Contributing to our position as Australia’s premium Financial Risk Management resource, our management globally explores and surveys relevant and valuable articles published by respected professionals, academics and organisation. The articles offered here are suggested reading for any Business Owner and Financial Risk Management professional.
15 May 2015
Jason Smith is right you know. As business owners, we are often so busy working in our business, we forget to take the time to work with our Accountant on the business. As is usual, we rush to prepare the figures required for essential returns, drop them off with the Accountant and rush back to work. Rarely do we take the time to actually review the figures to ascertain whether we can make improvements to our business.
There are a number of parties you could consult on various aspects of the business to improve your business. For instance you might consult with your credit management adviser or debt collector, the marketing firm which you work with, etc. Your accountant is another person you should liaise with regularly to ascertain whether your business can be made more efficient and profitable.
If you have not taken the time to discuss your business affairs with your Accountant for some time, Jason's article has 10 topics you can use to prepare background information before starting that conversation.
5 May 2015
Directors are not entitled to use the assets of the business as if these assets are their own assets and available for personal use. Directors must remember, they are always to act in the best interests of the company.
This situation was reinforced recently in a Western Australian case of Weaver v Harburn  WASCA 227.
Too often Directors get in to trouble by forgetting the assets of the company are not for their personal use. The causes for Directors overstepping the mark and using the company's assets incorrectly, usually occurs for one of three reasons.
1 The Directors have inflated egos and treat the company's assets as if they own the assets rather than act as the custodian of the assets.
2 The Director(s) are in financial difficulties and believe there is nothing wrong in "borrowing or using" the company's assets to pay their debts.
3 Director(s) often forget their primary duty of care is to the company not to their own well-being.
If you are in any doubt about your duties as a Director, please seek professional assistance. As easy as it is to step over the mark and act illegally, so it is equally easy to be found guilty of acting against the best interests of your company. The risk is just not worth it in the long-run.
Remember, ASIC is always there looking over your shoulder to ensure you are acting properly as a Director and doing the right thing by the company.
20 Apr 2015
How many times do we receive a poorly framed sales call, which is nothing more than a prospecting contact which annoys the hell out of you? Unfortunately it happens far too often.
The problem in business today, is that sales people are often employed for their willingness to try anything to get a sale, rather than for their sales professionalism.
Regretfully we also see this practice currently occurring in other work professions. However I transgress.
Returning back to Greg's article, regrettably many non-professional salespeople and other salespeople who are desperate for work, no longer seem to understand the difference between the two types of contact. Therefore it may be interesting to ask a salesperson, "Are you prospecting or are you making a noise in the hope of making a sale?" I respectfully suggest, many salespeople would be unable to answer this question with confidence.
You may have salespeople within your firm who can fill one of these roles successfully at the moment, but not both. To add value to your existing salesforce therefore, assisting them to be successful in both roles would seem to be advantageous. If you are looking to review your work practices and to have your salespeople act more professionally, I suggest Greg's article is one source worth reading.
PS: As an example of the difference between a sales prospector and a salesperson, I have a friend who is a fantastic sales and business prospector. Sadly, I would not trust my friend to represent any company as a salesperson.
13 Apr 2015
Colin Porter highlights a number of issues in relation to what you say in your emails.
It is always wise to remember what you put in writing maybe used against you if the email is seem by other parties other than the intended recipient. This possibility is always a possibility if you are involved in any legal action.
We are always surprised when we stories in the media on what was said in emails when they are leaked by disgruntled people or in discovered in the event of any legal action.
Colin also provides additional information in his second blog - Business emails: Legal matters (Part 2)
If you do not have a policy or have taken the time to review how you write emails of late, I suggest these articles are worth reading. However before preparing any policy and procedures, please ensure professional advice is sought to assist in your particular situation. This action will assist in preparing the right policy for your business.
7 Apr 2015
Occasionally, despite your best intentions, there is bad press levelled against your brand and your business.
Sue discusses concepts to be considered when these events occur. These concepts include addressing the matter as quickly as possible, completing a review of the situation, being honest and having a plan for when such situations do arise. Even if you believe the situation is minor, always treat the matter with respect because the issue is always important to the person raising the issue.
Therefore three key concepts stand out in Sue's blog as follows.
1 Don't panic but confront the issue with an acknowledgement and carefully with a honest reply.
2 In order to reduce the effect of the bad news, prepare a plan of action.
3 If you feel overwhelmed, seek professional help.
In today's world, bad press at some stage is almost inevitable. With the advent of social media, bad news travels faster than an out of control bushfire. Therefore doing nothing is not an option these days. Follow through properly with any bad press and you will create a stronger brand.
20 Mar 2015
It is not often you have the opportunity to read an article about the role of the CFO in the credit management process. Therefore it is interesting to read Bertrand Mazuir's review.
Finding the best way of operating a business is an on-going process of evolution. Therefore we should periodically review all aspects on the way we operate our business. These aspects under review should include the processes used, the people we employ and the titles we give them and their operational duties.
The CFO and Credit Mangers roles are no different. In preparing our review, the questions must always be: are these positions fulfilling the needs of the business at this time and do the respective people have the required skill sets for these roles? Bertand's review is one such opportunity to encourage you to evaluate these roles within your business.
Furthermore, irrespective of the size of your business, and even if you do not have the personnel to warrant such titles, you should be occasionally evaluating your own business processes and the people completing the roles of CFO/Accountant and Credit Management.
11 Mar 2015
The eleven secrets which should be considered when building a successful website according to Ron Stark could also be considered in building your own business. People about to start a business, or those wishing to re-evaluate their business, are advised to complete a business plan.
Aspects of all business plans contain similar topics as those covered in Ron's list. The benefit in using this list of topics as part of your review is the language used. Ron uses topic headings which look less threatening to people not familiar with business and accounting terms and the issues of creating a business plan.
Many people enter the business world believing once they have created the business, nothing much changes. Unfortunately for these individuals, yesterday's business model, does not always survive over the long-term. Whilst the original business model might have been successful, that model may no longer be suitable for the current business environment.
Irrespective of whether you are a newcomer or an experienced business person, evaluating your business from time to time, is part of doing business. If a business plan is perceived to be too big a challenge, perhaps using this list of 11 secrets is another way of undertaking the task. Ron says of websites, "A successful website is one that delivers what you expect of it." Therefore it may be a useful exercise for you to ask yourself periodically "Does my business deliver what I want?"
If your business is not delivering according to your expectations, it would seem to be a wise decision to complete a review using the 11 secrets as a guide or a fresh business plan.
23 Feb 2015
Franchising is becoming an option for entrepreneurs by which they can enter in the business environment in one of two ways. It maybe as a franchisor who had a viable business and thought it would make a profitable franchise. Subsequently the franchisor prepares a franchise by which other people can buy in to and operate as their own business.
Less experience businesspeople often enter in to a franchise and provided a business structure and supported by the franchisor.
However you chose to participate in a franchise arrangement, there are legal codes which you should be aware of in order to protect your investment.
Katherine Hawes presents five legal issues which you would be wise to consider and explore before commencing any franchise relationship. The five key issues covered in Katherine's article are:
The Disclosure Document
The Code of Conduct
Buyback clause at the end of the franchise
Providing ongoing support
Establishing too many competitors
As usual, this information is a guide only and you should seek further legal advice before proceeding with any franchise agreement.
17 Feb 2015
One of the reasons you might not get paid as quickly as possible is because you failed to complete your invoice(s) properly. When your invoice is incomplete, it provides another good excuse for your customer to hold back payment.
Colin's article highlights the key criteria which need to be completed before sending out your invoices. In addition, as Colin also helpfully points out, create a process to ensure your invoice is completed properly. This process can then be employed to train your existing staff and any new staff appointed to the task.
Ensuring your invoice(s) are completed properly, removes one key reason the customer cannot use for not paying you on time.
8 Feb 2015
One of the weapons available for use against a delinquent debtor is the use of a Statutory Demand. Used properly, it is an effective tool in obtaining payment from your non-paying customer.
However the use of the Statutory Demand must be applied correctly as it is not without certain pitfalls if not served properly.
If you would like to know more, this blog by ADC Legal offers an introduction on the Statutory Demands. Of course, legal advice must be sought to ascertain whether a Statutory Demand is applicable for your situation.
9 Jan 2015
Technology offers wonderful applications and tools for use in our business. One of the more interesting concepts is the use of cloud based products.
Peta discusses the possible benefits and negatives of using cloud based accounting systems. However many of the issues raised by Peta apply across all cloud based products and services.
If you are still wondering about using cloud based products, Peta's blog is worth reading as a start.
9 Jan 2015
If your business completes projects on a regular basis, you will probably already be aware of the importance of taking out an insurance policy on the major projects.
On the other hand, if you are a business owner or manager with little experience of the possible pitfalls of projects, you may not have thought of taking out an insurance policy for your next project. After all, not all projects are equal and many include significant risks for the unwary.
This blog raises a number of issues associated with projects which are worth considering. For instance, the importance of seeking professional assistance in understanding the terms of conditions of the contract associated with the project.
If you are inexperienced with the risks which may occur when planning your next project, this blog is worth a read as a starting place to begin the process of understanding project risk. You would also be wise to consider the benefits of obtaining insurance if there is any possibility of a material loss if the project does not go to plan.
28 Nov 2014
Knowing your competition is one of the keys of operating a successful business.
Colin Porter in this article explains how you can learn about operating a better business from your competitors. In his view, you can learn a great deal about works and does not work in your marketplace.
Colin also provides his 5 tips for staying competitive.
I suggest this article is worth a read as a starting point for understanding why studying your competitors can help you operate and grow your own better business.
27 Nov 2014
In business, there are times when we have to interact with organisations which may not always our favourite business partner. In truth, most business people would argue the ATO as a party which does not add value to their business. Obviously many business people would not disagree with the previous sentence.
Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, the ATO is a serious player in our business affairs. As a result, Peta encourages us to take a proactive approach to our dealings with the ATO. Unless the circumstances are exceptional, the ATO is usually willing to work with you to resolve a problem rather than fight you (notwithstanding the ATO will probably always win).
There is also another business message you can take from this article. If you work with your suppliers and customers in a reasonable manner, many short-term problems can be resolved and so enable you to continue with the business relationship.
21 Oct 2014
The point of entering a trading relationship with a customer is to make a profit. Unfortunately, too many business people are seduced by the concept of raising an invoice. Therefore when a new customer comes along they too often think of raising an invoice, not the nature of the future relationship and whether a profit will result.
However as Jacqui James points out, not all customers lead to a profitable trading relationship. Jacqui's list of what makes a good customer combined with her second list of what makes a bad customer, are therefore worth reviewing. You will be surprised how valid these lists are when you study the behaviour of your own customers.
I heard a quote many years ago which said "every mistake is a fruitful learning opportunity". Therefore I do like Jacqui's comment of "Even a bad client turns out to be a good client. They teach you what it is you don't need."
The fact is, despite our best efforts, we all still get caught with an occasional bad client. When this happens, it is a good reminder; not all customers will add value to our business. However, these bad clients also teach us something more about our business process, if we take a positive perspective.
If you are interested in doing good business with the right type of customer, I suggest Jacqui's article is worth a read.
9 Oct 2014
When a dispute occurs in a business relationship, it is important to maintain a focus on the issues. Unfortunately however, these disputes can escalate into arguments. In these situations it is not unusual for emotions to rule the discussions rather than common-sense and then nobody really wins.
Dean Kaplan provides a number of strategies to avoid your disputes becoming the arguments. Whilst Dean is talking about his approach in the debt collection environment, his strategies apply across all areas of business.
It is probably worth remembering, amongst the most stressful work environments, where emotions can run wild, is in debt collection. Therefore I suggest, if Dean's strategies work in this environment, they are going to probably be effective in most business situations.
Inexperience business people or those with vested interests in the outcome, sometimes find it a struggle to keep focused on the issues during the initial stages of a dispute. Consequently these disputes sometimes become full-blown arguments. If you find yourself in these arguments and find it hard to create a win-win outcome, I suggest Dean's article is worth reading.
1 Oct 2014
Bitcoin has been with us for some time now. There are people who are really enthusiastic about its use, whilst others are less than impressed. Lately, there have been a number of articles about Bitcoin, almost as though it is the current flavour of the month.
I will not make a comment on whether Bitcoin is an appropriate payment methodology or not. However I suggest, this article is one source of information for you to update yourself on the current status Bitcoin.
Once have read the article you can make your mind up whether to do further research and ascertain whether it is a suitable payment methodology for your business.
15 Sep 2014
Vesna Grubacevic discusses the concept of people sabotaging their chances of success. She defines self- sabotage as occurring any time we want to achieve an objective and then our actions or lack of action prevents us from achieving the objective. It is not unusual for business people, at times during their business lives to subconsciously sabotage their chances of success. There are many reasons why this happens and we may not always understand how and why we take such actions.
The author presents seven reasons on why we might be sabotaging our chances of success. These reasons might be:
1. A lack of clarity
2. A lack of clear priorities
3. Limiting beliefs
4. Internal conflicts
5. Unresolved emotions
6. Being a worrier
7. Negative self talk
As they become more mature, some people may begin to realise they are sabotaging their own efforts to succeed. However they may not do anything positive to resolve the situation because of a lack of confidence and support on how to resolve their issues.
The solution is not a simple one and professional help is always recommended. If you are interested in finding out more about this subject, Vesna's article is a good start in identifying the issues involved.
10 Sep 2014
In this article, Steve Freztin presents his top 10 business lessons after 10 years in business.
Every lesson presented by Steve, can be applied to any business profession or business organisation.
I would write more, but that may confuse the message. So I will simply say, it will only take a few minutes to read the article and I suggest it will be time well worth spent.
24 Aug 2014
Many years ago, when I first became involved with lending and advancing credit, I was advised that a reasonable level of bad debt write offs, was sign that you had maximise selling and profit opportunities. This case was put to me during my years involved with both consumer and business to business lending.
An open slather policy on advancing credit, is usually a good way of going broke and is not advocated. However a balanced approach about why you are in business, what it takes to succeed and how you should extend credit are questions should lead you to understanding why a level of bad debts is not always a sign of a business in trouble.
Therefore Dean Kaplan's article raises a valuable business question; "Is your credit policy costing you money?"
On that basis, Dean's article is worth reading as start for re-evaluating your credit policy and or learning about advancing credit.
If you are a specialist supplier of financial risk management products and services, then you need to be listed in Credit Matters Better Business Club.Read More