From being a big company initiative to being too good to be true, we debunk the common myths to give you confidence to see if grants can help your business
With the final quarter of the financial year now in full swing, it is all the more important to understand and use one of the biggest advantages available for business - the $5 billion in funds available in state and Australian government grants.

Unfortunately, while big companies are fully across grant opportunities and wring all the dollars they can out of the grant funding pool, only one out of twenty small and medium sized businesses eligible for funding takes advantage of it. Here are some of the myths that we find hold them back:

1. Grant funding is only for businesses that are inventing something brand new
Nonsense. Funding is not just for inventing something or getting a patent. It is also available (and most typically used by) companies that are improving or modifying an existing product or improving a manufacturing process-that is, making a product cleaner, quicker, greener, cheaper, etc.

Also, computer software, architecture, engineering, architecture, design businesses, etc. are all good candidates for government funding.

2. Government grant funding isn't for businesses in my industry
Think again. Collins Hume has helped businesses apply for funding, including design and engineering firms and those involved in everything from computer software and electronics to tourism and agriculture to resources. Self-censoring is the biggest road block to business owners taking an initial look at their eligibility which is where we start.

3. Government grant funding is only for big business
This is exactly what too many small and medium businesses think. While the big guys, with their armies of in-house experts, are all over funding opportunities, too often small and medium businesses act as if there were a velvet rope barring them from checking them out too.

Government grants are available for small and medium businesses, but you do need to first check if you're eligible and then apply to get it as the government, as we well know, doesn't simply hand out funds without proper qualification. Read more…
Australia's construction sector activity fell sharply in March
The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) reports that construction sector activity in Australia fell sharply in March caused by declines in new orders and projects, triggering more firms to cut jobs.

Ai Group's and Housing Industry Association's (HIA) performance of construction index (PCI) fell by 6.6 points to an index level of 39 in March, pulled lower by weaker results in housing and engineering.

Sub-50 index scores indicate the sector 'contracted' during the month.

It was the industry's 34th consecutive monthly decline in activity, marking a departure from February's slowing rate of decline when the index rose 9.4 points to 45.6 points.

Underlying the weaker conditions in March were steeper contractions in activity, new orders and deliveries from suppliers. AiG noted, "This saw employment contract at a sharper rate following the substantial moderation of the previous month."

After recording expansions in February, engineering construction levels sank, and housing and apartment building activity also dropped. HIA chief economist Harley Dale said the weakness in new housing construction was expected to continue without policy reform and investment.

Commercial construction remained the weakest performing sector despite posting a broadly unchanged rate of decline over March.

Most businesses attributed the continued decline to fewer tender opportunities and subdued levels of new work. "Businesses also cited tight credit conditions, project delays and weak investor sentiment as key dampening influences on activity," AiG said. Read more…

As the owner of an SME, could you have reached your 'competency limit' and need a restart?
SME founders need to accept greater responsibility, says Mathias Kopp when he wrote for BRW's Smart Talk recently.

Whilst Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, Google, Oracle and Starbucks are powerful examples of founder-led companies started as humble beginnings grown to multibillion-dollar empires, sadly iconic entrepreneurs and business leaders such as Steve Jobs, Larry Page or Larry Ellison are few and far between.

Only a tiny minority of founder-led businesses will ever make it to the top.

It is more likely that the overwhelming majority of the more than 2 million SMEs in Australia will hit a glass ceiling at some point as revenues plateau. This may be the consequence of a deliberate and conscious decision by the founder because of lifestyle preferences and a lack of ambition, or it may be unintentional.

Whatever the case, apart from a few exceptions, standing still is going backwards.

Kopp advises that abandoning the growth path is rarely a sound choice as the business becomes vulnerable from a strategic and operational perspective: the product or service is on the declining part of the maturity curve; the competition is gaining ground; market share is decreasing; costs start creeping up, eroding profitability; cash flow starts to tighten; supplier payment terms increase, with suppliers threatening to cease supplying and soon the business hits a crisis point.

Confronted with this scenario, founding business owners often blame external factors. Rarely do they seek the source of the problem within themselves. But evidence shows that, in most cases, they have no one else to blame but themselves.
Kopp found that the average entrepreneur reaches a 'competency limit' at some stage, typified by the following observed symptoms: Read more…

This Ballina-pple's not fallen far from the tree, but brings a plethora of business experience
We can't remember the last time the ABS reported on Australia's brain drain, but Collins Hume is all the better for it!

Now studying to become a CPA after completing his Bachelor of Business at SCU, Jamie Doyle has taken the scenic route to where he is successfully ensconced today.

Jamie is the first to admit to his professional life started out as a self-proclaimed 'tax nerd'. Then the travel bug bit and he was off to the British Isles where he held various management roles for companies in Ireland and the UK.

When the green hills of home beckoned, Jamie returned to base in Ballina bringing his lovely experience with him and, after a stint as a business manager of a large and successful Northern Rivers law firm, he joined Collins Hume in 2011 (although had been good mates with the firm before becoming a colleague).

Today Jamie specialises in Read more…

Government announces reforms to super

Reforms to Australia's superannuation system
The Government announces reforms to improve the superannuation system

A joint announcement by the Treasurer, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation stated that Australians are living longer and, in this context, the superannuation system needs modification.

The Government has already taken the decision to gradually increase the Superannuation Guarantee rate from 9 per cent to 12 per cent; it means a person aged 30 today on average full-time earnings will retire with an extra $118,000 in superannuation savings.

  • The Government has also increased concessions provided for superannuation, and superannuation tax concessions:
  • Cap the tax exemption for earnings on superannuation assets supporting income streams at $100,000, with a concessional tax rate of 15 per cent applying thereafter, and apply the same treatment to defined benefit funds
  • Simplify the design and administration of the higher concessional contributions cap
  • Reform the treatment of concessional contributions in excess of the annual cap
  • Extend the normal deeming rules to superannuation account-based income streams
  • Extend concessional tax treatment to deferred lifetime annuities, and
  • Further reform the arrangements for lost superannuation.

Collins Hume's Superannuation Specialists and accredited SPAA Members are happy to assist you with any queries you may have about these changes or other super issues. Call us on 02 6686 3000 to make an appointment. Or read the full announcement.

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