Xero Beautiful Business Fund

Xero Beautiful Business Fund now open

Xero Beautiful Business Fund now open for entries

The Xero Beautiful Business Fund is back for 2024. Entries are now open — small businesses that use Xero are invited to enter.

Last year, Xero launched the Xero Beautiful Business Fund, which offers more than AU$700,000 in funding to Xero customers across Australia, Canada (excluding Quebec), New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the UK and the US.

If you haven’t applied yet, here’s how to get started:

Step one

Decide which of the four funding categories you’ll enter. You can submit an entry in each category if you wish.

  1. Innovating for environmental sustainability: How are you taking the next step on your environmental sustainability journey?
  2. Strengthening community connection: How are you serving your community and making a positive impact?
  3. Trailblazing with technology: How are you seeking to innovate and set pace using emerging technologies?
  4. Upskilling for the future: How are you overcoming a skills gap and preparing for the future?

Step two

It’s easy to enter. All you need to do is complete a short online form and record and upload a 90-second pitch video. This can be as simple as a self-recorded video on your phone.

Step three

Submit your entry by 27 August 2024; winners to be announced at the end of October.

For more information, please visit the Xero website »

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BUSINESS ADVISORS

Northern Beaches Sydney cafe

Energy efficiency grants for SMBs Round 2

Extra $41M Boost for SMEs to Reduce Energy Bills

The grant opportunity provides eligible small and medium businesses up to $25,000 to purchase energy-efficient equipment to reduce and manage energy usage and costs.

  • NSW applications open Monday 26 February 2024 12.00pm AEDT

Overview

The Energy Efficiency Grants for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Round 2 will support businesses to upgrade or replace inefficient equipment to improve their energy efficiency. These upgrades will enable industries to reduce their energy use, manage energy cost volatility in the long term and contribute to Australia’s target of a 43% reduction in 2005 emission levels by 2030.

The objectives of the program are:

  • improve energy efficiency practices and increase the uptake of energy-efficient technologies
  • assist small and medium businesses to manage their energy usage and costs
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The intended outcomes of the program are:

  • increase awareness of energy efficiency opportunities and help businesses to save energy
  • reduced power bills for small and medium businesses
  • emissions abatement to contribute to Australia reducing its emissions to 43% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Check if you can apply

The eligibility criteria are a set of rules that describe who we can consider for this grant. You can apply if you:

  • are an eligible entity
  • have an eligible project
  • have eligible expenditure.

The rules are in the grant opportunity guidelines.

Projects cannot be funded if you received any grant funding in the Energy Efficiency Grants for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Round 1 program.

You can only receive one Energy Efficiency Grant for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Round 2 grant per applicant (as determined by your ABN).

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BUSINESS ADVISORS

ipad logbook

2024 FBT Motor Vehicle Declarations

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) Motor Vehicle Declarations due

Form/s must be submitted to Allan Hall’s office by 30 April 2024

The Australian Taxation Office requires all companies and trusts that have motor vehicles to keep odometer records of the total kilometres travelled during the year.

As the Fringe Benefits Tax year ends on 31 March, the odometer readings on each vehicle should be recorded at 31 March 2024.

Please use our form below to submit your odometer reading to us:

  • a separate declaration should be prepared for each vehicle, and
  • please retain a copy of the information for your own records.
MOTOR VEHICLE DECLARATION QR CODE
Or scan this code on a phone or tablet to access our form.

The form/s must be submitted to our office by 30 April. Should you have any queries please contact our Tax and Accounting Team in Brookvale on 02 9981 2300.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL

qr code

QR Quishing Scams

Banks warn of Christmas QR code scams

Financial institutions and consumer advocates are sounding the alarm on the surge of Christmas-related scams, cautioning that criminals are employing a novel tactic by exploiting COVID-era QR codes to pilfer personal information.

What is Quishing?

Quishing is a form of phishing attack that uses QR codes instead of text-based links in emails, digital platforms or on physical items. Quishing is a social engineering technique used by scammers and cybercriminals to trick you into providing personal information or downloading malware onto your device.

—cyber.gov.au

A recent Westpac report highlighted that over half of reported scams related to purchases and sales in November and December last year. They emphasised that scammers often capitalise on the increased spending and potential distractions during the holiday season.

To illustrate the heightened risk, Westpac experienced a 5 per cent uptick in fraud-related calls following the facilitation of over 31 million point-of-sale transactions during the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Westpac’s research uncovered that 38 per cent of Australians fell victim to scams originating from fake websites, online retailers and marketplaces.

QR codes, once considered outdated by 2019, regained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the demand for contactless services. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States has cautioned that scammers are now concealing harmful links in QR codes found at locations such as parking meters, cafes and bars.

The FTC outlined various deceptive tactics employed by scammers, including false claims of undelivered packages, account issues and fraudulent activities requiring immediate password changes. Young stressed the importance of verifying payment details before transferring funds and warned against clicking on links in SMS or email communications.

In the aftermath of clicking on deceptive links, individuals risk having their information stolen or malware installed on their devices.

Westpac identified several other prevalent Christmas scams, including enticing individuals to fake websites through social media advertisements, exploiting parcel-related anxieties with fake updates via SMS or email, and promoting seemingly lucrative fake investments.

Westpac also highlighted that investment scams pose a significant challenge, constituting half of all reported losses. These scams often promise substantial returns and involve scammers investing considerable time in grooming victims, making them difficult to identify.

In Australia, reported losses to Scamwatch on social media platforms have surged to over $66 million in 2023, marking a 40 per cent increase from the previous year. Consumer group Choice, along with 20 other organisations globally, is urging governments to mandate social media and technology companies to implement measures protecting consumers from scams.

Choice criticised tech giants such as Facebook, Instagram and Google for their failure to prevent scammers from exploiting their platforms, arguing that these companies possess the resources and technology to enhance consumer protection but are reluctant to do so without legal requirements.

Please note that Allan Hall will be closed from 22 December and will reopen on Monday 8 January 2024.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BUSINESS ADVISORS

artificial intelligence AI

The AI Adopt Program

Funding for Artificial Intelligence (AI) Centres to help SMEs adopt AI technologies

The AI Adopt Program provides funding to establish up to five AI Adopt Centres to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that engage in international and interstate trade to adopt responsible AI-enabled services and enhance their businesses.

Key points

  • Grants between $3 million and $5 million over four years for up to 50% of eligible project expenditure are available
  • Businesses in Australia that can establish centres to help Australian SMEs adopt AI technologies in their business can apply
  • Closing date: Monday 29 January 2024 5:00pm AEDT

Overview

The program will create a network of AI Adopt Centres, aimed at establishing a ‘front door’ for SMEs looking to explore responsible and safe adoption and usage of AI.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • support the safe and responsible adoption, implementation, and demonstration of real-world applications of AI technologies to address sectoral and local challenges
  • support SMEs to responsibly integrate AI products that assist in development of new or improved products and services
  • improve Australia’s future prosperity and our productivity growth by increasing AI adoption in SMEs and upskilling Australian workers in the usage of AI technologies
  • support a growing network of Australian AI capability that provides expertise, business and technical skills, connectivity, and access to research and partnerships. This includes engagement with the National Artificial Intelligence Centre and the Responsible AI Network to build a cohesive and comprehensive network
  • provide equity of access to SMEs nationwide who are operating within the identified sectoral area, aligned to the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) priorities
  • create further opportunity for growth in the AI technology market through a broad increase in international demand for Australian AI capabilities
  • positively impact participation of underrepresented cohorts in technology, including women, First Nations Australians, and those with disability
  • support the Australian Government in reaching its target of 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2030.

The intended outcomes of the program are to:

  • increase SMEs capacity to responsibly, safely and effectively utilise AI technologies by providing guidance, specialist training and access to specific talents and expertise
  • increase awareness and workforce skills within the SME sector of responsible AI adoption
  • increase SMEs productivity through using AI products to promote product development, and build efficiencies in NRF priority sectors.

Check if you can apply

You can apply if you meet the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria are a set of rules that describe who can be considered for this grant. You can apply if you:

  • are an eligible entity
  • meet additional eligibility requirements
  • have an eligible project
  • have eligible expenditure
  • can fund your share of the project costs, and any ineligible expenditure.

Please note that Allan Hall will be closed from 22 December and will reopen on Monday 8 January 2024.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BUSINESS ADVISORS

AHBA Xero Platinum Partners against AH office sign

Allan Hall attains Xero Platinum status

Allan Hall Business Advisors is delighted to be formally recognised as Xero Platinum Partners

What does going Platinum mean for our clients?

Our primary goal is to build a successful accounting and business advisory firm that provides a high-quality, tailored service to business owners and individuals on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

We didn’t set out with the goal of becoming a Platinum Partner but, looking back, becoming Platinum with Xero is something we’re really proud of. It’s recognition of our hard work and all that our team has done to help our clients and subsequently grow their businesses.

It’s also a great stepping-stone as we continue to work in collaboration with our Alliott Global Alliance colleagues worldwide to extend our capabilities beyond Sydney.

Being a Platinum Partner means a lot to our team.

Going Platinum boosts our capabilities in really unique ways. We’ve worked hard to achieve this goal, and the status shows our efforts have paid off.

As accountants, becoming a Xero Platinum Partner offers several benefits to our clients. Xero is a popular cloud-based accounting software platform, and achieving Platinum Partner status indicates a high level of expertise using the platform as part of our tech stack. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Expertise and Training: Platinum Partners have a deep understanding of Xero’s features and capabilities. We have undergone extensive training and certification, which means we can provide expert guidance and support to our clients.
  • Efficiency Improvements: Accountants who are Xero Platinum Partners are naturally more efficient in using and optimising the platform. This translates into skills we can pass on to our clients.
  • Enhanced Reporting: Platinum Partners can often provide more advanced reporting and analysis capabilities within Xero, helping our business clients gain better insights into their financial data.
  • Customised Solutions: Platinum Partners are better equipped to tailor Xero to the specific needs of our clients. We can create customised solutions and workflows that align with the unique requirements of different businesses.

At Allan Hall, we’re experts in Xero cloud accounting software that’s easy to love. Find out more about using Xero in your business here or drop us a line to get started.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BUSINESS ADVISORS

using xero on an iphone

Xero research reveals business mistakes

From working for free to hiring the wrong staff

Xero research reveals 83 per cent of business owners admit to costly mistakes

Xero, the small business accounting and bookkeeping platform, has released research revealing some of the most common learnings shared by Australian small business owners. The findings highlight that hiring the wrong or inexperienced staff and working for free or at low cost are considered the most costly business mistakes, impacting more than one in five (22%) small business owners.

The ‘Do Better Business’ research, which surveyed more than 1,000 Australian small business owners and leaders, not only sheds light on the challenges faced, but offers invaluable insights for businesses embarking on a new financial year, and provides helpful learnings for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“We know running a small business can be incredibly rewarding, enabling people to pursue their passions or achieve greater flexibility. But, as our research has highlighted, it also comes with its unique set of challenges, which have only been exacerbated by a turbulent economic climate,” said Will Buckley, Xero Australia Country Manager.

“As the new financial year commences, it’s a timely opportunity for business owners to reflect on the year that was and embrace key learnings that will pave the way for future success.”

Taking risks and learning from setbacks

Owning a small business is a constant learning process, with the majority (83%) of those surveyed admitting to making costly mistakes over the course of running their business. In addition to hiring challenges and working for free, working with the wrong partners, suppliers and investors (18%) and working with family and friends (12%) were other blunders. Additionally, nearly one-fifth (19%) reported spending every dollar of their personal savings in the early years of running their business.

Among the biggest learnings was a need to implement strong financial management practices, with nearly three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed rating this as the top three priorities they believed small businesses starting up should focus on. This was followed by building a strong network of industry contacts (63%), working with an accountant or bookkeeper (46%), and asking for help when struggling (46%).

Greater flexibility driving business ownership

There are many reasons driving Australians to business ownership, but the survey revealed a desire to be their own boss as the number one reason for 64 per cent. This was followed by seeking greater flexibility (61%) and wanting to pursue a passion or dream (41%). Nearly three-quarters (71%) of small business owners, however, admit to delaying starting their own business, with financial concerns being the number one reason holding them back (35%), followed by a fear of failure (21%). Despite this, 65 per cent of business owners surveyed by Xero say there’s never a perfect time to start a business, but they wish they’d done it sooner.

Small business ownership is also not without its sacrifices, with one in five (20%) small business owners from the survey reporting they missed a significant life moment like the birth of their child, a wedding or a birthday in the early years of running their business. The majority of those surveyed (86%) also wish they could prioritise their personal boundaries more while running their business, especially around their physical and mental health (43%) and spending time with their family, friends or partner (40%).

“Fostering an environment where Australians feel confident to pursue business ownership and are supported throughout their entrepreneurial journey is essential to ensuring a prosperous small business community and a resilient economy. We hope that by understanding some of the challenges facing small businesses, together with industry and governments, we can provide the right tools and technology to ensure businesses have the best possible chance to thrive this financial year and into the future,” said Buckley.

The generational divide and young small business owners holding back

The survey revealed it’s tougher for younger people to get into business ownership, with Gen Z reporting they were more likely to face negativity and discouragement from friends, family and associates about starting their own business venture (77%) compared to Baby Boomers (60%).

The fear of failure was also more common amongst young business owners and entrepreneurs with 29 per cent of Millennials saying they delayed starting their business because they didn’t want to fail, compared to just 12 per cent of Baby Boomers. Despite this, the flexibility of being a business owner was a central reason for 68 per cent of Gen X business owners, with 60 per cent saying they are now achieving this goal.

Considering Xero for your business? Alliott NZ’s Xero Certified Advisors in Auckland are here to answer any questions or to help your business upgrade to or optimise using Xero.

About Xero’s research: The research was conducted by YouGov of 1,022 owners and key decision-makers of businesses with fewer than 50 employees in Australia. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22-30 June 2023.

At Allan Hall, we have extensive experience using a wide variety of accounting software packages and can provide advice on which software is right for you.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BUSINESS ADVISORS

keyboard

The 120% technology and skills ‘boost’ deduction

The legislation granting small and medium businesses (SMBs) the opportunity to claim a 120% tax deduction for technology expenses, skills training and training costs has finally passed Parliament, nearly a year after the announcement in the 2022-23 Federal Budget.

However, there are a few timing complexities involved. To benefit from the technology investment boost, you needed to have purchased and installed the technology by 30 June 2023, which was just seven days after the legislation was passed.

Key points

  • Under both the technology and Skills and Training Boost, eligible expenses will be available for the 120% deduction if they were incurred between 29 March 2022 and 30 June 2024
  • The bonus deduction for the technology boost is capped at 20% of the eligible expenditure, up to a limit of $20,000 ($100,000 of eligible expenditure)
  • There is no limit for the skills and training boost.

Who is eligible for the boosts?

Small business entities (including individual sole traders, partnerships, companies or trading trusts) with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million can access the 120% skills and training boost, as well as the technology boost. Aggregated turnover includes the turnover of your business, affiliates and connected entities.

The technology investment Boost

Expenses that may qualify for the technology boost include:

  • Digital enabling items like computer hardware, telecommunications equipment, software, internet costs, computer network systems and services that facilitate their usage.
  • Digital media and marketing expenses including audio and visual content that can be accessed, stored or viewed on digital devices, as well as web page design.
  • E-commerce goods or services that support digitally ordered or platform-enabled online transactions, portable payment devices, digital inventory management, subscriptions to cloud-based services and advice on digital operations or digitisation such as guidance on digital tools for business continuity and growth.
  • Cybersecurity systems, backup management and monitoring services.

The technology must be primarily or substantially used for a business’s digital operations or digitisation. There must be a direct connection to how the business generates income, particularly through its digital operations.

There are several costs that the technology boost does not cover, such as expenses related to staff employment, capital raising, construction of business premises and the cost of goods and services sold by the business. The boost does not apply to:

  • Assets purchased and sold within the relevant period (on or before 30 June 2023)
  • Capital works costs, including improvements to business premises
  • Financing costs like interest expenses
  • Salary or wage costs
  • Training or education costs, meaning that training staff on software or technology does not qualify (refer to Skills and Training Boost below)
  • Trading stock or the cost of trading stock.

The Skills and Training Boost

The Skills and Training Boost is a program that provides SMBs with a 120% tax deduction for external training courses offered to their employees. The primary objective of this boost is to facilitate the growth of SMBs’ workforce by enabling them to hire and upskill less-experienced employees through external training. This initiative aims to enhance their skills and increase overall productivity.

Please note that sole traders, partners in a partnership, independent contractors and other non-employees are not eligible for the boost as it is specifically designed for employees. Similarly, associates such as spouses or partners, as well as trustees of a trust, are not qualified to participate.

To ensure compliance, there are a few rules to be aware of:

  • Registration for the training course must have occurred between 7:30 PM (AEST) on 29 March 2022 and 30 June 2024. If an employee is already enrolled in an eligible training course, enrolments in subsequent courses or classes after 29 March 2022 are considered eligible.
  • The training must be deductible to your business according to ordinary rules, meaning it should be directly related to how your business generates income.
  • The training needs to be provided by a registered training provider who charges your business (either directly or indirectly) for the training. (Please refer to the section on “What organisations can provide training for the boost?” below)
  • The training must be intended for employees of your business and should be delivered either in-person within Australia or through online platforms.
  • The training provider cannot be your business or an associate of your business.

Training expenditure can include costs associated with the training, such as resources or equipment necessary for the course, provided that the training provider charges your business for these expenses.

What organisations can provide training for the boost?

Please note that not all courses offered by training companies will qualify for the boost. Only courses offered by registered training providers within their registration will be eligible. Typically, these providers offer vocational training to acquire a trade or courses that contribute to a formal qualification, rather than purely professional development.

Qualifying training providers will be registered by:

While some desired training may not be delivered by registered training organisations, there is still a wide range of options available. Short courses offered by universities or flexible courses designed for upskilling, rather than obtaining a degree qualification, can still be explored, especially if they align with the development pathway identified through recent performance reviews for your staff.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BUSINESS ADVISORS

Moving to new Xero Reports

Moving to new Xero Reports

Xero is retiring older versions of their reports on 31 July 2023

In coming weeks, Xero will be transitioning some favourite ‘starred’ reports from the old version to the new version.

When users click on these reports in their favourites list, they will be automatically redirected to the new version of that report. This change is being made because Xero is retiring older versions of their reports on 31 July 2023 and they want to ensure that Xero users are prepared.

The new versions offer more flexibility and customisation, quicker access to insights and deeper analysis of business performance. Xero is aware that this change may take some time to get used to and is giving users plenty of time to make the switch.

Using new Xero Reports

Xero is urging users who haven’t yet switched to new reports to start moving their work across now. This way, there is time to adjust before older versions are retired:

  • Users can take a product tour of some of Xero’s most popular reports, such as the new Profit & Loss or Balance Sheet reports, and find a tips and tricks panel on the right-hand side showing links to support articles and how-to videos
  • Check out Xero’s reporting playlist on YouTube for help on tailoring reports in Xero
  • Start using Xero’s layout importer tool in the Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet and Budget Variance reports to bring saved layouts across to new versions
  • If needed, users can return to the older versions via the overflow menu in the Report Centre until 31 July 2023.

At Allan Hall, we have extensive experience using a wide variety of accounting software packages and can provide advice on which software is right for you.

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