Evolution Articles

Legal Considerations in Small Business

The business structure determines the legal structure and with many aspects making up the latter, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons before making any decisions. Legal structures differ in liability, asset protection, management and taxation and one over the other would be more suited to your small business. Complying with legal requirements is important and has its benefits. Australian small business owners can discuss the legal considerations of their small business with a lawyer or an adviser. Choose the right business structure Each business structure has different legal requirements, typically increasing in complexity as they move from sole trader to company or trust. The legal consequences in terms of liability vary among the business structures, such as when a sole trader is personally liable to the debt of the business whereas a company is liable to creditors. Also, you must register your business name and process your business with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The Department of Commerce can further assist you with the system you have and its attendant legal commitments. Insurance obligations and Intellectual Property rights Important in business but often overlooked, Intellectual Property – copyright, trademark, patents, designs -- protects your business’s brand and assets and is a way to project professionalism. Legally protecting your idea prevents others from using your brand. Your insurance will be depend on the kind of business you are running; some forms of insurance are Workers compensation, third party personal injury and liability insurance. Taxation and Superannuation These are for when an employer may be obliged to make tax or super contributions for eligible employees. Payroll tax is for Western Australian businesses whose Australia-wide wages exceed $750,000 a year or $62,500 per month. How much tax you pay for your business is also determined by your chosen business structure. Leases As with other legal obligations, signing a lease is a binding contract. You agree to pay rent for the specified term; it is your responsibility to pay on time and maintain the leased premises in the condition they were in prior to your occupation. Proper documentation When going into business with other people or entering a partnership, it’s best to properly document the arrangement in the event of a dispute. A lawyer can help you draft your documents. Meanwhile, keeping financial and other records is a legal requirement of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). A business owner is supposed to keep records of his employees’ time worked and wages for at least 7 years. Employee rights and welfare The workplace must be safe and the workers properly trained and supervised to build an improved working capability. Under the Australian system, employees are entitled to paid leaves: parental, annual or vacation and sick. Giving them incentives and the right facilities boosts their morale and encourages them to be improve their performance. Meanwhile, employee entitlements outline an employee’s legal benefits. The contract of employment can be referred to in the event of a dispute. Before signing any papers, make sure that you read and understand the terms and conditions. Take time to really think about any legal issue and do research to accompany your lawyer’s advice. Contact us today for more information and advice!

Planning for Your Small Business

Small business owners need to consider important aspects of their business to decide on a working plan suitable to them and their company. Before making decisions on your small business, it’s recommended you seek the help of a professional business adviser or a lawyer for legal liabilities and documentation. Small business ownership involves numerous business aspects while complying with the legal structure that can also be determined by the business structure. Business structure The four most widely used types of business structure in Australia are (individual) sole trader, partnership, company and trust followed by cooperative and association. The business structure will help determine its legal structure. Choosing your business structure will depend on the size and type of business, your personal circumstances and flexibility and how you want your business to develop. While you’re at it, conceive a company name that suits the nature of your business. Costs and Funding Numerous ways to gather capital in Australia include using your own personal savings, borrowing from external sources such as a bank, a financial company or from your immediate family and friends and from angel investors and venture capitalists, among others. Take into account the business’s potential costs and its financial needs: cost of day-to-day operations, utilities and insurance as well as how you can comfortably live your life during the business’s early days when you’re dependent mostly on your own account or from loans. Management (hiring, daily business, supply) The Australian Taxation Office on getting started: “If you're starting a business, you'll also need to choose between manual or electronic systems to manage your records, invoices and payments.” The performance of your workforce – their training, maintenance, their overall work health and safety (WHS) -- and securing supplies occupy a business owner when his business is operating. Legal aspect Tied with deciding on your business structure, you will be legally liable for all aspects of your business. This involves taxes and licence requirement, contracts, leases and registering for an Australian Company Number (ACN) and Australian Business Number (ABN). Employee welfare is a crucial concern, check if you comply with legal requirements in your area. Marketing To run your business, you’d need to learn more about your customers, competitors and your industry. Conducting market research enables a business owner to get on top of what their target market wants. Establish a beneficial relationship between them and the brand. Getting your brand to the public and attracting new customers can be done through various marketing channels such as social media, print, promotional offers and paid advertising. Also, attend corporate events where you can build lasting connections with contacts. Continuing industry knowledge and future growth Growing a business requires skill which can be honed throughout one’s experience in his business-related activities and personal endeavours. Throughout the course of running your business, you need to maintain a dynamic knowledge about the industry and the economic factors that affect it; be aware of what your competitors are doing, have a supply of resources and ideas to grow your enterprise. Seminars, workshops and forums relevant to your business prove beneficial to your continued learning. Exit Strategy Formulate your exit strategy from day one, as most startups fail. Selling your business (capital gains tax) -- when closing your business is the only option -- is one of the most important decisions you can make in your life. Ask “why you want out?” and then formulate a realistic future for yourself and the business. Startups can further check if there are any associations they can be a part of or who can provide them with assistance. A business that is well organised from the outset is likely to achieve its goals and satisfy the business owner’s initial needs and wants. Contact us today for more information and advice!

Funding your Small Business

Small enterprises are a main driver of Australia’s economy and need their ways of funding so that they can grow. In Australia, capital can be raised for small businesses to start up. Some companies pool their own resources while others seek outside help. There are many ways other than a bank to fund your business. Some businesses opt to utilise a combination of a number of these finance methods for their purposes so there’s always going to be a money management scheme that’s right for you: “The source you choose depends on the amount of capital you are looking for and how you intend to pay back,” writes Benard Mouka in his blog, Bizify. If you need guidance planning your business, you have the option to recruit the help of a business advisor. A few common options to fund your small business are the following: Your own personal savings A natural course of action, using your personal finances in itself indicates that you trust in your business idea enough to actually tap into your own account. Depending on whatever you have is a personal sacrifice which can have a great impact on your own life and finances. Borrow from family or friends Borrowing from immediate relations is speedy and readily available. When you do this, try to legalise the whole process and make sure that you pay them back (debt finance arrangement). However, you can risk straining your personal relationships with people with a business failure. Apply for a grant or a loan Determine the main financial figures of your business: your current income, net profit, expenditure and future projections when drafting your business plan. To qualify for a loan, your business plan needs to have enough detail to encourage loaners to finance your business. Grants, meanwhile, are by nature competitive and projects are usually proposed to the grant-maker for a specific purpose. Crowdfunding Crowdfunding websites such as Pozible, Indiegogo and Kickstarter make things happen: crowdfunding gets a large number of people to invest in a startup in return for a good, service or equity, usually through the Internet and the platform has been given a boost in Australia’s Federal Budget 2015-16. Venture capitalists and Angel investors Private angel investors fund early-stage businesses and can make investment decisions quickly. Venture capital, on the other hand, is high-risk for high-growth businesses during all stages of a business’s development and is seldom used in Australia for business startups opt for other funding methods. Both provide business advice to companies besides fund provision. External sources of funding These are funding sources outside your business such as banks, suppliers, finance companies and the aforementioned family and friends. Terms and conditions vary across each finance solution, in interest or payment period, and you should be able to establish a working relationship with these external sources. Funding needs come at the top of any business owner’s priority when they are starting up but legal requirements such as registration, permits and licences, accounting systems and future growth are some other responsibilities they hold to manage their small business in Australia. Contact us today for more information and advice!

Setting up your Business Website

Business websites represent your small business and are easily accessible, sometimes being the first go-to of interested customers. Visitors have an objective in my mind when they browse through business websites, and having a great set up site can convince and win a potential customer over. Whether or not they choose to stay on your web page depends on their personal impression of it. Consider these points and tips when coming up with a business website that will achieve it purpose. Domain name First thing about setting up your business website is choosing the appropriate domain name. Make it easy to type, using significant keywords relating to the nature of your business. Also ensure that it’s not being used by another organisation – which can lead to legal issues – and finally, choose an extension that works for you. For company, commerce and community usage is the suffix .co. .com.au is also popular for websites in Australia. Lay-out, design and structure Take good care weighing in what people expect whenever they browse a website. They’re sure to expect a certain lay-out and design that they are used to seeing online, and going off in the other direction just for the sake of it would just be confusing and disappointing. Certain website structures are standard models for a reason, they certainly encourage the visitor to get to what he was looking for with minimal clutter and maximised enjoyment; they’re tried-and-tested successes. Truly understand your business You can’t formulate a proper lay-out for your business website if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to see in it: colours, banners and headings, icons, and text create the visual impact of the site. In this aspect, what your visitors would want to see is equally important. When you hire a web designer’s expertise, discuss so he can have a clear picture of an outcome that best corresponds with your business. Meaningful, timely content Invest everything into creating content that you and your prospective or existing customers would want to see on your website. Writes Brooke Hazelgrove for More Business Online, “A content marketing strategy is what you’ll need to catch their attention, build trust, convert them to leads, and close them as customers (not to mention how you’ll keep working with them as recurring customers.)” Do write for your audience; this way, your content will be designed to match what they are looking for when they search in search engines. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the process of improving your search engine rankings to get more site visitors, should be applied in your content. Visitors are there to know more about your product or service so pertinent information should be laid out, ideally with photos or videos next to the descriptions. Company information on the Website If e-mail messages have e-mail signatures, your website should also have company information such as contact and business details; ideally these should appear on the home page or anywhere else easily visible. This is for site visitors to contact the company. Website access on other devices Always consider the bigger picture if you aim for business growth. Some websites are customised for smartphone or tablet browsing and so the overall concept should be mobile-friendly and adjusted for easy device-usage. Some even have different looks depending on which device the customer is using. Websites shouldn’t be that tricky once you’ve conceptualised your design goals and overall effect which you can achieve with the help of a professional web designer. Setting up your business website is the obvious solution to answer the needs of today’s customers who turn online for information. That way, you can convert potential consumers into loyal customers if you give them a great website experience and they are impressed with your site’s professionalism. Contact us for more information and advice!

Small Business Marketing

Marketing is about establishing brand-client relationships that are beneficial to both parties, ultimately and ideally leading to a sale. Communicating your brand, product or service is a key aspect of marketing which can be used to identify a business’s target market before full-fledged advertising. To market, you’d need a marketing plan. There are six “Ps,” “6Ps” or the “marketing mix” that are the framework for coming up with a marketing plan: Product, Place, Price, Promotion, People, and Process. These six are crucial in understanding your company and how best to approach and operate your business. Look out for characteristics displayed in each of the Ps so that you can think of an appropriate marketing strategy and research for your small business. Many ways are available to market your small business: Create a website or a blog Small businesses using Internet marketing earn 20% higher annual revenues. A cost-effective way to market your small business, setting up your own website creates an online presence that potential customers can search for. Familiarise yourself with Internet marketing strategies such as creating lead-generating content and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Email, mail or SMS messaging Possibly cross-channeled, you can use one to prompt another. Deliver offers to your contacts through e-mail and then follow up with an SMS message. Since many people use their smartphones before making a purchase, you can steer this towards your direction. Social Media Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn have millions of users, making social media a powerful arena to engage with your customers. Marketing involves knowing what your customers want, and reading all those feedback from your target market leads to insights into their behaviour or preferences. “Put your heart into it,” Trevor Young, founder of Expermedia said of social media. “Create content that has personality. Sure, there’s ways to write things and do videos but nothing beats heart, personality and passion. Seminars or events Social events are a great way to gather all your advocates and contacts and start networking at a personal and business level while being an opportunity to share your brand to the public. This is an efficient way to communicate your business with a lot of information disseminated and exchanged. Make the most of what you already have If you have a showroom or an office, make sure that it feels right for you and looks neat, accommodating, and professional. Phones and staff should be managed because these are how some customers contact small businesses; make sure that information about your brand is on hand. After all, marketing is about getting your brand’s message: product and service to customers for potential usage. Content management allow brands creative freedom to really get their brand across the way they want. Attracting the right people is a goal that the Internet and other channels make possible. If you’re a small business, you’d need to respond to consumer trends or what people want to effectively grow your business. Small businesses should learn how to utilise emergent media in order to best engage their customers. Contact us today for more information and advice!