COVID-19 has changed our lives in a way we never imagined, many of you are wearing the burden of the mental health and wellbeing of your family and staff. Now more than ever it’s important to check in with yourself and not just your team.
Last week the federal government launched a digital hub to support small businesses with mental health and wellbeing resources.
Ahead for Business is an initiative of Everymind and is funded by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources.
Resources available to you on the hub include:
Interactive tool kits: Designed with small business owners and policymakers in mind, these toolkits provide practical guidance on how to support small business owners and how small business owners can make the most of their existing networks.
Adverse events spotlight: A centralised hub of support, information and resources for small business owners and those who support them to assist in navigating adverse events like COVID-19, drought and bushfires.
Voices and stories from small business owners: A blog space featuring the voices and stories from small business owners across multiple settings and industries.
Personalised dashboard: A secure, private portal where small business owners can save resources, results and information and track their progress over time.
Connect and chat online: Access an anonymous, peer-focused online forum featuring topics and issues that matter to small business owners.
Directory of support: A section that connects to service providers and organisations who provide mental health, business and industry support for small business owners.
Identify your stressors: Access a range of digital tools and plans to identify personal and business stress points and understand current mental health and wellbeing status, including personalised resources.
Tailored multimedia resources: A series of podcasts, videos and case studies designed to empower small business owners, and those who support them, to take action on their mental health and wellbeing.
Upcoming Mental Health Events and Webinars
On 2nd September, ForestWorks will be holding a free webinar on actions you should take to implement a mental health workplace webinar if you’re able to attend make sure you register and a recording will be sent to you so that you can catch up in your own time.
R U Ok?Day is coming up on 10th September, the day aims to encourage and remind Australian’s that every day is the day to ask, “Are you Ok?”. More details and resources to use in your business to promote the date visit https://www.ruok.org.au/
Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently announced that Australian businesses were being targeted by a sophisticated foreign state-based hacker. Thankfully the Prime Minister confirmed there have not been large-scale personal data breaches…..yet.
Unfortunately, when Australian SME owners hear about state-based hackers or international criminal gangs, they assume that means hacking attacks targeted at large corporates, financial institutions, ASX listed companies or international companies. This assumption is extremely dangerous and leads to complacency in cyber security; and it is this very complacency that paints a huge target on the back of every SME business.
Cyber criminals are acutely aware that SME businesses have limited resources to invest in adequate security and typically lack suitable staff training. Even when the implementation is right, many SMEs fail to ensure ongoing staff training, security upgrades or system patches; which creates opportunities for criminals. This makes SME’s an easy and lucrative target for cyber criminals. Other SME misconceptions include:
We don’t hold valuable data:
Valuable data isn’t limited to financial information, credit card details or sensitive medical records. It can be as simple as an employees’, suppliers’, or customers’ personal details such as full name, date of birth, physical address, email, drivers licence number, tax file number, or banking details.
Most businesses will hold this information about their employees, customers or suppliers as a minimum, meaning they are at a higher risk of being targeted for a cyber-attack. If a cyber-attack were to occur and this valuable data is stolen it may be used by an attacker to commit identity fraud or as the basis for a social engineering or phishing attack.
These breaches can trigger very costly mandatory reporting requirements under the privacy legislation as well as having to notify every individual who’s data has been breached. The costs of a privacy breach can also include fines of up to $2.1m.
We don’t transact online
An SME may not have online sales however all will use computers, a local network, or a server to hold electronic files and records. A business will also do their banking online, manage their invoicing electronically, both of which include sending and receiving personal and sensitive information.
Our data is safe in the Cloud
Data stored in the cloud is simply using another business’s server to store information, which will have more advanced security than an SME can afford. The information can still be accessed, copied, stolen or altered.
Each business is legally responsible for their information, even if it is stored in the cloud and may incur notification costs to affected individuals, remediation costs, legal costs and fines should a data breach occur.
Our IT team will take care of it
A cyber breach requires very specific and specialist skills, including forensic IT expertise, data management skills, privacy breach legal advice, public relation consulting to protect the reputation of the business and loss assessment skills. Whether the IT team is internal or external they will not have these capabilities, or the ability to respond immediately to a breach 24/7.
Our IT system cannot be breached
No system can be 100% safe. The world’s most secure systems have been breached, including the FBI, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Facebook and Sony to mention just a few. If these organisations with all their expensive cutting-edge security can be breached, what hope does an SME have. This is why a cyber breach is a matter of when it will occur and not if.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner confirmed that 35% of all breaches are the result of human error, so even with the best possible security, employees are inadvertently allowing criminals into their employer’s system.
There are several things an SME can do to reduce their risk to a cyber or privacy breach and many of these steps are either free or relatively inexpensive. It is important to consider what funds the business can allocate to security so that an assessment of the available options can be made. Its also important not to put all your faith in one solution, but rather have a multifaceted protection philosophy. Some simple tips include:
Have an incident response plan
The Australian government has prepared an easy to follow breach preparation and response plan available at www.oaic.gov.au. This is a free offering and having a plan in place allows a business to react quickly and calmly when a breach occurs. This is crucial because the longer the breach remains unattended the more costly the event will be for the organisation.
Ongoing Staff Training
With 35% of breaches occurring due to human error staff training is a must. There is an endless supply of free content on the internet to help educate staff. Two excellent sources are www.oaic.gov.au and www.cyber.gov.au/acsc; both are trusted Australian government agencies with excellent material. A good starting point for staff education is “identifying red flags when clicking on links or opening emails” and “how to prevent phishing attacks”. The key to successful training is for it to be easy to follow, regular and across all staff.
Be vigilant with patches
In addition to maintaining standard firewalls and anti-virus protection; software providers are constantly issuing “patches” to update weaknesses they identify in their products. Criminals are constantly using these weaknesses to penetrate a company’s system. It is astonishing the number of SMEs that fail to run regular scans for security and software updates.
Daily back ups
Backup is crucial for data protection and recovery when a breach occurs. A regular data backup, preferably daily, saves your important files from inevitable data loss situations due to common events such as system malware infection, virus corruption and ransomware. A good back up system will reduce the time it takes to recover and minimise the potential for loss of revenue.
Strong password protocol
A strong password provides essential protection from breaches, financial fraud and identity theft. One of the common ways hackers break in is by guessing passwords. The other being a staff member using the same password across multiple business and personal logins. A strong individual password, which is changed on a regular basis, and combined with multifactor authentication, is a simple and effective security measure.
A business will have sprinklers, fire extinguishers, fire retardant doors and other risk management measures to prevent their property burning. These measures do not guarantee the building won’t burn, which is why insurance is purchased. The same applies to cyber exposure. No matter the level of cyber security and awareness, a business remains vulnerable to a cyber-attack.
Cyber insurance offers an amazing level of protection. It will pay for the emergency response team to offer support 24/7. The policy will cover legal fees to assess if a privacy breach has occurred and to defend any prosecution. It will pay for a public relations consultant to protect any further damage to the company’s reputation.
The insurance will pay to fix the weakness in the system, remove any malware, ransomware, virus or encryption. The costs to recollect and reinput any lost data will be covered. A cyber insurance policy will also reimburse the business for loss of profit as a result of the breach, which can take months to recover from. The insurer will also pay the ramson if that is determined to be the best approach.
Other protection provided includes identity theft, phishing breaches, payment of fake invoices, social engineering fraud, hardware replacement, privacy breach fines, social medial defamation and more.
If you would like to obtain a cyber insurance quotation please contact Adroit on 1300 MY ADROIT (1300 and ask for David Edwards or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The relationship between a company’s profitability and its cash flow, while straightforward, isn’t always fully understood. Many businesses, especially sales-oriented companies, tend to manage operations from the bottom line, believing that if sales are increasing, the business is profitable and success is guaranteed.
The problem with this thinking is that businesses don’t pay their vendors from the bottom line, they pay from positive cash flow. Too often, sales-oriented businesses are so eager to get new clients, that the structure required to get paid for current work isn’t fully fleshed out. Suddenly, the funds needed to pay current invoices are not available, and the company is at risk of selling themselves out of business by not properly managing cash flow.
Get a grip on accounts receivable
The best course of action is to get a firm grip on accounts receivable before it becomes a problem. This will give you enough cash on hand to stay ahead of bills and still have funds left over to invest in the future.
Until payment is received (positive cash flow generated) any transaction can’t really be considered complete. Too many outstanding customer payments lead to cash flow problems. Getting paid should always be a priority, but before any receivables get collected, several actions are required to help guarantee receipt of that payment.
When customers owe you money, there shouldn’t be a major investment of time and manpower on your part to get paid. For any accounts receivable process to work, it starts with accurate data collection. This includes information regarding the product or service rendered, price with tax, any discounts that might apply, expected payment date, and any other information relevant to that specific transaction. If this is a manual process or data needs to be applied to different programs, the process can be time consuming and prone to errors.
Automation makes the process more streamlined
Part of the success of any accounts receivable effort is the ability to establish the right payment terms. The amount of time you offer customers to make their payment should be considered carefully. The longer the
payment term, the more credit you are extending to your customers. Conversely, the shorter the term, the quicker you get your money—theoretically. The typical payment cycle for goods or services ranges from 30
to 90 days.
The best approach is to set terms that work financially for you, but also are fair to your customer. Perhaps you want to include an incentive, such as a discount, to clients who pay early. For example, you could offer a 2%
discount on an invoice if paid within 10 days. Whatever term works best—say it is a 30-day deadline—be sure to include that data on all future invoices.
The biggest obstacle to positive cash flow is customers who don’t pay on time. When that happens, instead of having capital available to pay your own vendors or make your own payroll, your money is tied up on your balance sheet. One of the first steps to speed payments is to set clear and concise credit policies. Set responsibilities with your sales or finance department about when to extend credit, how much credit to extend, and what penalties to impose on overdue accounts. Then commit to process all credit applications within a specified time frame.
Think carefully about the wording of terms you decide upon—a little bit of courtesy can go a long way to speed payments. For instance, asking politely for payment within 21 days always beats a statement such as “due in
full on receipt.” Knowing your clients well, as you do, and understanding what motivates their operations and payments can help you choose the best strategies to get paid while still appearing friendly.
Just as important as the information that goes into creating the invoice is the data that determines who will receive it. You need to keep track of contact information for key accounts payable contacts. You probably want to verify this information monthly to keep up with any changes. Equally important for larger businesses, is the need to have at least one additional manager’s contact information, or an owner for smaller businesses, should be there ever be a need to escalate communications. When payment is overdue you will also need an accounting department contact.
The collection process undoubtedly runs smoother when your customers understand payment terms completely so there are no obstacles to receiving payment.
Software simplifies accounting routines
Every month, the billing department goes through the same process. All your data has been collected and verified and it is time to run the latest batch of statements. If you mail invoices, it can take hours or even days to
print, stuff envelopes, and apply postage. Once they get sent out, any number of reasons can keep payment from being delayed. Your ability to reduce the amount of time between billing and payment collection is imperative, and integrated accounting software can streamline that process and improve cash flow.
Easily integrated with emailed invoices, document management capabilities allow account information and all related assets to be readily accessible from anyone in the organisation including accounting, sales and
even collections. Statements can be sent electronically instead of through the mail, which reduces cycle time, improves cash flow, and drives efficiency in the accounting department.
Every business benefits when it’s easy for customers to settle their accounts. Offering flexible payment methods including, credit card, check, pay pal or other self-service options can also speed the receivable process.
Automation serves all business needs
If you are working in separate systems that require a lot of duplicate entries, the system you’re using is old or inefficient, or you’re still using a spreadsheet to track billings, it’s probably time to consider upgrading.
According to Inc. magazine, the more professional your billing system is, the more likely your clients will pay up in a timely manner.
An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can handle not only all the accounting around your business transactions, but also take care of product ordering, inventory, setting delivery routes, and managing a variety of other processes required to run your business.
ERP systems will manage point of sale, inventory management, purchasing and receiving, electronic data interchange (EDI), and reporting while saving time and virtually eliminating input errors.
In the same way that leveraging technology can improve your inventory management and purchasing process, it is imperative that businesses leverage all the benefits that an ERP system can offer to improve cash flow.
Think about it for a minute. With an ERP, accounts receivable is no longer a headache, as all the transaction information is available in one system and managing/tracking paper invoices is no longer necessary. With the help of an integrated ERP, your customer’s payment history or purchasing patterns are just a click away.
Don’t sell yourself into debt. ERP insights will allow you to efficiently monitor, manage and maintain a healthy cash flow on your terms.
With rental payments representing a significant overhead for tenants, as well as a source of income for landlords, understanding the intricacies for your business is challenging. Our partners, Business Australia have created resources to help provide information and advice on rent relief, lease negotiations and how to interpret the National Commercial Leasing Code of Conduct to help support businesses.
Whether you’re already eligible for rental relief under the COVID-19 Code of Conduct for Commercial Tenancies or you’re preparing for a possible downturn in sales, negotiating your lease can be a daunting exercise. This 10 step lease negotiation guide will help you to understand your eligibility and rights as a tenant under the COVID-19 Rental Relief code and how to recognise the commercial motivations of your landlord to negotiate a better deal for your business.
The 10 step guide covers:
Understand your rights under the COVID-19 Code
Understand your landlord’s commercial motivations
Research your current market rent
Look at the local area
Understand your sustainable occupancy cost
Reach out to your landlord to book a meeting
Pick a suitable setting and think about your style