Our first Panel of Experts delivered a huge amount of valuable information in April. Thanks to Jim Vass from ATB Partners, Robert Nasr from Telstra West Business Centre and Bruce Patten from the Patten Group.
Here are just some of the things we learned. Firstly, the NBN roll out. The NBN is active in the Smithfield-Wetherill Park area and now is the time to be talking to Telstra. It is not a case of “waiting for the rush to die down” as one guest said. There is a set window of time when Telstra can organise for connection, once that time is over in about a year from now you will be left without any phone or wifi services at all.
NBN had to change its roll out two years ago and is now to the node. From the node to your building is still copper wire. Telstra has its own fibre optic network separate to the NBN and if you want the superhighway to come right to your front door you can talk to the team at the Merrylands and Wetherill Park offices about that option.
When asked if the fact that copper still exists it means the NBN is not going to be much of an improvement, Robert replied that data is reaching that copper line at the speed of light so whilst the last part of the journey is slower, the time it takes for content to arrive is much faster.
Robert said fibre to the kerb is a change which will come in the future. He noted that there have been a few cases of people being unhappy with the NBN but the majority of customers are getting a better result than ADSL.
Jim covered a number of questions, two of which related to accounting in the cloud and succession plans. Having your accounting in the cloud is just a matter of time he added. Only 12% percent of accountants have embraced cloud accounting – with their customers able to see their accounts in real time and make on the spot decisions – whilst the other 88% are still using servers and receive financial records and take a period of time to process them. Cloud customers can see what happened yesterday and analyse it now to come up with the right strategy to improve on it. Jim said when his clients call him he calls up their Xero dashboard and can comment on how they are going, for example, checking on cash flow. He said all of his clients are in the cloud and they have customised dashboards which feature areas of significant benefit to their day to day operation.
On the topic of succession planning he said very few businesses have one. But, first of all, they should have a shareholders agreement. He said the focus should be on today…working out a strategy to make the business worth as much as possible at that time when it will be sold. It is about maximising assets.
Jim also noted that grants are available for businesses to pay an accountant to take a look at their business. The government will pay 50% of the fee.
Bruce spoke on business grants for SME’s and he said there are a lot. More than one thousand to be exact. For 30 years he and his team have been using these grants to get working capital for his clients. He has a no win no fee policy. He has a 99 percent success rate.
Bruce encouraged the audience to consider a grant…the best thing you can do for the country is to borrow and use that to generate a return for the country. Use it to employ people, reduce imports and increase exports.
Think of it as pure profit. If you borrow $100,000 consider how much do you have to sell to make $100,000 profit. One of the grants is for $20,000 to bring a consultant in to your business. There is a Business Evaluation fund and a Business Growth fund to activate the findings of the evaluation. They are for businesses with expenses of $1,500,000 or more. You have to provide a service or product to one of the five key industry sectors chosen by the government, these include advanced manufacturing, mining, medical technology.
Bruce said he recommends that businesses work with their accountant to determine what it is they need. Grants are not available for asset purchases.
The feedback from the night was very positive and we will look at staging another ‘experts’ evening in the future.