Five tips to prepare your business for 2018


The cardboard box of business receipts are now closed for small business owners across the country and it’s time to move from dealing with accountants and tax agents to focusing on the future. Getting things right for the next phase of growth comes down to setting the right foundation.

So, how can you ensure you’re giving your business the best possible chance of succeeding in 2018? Here are my five top tips to prepare for success:

Use support systems

Running a business is no simple feat. There are so many moving parts that at times it can be overwhelming, and you can feel alone. To give yourself the best chance of succeeding, use the support from Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS). ABSAS has a national network of advisors with years of experience ready and able to help take your business to the next level – at a low-cost.

Get on top of superannuation

Small business was in the news earlier this year, but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. An audit by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) revealed certain employers had short-changed staff by an average $2.81 billion every year between 2009 and 2015, hitting a peak of $3.3 billion in 2014-2015[1]. Within the small business sector, more needs to be done to make sure staff are getting paid their super in a timely fashion, while also making it easier for small business owners. The Australian Government has introduced the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House to help cut red tape and make payments infinitely easier for small business owners.

Avoid late payment terms

One of the most prized Australian traditions is ‘the fair go’. Unfortunately, for many suppliers that doesn’t translate into fair payment terms. Many small businesses are left with cash flow difficulties as they chase unpaid invoices. Thankfully, there is hope and major Australian businesses have signed up to the Australian Supplier Payment Code.

The Australian Supplier Payment Code is a voluntary, industry-led initiative that highlights the importance of prompt and on-time payment for small business suppliers through compliance with a set of best-practice standards. When and where possible, actively work with suppliers that have signed up to this code, to ensure that you’re protected with timely payments.

Don’t be vulnerable online

Small businesses face an especially challenging situation with cyber security, and attackers know it – small business is the target of 43 per cent of all cybercrimes. The cost of dealing with a cyber breach can drive companies out of business, so everyone needs to be involved in defending against online risks. It’s important to educate yourself, and your staff, in small business-focused cyber security guides that recommend cost-effective rules you can enforce to reduce the risk of an attack. Go to www.staysmartonline.gov.au to get started.

The first step you can take is to understand how you are at risk, and then develop rules for all activity on work computers, phones, emails and social media so business and personnel information is secure. If you are attacked, you need to report it immediately. For businesses, go to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN).

Empower your business for the future

I am privileged to speak to small business owners across Australia and I understand the challenges they face. However, I am often surprised that many do not realise the extent of the support available to them from the Australian Government. My office provides access to dispute resolution services for those involved in a disagreement with clients, other businesses or Commonwealth government agencies. The ASBFEO exists for small business operators to try and find a solution to their dispute, without having to resort to costly court hearings.

ASBFEO also provides a voice to ensure small business concerns and ideas are heard by lawmakers at all levels. It strives to ensure that policies and regulations are small business friendly.

There is also a helpful filter tool available at business.gov.au/smallbusiness designed specifically for small business owners to find out the range of help and support relevant to their business, all in the one place.

Using the filter tool only takes a matter of minutes and could be the difference to unlocking funding or support that you never realised you were eligible for. By taking a short breath of air and reviewing what initiatives are available, this financial year could be the most successful one yet for your small business.

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-29/rogue-employers-robbing-staff-by-dodging-super-payments-ato/8851216


About the author

Kate Carnell is the inaugural Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO). 

See also: Small Business Ombudsman calls for Govt to consider UK approach to boosting SME finance and Small business ombudsman Kate Carnell calls for prompt payment of government subbies.