Business Automation Traps – Newsletter For Trade Business Owners March 2019

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Business Automation Traps … 

I know a thing or two about automation. As a passenger jet captain, I have flown jets where there is plenty of automation going on behind the scenes. As an industry, aviation is good at looking at what happens when automation goes wrong. Automation is designed to make things easier and, in most cases, reduces the human error element. However, what I’ve learned is that the trap with automation is to think that you’re not needed anymore. In fact, a saying of mine is that the benefit of automation only comes AFTER you understand it. I’ve also set up the much of the automation here at Blade Bookkeeping. You need to understand what the automation is doing before you give it your trust. AND YOU NEED TO KNOW …

  1. HOW TO TURN IT OFF
  2. WHEN TO TURN IT OFF
  3. AND HOW TO OPERATE IT MANUALLY

If you don’t know these 3 things, then the automation is running you and you are at risk. In aviation, you get training on the automation AND get checked regularly on your use of it and your understanding of its limitations. When it comes to business, automation has been a great change in transparency, time saving and offers real time data BUT you also need training. The training is often there but many business owners fall into the trap of ‘just switch it on and I’m done’ philosophy. The secret to automating in my mind is to understand that it’s harder before it’s easier. You need to (or someone in your business needs to) take responsibility for becoming the expert on the type of automation you’re bringing on. Here’s what I do when we bring on automation …

  1. Take responsibility for it
  2. Research it
  3. Watch all the tutorials
  4. Ask many questions to the chat function of the provider

I use this ALL the time … they almost know me by name! I’ve had many things cleared up or improvements suggested this way.

  1. Sit back and do an idiot check as to whether it is solving the problem like you thought it would

As I used to roll out onto the runway after all the automation checks were complete, I still had what I called the ‘idiot checks’. And that was to sit back and make sure each part of the automation was where I wanted it to be … just a 10 second scan to be sure.

  1. Cut it early if it doesn’t quite fit

That’s what the free first 30 days is for BUT you need to be ready to try it out to decide to make the most of the free portion, and if you’re not sure then go monthly so you can still get out if it’s not quite right.

  1. As you get more confident, keep thinking of where you could integrate or streamline better then go an find out about that functionality

I know when I’m as confident as when I was in the jet when I start making suggestions to the provider to improve their automation! I’ve done this recently to Asana our project management software. I wanted to be able to set repeating reminders and there was no option for quarterly … and as you can imagine, for an accounting business quarterly rotation is a big thing! Learning to trust the automation is also about trusting yourself to run it. If you haven’t already, you will have to have at least some form of automation but this article making sure that you get the most out of your automation, so it doesn’t run you. Don’t be afraid of automation, I’m just making sure that you understand that there’s work involved before you will see the rewards and it’s important to know that you’re a big part of the success of automation. If you would like an Automation briefing … email me at [email protected] or book a time at the following link. https://calendly.com/bladebookkeeping/blade-bookkeeping-strategy-call

How would handle a disaster in your business? 

In both airlines that I’ve flown in, there was a C.E.R.P – which stands for Corporate Emergency Response plan. If there is an incident, accident or threat to the airline, the CERP is immediately activated. How would handle a disaster in your business? Imagine if the product or service you deliver caused a tragedy … Take a minute to breathe that in. Nobody wants that. We all have business insurance which gives us a sense of protection but what if it was discovered that your product or service was found to be at fault … We all take steps to deliver our best, but sometimes disasters still happen, and it is at that moment you’ll be tested as to whether you know the next steps to take. You first need to handle the initial actions to get control back in an out of control situation and follow that path through but eventually you’ll need to think about what we call the

F.E.R.P

Financial Emergency Response Plan In a business a FERP can be needed multiple times throughout its normal operating life. The spending behaviour of the business has to change in some cases overnight. By creating a FERP list you can arm yourself with simple first response steps in the event it’s needed. If you’re under pressure trying to come up with it will be difficult. Here’s a few ideas to consider …

  1. Look at your home budget and reduce your salary as the business owner immediately as your salary is still incurring tax debt
  2. Put a hold on pay increases
  3. Review staff numbers or streamline to skeleton staff
  4. Review overtime and determine if it’s really necessary
  5. Defer expansion
  6. Sell any assets that aren’t needed
  7. Speak to your accountant about getting a payment plan with the ATO
  8. Speak to your bank to reduce payments for a period of time
  9. If you’re not on monthly billing with your accountant, speak to them
  10. Eat at home
  11. Make coffee in the office
  12. Seek out wastage as it all adds up

The order of priority depends on your individual situation, but no action is not an option as it will be worse in the long run. What’s good to remember is communication is the key. Be on the front foot with suppliers, staff, the bank, the ATO and your accountant. Although they need to be paid, if you ask there could be a lifeline that can be agreed upon to assist the dark times. In a dark time don’t make the mistake of ditching the accountant as it’s the time you need business advice the most because they can help you come up with a plan. In fact, at Blade Bookkeeping we welcome a client asking us to help them with their FERP but recommend it be BEFORE you need it. Life’s like that … when you need it is often too late. Speak to us today about getting your FERP Book a chat to find out more below. https://calendly.com/bladebookkeeping/blade-bookkeeping-strategy-call

The Perfect Exit from your business

There’s a saying in aviation which I think encompasses the Perfect Exit from a business. And that is … “A good approach means a good landing” Before an airline pilot attempts an approach into a runway, they review all the airport specific risks and then brief the other pilot on how they plan to execute it. They are planning out the good approach because they know that it leads to the best chance of a good landing. How do you achieve a perfect exit from a business? The perfect exit from a business also begins with planning and it needs to start well before the exit is attempted to avoid upset and stress. In business terms it’s having good guidance in INSIGHT AND EXECUTION. Exiting a business can come in many forms.

  1. You set it up to work less but maintain oversight
  2. You become an investor in the business and don’t work in it at all
  3. You pass it onto the kids (similar to step 2)
  4. You sell the business to an investor

All these steps are an exit and it’s up to you which one fits, or it could be a staged process. To be able to achieve the perfect exit you need to plan the approach to it. Here’s some steps to consider …

  • Determine what’s right for you
  • Determine if your kids are TRULY interested in running without YOU in it
  • Set up the structure with your end game in mind
  • Set up the systems and processes from the start with being replaced in mind
  • Create a proven lead and marketing process
  • Create an operations manual which grows as the business grows
  • Set up transparent real time numbers
  • Have an engaged accountant that keeps you on track towards your end game
  • Plan out the gates to meet your end target

If you follow these steps, you are well on the way to setting up for a good approach to the Perfect Exit. So, let’s say you sought good guidance and achieved a Perfect Exit. Something many ex-business owners don’t consider is what happens next. Post Exit happens. You will have achieved more time, but don’t forget that the reward in cash you got needs to get working FOR YOU NOW. Now you are an Investor and you need to consider your options carefully. Here’s the next dot point to add to the list above …

  • Plan the Post Exit steps

By having the post exit steps already planned out, you will make better decisions while the pressure is low. Pre planning always wins … the trick is having a team that has the 2 BIG ingredients to be your co-pilot. INSIGHT AND EXECUTION. Adam is the master of insight … we have a saying that ‘he always knows what to do’ Naomi is the master of execution … she thinks in the language of outcome. We’re accepting expressions of interest. Either email [email protected] or book a suitability meeting on the link below. https://calendly.com/bladebookkeeping/blade-bookkeeping-strategy-call

Open letter to all business owners

Dear Business Owner We’re worried. We need to talk. You’ve been working long hours even after the work day is done. We also know that sometimes you get in trouble for getting home late even though it’s the people at that you do it for. It hurts when you’re missing time with your family. Your friends don’t seem to understand the load you’re under. Sometimes even your family doesn’t. Would you agree that your staff certainly don’t truly understand what pressure you’re under? It can sometimes feel overwhelming when you’re stuck between guilt and feeling a bit unappreciated. Does any of this sound like you? It’s a lot of responsibility on a business owner which often can be a bit lonely … a professional loneliness  mixed with some suffering in silence. Managing the balance is often talked about, but we know that in reality it’s often hard to achieve. What you need is someone that understands your responsibilities and works along side to help you navigate your way to resilience. As a former passenger jet Captain, I know about ultimate responsibility and as a business owner I now know it has similarities. A co-pilot is there to support the Captain as well as mindfully picking up any mistakes or oversights … because everyone is human. At the end of the day however, it’s ALL the Captains fault for what happens. As the business owner, you are the Captain of your business … and every result is your fault. Without a co-pilot, this is just too much on your own. You can’t confide in your staff … or your family sometimes. We can’t sit back anymore and not say something. You’ve shown us that it’s our purpose to provide a solution to help you ‘be the Captain’ and keep your sanity so you can be a resilient business owner. If you were our family, we would tell you that you need a co-pilot in your business, otherwise you’re probably on a path to an emotional red-line. We’re creating a community that’s total purpose is to find solutions and release pressure. We want you to share your frustrations and have fun again in your business. Take care of yourself. We need to talk. Please click below before it’s too late. https://calendly.com/bladebookkeeping/blade-bookkeeping-strategy-call From concerned your business co-pilots Naomi and Adam

Driving with your L plate kids … Survival tips

At the time of writing this article, tomorrow is the day that my son gets his driver’s licence. I’ve spent 2 years teaching and guiding him through the tips and tricks of being on the road. We’ve talked about traffic flow, threat zones, stopping distance, wet slippery roads, road rage, being polite, being smooth on the clutch, checking your blind spot, not speeding, dangers of other drivers, distractions to name a few. Like every other parent in the world, at some point you need to hope that I’ve done enough. He’s a good driver. He’s already better than many other more experienced drivers on the road. I’ve sent trainee pilots out on their first solo in an aeroplane … and they all came back. I’ve given him my best stuff … so why am I a still little tense? After pondering this I believe it falls under letting them go. At some point I have to trust my judgement that he’s ready and just … have faith. When Adam’s (our Director and my partner) daughter got her licence and headed off with my daughter and her sister (we’re a blended family), we watched them head off down the street to make the first right turn onto a busy road. It’s a surreal moment as she pulled out. We just hoped she was careful because the alternative was too much to fathom. As it turns out everything was ok. Now it’s the eve of my son’s journey into freedom. Sometimes in business there are times when you have to let go. It should be easy to let go but it can still make you feel tense. It helps to remember that you’re not the only business owner that’s felt like this. Many before you and many after you will experience uncertainty when they make a decision. If you’ve done your homework, you’ve given it your best thoughts and you’ve made a decision on your best judgement then there’s no more excuses but to let it go. A good skill to develop which I’ve learned in a flight deck is to ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable’. Humans are amazing creatures that have the ability to function under immense stresses and pressures. Have faith in that. Give yourself permission to trust yourself. It takes courage to make a decision and let go like it takes courage to trust that your kids know enough. **Late edition … he passed his drivers licence test!!**

Goats Cheese and Stuffed Figs in Prosciutto

This delicious treat is a bit naughty and a LOT nice! They’re easy and great for before-sees! Recommended for Tax and Bookkeeping energy 🙂

Ingredients (12 serves)

12 Figs (we have tree down the road … shh!) 12 slices prosciutto 1 packet goats cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 (160 fan forced)
  2. Cut the figs crosswise from the top, halfway down the fruit. Stuff with goat cheese (about 1 1/2 tsp per fig). Do not overstuff them or they will be a bit heavy.
  3. Wrap each fig with a slice of prosciutto. Secure the stuffed fig with toothpicks, if necessary.
  4. Arrange the stuffed figs on a baking dish and bake them for about 10-12 minutes or until the prosciutto is crunchy Enjoy!

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