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Are you a Brisbane-based early-stage/start-up social entrepreneur?  

A social entrepreneur is someone who pursues an innovative idea with the potential to solve a community problem.  The main goal of a social entrepreneur is not necessarily to earn a profit, but rather to implement widespread improvements in society.  It can encompass many different fields, disciplines and organisation types, ranging from for-profit businesses to hybrid models combining charitable work with business activities, to non-profit charities, voluntary sector organisations and non-governmental organisations.

If this sounds like you (or somebody you may know), then you might be interested in applying for the Elevate+ Accelerator Program. The Brisbane City Council in conjunction with Impact Boom have developed the program to provide an opportunity for up to 25 early-stage social entrepreneurs to participate in a fully subsidised social enterprise accelerator program to develop their dream.

The program consists of face-to-face workshops with leading industry professionals, a private pitch event in front of an expert panel, and a public pitch event at the Brisbane Powerhouse with the Lord Mayor, investors and industry affiliates.

The program runs from February to May 2018 and is designed to fit into your daily work schedule.

Applications close Wednesday 24 January 2018, and successful applicants will be announced Monday 5 February 2018.

Entrants can apply online at https://www.impactboom.org/elevate-plus. Both individuals and teams are encouraged to apply.

This is a great way to grow your enterprise and maximise your social impact!


Brain Power

As the world rapidly becomes technologically advanced and everything is a touch of a fingertip away, we are becoming increasingly reliant on our devices and the internet.  Don't know how to get somewhere?  Use Google maps.  Can't remember how to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?  Google will have the answer.  Don't know what that song is called?  Shazam it.

Although the technology today is made to be quick and convenient for the user, there is a trade-off.  Being reliant on the internet can accelerate the decline of our mental capability.  Luckily there are ways to boost our brain power which will take us back to our roots.

First of all, don't be afraid to test your mental abilities.  Push your brain to recall directions and try to actually remember and not give in so easily.  Testing yourself daily will improve your memory capacity and be somewhat stimulating when you reach your destination without needing Google maps.  This can also be applied to exams, memory games and in daily challenges.

Another way to boost your mental capabilities is by learning a language or musical instrument.  They rely on a large skill set which will improve your cognitive skills overall.  As you try new scales or practice unfamiliar words you will exercise many mental abilities such as memory, attention, sensory perception and motor control.  Pushing yourself should help you appreciate your current abilities.

Exercising your body is as important as exercising your mind.  Physical activity establishes a better blood flow to the brain and also triggers a surge in proteins such as 'nerve growth factor' that can help stimulate the growth and maintenance of neural connections in the brain.  Think of your body as a vehicle and your brain as an engine.  You won't be going anywhere if your vehicle is damaged!

One of the best ways to protect your brain is to socialise, we are social creatures after all.  Because of this we rely on our friends and relatives to stimulate us.  Through socialising we challenge ourselves to try new experiences, and also manage to relieve stress and unhappiness.  Don't neglect those around you, make the effort to free up some time and spend it with loved ones.

Lastly, and most importantly:  maintain a healthy diet.  This has been touched on in one of our previous posts, see Laura's blog here.  Remember the body being the vehicle and the brain being the engine?  Well, you guessed it, food is the fuel.  We need to eat the right food to provide our body with all the good nutrients to keep our engine running clean.  If you notice that you're blowing out black smoke, it may time to review your diet and start eating correctly.

So challenge yourself and get that brain working!  Stop Googling and instead, do a crossword with friends, switch to a healthier diet, try a new instrument or even get into sport.  Think about the possibilities to effectively exercise that brain of yours and you will thank yourself in the long run.



How Do You Run Your Business?

     Versus   

All accountants will advise clients that they need a business plan yet so few clients actually prepare one, and if they do they rarely regularly review, update or reflect on them.  Why is this?

A business plan is like having an itinerary for an overseas holiday.  An itinerary tells where you are going and when, how you will get there, what you will do when you get there and where you will stay along the way.

Having only a vague idea of where you'd like to go as a 21-year­old on a yearlong back-packing adventure to Europe is fantastic, but having no set itinerary doesn't work if you're a parent squeezing as much into the three week school holidays to maximise the cost of the flights to Europe.

Not having a business plan is like being a 21-year­old back-packer on a yearlong adventure.  You will have vague ideas of what you would like to achieve in the next twelve months with a vague idea of the probable likely financial results.

By contrast, having a business plan is like being an organised and responsible parent getting the best value out of the family trip.

If you would like your business to achieve your goals then the most certain way of succeeding is through a business plan which is structured, written down, covers all areas of your business and most importantly is regularly reviewed.  There is little point in writing a fantastic document and then never reviewing or acting upon it.

A business plan is what works for you.  It could be a short or long document, electronic or paper, a spreadsheet, scribbles on the back of an envelope or a fancy software program.  It doesn't matter what form it takes the point is you've committed it to writing, stated clearly your SMART* goals and how you are going to achieve them.

A business plan will generally cover your strategy, products/services, sales/marketing, human resources, budget, projections for 12 months to 3 years and financing needs.  Every business and owner is unique so every business plan will be slightly different.  It should be a working document that you know backwards.  It is all too easy as a small business owner to work in your business and not on it.  You will reap the rewards ten times over if you are disciplined to set the time aside monthly to look at the big picture and your business plan will give you the structure to do this.

Overells can help in drafting your business plan and/or to meet monthly to develop the habit to review it regularly and help you to reach your business goals.

*SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely


Government Paying Business to Hire People

In a great initiative the Queensland State Government is offering financial incentives to businesses to help get long term unemployed people back into the work force. A grant of up to $20k per year is available for employing new staff, but Queensland's grant "pool" is capped at $27.5m so those who want to take advantage of it should get in quickly!

There is also a Federal Government grant of up to $10k available (https://www.employment.gov.au/wage-subsidies) meaning that $30k is available in government funding to go towards the upfront and ongoing cost of putting on a new employee.

The initial take-away here is to always google "Employment Grants" whenever employing someone as the grants and criteria are always changing and opportunities to access them should not be missed.

In relation to the Queensland Government scheme, there are 2 different types of payments available.

The first is the Employer Support Payments which are for a jobseeker who has been unemployed for 52 weeks or more. The total available here is $15k with $4.5k provided after 4 weeks continual employment and approval of the initial application. From there further payments of $5.25k are made after 26 weeks and then 52 weeks of continual employment and approval of applications for the same.

The second scheme is the Youth Boost Payments which are for previously unemployed jobseekers aged between 15 and 24 years. They must have been unemployed for a minimum of 4 weeks and the total available here is $20k. The payments are on the same conditions and timelines as the Employer Support scheme above and are $6k, $7k and $7k respectively.

Variations are available for part-time employees as well those with a disability, but not for casual, short term or highly paid (over $120k per annum or pro rata for part-time) roles.

There are also some conditions for apprenticeships especially where other funding is already being obtained.

This would appear to be a great opportunity for business and long term unemployed people alike and full details can be accessed at https://backtowork.initiatives.qld.gov.au/


The Curse of Reply All

It's a normal morning at work and as usual, you start by checking your emails.

The first message is one which has been CC'ed to multiple people (to absolve the sender of responsibility) who are not all involved in the situation, including you. You delete and move on.

Email two is a request to set a date for a meeting (which is likely to then be moved a number of times to accommodate the people who don't actually need to be involved in the first place). You delete and move on.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth emails are people who have pressed 'reply all' to the first ones which you have no need to read, but of course you only know that now that you've read them and realised you didn't need to! You delete, delete, delete, delete and move on.

Does this sound familiar?

Emails can be a time-consuming task, especially when you have been copied into an email chain (or chains) that have very little or nothing to do with you. So, how can you avoid this 'email storm' and keep up productivity? Ensure your staff understand the etiquette of 'reply all'!

There are three types of email reply:

  • Reply - this goes to the sender only
  • Reply all - goes to every person in the 'To' or 'CC' fields of the email you are responding to
  • Blind carbon copy (BCC) - the recipient is sent the email but is prevented from automatically receiving future emails in the chain

So, when is it ok to reply all? Mostly never! Check out this useful flowchart to help decide why type of reply is appropriate:

 



 

The sender should also make these considerations when directing the initial email. This will save more people having to work out the right way to respond.

It is also important to consider how to direct your emails when sending to client lists. If you don't put them in the BCC list in the original message you risk breaking privacy laws.

There are a lot of examples of 'reply allpocalypse' events where large companies have had their email system crash due to the torrent of 'reply all' emails to a message that was sent to tens of thousands of people. Although this is less of a risk in small businesses, there's still no excuse not to know your email etiquette.


Profit From Taking a Holiday

 

As business owners, we put a lot of time into building and maintaining the business to achieve great outcomes for our clients, our team and for us. The outcomes are different for each group however the aim is to create value.


For the business owner, the main value consideration is the ongoing profitability and the ultimate sale price of the business. A key measure of the value upon sale is when a buyer is willing to pay more for a business that can operate without you, the business owner.

With my regular business mentoring sessions with clients I often encourage the business owner to schedule in a holiday. The break away not only provides the opportunity to recharge the batteries but also enables you to see how well the business will function without you.

Following are six ways you can maximise the value from taking a holiday:

Step 1: Schedule your vacation plus one day

Whatever day you plan to start working again after your holiday, tell your staff you'll be back one day later. That way, you'll have a full day of uninterrupted time to dedicate to understanding what went wrong or right in your absence.

Step 2: Categorize the outcomes

When you return, make a summary of the things that went wrong and categorize them into one of three:
  • Mistakes: errors where there is a right and wrong answer;
  • Bottlenecks: projects that had difficulties because you weren't there to provide your feedback;
  • Stalled projects: initiatives that went nowhere while you were gone because you're the person leading them.

 

Step 3: Correct the mistakes

The first and easiest place to start is simply correct the mistakes that were made. Usually mistakes are due to a lack of training rather than outright negligence. The right answer may be crystal clear in your head but not immediately obvious to your staff. Write up some instructions for next time the employees face the same situation. Make sure your instructions are clear, and share them with your team so everyone has them. There are many applications that can assist with documenting and building instructions for examples Screensteps or Camtasia (which both provide screen captures and video capabilities).

Step 4: Unblock your bottlenecks

If you're being asked for your personal input on projects, there's probably going to be a bottleneck if you're not around. Make sure your colleagues are clear on the projects where you need to have a say and the projects where you don't. Some employees may wrongly think that you need to approve all decisions. Make it clear when you want them to act alone and when you still need to have your say.

Step 5: Re-assign stalled projects

The hardest part of making your business less dependent on you is dealing with projects that get stalled when you're away. Start by asking yourself if you're the right person to lead the project in the first place. As the owner of your business, projects often fall in your lap by default, rather than because you're the best person to lead them. Categorize your stalled projects into two groups: a) strategic projects you need to lead; and b) non-strategic projects you are leading by default. Hold on to the strategic projects, but delegate the non-strategic projects to someone on your team who is better suited to drive them forward.

Step 6: Empower every employee to make improvements

One way to employee your team that takes pressure off the business owner is to allow them to build stronger relationships with key customer/clients/suppliers. You may not be able to do what the Ritz Carlton Hotels do in empowering their staff, whereby they give every employee discretion to spend up to $2,000 on a guest. However, if part of your values is to make your customer/clients happy (which should be a value of every business) then some form of empowerment to your team will give your staff confidence to act. Giving employees an allowance to take key clients to lunch or send them a small gift where it comes from them rather than you will assist in building the key relationship with clients and take the reliance away from you in building client relationships.

There is a seventh value (yes I can count), and that is the immeasurable memories you will create by having fun and enjoying your life away from the business. Take action and go catch some sunshine - you deserve it!

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What Works for You?



The traditional 9-5 work environment is quickly becoming a thing of the past with more and more workplaces offering flexible work arrangements.

Here at Overells we have recently implemented "early Friday finishes" giving us the option to compress our work hours into four and a half days to finish work at 12.30pm on Friday afternoons. For me personally, the extra 45 minutes a day during the week seems like nothing when I am able to start my weekend half a day earlier, or fit in those everyday things such as going to the post office, which I am unable to do outside of normal work hours.

Flexible work arrangements can take on many forms such as variable work hours, working from home or even logging in remotely while travelling. It's no longer the case that employees need to be in the office to be productive.

Here are some of the advantages to consider:

Less time commuting – Studies show that the commute to and from work has negative impacts on your health and wellbeing. It has been linked to an increase in risk for depression and anxiety, decline in happiness and life satisfaction, lower sleep quality and increased blood pressure.

Increased productivity – Allowing employees to choose their hours means they are able to choose to work in hours when they know they will be their most productive selves. Flexible work also allows employees to appreciate their role, which can lead to valuable increases in productivity and performance.

Improved work life balance – Flexible work arrangements can give employees that extra time in their work week needed to achieve a good work life balance – whether that be picking up children from school or making more time for your own hobbies

Improved well-being – Employees with flexible work arrangements are likely to be less tired and better rested, reducing risks of fatigue, burnout and stress. This improves both physical and mental well-being and can boost morale.

Staff retention – Not having the option of flexible work arrangements can be a deal-breaker for potential employees and many view the option as a sign that they are valued by the business

Flexible work arrangements provide benefits for employers and employees alike and are certainly something worth considering if you haven't already.


What’s the go with Workcover?



Do you have a Workcover policy? When was the last time you reviewed this? Are you actually covered adequately?

As a business owner, one of the most important assets of your business is your employees. Some of them may be disguised as contractors, but most will fall clearly into the employee bucket.

What happens in the event of a workplace incident causing injury?

According to Workcover Queensland, if an injured worker approaches them to make a claim, the claim will almost automatically be accepted and processed. If the employer is found to hold no insurance or inadequate insurance, Workcover will pursue the costs for the claim directly from the under/uninsured employer. Depending on the extent of the injury, in some instances, employers have been liable for in excess of $1 million in costs and penalties.

Given the fact that Workcover is starting to ramp up their audit activities and have been singling out businesses across the South East, it is pertinent to review who should be included in your policy, and how to correctly calculate your cover.

Who should be covered?

The bottom line – if you employ one or more people, you need a Workcover policy. You might be surprised to learn that even a homeowner engaging a babysitter is required to hold a Workcover policy (more on that later).

By definition, any individual under a contract of employment that is subject to PAYG withholding should be included under your Workcover policy. This includes sales people engaged on a commission only basis and contractors employed under labour hire agreements.

It is important to note that Workcover looks at the substance of the arrangement, not the form. This means it is the reality of the arrangement and not simply the contract that will determine whether someone is an employee or a contractor.

For example, a massage therapist is engaged as a contractor under a written contract. Under the contract, the therapist can sub contract their 'jobs' to someone else at their discretion. The therapist can set their own hours of work and bring all of their own equipment. On the face of it, the therapist would be considered a contractor. However, the reality is, the therapist can only 'switch shifts' with someone else from the pool of therapists, works similar hours every week, and all equipment is provided on site by the 'employer'. A room is allocated to the therapist to conduct massages, and the therapist always works in that same location. Even though the contract shows all the necessary factors for the therapist being classified as a contractor, the reality of the arrangement (how the therapist actually works) means the therapist is actually an employee, and the employer does have an obligation to cover this employee under their Workcover policy.

When considering whether one of your workers is an employee or not, there are some specific exceptions, the main ones being:

  • Directors, trustees (of the trading trust), partners operation in partnership
  • Workers employed under a "work for the dole" scheme

If you think you may have other individuals that fall under an exception, please discuss with us to confirm.

It is important to note that apprentices now attract a discount – you still declare them (and their wages) on your policy, but the policy premium will be discounted to essentially include them for 'free'.

What is included in wages?

It will be important to determine the correct calculation of wages as this is something Workcover are reviewing and reassessing regularly. Workcover has started cross checking records against the ATO and OSR to confirm reported wages against the wages totals declared for Workcover purposes. Where there is a difference, you can expect an additional bill from Workcover to address the shortfall.

So, what is actually included?

  • PAYG wages and salaries (gross)
  • Superannuation amounts – this includes ALL super payments, even salary sacrifice amounts
  • Overtime, allowances, leave payments, bonuses, commissions are all included
  • Any benefits with a monetary value – think FBT here. If you have an FBT calculation prepared, you may have to include these values in your wages figures for Workcover purposes as well. These include: income protection insurance policies, board and lodging and other amounts subject to FBT. The correct amount to include is the grossed up benefit value
  • Payment to contractors that are really employees (for Workcover purposes. See discussion above when determining the appropriate classification of workers)
  • Profit sharing amounts – this includes payments that are made to employees that are a direct share of profits, e.g. profit distributions, dividend payments, shares issued, etc.
  • Payments made under employee share schemes are also caught

What is excluded?

  • Lump sum payments on termination
  • Compensation payments paid by Workcover
  • Unused leave
  • Payments to directors, partners and trustees, even if these people are working in the business, regardless of the type of payment (not including payments to shareholders or beneficiaries)

Directors are always excluded from Workcover, so this means directors are not covered under any Workcover policy. If you would like to look at alternative insurance arrangements for directors, we can put you in touch with the appropriate people.

Should I have a basic policy?

Workcover offers a $200 minimum premium policy as a very basic level of cover to ensure you at least have some coverage. This can be useful where you engage seasonal workers, or part time admin staff. A base policy is better than no policy!

What about interstate workers?

There are some specific situations where you may require policies in other states. If you have staff working in other states (even for short periods of time) it is worth checking whether your current Queensland policy will cover them. If not, you may need an additional policy in the state where your employee will be working.

Household Workers Policy

As a final note – do you engage babysitters or local high schoolers to mow your lawn? Under the Workcover Act, these kids are considered employees of your household, and you are liable for any injuries or incidents that may occur while they are under your direction. Workcover offers a 'household workers policy' to cover these conditions. This policy is $50 for 2 years, and will give you peace of mind when engaging workers for your household.

Where to from here?

We would recommend the following:

  1. Review the substance of any contractor arrangements to ensure they are truly contractors and not deemed as employees
  2. Review your employee list to ensure directors, trustees and/or partners are not included
  3. Review your employee list to identify any apprentices (a 100% discount applies to apprentices from 1 July 2017)
  4. Review your wage calculations to ensure all appropriate cash based benefits are being included in determining your Workcover premiums
  5. Consider household staff and whether you require a household workers policy

A Little Goes a Long Way

I've come to learn that a little appreciation goes a long way. You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when someone thanks you for your efforts? It's moments like these that keep you going – whether you're at home, at work or just getting through life. This is because appreciation embeds the precious thought that we truly matter.

Herzberg's two-factor theory states that there are certain factors in the workplace that cause job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Feeling genuinely appreciated unleashes a motivation to achieve recognition again as a result of the satisfaction gained. However, when we are not supported we feel vulnerable, and the worry becomes preoccupying and drains our energy. This dissatisfaction prevents us from creating value at work, and the negative emotions associated are incredibly harmful to our health as they can lead to stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.

Therefore, it is important to encourage positive culture in the workplace. It has the effect of high productivity and performance as employee worth is recognised and valued. According to Losada's research, positive feedback outweighs negative feedback in terms of performance as employees are able to reflect with meaningful action. Working within a positive culture also boosts employee satisfaction, retention, commitment and motivation.

A positive culture is a healthy culture; how can you embrace it in your workplace? Here are a few tips:

  1. Above all else, do no harm
  2. At times it can be difficult to bite our tongues and restrain our inner beast. All you need to do is pause and give the situation a bit of thought. What will they take from your anger ridden criticism? Try to turn a negative situation into a learning experience by suggesting ways for improvement. First you must address the situation by clearly stating what was wrong, and from there you must support them by providing suggestions. People are more likely to learn from experience if they are given direction.

  3. Practice appreciation by starting with yourself
  4. This is a very important step.  If you have difficulty openly appreciating others, it's likely you will also find it difficult to appreciate yourself. You can do this at the end of the day by thinking about three things you are grateful for. Think about your strong attributes, accomplishments and what makes you, you. If you can't appreciate yourself immediately, think about things in life you are truly grateful for. This will start you off and make it easier day by day to identify personal attributes to appreciate.

  5. Make it a priority to notice what others are doing right
  6. Once you've learned how to appreciate yourself, it becomes easier to tell others what you appreciate about them. Start by thinking about positive qualities, behaviours and contributions you currently take for granted among the members of your team. Then ask yourself, what is it that each of them uniquely brings to the table? Set yourself a goal to appreciate at least three colleagues each day and let them know!

  7. Be appreciative
  8. The more specific you can be about what you value, the more positive your impact on that person is likely to be. A handwritten note makes a bigger impression than an email or a passing comment, but either are better than nothing at all.   We implement the FISH! Philosophy at Overells and we regularly do a team activity where each person receives a page of paper with a colleague's name and it is passed around the table until everyone has handwritten a positive quality for every individual.

Authentically appreciating others will make you feel better about yourself, improve the self-worth of those around you and increase the likelihood that they'll invest more in their work and in you. A little appreciation truly goes a long way.


How One KPI Turned Around British Airways

 

The story of British Airways and the success of Lord John King in using KPI's to turn the company around is now business folklore. In 1981 at the request of Margaret Thatcher, Lord King took the helms of British Airways. At the time British Airways initials were said to stand for "Bloody Awful" and according to Sir John Egan chairman of Jaguar, British Airways attitude was the customer was an irritating part of the process.

The company was losing money at the rate of 200 pounds per minute and as the government backed the company there was no urgency for change from within.

Upon his appointment, Lord King called upon a group of consultants to provide advice as to what was required to turn around the company. He was told all he needed to focus on was the timely arrival and departure of planes. I imagine he would have responded, "Really, are you sure, that's all?" To his credit he took the advice and acted upon it.

Lord King instituted a system that ensured he was advised immediately whenever a plane was more than two hours late arriving or departing. Managers then received a personal phone call from Lord King if a plane deviated from the acceptable parameters. I imagine no manager would have enjoyed the 'please explain' phone call from Lord King.

By focusing on the right Critical Success Factor and implementing the right KPI, British Airways was able to change its culture and fix a whole range of issues within the company. Issues such as customer satisfaction, staff motivation, promoting open decision making, positive brand recognition, a bias for action, innovation as a daily activity, increased repeat business from key customers, attracting quality staff to the organisation, increasing adaptability and flexibility of staff, increasing empowerment, etc.

If you're interested in learning what your Critical Success Factors are and implementing the right KPI's in your business then please call Overells to discuss.  For further reading, see:

http://www.nytimes.com/1981/08/08/business/british-airways-lost-254-million-for-year.html 

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/13/business/british-airways-chairman-is-seen-quitting.html 

http://cdn.davidparmenter.com/files/2010/10/the-new-thinking-on-key-performance-indicators.pdf


3 Core Measurements for Success

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