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High, low or somewhere in the middle? Where to pitch realistic charge-out rates is a common question facing trades, service and professional businesses. 

In fact it's probably one of the most difficult areas of business. You have to be careful not to underprice as this will reduce profits, but at the same time, overpricing could turn customers away. 

Setting charge out rates is just as important as marketing and delivering a fantastic service. You can do these two things excellently and then undo the lot by setting charge out rates too low or too high. This means pricing is a complex strategy that should be carefully undertaken and reviewed.

Read more here

Save Money - Get Your Rates Back

Do you wonder sometimes why your Council rates are so high and what they do with all the money? Especially when you see Council workers (as hard working as I'm sure they are) using leaf blowers on the Havelock North to Hastings cycle path? 

Finding the money to pay your rates is hard enough as it is, but when you're in business and you have a bad year it's even harder, so did you know you can get a rates rebate if your income drops below a minimum threshold? The threshold level varies depending on your income and situation, but for example, a household with an income of $30,000 and one or two kids could get a $600 rates rebate. And then, even better, you can take the kids to Splash Planet and get in cheaply with a copy of your rates bill! 

For further details click here, or email Nick for help if you're not sure what to do next.

The availability of your annual financials is a wonderful opportunity to review your business performance. You can discover how to improve your business as well as refresh your enthusiasm and drive in the business.

Click here to read seven ways you can use your annual financials to improve your business.

Interim accounts - a vital business tool

Your annual financial statements have their uses, but by their very nature, they are far too historical to be of any use in managing or improving your business. The most valuable financial accounts you can get your hands on are interim accounts prepared periodically - monthly for larger businesses or quarterly or bi-monthly for smaller businesses in line with your GST return periods. There is a strong correlation between the availability of interim accounts and business survival. 

Find out here what having interim accounts to hand means for you

Protecting your business name

If, like many business owners, you've put a lot of thought and effort into your business name it makes sense to try and protect it from being copied, whether inadvertently (by someone who had never heard of you) or deliberately, by another, especially if you've linked this to a great domain name. Unfortunately, it's not easy to protect your business name in New Zealand as unlike elsewhere in the world, there is no register of Business Names. Yes they have introduced Business Numbers in New Zealand, but that won't help. Here are the options: Read more…

How to succeed with cash flow forecasts

Preparing an annual cash flow forecast can tell you a lot about your business.  It can warn you with plenty of time to spare that you're not going to have enough cash to survive the next year without getting additional working capital - which is vitally important to know.  Or it could be the wake-up call you need to make some changes in your business. You might need to make a tweak or two, like increasing prices or shedding ineffective staff, or you could discover something more serious, such as you're in a twilight business and it's time to move on.

Read more on how to prepare and read your forecast here.

Just how much do you know about your business?  No, not about what you sell, or how you make or deliver your products and services, I mean the really important things that determine whether you're going to make it through to retirement or maybe even successfully selling your business.

These are my top eight favourite things each and every one of us business owners should know about our businesses.

Simple Business Systems

I've said this before (and no doubt I'll say it again) but I'm always surprised at the lack of simple systems utilised in owner-managed businesses. Using the word "systems" can be off-putting because people immediately think it's going to be too complex, too costly or too time consuming but a system can be very, very simple.

Using systems makes a huge difference to the way a business operate, read more here.

Importance of online security

For some years now we have been told repeatedly that we must get online for just about everything, whether for software, apps, shopping, communication, data storage – you name it – we must do it online! It's worrying then when there are regular headlines about the latest hack into someone's data or whether someone has seen someone else's data online accidentally. I'm still getting emails from scammers using clients' Yahoo email addresses and emails even from someone using my email address which is very puzzling! 

We read about people who have committed suicide because they have been exposed on dating sites. Apparently Russian submarines have been sniffing around undersea Internet cables practicing cutting them if relations with the West deteriorate further. Think also on the debates about the ownership of data online. With certain accounting software business owners have found they don't own their own data – how crazy is that?

Read more here and what you can do about online security.

We all have an Achilles heel. Sadly, negativity can take us unawares. Negativity is productivity cancer. Heavy words but, in truth, it can hugely hinder success. 

It saps your energy and the team's. It's deadweight in all your dealings with customers. And if you never want to have a great idea again, negativity's the way to do it. But by being mindful of negative thoughts, we can change our thinking and prevent the effect it has on how we operate.

Here are some of the biggest hindrances to our thought patterns.