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How to set SMART goals and objectives for your business

If you're looking to start off your new financial year successfully within your business, there are some simple and effective goals and objectives you can create that will give you a clear direction of where you're going and keep the big picture in your mind. 

By creating 'SMART' goals and objectives, you can help your business to achieve financial goals. 

Here is a little more info on the acronym:

Specific - be clear about each goal and have a focus - what are you going to do?
Measurable - goals and objectives need to be measured to determine if they have been achieved - ensure your goal is quantifiable such as in dollars, percentages, averages etc.
Attainable - all of your objectives and goals need to be attainable and reachable so that you can achieve them and move on. 
Realistic - a good goal supports your business and skill base and doesn't need an investment of time and money that is not available. Set short and long term goals to ensure you are able to fit with your business.
Timely - give your goal a deadline so you can determine whether you are staying on track and motivated.

For more information about SMART goals, check out these great resources.

Top contraventions for 2016-2017 identified by the ATO

The ATO has released information on the most commonly reported contraventions this past financial year compared to the same time last financial year.

Interestingly, there has been a significant drop of around 10 per cent in the number of ACRs received. 

It seems the same types of contraventions continue to be reported by SMSF auditors with the most common being loans to members and in-house assets. 

Many of the in-house asset contraventions relate to investments in related unit trusts, loans to related companies or loans to related unit trusts, all of which should be closely scrutinised by auditors. 

SMSF Adviser reports that of the SMSFs in Australia, around 2 per cent have ACRs reported to the ATO and 50% of those reported are rectified which is a pleasing result for the ATO. 

Issues that will be focused on in the coming financial year include:

  • Auditor independence - examining the referral sources of audits 
  • Discrepancies in the valuation of assets - critical in light of the recent superannuation changes

New SMSF valuation guidelines are outlined on the ATO website and will reflect the context of the recent superannuation changes. 

To view superannuation changes click here.

Stay Smart Online Update - How to avoid an ATO tax-related scam

The ATO is tipping tax-related scams to rise five-fold as Australians work to lodge their tax returns and gather sensitive financial and personal information. 

Scammers looking to commit fraud and identity theft pinpoint individuals by impersonating the ATO and making claims of individuals either being owed a tax refund or having a tax debt from the ATO. Either way, the scams are illegal.

Common ATO scams include:

- Receiving an unexpected call from someone claiming to be the ATO saying that you are due a refund
- Someone calling and demanding immediate arrest if you don't pay an outstanding tax debt
- An individual calling to discuss your ATO details or asking for your TFN or credit card details (in this case you should call the ATO back directly to check authenticity)

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Latest trends to be aware of in the accounting industry

As we head quickly towards the end of the financial year, it is always interesting to gaze back at the past year to review the trends and changes in the industry.

2016/2017 saw a wide range of new changes for the accounting industry as a whole, in particular, a massive increase in cloud-based accounting software users with QuickBooks Online seeing an increase of 41% for subscribers and Xero experiencing growth of 51% online. 

Other accounting trends which are evolving that your business should be aware of are outlined below:

Cloud computing for client’s books

Keeping your client’s information in the cloud allows you to easily share data and keep up to date with all the latest information. Moving from paper-based reporting allows for a more fluid conversation with your clients and ensures you are allowing for increased productivity and convenience for accounting files. 

SMEs are using cloud-based accounting programs

These days most SME’s are using programs such as QuickBooks or Xero for their day to day accounting and bookkeeping due to the convenience, affordability and user-friendly options for managing a business. It’s important that accountants are experts in these programs and can integrate with cloud-based accounting programs. 

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