-book management provider because we know the power that can be harnessed by sharing performance results for various teams on a scoreboard. Unfortunately, the “closed-book” thinking often prevents the client from sharing the competitive data across vendors and or their in-house operations. They will tend to release only snippets of sometimes manipulated data to support their goal of pushing the provider for better performance. This censorship or blacking out of the true scoreboard is potentially incredibly damaging to the performance across the entire estate. We need to teach our clients the benefits of everyone involved being able to “follow the action and keep score”.   

#4 Give clients a Stake in the Outcome

Our clients are naturally interested in achieving better financial outcomes. Being tough on suppliers through a procurement led approach is seen as being financially prudent and helping the big corporate drive profitability. If we want to change the “closed-book” behaviour, we need to be able to demonstrate what the client’s benefit or “Stake in the Outcome” from an open-book approach will be. We need to model the financial benefits and present compelling business cases as to why they need to adopt a more open book approach. We then need to be able to test it and make it work in the real world so that the client gets a measurable benefit.

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Cashflow Tips – How does Team-Building affect the Business Cashflow game?

Cashflow Tips – How does Team-Building affect the Business Cashflow game?

Cashflow Tips – How does Team-Building affect the Business Cashflow game?

Did you realise the effect of your team on your cashflow and profitability – and how team-building affects your business cashflow?

You know it when you get bad service from a business from a low-caring shop assistant – did you enjoy the experience so that you will go back? Unlikely!

YOUR team is an important, dynamic unit working together to achieve success in accomplishing a goal.

So – what determines how effectively a team will work together?

Lots of things. To create an autonomous, hard-working, high-producing group of individuals is challenging, and there are many factors that will influence your team’s success.

Here are 6 considerations to help you get started.

1-   Begin With the Right People

Know what you are looking for. When recruiting to your team, look for candidates who match your organizational culture. If you’re adding to an existing team, you might consider getting team members to help with the selection of a new recruit. While group cohesiveness has an effect on group performance, any group that works productively will suffer less turnover because they have enjoyed success. Look for people who will help to balance your team professionally.

2-   Be SMART About Goal-Setting

Without goals, teams are aimless. Prepare your team for success with a clear objective, and be sure to attach a value to the goal. Without seeing the value in the work they are doing, a team will lack the motivation to succeed. In goal-setting make your goal SMART:

  • Specific: Your goal must be well-defined so that the team’s direction is clear. Ask: Where do we want to end up? What steps will we need to take to get here?
  • Measurable: In order to measure their degree of success, a team needs precise objectives (amounts and dates). Be specific. If you describe your goal in general terms, such as “Increase sales” without indicating by how much or by when, it’s unlikely you’ll get the results you want.
  • Attainable: Be realistic. Aim too high (set a goal that your team has no hope of achieving) and you will only demoralize your team and eat away at their confidence. Make sure to state how and why you think a goal is attainable.
  • Relevant: Goals should be aligned with your vision of success, and relevant to the direction you want your team to take.
  • Time-Bound: Success will come that much quicker if you have a deadline.

Arrange to have your team revisit their goals regularly. The pursuit of achievement is ongoing, and reminders will help to keep things on track. Encourage open discussion about the team’s progress.

3-   Define Roles Clearly

Without goals, it’s impossible to establish meaningful, valuable roles for team members; in their absence, team member accountability becomes an issue, as do overlap and time-wasting. Clearly defined roles make it easier for each team member to set their own goals for accomplishing work effectively and for making a strong contribution to the larger goal. It is important that each team member accept the role and responsibilities of their own role, and those of their counterparts. You might consider explaining why each team member has been selected, so that their value to the team is clearly established. Clear roles help to:

  • Identify knowledge, skill and capability needed (helps you hire the right people)
  • Determine what resources and strategies are required for success and determines who will be sharing these (helps you get the proper tools to the right people)
  • Eliminate confusion, establish boundaries, and reduce overlap (so a member can focus time and energy on learning/ performing a specific task)
  • Identify any weakness that threatens efficiency and any need for training, support or reassignment

Perhaps the most important role on a team is the team leader. A quality leader who will value the ideas and opinions of its members and hold team members accountable will influence engagement (and efficiency).

4-   Build an Atmosphere of Cooperation

Efficient teams co-operate. In this environment, team goals are of utmost importance and team members support each other in working toward these goals. A member will be measured by their contribution to achievement. Have processes and protocols in place to promote co-operation. Consider the following:

Team charter: A charter defines how work will be done. It is created by the team, for the team. All members should be expected to contribute. The team charter addresses how work will be done. It deals with topics such as:

  • Purpose (A team that understands how a job will align with your organization’s key objectives and strategies is more likely to produce exceptional work. Reinforce corporate values, and business objectives.)
  • Duration and Time Commitment (Ask: How long will this take? What time is required?)
  • Scope (How big is too big?)
  • Stages of development (deliverables)

Communication: This is the most important factor in successful teamwork. The most effective teams exist where members are able to share information and expertise openly with their team, and with their organization as well. Personal expression must not be undervalued. (Points are listed to consider…)

Conflict resolution: Conflict is part of learning to work well together. It is powerful, and can contribute to a team’s success or be its undoing. Deal with conflict quickly. Where a team is relatively uniform in experience, problems may be resolved more quickly than where a team’s members differ widely in experience and approach to problem-solving. If team members cannot resolve an issue, they should have prompt guidance. Encourage openness, and have a method of feedback so that concerns can be brought to your attention. Be responsive.

Team-building: Enable your team to perform their job well. The degree to which you need to invest in team building depends on the size of the team, and member turnover. The dynamics of a team will change with the coming and going of members, and in either circumstance, you want your team to adjust, and continue to be productive. Help them build strong team systems and processes so that work goes on uninterrupted.

5-   Define Expectations

Performance expectations are, basically, the ‘Rules of Engagement’ for team work. They govern professional issues. Be clear about what contributions are expected from individual team members, and consider presenting these expectations to each prospective member during their interview to help assure that you will be working on the same page. These expectations should be laid out in your organizational policies and procedures.

Team expectations should be concrete and directly related to the achievement of team goals. They define how a team will work to achieve their goals.

Expect team members to:

  • Contribute (do their work)
  • Communicate with each other
  • Cooperate (support each other)…

It is very important to the success of your team that you enforce expectations. Make sure that you treat everyone fairly (without favoritism), and that you welcome and accept observations from team members about performance issues. Poor performance must be effectively addressed for team members to feel supported, and so to manage potential conflict. Team members must be held accountable for achieving goals and meeting expectations for the team to be effective.

6-   Recognize Good Work

Effective team members perceive their service to the team as being valuable to their organization, and to their own careers as well. Reward the results of their efforts. To attract and retain motivated and effective workers, your organization must invest in a culture that promotes improvement, and has a means for capturing individual contributions. Recognize and reward individual successes and team successes as well. Learn what keeps your team members motivated. You might consider the following:

  • Profit-Sharing (Share the wealth!)
  • Skills development (training, conferences, webinars)
  • Opportunity (promotion)…

Never let good performance go without recognition, and follow-up. If you or your team see good performance from an individual contributor, they should be sure the individual is both recognized and rewarded.

Effective teams benefit from front-end investment. Spend time structuring a work environment to foster success, and you will be more likely to see your team flourish. Recognize that you are part of the team (even if you are apart). Invest in your relationship with team members, and seek to build trust and loyalty by being accessible, supportive, and responsive. Reward good performance and deter poor performance. Review processes and procedures regularly. Take comments and criticisms, and allow yourself, and your team to grow towards success.

Condensed from http://www.corporatechallenge.com.au/blog/how-build-effective-workplace-team

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