One of the surprising things for me over the last 6 or so weeks of lockdown is the tenacity of people to not waste the time and to use the time available to get on top of the things they’ve been ‘meaning to do for ages’. From gardening and landscaping to cleaning out the garage or painting the house, Bunnings has been frantic with DIY’ers and I hear the line–up at the dump has been longer than ever seen before.
But, it’s not just the house that people have been getting in order. Many have also been using the time to apply their mind and energy to things in their business and financial or legal affairs that they’ve been putting off for ages.
While remaining sensitive to those business owners still battling to keep their business alive and those who’ve been stood down or laid off, many have had some time on their hands. Here’s a list of just some of the other things people have been spending their time on while they’ve had it:
Updating their wills and estate plans
Yes, you can update, review, or put new wills and powers of attorneys in place remotely. Using online video tools, you can easily discuss your affairs, workshop options, and document your estate planning requirements.
Reviewing their personal balance sheet
Some tough financial times can be a good trigger to review your own financial position and thinking about your longer-term financial plans. A great place to start is to prepare your own Personal Balance Sheet – something you must do in your business but also a very worthwhile exercise from a personal perspective.
Many internet banking solutions have a simple version of a Personal Balance Sheet, but you usually need to do something wider than just within that bank to cater for some of your non-traditional assets.
Fuel Tax Credit Reviews
Sometimes there are processes in your business that because of your limited understanding around them it ultimately means you are leaving money on the table – money that could be in your pocket and not the tax offices’. Claiming fuel tax credits is one tax process that when understood can deliver a great injection of cash that you were always entitled to but just never got around to claiming.
It’s a specialist area of tax though, specific to certain industries like transport and agribusiness, that requires a deep understanding of the case law around successful claims and experience with providing legitimate substantiation for your claim. Andrew Chamberlain of our Geelong Office specialises in the provision of Fuel Tax Credit Reviews and is happy to provide a no-obligation review to assess your potential entitlements.
Checking in on their life, business, and career goals
I find everyone goes about goal setting in different ways but when you are looking to go deep into your overall life and your personal goals, 2 tools that work effectively – vision boards and 100-year plans.
Why not even help your team members with their own plans as part of your overall team engagement strategy? Anna Chipperfield, Head of our People + Culture team does this with our team and many clients and it can work extremely effectively.
Risk mitigation and business continuity plans
Nothing like a forced closure or lockdown to give you clarity over the risks and weak spots in your business. Use the time while you are in the thick of it to highlight the risks, identify strategies to mitigate them and put your plan in place for any future hiccups.
Reviewing life, income protection and personal insurances
I always remember a client once telling me they would prefer to go to the dentist than reviewing their life and personal insurance. Just like when updating your wills, it’s not the most fun task in the world but it is very important to do it and do it right.
Speak to your personal insurance broker/adviser or reach out to Simone Murad from our Sydney office or one of our Collective members to help.
Documenting stakeholder agreements
Whether it is a shareholders agreement, partnership agreement, buy/sell agreement or any stakeholder agreement you need, many business owners put the preparation of these agreements on hold during busy times – everyone knows they need it but often I find they just don’t have the headspace to finalise them. They do require some hard conversations and doomsday scenario planning but if you have time on your hands then maybe now is a good time to seek guidance and get these moving.
Whether you have started the process and just need to pick them up again and finalise them or you need to start from scratch, our legal team is on standby and available to help progress remotely.
Reviewing marketing plans and strategies
The business community is undoubtedly going to be in an unusual place for some time – a mix of businesses that may be in somewhat of a dire position compared to others that are actually thriving or getting ready to scale-up on the other side of COVID. These times are a great opportunity for brands to stand out from the crowd with prompt, authentic, human, and supportive brand messages and customer experiences.
There’s no reason why you cannot use this time to check in on what’s working and what’s not working from a marketing and brand perspective – or if you are already clear on that, maybe you need to bring your website inline. Check out some of the great tips from Tyson Cobb of businessDEPOT Marketing.
Attending to IP protection [including trademarks]
How much protection have you got over your IP [including trademarks]? Check-in with your legal advisers [or ours] to review the ability to lock down key elements of your IP and start the process to maybe even increase the international reach of the protection.
If you are trying to grow the value of your business or planning a business sale or a capital raise in the future, you cannot under-estimate the importance placed on your IP being protected as much as possible.
Sale Ready or Buy Ready Review
Whether you are planning on selling your business soon or want to ensure you are building a strong business for the future, it is incredibly valuable to undertake a sale ready review to maximise the chances of a successful exit. Our sale ready reviews combine the skills and experience across the different divisions of businessDEPOT to take a buyer’s view of your business and help you get your house in order for a future sale, whether that be by way of a management buy-out, structured sell down or full external sale.
It could also be a great time to buy – an acquisition could improve your profit formula, provide the scale you need to spread your costs more widely or just provide a more stable income stream. We can help you target your ideal acquisition, and then undertake the hunt for you.
If you are a real estate business, Alan Dawson of our Agency Broking team will bring his industry skills and experience to review your business for sale or even help with an acquisition. Otherwise, Bradley Dean of our team coordinates the reviews and broking for other business sectors.
Updating policies and procedures [including work from home and flexing working policies]
Many businesses before COVID didn’t even have a working from home policy or maybe didn’t even offer flexing working arrangements. Even during these unusual times you still have significant legal obligations on you as an employer when your team is working from home [including for workplace health and safety].
Revisiting their vision, mission, values and strategic plans
There’s nothing like a crisis [whether economic or health] to make you reflect on where you are going in your business and whether you are on track to achieving what you actually want to achieve or not. Many have been putting off making fundamental changes in the business model but with change being forced upon all of us, its amazing how much clarity we can now have around what is actually important.
Getting tax returns done
Although it is always this time of the year you have to start putting some real urgency on your tax returns, many are taking the opportunity to do it a little earlier than usual [just earlier for them]. Every now and then those clients rock up with 5 years of tax returns to do – if that’s you, reach out because a lot of information is available online from the ATO these days.
Yes, our accounting teams are frantically helping with JobKeeper Payments and lodging BAS’s to get Cash Boost Credits, but we still here to also get your tax wrapped up for the year in [with the help of some ATO due date extensions].
Reviewing their tech stack and roadmap
If you weren’t already on a cloud-based system before all of this, I bet you are thinking about it now! Maybe you have made the move to Xero already and enjoying its flexibility and reliability and now thinking about what else you can link into Xero to streamline processing times and the reliability of the data you are leaning on.
Now is as good a time as any to review your tech stack, get some advice, and put a roadmap in place [because you may not want to change it all at one]. Rebecca Mihalic leads our national Tech Advisory offering and I am sure would be more than happy to help.
Management Reporting Systems
What drives performance in your business? Maybe you need to change what you track in your business and start thinking like a start-up. Use any time you may have on your hands to review the management reports you use in your business and set up new systems for future monitoring and reporting requirements.
These days there are some great off-the-shelf management tools like Fathom, Spotlight and Futrli but you can also do a lot with custom reporting in Xero or dive really deep into a customised reporting solution using PowerBI or just standardising in Excel. Feel free to reach out to one of our business advisers or accountants – like Paul Tucker from or Melbourne team who can advise on a standard reporting pack for you.
R&D Tax Offsets
Start-up businesses tend to be right on top of their Research + Development Tax Offset claims because they need the cash, but many other businesses also are entitled to claim. Just like fuel tax credit claims, we always recommend utilising specialists to attend to your R&D claim and we recommend the team at Swanson Reed who can service any business across Australia. Reach out to us and we would be happy to make an intro.
Indicative Business Valuation
There is so much misconception out there around the value of a business [let alone the entity that operates the business]. Now is a great time to review the drivers of value in your business and identify the weak spots you could be working on to maximise your value into the future. With the current level of uncertainty in the world, it may be difficult to provide a full valuation – an indicative valuation based on certain key assumptions can give you a good indicator of a value range for your business.
There is no reason why these indicative valuations cannot be undertaken remotely – reach out to Bradley Dean of our team or myself if you would like to discuss.
If you are lucky enough to have some time on your hands, yes get your house in order at home but it is also a great opportunity to get your business, financial and legal affairs in order too.
Our fingers are crossed that on the other side of this COVID curve is a rapid rebound in business and consumer sentiment so dealing with these things now will place you well to make the most of it when it comes, whenever that may be.