December 2020 has shown us how quickly things can change in this pandemic ridden world we are living in.  In mid-December we took our team to Wollongong for a training conference and Christmas dinner.  We felt very confident doing this as there were no cases of COVID-19 pretty much anywhere in Australia at the time.  We had a staff member fly in from Queensland and could confidently blend our offices from around NSW and the ACT.  We left our conference feeling excited about the prospects ahead in 2021.

Move forward 3 weeks and the virus is silently spreading its tentacles throughout Sydney and the anxiety starts to return.  Residents of the Northern Beaches have been in lockdown and masks are mandatory for indoor public spaces in Greater Sydney.  Borders are closed and I cannot visit our Canberra office without quarantining for 14 days. The desire to leave the house has diminished and I am quite happy to stay at home in my relatively safe bubble.

As business owners we need to be mindful of these uncertainties as we make plans for the 2021 year.  What impact could a potential shutdown in your area have on your business and your financial situation?  It is very unlikely that we will see the same sort of stimulus measures that were rolled out in April and May again.  We need to take time to plan for the next unanticipated event.

In many ways we have been incredibly fortunate.  We have had unprecedented government support, low numbers of COVID-19 cases and our economy has performed better than anticipated.  The Government is encouraging us to make investments in our businesses by providing tax incentives but before you go ahead and make that large investment (which in many cases is a new vehicle) you need to know if you can really afford it.

Have you ever prepared a cashflow budget for your business?  If you have, how long since you looked at it? You need to look at what has changed and you need to be able to see the impact a reduction in your sales will have on your bottom line.  Do you know how long your business can run without any income?

We are now 6 months through the financial year and it is a great time to take stock of your performance for the first six months.  Compare it to your performance for the same six months of 2019, and the first six months of 2020 when COVID was in full swing.  Can you notice any trends?  Are there expenses that are no longer necessary?  The numbers do tell us a story but in order to read that story you need to make sure the numbers are accurate.

What are the pain points of your business and is there something you can do to address these pain points in the next six months?  Perhaps it is time to update your systems and move to an easier to use platform.  Perhaps you need to address the issues you are having with collecting from your debtors.  Maybe your staffing levels are not correct.  Each business has its own unique set of challenges.

Too often we see clients who jump into big financial commitments without taking the time to understand the impact.  A good accountant should be more than a number cruncher, they should be able to provide you with advice.  They should be able to help you to navigate the opportunities and challenges your business faces.  Many businesses see the accounting costs as a necessary evil, but what if the advice that the accountant is giving you provides tangible benefits to your business?  Wouldn’t you be prepared to pay for that advice?

The unpredictability of 2020 showed many businesses the value of their accountant as they helped them through the financial crisis of COVID-19.  I believe that 2021 is going to be just as unpredictable.  I do not have a crystal ball so I can’t predict what the future will hold for your business, but I can help you to understand your numbers, I can help you to make business decisions and I can help you to be prepared for whatever is to come.

Make 2021 the year you get serious about your business and accept that paying for advice from a professional is a great investment, even if it is not as exciting as buying a new ute.

In 2021 Jigsaw Tax and Advisory will be offering advisory services to our clients.  There will be a cost to these services in addition to your compliance fees, but we feel the one-on-one attention from a Partner or Senior Accountant will be a great investment for your business.  If you are interested in this service please contact Emily Roper (emily@jigsawtax.com.au) for more details.

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