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Because it needs to be said

BECAUSE IT NEEDS TO BE SAID

I try to send positive vibes out across socials. It might put a smile on your dial, or maybe warm your heart just a little, or for those few seconds, simply take your mind off everything else. But I’m feeling for working mums right now. It’s been a hot topic in our She Will Shine weekly meet-ups and our online support group, and I think this is a conversation that needs to be had.

Because I’ve been seeing more and more of our members suffering from increased stress and anxiety. Not only are they trying to keep their own businesses afloat in these challenging times, they are also looking after kids 24/7 and in charge of all things home learning, plus so much more. Mental load has increased ten-fold.

 

If you’re a mum you already were at capacity before you even knew what COVID-19 was, so how are you coping now?

 

Yes, these are unprecedented times but systematically the extra load continues to fall to women.

Which brings me to this big question… Why is it that when a male works from home, it’s “expected” that he just moves his laptop to the spare room and shuts the door behind him? And when it happens to women, the laptop comes out onto the dining table, plus breakfast, lunch, dinner, the never-ending snacks, the boredum-busting, school communication, home learning, general logistics and up-keep of the house… Did I mention that she has also has work and clients to attend to. And don’t forget, “Kids! Keep the noise down so we don’t disturb dad in the back room.”

 


So where does the blame fall? Surely there is someone who can solve all our problems and fix this.

 

Is it the partner? Shouldn’t he see what’s happening in his own home and help out. The partner’s employer? Surely they understand parental care falls 50% on the shoulders of each parent. How about society? The topic of gender equality isn’t a new one. Or even ourselves? We did structure our lives this way. Is now the time to ask, or even demand, more help?

It’s such a huge issue and it needs to be looked at holistically as we all have a role to play in changing the status quo. But it’s a big one and I fear it will take longer than any pay-gap to fix. So in the meantime Ladies I beg you, please take care of you somewhere in that non-stop day of yours. Where technology was once frowned upon, now it may just be the saviour you need to fit in a few deep breaths and a hot cup of tea.

 

And if you need someone to talk to, the She Will Shine community are here for you.

You don’t even need to explain it to us. We get it.

 

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network-for-women-in-businessAbout Danielle Price
With over 10 years small business experience, Danielle Price has created an Australia-wide network of female small business owners at She Will Shine. An expert networker and elevator of female business owners, Danielle facilitates connection and support between like-minded women in working towards a common goal of creating a successful business around personal responsibilities and life. Danielle’s passion is sharing and giving a voice to the real stories of Australian women in small business. Learn more about Danielle here.

Supporting you to grow your business on your terms.

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How to be in business for over 20 years

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How to network with a purpose

HOW TO NETWORK WITH A PURPOSE

How to network with a purpose

So everyone keeps telling you to get out there and network.

But every time you do, you go home with a pocket full of business cards, a headache and little else. Well I’m here to share with you that networking IS worth the time and the effort. And I’m even going to tell you how you can get something out of it! Just like every other aspect of your business and your life, you need to network with a goal. Yes, just one! That goal will fit into one of the following types:

 

1. Transactional Goals:

Do you want more sales?
Do you want more social media followers?
Do you want to tell more people about your product or service?

The examples above all revolve around “quantity” and “numbers” in your favour, so are one-sided transactional goals.

 

2. Development Goals:

Are you looking to make new connections and business friends?
Do you want to meet other local businesses?
Are you looking for collaboration opportunities?

The examples above are mutually beneficial goals and will help you (and your new connections) with personal or professional development goals.

 

Traditionally, networking has been seen as a “transactional” setting.

The more networking events you go to equals the more sales you make. But these days there are an abundance of different types of networking events around and alternative platforms like social media that help you nurture genuine connections over time. It’s networking with a long-term “development” focus.

 

My advice is to choose the setting that best suits your networking goal.

An example might be, if you want to tell as many people as possible about your product or service, look at a speed-networking event. Or perhaps you would like to meet like-minded business owners, well then a She Will Shine event is the way to go. The great news is that YOU can choose which type of events you go to.

 

Show up, meet new people, have fun and practise. And don’t let that pesky little word “fear” stop you.

RELATED: How To Network Virtually

 

And of course if you’re interested in networking She Will Shine-style (that’s networking without the ickiness of networking), you can find out more about becoming a She Will Shine Member.

 

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network-for-women-in-businessAbout Danielle Price
With over 10 years small business experience, Danielle Price has created an Australia-wide network of female small business owners at She Will Shine. An expert networker and elevator of female business owners, Danielle facilitates connection and support between like-minded women in working towards a common goal of creating a successful business around personal responsibilities and life. Danielle’s passion is sharing and giving a voice to the real stories of Australian women in small business. Learn more about Danielle here.

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How to be in business for over 20 years

HOW HAS MELISSA BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR OVER 20 YEARS? Melissa Norfolk started her digital agency 23 years ago, and shares the challenges she faced growing her business, hiring staff, and facing her busiest time over COVID.

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The 3-Step guide to writing your USP

THE 3-STEP GUIDE TO WRITING YOUR UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION

So you’ve been asked to write a business bio or come up with an elevator pitch… where do you start?

What you need is to clarify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – a short summary that tells your ideal customers why YOUR business and offer is different from everybody else’s.

Personally I prefer you completely ignore what the competition does – there is no value in comparing yourself with others and explaining why you’re better. Providing you are clear on these few points below, your USP will attract loyal customers who won’t even consider the competition in future.

 

1. Choose your WHO

Ensure you know exactly WHO your ideal customer is, what their key problem is (that your business helps solve), and most importantly, how your product or service will make them FEEL when this problem is solved. This feeling is what you are actually selling – not your product or service at all! The demographic stuff  (age, sex, socioeconomic etc) may be useful to hone in on a particular niche that you prefer to work with, but unless you are a really big business who needs to break a market down into manageable chunks, it’s of secondary importance.

 

2. Identify WHY you do what you do

What values or passions drive your business and bring meaning and purpose to you (and your employees if you have them)? What change do you wish to make in the world (or your little corner of it)? What are you passionate about? Try to identify 3-4 keywords that summarise these values and incorporate them into the language you use in your USP.

 

3. Ensure WHAT you do solves a problem

Your products and services need to provide real solutions to your customers. This may not always be exactly what they think they need – sometimes people don’t even know what they REALLY need! However, it’s important to clearly communicate how your product or service solves their problem (benefits), rather than all the ways you think it is awesome (features), and highlight how your ideal customer will FEEL when they achieve their desired solution.

For solo business owners, your biggest point of difference is actually YOU! Only you have your unique values, skills, knowledge and experience, so highlight this uniqueness in your USP, even if you operate under a “brand” name.

For bigger businesses, your brand (visual image, voice, culture, systems) represents these things. It is up to you as the founder to ensure your core values – as well as the skills, knowledge and experience of your team – infiltrate your brand culture and marketing communications, and are consistent across all areas of your business.

 

While you may need to hone it into a more fluid sentence, the following framework can help you put your USP together:


For [WHO]
Who [have a particular problem]
[My business]
provides [value words]


to help them feel [desired solution]

 

For example, here’s one I put together for my business while writing this article:

“For small business owners who want to run a business WITHIN a life (not one that completely takes over it!), Wholehearted Marketing provides honest, “heart-centred” business mentoring and creative marketing support solutions, so that they can love their business more AND make more money!”

While I might want to tweak the wording a bit, you can see it’s a pretty good start!

Of course, like anything else, your USP does not have to be carved in stone.

It will evolve as your business grows and changes. You may choose to serve a different ideal customer, you might want to focus on different skills or passions over time, and in all honesty, only some of your products or services will be successful. That’s OK.

So long as you have some clarity around WHO you wish to serve, WHY you do what you do, and develop WHAT your Ideal Customers most need to solve their problems, you’ll be fine.

RELATED: How to Create Your 30 Second Elevator Pitch

 

Continue this conversation in our business community by becoming a She Will Shine Member today. Join the She Will Shine business network today and beat the July 1st price rise.

 

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Cath Connell, Wholehearted MarketingAbout Cath Connell
Cath Connell from Wholehearted Marketing is the Marketing Demystifier, providing mentoring, training and hands-on support to help small business owners overcome their fear of marketing and build the skills they need to achieve success. She is particularly passionate about helping others tap into their Purpose and use their business as a platform for change.

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How to be in business for over 20 years

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4 Steps To Becoming A Content Queen

4 STEPS TO BECOMING A CONTENT QUEEN

Small Business ContentWriting for your own business can be frustrating. In theory, you should be the best-placed person to do it; you speak to your clients every day and you’ve been in your industry for donkey’s years. So, why is writing about your own business so tricky?

It turns out, your clients don’t need all the information you have in your head – they just need the right snippets of information. Just enough detail to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about (#professional), build rapport and make the next step easy for clients to act and buy (#calltoaction). Working out a clear message, knowing your audience and putting yourself out to the world… it is easier said than done, right?

In short, business owners need to get out of their own heads – you’ve got a lot to think about – and find a simple way to get all of those ideas on to paper. By following these four easy steps, you’ll be on your way to creating great content for your small business – and leaving the frustrations behind you.

STEP ONE – WHO DIS?
When it comes to writing for your business, defining your audience is key. If your target market is too broad, your message could end up being a bit wishy-washy and will be destined to get lost in the crowd.

So, who are you talking to? What are they looking for or what is their need? (Hint: it’s your product or service!) How old are they? Where can you find them online? If you’re an online retail business and young women are your target market, Facebook or Instagram might be your focus. But what if you’re a business consultant – perhaps your dream corporate clients are spending more time on Linked In.

Try and be specific as you can. Taking a few minutes to have a clear idea of who your audience is – and how, when and where they get their information – is the first step to nailing your content.

STEP TWO – WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT, WILLIS?
The customer is always right, right? As a business owner, it’s always important to focus on the customer – what interests them and what issues do they have that you can help solve? When developing content for your business, keeping information current, topical and tailored to your audience will ensure it always in demand.

‘Content is Queen’, so they say, but what exactly is ‘content’? It is more than just your posts on social media – content encompasses all the things you can develop and create to promote your professional skills and your business. Blogging is often considered the cornerstone of any content marketing plan and is a fantastic way to focus on specific topics or issues that your clients may be thinking about.

Mastered your blog? Then why not try:
• e-books
• white papers
• online guides
• videos
• infographics
• downloadable templates or checklists
• tips, hacks and shortcuts

Once you’ve developed your content (remembering to keep it client-focused, topical, interesting and with your own spin on things!), you share, share, share away!! Social media, networking groups, guest blog posts, a newsletter to your database – think big when considering the many ways to share your content. Repurposing content is totally acceptable but it’s always best to shake up your timings and platforms so your audience get some variety – it is the spice of life after all.

STEP THREE – LET’S GET PERSONAL
People love getting to know people. Why did you start your business? Was it a lifelong dream to start a new career? Did you want more flexibility after having kids? Clients love to know the face behind a business and get to know the story and people that make it tick.

Why is it so important? It builds rapport and allows people to share in your story. Getting personal in your copy often feels a little bit uncomfortable – but once you find the sweet spot (and that looks different for everyone), it will be worth getting out of your comfort zone. A selfie of you about to meet a client, a photo of your workspace or the story of how and why you started your business – little tidbits about you that adds personality to your business and brand. It builds the likability factor and might be the difference between someone wanting to work or buy from you, instead of your competitor.

It’s all about balance – mixing up your content will ensure your clients are reading a variety of information from you in different formats. Some people like to watch a quick video, where others might enjoy a longer read. Try the 1:3 rule, that’s one ‘salesy’ piece of content for every three posts that are personal, information sharing or commenting on an industry trend.

Of course, you don’t be one of those people that talks about themselves all. the. time! But as a business owner sharing a little but about yourself is a great way for potential clients to understand more about you, your business and how you like to work – and for them a way to decide whether they like your approach (to work and life!) before they even contact you.

STEP FOUR – 5 MINUTE CONTENT CHALLENGE
OK here’s a quick challenge for you. Grab a piece of paper and a pen (old school, I know) and set the time on your phone for 5 minutes.

You’re going to write down every content idea that pops into your head. Every single one of them. Adopting a ‘stream of consciousness’ approach is a fancy term for brain dump, and the trick is to keep writing for the whole time and not to edit your ideas. There’s time for that later.

Here’s a couple of ideas to get you started:
Monday: Promote your Blog – your opinion on an industry trend or topic
Tuesday: A great offer or discount on your products
Wednesday: Behind the scenes – what does your workspace look like?
Thursday: Video – Tips and tricks on a relevant topic
Friday: Something personal or light-hearted – a picture of your destination for the weekend!

Five minutes might seem like a short time, but it’s surprising how many ideas you can come up with. Some ideas might be great, others terrible (that’s ok!), but it’s a perfect starting point for refining your ideas and crafting it into a solid content plan.

The Content Checklist
Here are my five ‘C’s’ – all super important things to remember when developing good content for your business.

CONSISTENT – Message. Tone of Voice. Are clients getting the same style across all your communications – online, in print and in person?

CLEAR – What do you want clients to do once they’ve seen your post or article? What’s your call to action? Are you using jargon or confusing language?

CUSTOMER FOCUSED? – Less about you. More about them. What’s in it for your clients?

COMPELLING – Educate and inform, why should clients work with or buy something from you?

CHECK THE SPELLING! It’s the quickest way to look unprofessional. Ask a friend to proofread your work or use spellcheck, Grammarly or an old-school dictionary. There’s no excuses these days for bad spelling!

 

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Kate O'Mealley, Oh My WordAbout Kate O’Mealley
Kate O’Mealley from Oh My Word is a copywriter, writing coach and professional typo spotter. Kate teaches small businesses, startups and solopreneurs how to communicate better – online, in print and in person – to get the results they want and see their business flourish and grow. Find out more at www.omword.com.au or follow @ohmywordau

The community supporting Australian women business owners.

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10 Expert Tips For Marketing A Service-Based Business

10 EXPERT TIPS FOR MARKETING A SERVICE-BASED BUSINESS

Marketing Service BusinessMarketing your service-based business can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. There’s a lot of confusing terminology and moving parts.

Marketing can also take up so much time, which let’s face it, most of us don’t have! However, there are steps you can take to successfully market your small business without the stress and in a more productive way.

Marketing consultant and business coach Hayley Robertson shares her top ten expert tips for marketing a service-based business.

1. Strategically position yourself in the market
When it comes to successfully marketing your service-based business, the first step is to decide on your market positioning. Your decisions include selecting a target market or niche, specialising in a specific area, and tailoring your service offerings, so they are better or different to your competition. Many people are fearful of doing this, as they believe it will reduce both the size of their available market and revenue opportunities. However, it’s proven to have the opposite effect.

When you create marketing messages that speak directly to your target market, they are more likely to resonate, and it will be easier for you to stand out. When you specialise in a specific area, you become known as an expert in something, which is a fantastic way to build credibility and trust with potential clients.

And when you differentiate your services, it gives you an opportunity to value-add and set premium pricing. A great way to communicate your market position is via a unique value proposition (UVP) or an elevator pitch. Work on developing a concise sentence that includes your target market, the solutions you provide, and what makes you better or different to your competition.

2. Research your target market
Conducting appropriate market research is the key to attracting your ideal clients and developing irresistible service offerings. Research provides examples of the language your ideal client uses when talking about your services as well as insights into the struggles they face, enabling you to design better solutions.

There are several ways you can conduct target market research including:
• Inviting past or potential clients for coffee or lunch and asking them questions;
• Searching Facebook groups for problems to find out what they’re struggling with;
• Reading relevant book reviews on Amazon.com to see what solutions they value;
• Sending out a survey to your email list which includes open-ended questions; and
• Reading industry reports and case studies on services in your niche.

Market research is not only necessary when you first start. There are valuable insights that you can gather via feedback forms to continuously improve your services.

3. Invest in your website
When you’re a service-based business, your clients are likely to “visit” you via your website. As such, it’s essential to provide a great first impression. Also, to ensure your website functions well and is easy to use. If you’re not confident with the technical side, then invest in a website developer to help you. Alternatively, educate yourself on how to build, maintain, and manage your website.

Another way you can invest in your website is with high-quality photos. It makes all the difference! Also, if you find writing difficult, then employing an excellent online copywriter could deliver better returns through higher conversion rates.

4. Develop a strong brand
When it comes to branding your service-based business, focus on creating your:
• Mission statement;
• Personal story; and
• A brand style guide.

Your mission statement articulates whom you want to help with your business and ‘why.’ It’s an integral part of your brand, as it’s a way to build a deeper connection with your potential clients. Another way to build a connection is to share your personal story. It can be challenging to write and talk about yourself, so be sure to ask for support if you need another perspective to help you. Both your mission statement and a personal story should be present on the ‘About’ page of your site.

The final part of your branding is your style guide which includes your visual identity and brand values. Create a professional looking logo and select the fonts, images, and colour palette that you will use consistently.

Also, spend some time thinking of 4-5 words that describe your brand values. These values will guide your brand’s tone and presence as well as help you with creating content.

5. Package your services and create offers
Packaging your services makes it easier for you to avoid trading your time for money. You’re able to ‘hide’ your hourly rate inside a package price and sell your services based on value rather than on cost. It’s important because it’s the total price that you want your potential clients to focus on and determine value.

As an example, if you had a high hourly rate but took less time to complete a task, then your total package price may be the same as a competitor’s who had a low hourly rate but took longer. The objective is to present your services on the total value you provide, rather than get caught in a conversation around hourly rates which are directly comparable to your competition.

Also, as your business grows and your templates and processes mature, it will take you less time to deliver your services which will improve the profitability of your service-based business.

Regarding offers, this is a great way to create urgency in your business and build momentum. An offer could be a special bonus that is only available for a limited time or a new service that is available exclusively to people who are on your email list as examples. When creating offers, try to avoid discounting your services and think about how you can value-add instead. Sometimes all our potential clients need is a good reason to take a risk and finally work with us.

6. Start writing or speaking
Content is a valuable marketing asset for your service-based business, whether it’s written, video, or audio. There are two types of content that you can create – core content and promotional content. Your core content builds a platform for you to showcase your expertise and position yourself as an authority. While your promotional content helps you build awareness with your community or followers.

There are many formats that you can choose from for your core content including a blog, video series, podcast, live video, events, webinars, email newsletter, and information sessions or presentations. If you’re not sure what type of core content to produce, consider two things:

Firstly, what kind of content would be the easiest for your ideal clients to consume? As an example, if you’re providing technical ‘how-to’ information would it be better to write a blog, or to record a video series including computer screenshots showing them how to do something?

Secondly, what type of content are you going to enjoy creating and have time to produce regularly? The truth is if you hate writing or have limited time, then you’re less likely to be able to produce weekly blog articles. Live video may be a more realistic format for you.

The key here is consistency, so select a core content format you can use to create a base for your content marketing strategy. Once you have a solid foundation for your core content, then creating promotional content becomes a whole lot easier as you can repurpose it in multiple ways.

7. Build a community
There’s only going to be a limited number of people who are ready to buy from you at any given time. Additionally, it’s near impossible to be able to identify these people specifically with your marketing. It’s also not uncommon for people to take some time before making a purchasing decision.

Often, potential clients may need to see or hear from your business multiple times before they trust you enough to give you their money. That’s where building a community comes in, and it can become an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Growing a following on social media is a great way to create awareness, provide value, and nurture sales prospects. However, you don’t have any ownership over the connections or data on these platforms. As such, be sure to focus on how you can convince your social media followers to join your email list. Also, add list building strategies to your website and online marketing plan.

There is a direct correlation between the size of your email list and the revenue opportunities for your business. So, ensure you have at least one task on your marketing to-do list every day to grow your community.

8. Look for collaboration opportunities
If your business is new, you probably won’t have a large community of followers or high brand awareness. However, there will be others in your niche who offer complimentary services which you could partner with. If they have been around for some time, they will have a client base who may need your services. And in time as your client base grows, you will be able to refer business back to your partners as well.

Adopt a strategic approach when looking for collaboration partners. I recommend trying to build fewer, but more thoughtful connections. For a collaboration partnership to work well, there needs to be value in it for both parties. Find out what your potential collaboration partner would find valuable and approach them with the view to give, rather than to receive in the first instance.

Collaborating with others takes time, so ensure you have set aside the right amount of time to build a healthy relationship.

9. Ask for testimonials and referrals
There is a high level of trust required in a service-based sales transaction as your potential client is making a purchasing decision based on what value they think they are going to receive. As such, they will be looking for evidence of results from past clients to give them confidence. Having a strategy for collecting testimonials is essential for a service-based business.

Prepare templates that help your clients give testimonials that demonstrate the transformation they achieved while working with you. Sentences such as… “When I first started working with [name], I was {struggling with XYZ}. However, now I {have achieved/seen XYZ results} and have no hesitation in recommending her”.

Also, decide where you want to build your list of testimonials online for social proof. There are many platforms available nowadays, so choose the platform that is most visited by your potential clients and ask clients to leave you a recommendation there.

When it comes to referrals, these can often come from business partnerships as well as networking. Try to put yourself in a position where you are meeting or attending events with potential referral partners as much as you can. Referral partnerships are a relationship that is built over time, so ensure you focus on making a connection first before asking for business.

10. Write a plan and track your performance
Many people hate planning! It can mean structure and effort, and that’s just not for everyone. But, that’s ok. Some of us enjoy planning while others simply don’t. However, a marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated or long. It can even be on one page if that’s what works for you.

A marketing plan needs to have your objectives or what you want to achieve; the activities you are going to undertake to achieve your goals; and the targets you are going to set yourself so you can measure and track your performance.

When you’re investing time and money in anything, the results or the outcome will be directly linked to what’s put into the process. So, if you don’t see the results you want from your marketing efforts, take a step back and consider what you’re putting into it.

Do you have a plan in place (even a simple one) to help you make strategic decisions?
Have you identified what works best and are you focusing more of your time on that activity?

When you have a plan that is measurable, it makes it a lot easier to track your performance. It provides you with an opportunity to review what’s working, and what’s not. And then make adjustments to improve your performance.

When you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to developing a solid marketing foundation for your business. And the best bit is that over time, marketing your service-based business does become easier.

When you work with more clients, you gain a deeper understanding of what their main challenges are which gives you ideas for developing services and promoting your offers. Just remember to take things one step at a time and stay focused on the end goals and objectives that you want to achieve.

 

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Hayley Robertson, My Client StratgeyAbout Hayley Robertson
Hayley Robertson is an MBA-qualified and experienced marketing consultant and business coach. She is also a small business owner and founded My Client Strategy to teach service-based small business owners how to successfully market and grow their business without the stress and overwhelm. Hayley is based in Melbourne and provides virtual marketing strategy sessions, training, and coaching to clients Australia-wide. She loves to write and enjoys sharing her marketing knowledge, tips, and strategies on the My Client Strategy blog.

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How to be in business for over 20 years

HOW HAS MELISSA BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR OVER 20 YEARS? Melissa Norfolk started her digital agency 23 years ago, and shares the challenges she faced growing her business, hiring staff, and facing her busiest time over COVID.

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6 “Must Haves” To Improve Your Financial Literacy

6 “MUST HAVES” TO IMPROVE YOUR FINANCIAL LITERACY

Small business financial literacyThere is never a wrong time to sit down and analyse your business finances, but unless you are a true numbers nerd, it can be quite daunting.

Where do you start, what reports do you run, and if you manage to run the right reports, what on earth is the information even telling you. What happens if you need to register for GST?
 
And when is the right time to get accounting software?
 
On a good day, business owners review their numbers yearly, generally when it comes time to do a tax return. As you kind of have to have your yearly numbers ready at that time. So you do a bit of reflection, and you sweep it under the carpet and continue on. But what changes?  What decisions do you make to improve the next 12 months? What didn’t work in the year just gone? What products/services are making a loss? Did that extra staff member increase your productivity and income streams?
 
Those are all really big, poignant decisions that should be reviewed frequently – not once a year.
 
So let’s take an opportunity to demystify financial literacy for business owners. What are the “must haves”, what are the “no brainers” for every business owner to get a handle on? But more importantly we will also share the why – why they are important.
 
1. Profit and Loss
We love this report for a number of reasons, and we run this report in a few different ways to get the most out of it. This report gives us an idea of profitability, margins on products/services, spending trends, sales growth just to name a few things.
 
We generally run this report on a monthly basis and always run it compared to the previous two periods. This will give you insights into seasonal trends, timing differences and to check things are not getting blown out of proportion compared to prior months. Getting on top of these numbers each month means you can make quick decisions about things that are not working – plugging the leaks so to speak. It allows you to be agile and pivot on income streams that are not working as planned and put an action into place to turn it around. We also run the profit and loss and compare it to a budget.
 
I mean we all have goals for our business, but how many of us actually work out if we are hitting those targets.  By comparing the report to budget, we can instantly see whether we are on track, which areas we are going great guns, and which areas need a bit of TLC.
 
2. Balance Sheet
Now this is such a powerful report and one of the most underutilised reports by business owners!
 
You see the Balance Sheet tells us what you own (such as bank accounts and equipment) and what money you owe to external bodies (bank loans, personal loans, ATO). And this is where is becomes a cash flow tool.
 
Having this report on hand at any time can predict what cash reserves you need to have on hand to pay those obligations.
 
3. Sales Report
Now this one usually tickles the fancy of nearly every business owner. I mean who doesn’t want to see how many sales they made each month – talk about a morale booster. But the real reason we love this report…. well it tells us what is and isn’t working.
 
Most business owners have budgets or targets to meet each month (call them goals if you wish), and by splitting out our income into different revenue streams, we can easily see where we are kicking goals, but perhaps where we are slightly missing the mark. But that is not bad thing – you see it helps you then put a plan together to help with marketing those income streams which are perhaps not hitting the mark.
 
4. GST Threshold
Now when we first start a business, many of us don’t need to register for GST as we are not yet at the $75k per annum GST turnover threshold. However, things can change quickly in business. If you land a few new big contracts, get stocked in a major retail store, do a couple of rounds on the speaking circuits – suddenly your sales could get up to the $70k mark in a blink of an eye.
 
So why do I review those numbers?
 
Well generally if you need to register for GST, we like to be thinking 2-3 months in advance. You may need to increase your prices, so that gives you time to inform current clients, gives to time to adjust website pricing, adjust wholesale pricing agreements, update quotes that you are going to be sending out for future bookings when you will potentially be GST registered. Really, switching GST on overnight is not the best option.
 
5. Bank Accounts
Having a separate bank account for your business (as opposed to a bank account for your personal transactions) will save you so many headaches. It means it streamlines the transaction processing, makes it easier to understand your business income and expenses and it let’s you have a different mindset around your “business money”. It makes it quite distinct from personal money.
 
Often with personal money we are quite flippant when it comes to spending – $10 here on food, $5 there on coffee. But with separate business banking, we are much more likely to review our spending, our needs and our requirements before we spend the money. 
 
We then take that one step further, and once registered for GST or have employees, we setup a second bank account to move GST and tax on wages money to that second account. Out of mind out of sight is the theory. When it comes time to paying that money to the ATO, it is fully sitting there ready. No scrimping or saving or going on ATO payment plans. Plus by moving it out of your everyday business bank account, your business doesn’t rely on that money (which is not yours to start with) to fund its every day operations.
 
6. Excel or Accounting Software
What is the right fit? Often when businesses are in the very first startup phase they are running around like headless chickens juggling all 57 roles we place on ourselves as a business owner. It is perfectly normal to track income and expenses in an excel sheet.
 
However, our word of warning on this is that you need to have a kick arse spreadsheet in order for it to give you reporting, business performance, accurate GST obligations, margin analysis and the like. But it works and it does suit some purposes.
 
Generally there will be a tipping point – a point in time where your business either outgrows excel, it becomes too time consuming or doesn’t provide any beneficial information for the time spent. That tipping point is when you will need to consider accounting software.
 
There are many programs out there – but before jumping in bed with the first option – you need to think about how many users you will need, what functions you need it to perform, what apps or programs need to sync with it, your knowledge on accounting software, whether your accountant understands the software, how long the software stores your data for and of course the price.
 
But price is not the only consideration (nor should it be the most important consideration). We work with clients on Wave (which is free), Quickbooks Online, Myob and Xero for our clients and we assess each business needs on an individual case.
 
Starting a business means you generally are juggling sales, marketing, website, design, business development, networking, copy writing.  Throw financial obligations on top of that, and sometimes you end up tearing your hair out.  But knowing where to start, the basics, can help build up the financial sustainability of your business. 

And if all that just sounds too scary, then perhaps you need a friendly numbers nerd on your team.

 

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Stacey Price, Healthy Business FinancesAbout Stacey Price
A qualified Chartered Accountant, Registered BAS Agent and self-confessed numbers nerd – Stacey Price of Healthy Business Finances specialises in helping business owners to understand their financial information.

But she is no boring, traditional accountant. She embraces cloud technology, is passionate about training and educating her clients, and she loves innovation to streamline processes. With over 20 year’s experience, she loves dealing with business owners and her biggest skills are financial training and education.

Taking on all roles within the financial, accounting, training and bookkeeping function for your business, Stacey is a part of your business and part of your journey, helping your business become financially sustainable.

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