5 reasons to start a business in Australia

July 17, 2017

Aside from its breathtaking beauty, Australia has plenty to offer in the world of business and startups. Ranked 19th on the 2016 Global Innovation Index, the land down under is home to one the most flexible economies in the world. The business environment is well regulated and transparency is high. The political landscape is stable and a strong framework of regulations gives investors ample confidence to put their money into promising ventures.

Source: The Economist

The cities of Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth were ranked among the world’s top 10 most liveable cities in 2016. All in all, Australia is recognised as one of the easiest places in the world to start a business. If you are thinking about becoming your own boss, here are some reasons why Australia might be the place for you:

1. You’ll be part of a growing startup ecosystem thanks to strong government support

The growing startup culture in Australia has meant greater support from various stakeholders such as the Australian government and fellow entrepreneurs. The Australian government has invested heavily in Research and Development. The research & development (R&D) tax incentive helps businesses stay one step ahead through a tax offset that promotes innovation in even the smallest companies. One of the big products that originated from Australia is the anti-hacking software kernel seL4 which regulates access to a computer’s hardware and is able to distinguish between trusted and untrusted software, thereby protecting secure data from hackers.

In addition, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme was introduced to increase the productivity and competitiveness of businesses by providing funding and access to a national network of private sector advisors and enablers. The Entrepreneurs’ Programme offers funding support for incubators that help startups enter global markets.

2. You will have access to the resources to succeed given the availability of funding

Access to funds is a key factor that drives innovation as it allows entrepreneurs to develop and commercialise their ideas. The tax incentives for eligible investors that came into place on 1 July 2016 to encourage support for innovative, high-growth potential startups include the following:

  • A 20 per cent non-refundable carry-forward tax offset on investment, capped at $200,000 per investor, per year.
  •  A 10 year capital gains tax exemption for qualifying investments held for at least twelve months.

Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (VCLP) were introduced to draw in foreign investors to Australia with the purpose of boosting the local VC market with multiple tax benefits. The investments must be toward businesses that have total assets valued under $250 million, with 50% of assets and employees located in Australia.

In particular, there has been growing investment in the fintech sub-sector, with the industry expected to be worth $4.2 billion by 2020 based on its current trajectory. In 2016, Australia was ranked the sixth most attractive place for investors in venture capital and private equity in the Venture Capital & Private Equity Country Attractiveness Index.

3. Australia’s strong trade relations with other countries sets the stage for expanding your business abroad

Source: Austrade

With strong trading ties with major economies across Asia, Europe and North America, Australia is a good base for expanding the reach of your business abroad. In 2015-16, two-way trade in goods and services totalled A$661 billion, making up 40% of Australia’s nominal GDP. Australia maintains strong trade relations with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries, while the ASEAN region is a significant market. If you are eager to grow their business, Australia’s strong trade relations will stand you in good stead as you get access to cheaper resources and overseas markets.

4. Australia’s strong talent pool allows you to build a solid team

Australia boasts of a high literacy rate at 99 percent as it has a thorough educational and training system. You will have a ready supply of tertiary-educated workers given that more than 40% of Australian workers hold a tertiary qualification.

Source: Austrade

If you’re looking for technical talent for your startup, you’re in luck. According to a report by startup rating platform Oddup, 20,000 new technical professionals have relocated to Melbourne over the last five years. The overall workforce are skilled and educated possessing diverse language skills. A cultural melting pot with people from all over, Australia is also the place for you to build a diverse team with members each bringing different perspectives and experiences that will help make your business more robust.

5. Innovation is rewarded with strong intellectual property (IP) laws

Australia has a strong record of innovation, with its R&D spend placing it among the world’s leading innovative countries such as the USA, Japan, Sweden and South Korea. Accordingly, there are strong IP laws in place to protect your trade marks, patents, copyrights, designs and so on. This is crucial as intellectual property is a core asset of a business.

Ranked 12th on the International Property Rights Index in 2016, Australia administers IP legislation via IP Australia. Access the eServices site to apply, register, renew and pay for IP rights. Make the most of the Australian jurisdiction’s strong IP legislation to give your business a competitive advantage over the rest.

Are you an entrepreneur in Australia with more reasons why your mates should join you in starting up down under?

Let us know in the comments below!

Is the cloud safe?

July 16, 2017

While cloud storage is still a relatively new innovation, it seems to have garnered a lot of users over the past few years. External storage is now a thing of the past. Everyone is using the cloud, whether they are storing their personal files and photos online to share with friends and family, or taking advantage of the vast amount of readily available online storage space for sensitive business data. Despite the numerous benefits that this revolutionary storage method has, the cloud has come under a lot of scrutiny recently.

How safe is the cloud?

This is a legitimate concern raised by cloud users. In this dangerous cyberworld, cloud consumers will want to feel assured that their information is going to be stored safely and reliably before entrusting their sensitive data to a third party storage facility. While these cloud storage services claim that the data is heavily encrypted, there are really no guarantees that the cloud is a hundred percent safe. “I really worry about everything going to the cloud”, as commented by Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak recently.

Despite all the scare tactics devised to undermine consumers’ perception of the cloud, the cloud still remains undoubtedly one of the safest ways to store data in this modern time. Before getting all distressed about the safety and reliability of the cloud and reverting back to the dinosaur ages of external hard disks, let’s look at the three major aspects that one needs to keep abreast with cloud storage.

Who is controlling the cloud?

One of the most pressing issues surrounding the cloud is the misconception on who exactly is controlling this gargantuan amount data that is stored within. It may appear that you are paying a nominal fee to entrust a cloud storage provider with the safekeeping of your sensitive information and files. Most people simply assume that the cloud service provider itself gains partial or full ownership of whatever information and files that are being uploaded and shared within its servers. In reality, this is not the case. A cloud storage provider merely owns and provides the “container” in which users will be storing their data. Think of it as a virtual storage unit that is being rented out to users who want to store massive amounts of data and files. The cloud provider does not bear any responsibility for whatever that is being uploaded and kept in the storage unit. Only the cloud user has full control over what is being stored and shared on the cloud service. This should hopefully provide some consolation to those who are still apprehensive about putting their private data into the hands of the cloud.

How is the cloud protected?

Given that a colossal amount of private and highly confidential data is being stored on the Internet – a place infamous for its occasional unreliable security measures – it is natural for cloud users to feel slightly edgy about keeping their data online. In order to keep data secure, the front line of defence for any cloud system is encryption. Encryption methods utilize complex algorithms to protect cloud-stored information in a way such that only the original user and/or authorised parties can access it. In order to read an encrypted file, the prospective hacker will need the secret key or password to decrypt the file. Although encrypted information is not a hundred percent foolproof, decryption requires a huge amount of processing power, sophisticated technology and a lot of time. Cloud services employ more complicated security methods than what an average computer user is able to devise. Additionally, there have been many developments over the course of the last few years in terms of the encryption and security measures that cloud storage providers offer to its users. This gives the cloud-stored data an added level of security.

Personal privacy

Newspaper headlines these days scream about the latest internet-leaked photos of celebrities or prominent figures. We are so accustomed to seeing news about data breaches that it is easy to arrow the cloud as the villain in these unfortunate situations. In reality, the cloud cannot be entirely blamed as most of these instances are a result of user error. While cloud services do provide secured encryption, cloud users also need to do their part to further ensure that their data is stored safely. Strong passwords serve as additional barriers to trolling internet sharks who are ready to hack any sensitive data once they discover a loophole. While it might seem as a daunting task to remember all those alpha-numeric passwords, engaging a password management service could assist in keeping track of all of them. Just remember to do the necessary research and enlist a service that seems trustworthy.

Despite cloud security being the primary concern among users, cloud usage has seen an exponential rise over recent years. Gartner, a market research and advisory firm focusing on providing information technology related insights, has highlighted cloud computing as “one of the top ten strategic technology trends that have the potential for a significant impact on organisations in the next three years.” Ultimately, cloud users have the sole ability to control what and how information is stored in the cloud. One simply needs to follow the guidelines put forth by these cloud services experts to maintain cloud security.

This is a guest post from RenQun Huang at Gpayroll
Want to read more articles related to payroll, HR & technology? Visit us at Gpayroll

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4 tips for saving time on small business administration

As a small business owner, you probably feel that you’re always running out of time. After clearing your emails, meeting with your team, handling your accounts and filing your paperwork, there doesn’t seem to be much time left for thinking about growing your business. While small business administration might be a hassle if you’re not the most organised person around, developing strategies for tackling your administrative matters more quickly and efficiently – thereby saving you time and money – can help you take your business to the next level.

Here, we offer you four tips for how to go about it:

1. Think twice before calling for a meeting

Whenever you’re thinking about sharing information or making decisions, your default response may be to schedule a meeting with the relevant stakeholders. While it may almost be instinct to do so, the next time that thought forms in your mind, take a step back and think about whether a meeting would the best course of action to achieve your goal. Meetings are time-consuming and peppering meetings throughout the day may break your focus from more important tasks that are best done with larger blocks of time.

In order to determine whether that meeting you’re thinking of scheduling is necessary, run yourself through the following questions:

  1. Have I thought through this situation? Gain clarity about what you’re doing on a project by evaluating the scope of the project, its current status and project milestones, and laying out a plan of action. Do your own strategic thinking before even thinking about calling for a meeting.
  2. Do I need outside input to make progress? If you know what needs to be done and simply need to do the work, update your to-do list and take action. If you find that you do need outside input to feel comfortable before taking action, continue on.
  3. Does moving forward require a real-time conversation? If you don’t require a two-way conversation, e-mail may be a better option. This is especially so if you are seeking feedback on written plans or documents, and it is better to give people time to process their thoughts before responding.
  4. Does this necessitate a face-to-face meeting? If you don’t necessarily need to see a person, scheduling a phone chat or video conference may save you travelling time.

Source: Harvard Business Review

It is only if your answer is ‘yes’ to all the above questions that it may be wise for you to schedule a meeting.

If you do have to call for a meeting, make sure that it is as efficient and focused as possible. Here are some ground rules for organising productive meetings:

  1. Keep the meeting small – not more than 7 people. This prevents social loafing and ensures each individual member in the meeting is more engaged.
  2. Ban devices. There are many reasons devices should be banned – multitasking is unproductive and devices distract other people. Only allow devices when you may need people to take notes or retrieve reference material.
  3. Keep the meeting short – no longer than an hour. There are several advantages to shorter meetings – people stay more focused and are more productive when under time pressure.
  4. Organise stand-up meetings. Studies have found that stand-up meetings tend to be shorter than sit-down meetings, yet produce the same solutions.
  5. Make sure everyone participates. This ensures that everyone has the opportunity to value-add to the conversation and that the meeting is a relevant enough to be put on their schedule.

Adapted from Harvard Business Review

By being deliberate about when you call for meetings, and conducting meetings productively when you do, you’ll be able to free up time in your day for more pressing tasks.

2. Draft invoices and payment terms that encourage timely payment

Any small business owner would know that one of the most time-consuming processes is invoicing. While the objective of the invoicing process is to obtain payment for the services or products you have offered, you’re not getting paid for the time it takes to compile what to charge, create the invoice, send the invoice, and remind the customer that his payment is overdue.

Drafting invoices and payment terms that will encourage your customers to pay up on time can save you time in the invoicing process.

Want more tips for how to draft payment terms that will encourage timely payment and optimise cash flow? Check out our free eBook:

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3. Go paperless to save time on printing and organising hard copy documents

Managing hard copy documents can unknowingly take up a lot of your time and energy. In a paper-based office culture, there are many hidden costs and time-suckers associated with printing services, delivery, mailing, storage, processing, disposing and recycling. Beyond time saved, moving towards a paperless model has the following benefits: easier access to your documents, saved space, stronger security and being more eco-friendly.

If you’re thinking about going paperless, here are four tips for how to go about it:

  1. Plan for disposing of documents. Scanning documents and turning physical files into digital files can be a tedious process, so develop a proper system for it. Your process should include document collection, offsite storage and disposal.
  2. Give employees the “why”. Explain to your team the rationale for the transition so that everyone would be on board and motivated to learn the new system of managing documents electronically.
  3. Implement strict protocol. Some implementation tips include encouraging the use of smartphone apps that capture the content of paper files and turn them into digital files and doing away with the requirement that printed documents must be physically signed.
  4. Make paper inconvenient. To prevent your employees from lapsing into old paper habits, make it difficult to use paper by removing fax machines and printers from the office. The habit of a paperless operation will become second nature.

Adapted from Inc

In order to ensure that the documents stored electronically are accessible by the employees who need them, store your documents in the cloud. Common options are Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, although there are a whole host of other options you can consider.

Source: NFIB

Going paperless and moving document storage onto a cloud is a great way to save you the time and tedium of small business administration.

4. Automate processes to avoid repetitive tasks

We’ve all heard the drill: technological developments are set to take away our jobs because robots can do our jobs more quickly and efficiently than we can. However, the reality is not all doom and gloom. Automating tasks that you do repetitively can actually save you time in small business administration. Simple steps such as integrating data platforms (instead of entering data from a web portal manually into a desktop applciation before you use it) or putting meetings on your calendar (instead of going back and forth with clients and colleagues to arrange appointments) can be a game changer in terms of saving you time on small business administration.

In order to determine whether a process is ideal for automation, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does it involve a lot of a data entry? If you’re managing a lot of numbers by hand in PDFs or printed documents, look for ways to leverage Optical Character Recognition (OCR), where documents are scanned and text converted into a digital, editable format.
  2. Is the task repeatable and repetitive? Automating mundane tasks such as monthly bill payments will save you time.
  3. Does the task have no room for error? Humans a prone to mistakes, while automation reduces errors such as incorrectly formatted, missing, or duplicate entries.

Adapted from Forbes

Related reading: Technology tools that will help your small business do more with less

If you’re looking for a way to draft legal documents more efficiently, Dragon Law’s web app does just that. As a Dragon Law subscriber, you get access to our document library where you can select documents to customise to your specific needs using our easy-to-navigate Q&A interface. Storing your legal documents in folders in the cloud and inviting parties to e-sign your documents also saves time and money on printing costs, thereby helping efforts to go paperless and allowing you to easily access your legal documents when you need them.

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What tips do you have for saving time on small business administration?

Let us know in the comments below!

Angel investors vs venture capitalists

July 4, 2017

You’ve got your idea, your team and a plan all in place and all you need is the funds to execute. Securing funding is a challenging process for every entrepreneur. A startup founder has to look ahead into the future and consider all the various funding stages, as the different stakeholders – friends and family, angel investors, venture capitalists (VCs), early employees and more – that come on at each stage all have the power to influence the direction of the business.

Source: BusinessPlanTemplate.com

Some well-known startups such as version control repository and Internet hosting service GitHub and payment service provider Braintree bootstrapped for a long time before acquiring funding or being acquired. But let’s get real – most startups will require funding by external investors or the resources to keep it going will run out. Here, we give you the lowdown on two categories of potential investors – angel investors and VCs – and what you should consider when you are going through the funding rounds.

First off, an angel investor is a high net worth individual who invests his own money into companies. In contrast, an institutional venture capitalist (VC) is a professional firm that raises money by offering investors a chance to take part in a fund that is then used to buy shares in private companies, then invests in companies using money from that pooled capital fund.

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Stage of investment

Angel investors typically invest in deals at an earlier stage of the startup’s lifespan than VCs. That’s why the angel round comes before the VC round. The fact that VCs use other people’s money instead of their own naturally affects their risk appetite. Angel investors are comfortable investing at the seed stage when the startup has a prototype and is still building the product, while VCs typically only vest from Series A funding round onwards when the startup starts to demonstrate high growth potential.

Amounts invested

Given that angel investors typically invest at an earlier stage, they also tend to invest in smaller amounts. However, angel investors fund more companies than VCs do – in 2011, angel investors invested more than $22 billion in approximately 65,000 companies, whereas VCs invested about $28 billion in about 3,700 companies.

Involvement

While angel investors have equity in your business, they usually will not have a seat on your board. As such, they can be as hands-on or hands-off as you want. In contrast, VCs typically take a seat on your board and have a say in how your company is run. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Apart from the funding that private investors bring, many startups also tap on the guidance, expertise and network of their investors.

Timeframe

VCs’ decisions on whether to invest in a startup typically take a longer time than angel investors. As VCs are professional institutions, they tend to have a thorough due diligence process that they will undertake before making the decision on whether to invest. On the other hand, angel investors are investing their own money and have no obligation to third-party investors. They may not follow a defined due diligence checklist, which allows them to make decisions more quickly.

Motivations

According to a survey of corporate VCs, the most common motivations for investing in startups is to strategic alignment with relevant and emerging companies and financial return. And in traditional VC firms, it is no secret that the main motivation is return on investment as soon as possible.

Source: CB Insights

In contrast, angel investors are motivated by a greater range of reasons when investing in startups. While making a return on investment definitely factors into the decision-making process, angel investors may also be out to help less experienced businesses within their sector.

How do I get the attention of an angel investor or VC to fund my startup?

Now that you have a clearer picture of the type of investor you should seek for your startup, the next step is putting together a compelling executive summary for engaging potential investors. An executive summary should contain the following elements:

To facilitate private investors’ decision-making process and align with their motivations for investing, it is crucial that you do thorough research on your potential investors – whether angel investor or VC – and build an executive summary that will appeal to them. Even seemingly non-crucial elements such as a section on the founders and your team matter. According to a Harvard Business Review study, angel investors place great importance on the team and founders when deciding whether to invest in a startup.

Most importantly, it is essential to customise your pitch to your audience. When building your executive summary, make sure you consider whether your potential investor is appropriate for your current funding stage as well as the level of involvement they may have in your business when they come on board.

Want to know why these essential elements of an executive summary matter and how to think like an investor? Learn more in our free eBook “Make Your Pitch”:

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Workplace Policies

June 25, 2017

Managing employees is by far the most challenging task when running a business. Workplace policies help to set out the rights and obligations of employers as well as of employees. There is a wide variety of workplace policies that can be adopted. Some are required by law, while others help in setting out standardised procedures for dealing with employee-related matters.

It is important to have a comprehensive set of up-to-date workplace policies.

Health and Safety Policy

A Health and Safety Policy sets out your general approach and commitment to health and safety in the workplace, together with the arrangements you have put in place for managing it. It should clearly say who does what, when, and how. It usually mentions what you intend to do, who will be involved, and what arrangements have been put in place. It will only be effective if it is acted upon and followed by you and your staff, and it should be reviewed every time there are changes to work processes, plant, equipment, or staff.

Data Protection Policy

A Data Protection Policy ensures that you fulfil your legal obligations to protect the security of personal data. It is a policy that is required by law. It explains how a company collects, uses, and discloses personal data of individuals. It also sets out the responsibilities of employees when processing the data of customers and third parties.

Social Media Policy

A Social Media Policy is the starting point for an organisation’s social media risk management. The purpose of the policy is to provide detailed information about how a company is approaching social media use.

The purpose of a Social Media Policy is two-fold: it educates employees on using social media in their workplace environment, and it protects the organisation from uninformed and often unintended misuse of social media to the detriment of your business.

Disciplinary Policy and Procedure

A Disciplinary Policy and Procedure sets out the policies and procedures that your business follows in relation to employee performance management. It explains how your business manages performance, how it manages unsatisfactory performance, and how you take disciplinary action that may ultimately lead to the dismissal of the employee.

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