The Small Business App Environment Today- An Infographic

6 Jun

For all businesses big and small, new or established, it is important to find and utilise tools which will help them succeed.  Small businesses in particular face constant hurdles such as limited cash-flow, often scarce manpower, and more often than not, not enough hours in a day and days in a week.

Running all areas of a business from administration to finance to sales and marketing and everything in between requires an incredibly streamlined and structured management approach.

Fortuitously, we now live and operate in a time where technological developments are available at a fingers tap (on a screen).  It seems as though every day a new app is available which aims at simplifying the hectic lives of business owners and managers.

So, what does the current ‘app space’ look like? Who’s using what apps and what are they using it for. What are the current trends?  Check out this infographic for more insight into the app world:

small business apps

The CPA Australia Conference in Lorne!

4 Jun

A little over a week ago we attended the CPA Australia Victoria Public Practice conference. The conference, which was held from Thursday 24 May – Saturday 26 May took place in beautiful Lorne.

The purpose of the conference was to build on the strengths of accounting practices and to drive growth with best practice strategies and technological developments.  CPA’s explored the drivers of change to find out how to apply business strategies to improve their service and profitability.

A range of subjects were covered including taxation, practice management and technical requirements to name a few.  Attendees not only received tax, superannuation and compliance updates, they were also able to improve their practical skills in areas such as internet and social media.

Key topics included:

  • Business impact and opportunities: Where Australia and the  world will be in 2013 and beyond
  •  Doing business the ‘Branson’ way
  •  Essential tax update
  •  Countdown to carbon – being prepared for Australia’s Clean Energy future
  • Financial advice and superannuation – impact on the practice
  • Cloning content: Using social media to create raving fans

The Keynote speakers were:

Phil Rutven, the Founder and Chairman of IBIS World, an international corporation providing online business information, forecasting and strategic services. According to CPA Australia, Phil is “possibly Australia’s most respected strategist and futurist on business, social and economic matters.”

John Haylock, Practice Performance Manager BankLink, New Zealand. BankLink provides soutions to streamline the accounting process for over 4,500 accountants and 300,000 of their small business and Self-Managed Super Funds clients in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Robyn Jacobson, Senior Tax Trainer at TaxBanter Pty Ltd. A professional tax trainer for 15 years, Robyn focuses on Small to Medium Enterprise issues, specializing in trusts, small business Capital Gains Tax concessions and Division 7A.

Troy Dean, Director of Geeky Stuff at Tonto Digital. Troy specializes in simplifying the internet for the underdog.  He coaches clients about how the internet is changing the way we communicate, do business and connect with each other.

Edwin Bradley FCPA, Former Senior Banking Executive; Adventurer; and Speaker.  Ed spent 38 years as a senior banking exec with Resources & Industries Bank of WA (now known as BankWest) and Standard Chartered Bank.  He has significant experience and achievement in risk management, strategic planning and corporate finance.  He has also climbed Mt Everest, Mt Kilimanjaro and many other mountains in Argentina, Tibet, New Zealand and the Himalayas.

As a sponsor of the event we were able to introduce our products and services to over 300 accountants and possible future clients. It was a great networking opportunity.  The conference allowed us to chat with many of our current clients and get some great feedback.

Our snake guessing competition was a hit with the crowd, and one lucky accountant went home with a great prize – a trip for two to the Yarra Valley for lunch and wine tasting (transport included, bonus!). For those who took part – the correct answer was 139 snakes were in the jar!

It’s always great to speak to people from the industry outside of the office in a more relaxed atmosphere. Such occasions really help us not only to better understand the needs of our clients and perspective clients, but to build and strengthen our business by giving our customers what they really want.  It’s events as these, where we come out from behind our desks and computer screens that do wonders for business all around.

On the last evening of the event we enjoyed a lovely dinner and drinks. We were entertained by comedian Ben Price, who provided the audience with more than a few good laughs as well as a great jazz band.

Overall, it was a great event and we look forward to attending again in years to come!

New Business Name Registration System

28 May

A new business name registration system goes into effect today, Monday May 28th.Business Name Registration

Business names will no longer be registered on a state by state basis. ASIC will be taking over the business name registration process as the governing body and therefore all business names will now be registered nationally.

The new system will not only streamline the business name registration procedure, but also cut down the costs.

It is important to note that all business name applicants must also apply for an ABN. An ABN number, or ABN application reference number must accompany the business name registration application.

The names that are currently registered in the states and territories will be automatically carried over into the new system. Existing business name holders do not need to do anything. ASIC will contact existing business name holders when it is time to renew their name.

ASIC has published Regulatory Guide 235 to help businesses understand the new laws and how ASIC will administer the new register.

You can also read answers to some common questions to assist you with the commencement of the new ASIC business names register.

At Shelcom, we have revised our business name applications so that they reflect the changes to the new scheme.

Our new business name fee structure is:

One year business name registration (no ABN) – $80
Three year business name registration (no ABN) -$120
One year business name registration (with ABN)- $180
Three year business name registration (with ABN)-$220

If you have any questions please feel free to call our office on
1300 722 796 or send us an email.

What Is A Company Seal And Is It Necessary…

15 May

Common Seal

A company seal is essentially a rubber stamp with the company’s name and Australian Company Number or ACN. It is the same thing as a common seal or a corporate seal.

Prior to 1988, company seals were mandatory for the execution of documents and it was compulsory that a seal was affixed to deeds.  The Company Law Review Act 1988 abolished both requirements.

Although company seals are no longer a legal necessity, constitutions of companies established prior to 1988 may still require their use. Unless a constitution predating 1988 has been updated, the company must still follow the rules set out at the time of its registration.   In addition to a company constitution review to ensure there is no written mandate in the case that a company decides against the use of a seal, it is imperative to place references to the manner in which the company will execute its documents.

Regardless of the law, many companies today still choose to use a company seal. For instance, a company seal may give more legitimacy to documents for people unfamiliar with the Australian way of document execution.  If a company has many overseas clients, this may be a way to show legality and validity.

If a company chooses to use a seal, in order for it to be valid it must include:

  1. for a company that has its Australian Company Number (ACN) as its name – the company’s ACN; or
  2. otherwise:
  • the company’s name, the expression ‘Australian Company Number’ and the company’s ACN; or
  • if the last 9 digits of the company’s ABN are the same, and in the same order, as the last 9 digits of its ACN – the expression “Australian Business Number” and the company’s ABN.

ACN or A.C.N. are both acceptable abbreviations for Australian Company Number.

A company may also have a duplicate common seal if it so wishes. The duplicate common seal must be a copy of the common seal with the words ‘duplicate seal’, ‘share seal’ or ‘certificate seal’ added.

It’s important to know that using an invalid seal to execute a document is a liability offence and under the Corporations Act can carry a penalty of $1000.

When choosing the physical stamp there are many options. There are hand seals and fold seals for example and they come in various sizes.

Some company registration agents provide an option to purchase a seal with the registration to save the customer hassle.

Company Annual Review Explained

1 May

What is an annual review?

Every company registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has an annual review date, which is usually on the anniversary of the original company registration.  During this time each year, the company must demonstrate that it is still in operation and that it will continue to be in business for the next 12 months.  The company is required to lodge an annual return and pay an annual fee.

An annual statement will be sent to the company’s registered address or the Company’s ASIC registered agent address along with an invoice with the annual review fee. This statement will reflect the most updated details relating to the company. Details, such as the names of officeholders, the registered address, the share structure, etc., should all be accurate.

* Note: a company may pay the annual review fee in advance.

Possible outcomes of the ASIC annual review may be:

All of the information is right:

At this point, nothing more needs to be done other than the payment of the annual review fee. The ASIC annual review fee (as of today’s date 30/04/2012) for a normal company is $226.50. A Super Trustee Company acting as trustee for a superfund (a.k.a. Special Purpose Company), as of today, has a fee of $42.00.  The payment is due within two months from the issue date of the annual statement.

The information is only partially right:

It is the company directors’ responsibility that all company details are correct and all changes are reported to ASIC.  All changes must be lodged with ASIC within 28 days from the issue date of the annual statement.  The correct form for the notification of changes to company details is FORM 484. On top of your form 484 charges, you must still remember to pay your annual review fee within two months.

Late payments of fees:

A late review fee will be charged by ASIC in the case of failure to notify of correct information within the 28 day review period.

The annual review late payment fees are: one month late – $60.00, more than one month late $287.00.

The late lodgment of company detail changes fees are: one month -$60.00, more than one month late $287.00.

Both late fees can be implemented simultaneously if the annual review fee is late along with the notification of changes to the annual statement.  This means that a $574.00 charge may be applied on top of your annual review fee if payments of both accounts exceed more than one month past their subsequent deadlines.

The consequences of not paying an annual review fee or not registering company information changes may be quite severe and implemented by both the ATO and ASIC.  ASIC does have the right to deregister a company upon failure to pay annual review fees.

Registered agents:

A company can appoint a registered agent  by filling out a FORM 362.

A company’s registered agent will:

  • Receive the company’s annual review statement and will review  it for accuracy.
  • If applicable, will make changes to your company’s details within the allotted 28 day by lodging a form 484.
  • Will make all payments on your behalf within the allotted time period so that no late fees incur.
  • Will provide you with a Solvency Resolution.

Remember, if you are the director of a company, or are registering a company, an annual review will take place every year! ASIC does change the fees every so often, so it is important to familiarize yourself with these changes as they arise.

5 Steps for Increased Productivity While Starting a Business

24 Apr

Does the statement “not enough hours in the day” ring true for you?

Are you time poor, feeling stressed and losing sleep because of your hectic schedule? Increasing productivity when starting a business

Often times, it’s not the actual workload throwing us into a tailspin, it’s a lack of focus and way too many distractions.

With the rise of popularity of social media and our constant connectivity to everything media related and mobile, it seems that even the term multi-tasking is now diluted.  More often than not many of us find ourselves exposed to four, sometimes five screens at once.  We’ve got the laptop open, the television on in the background, the tablet next to the mouse pad, and of course  our phone or even phones no further than within arms reach –AT ALL TIMES!  The question we must ask ourselves, is all this technology and all of this dependence on our portable devices causing us to be more or less productive?

Ok, so new technologies help us stay connected, informed, always in the loop and always accessible, and yes, this does have many benefits for business and especially a new business. On the other hand, what constant exposure and connectivity does is it creates abundant distraction and takes away from our focus.

So how do we master the art of productivity with so many constant disruptions around us?

Step ONE – like with any problem or issue that needs fixing, we need to admit that it’s there.  If you can’t admit that you are addicted to checking your email, your LinkedIn, your Twitter or your Facebook than you are not ready for change.  Ask yourself how often you get phantom rings, when you think you feel your phone vibrating, or you think you hear it ringing when it’s not. Once you do realize that checking your phone, social media accounts or your email before your toes touch the floor in the morning may be an issue and you’d like to change then the real work can begin.

Ok, the REAL step one– Stop multitasking and focus.  Doing ten things at once and working on multiple projects simultaneously is actually counter productive.  Figure out what maters and prioritize.  And don’t only think about business. Make sure you fit in healthy eating, exercise and social activity. Healthy body is a healthy mind.

Step two– Eliminate distractions.  Set a schedule and stick to it. Set a time during the day when you turn off your phone (or phones), you disable e-mail notifications and you lock your door.  It doesn’t have to be for a whole day, but going into lock-down mode for 2-3 hours per day can make a world of a difference in your productivity.  Use this time to plan, brainstorm, and really work on your new business, but remember – one task, one project at a time. If your website needs content, focus on writing web copy only.  Being focused 100% on one task will cause the quality of your work to increase substantially.

Step three– Make an outline of tasks and projects and things that need to get done. Prioritize from most to least important and time sensitive, then break each task down into do-able, realistic steps.  When you follow the outline, you will be able to cross each step off as you accomplish things one by one. Quickly you will see how much more you are getting done by focusing on tasks individually.

Step four– Set a specific schedule for specific tasks you must do everyday, but that without organization can turn into major distractions.  Social media today is a must for any business, but it  can also be a massive waste of time.  Set time limitations. For example, establish that from 10:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. you will check all social media accounts and respond to comments and questions.  From 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. spend time posting relevant content on FB, twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  Also set specific time frames for checking and responding to email. You can do that from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.  If your phone isn’t ringing, than nothing in your inbox is on fire.   Stick to the timeframes. If this is hard, disconnect from the Internet – you won’t be so tempted.

Step five – Get it done. Stick to it! If you feel after some time that your slipping into old habits again, and we know that they die hard, reassess.  See what was and wasn’t helping and fix it. Maybe change up your set time schedule. If you find that you prefer to check e-mail first thing in the morning (after breakfast of course) than check it then, but don’t check it again until your next e-mail check window.  Be consecutive and you will find that much needed balance in your work.


Additional tips for increasing productivity:

  • For heavens sake!!! Don’t check your email or any other account until you have finished breakfast! Fuel your brain first and foremost.
  • Set your own schedule and your own pace. Only you know what you are capable of and what works best for you.
  • Use the phone. Too often we only rely on e-mail.  Any more than 3 replies to one email is excessive. The problem would be solved and things would get done much quicker with a simple call and quick conversation.
  • Take a break. Never work for more than 90 minutes straight. Your back will hurt, your eyes will get dry, and your attention span will decrease. Have a snack, a drink of water, a walk.
  • Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and exercise. Not eating will cause your brain to work much slower.  Again, healthy body = healthy mind.
  • Sleep. No explanation needed.
  • Don’t forget to have fun or you will burn out and you know you can’t afford for that to happen!


What are your productivity tips? What works for you? What’s are your biggest distractions?

Protecting your Business Names and Company Names

11 Apr

The way to protect a business name or company name is through registration as a trademark.  From May 2012 a national business name registration system will be in place in Australia (versus the current ‘state wide’ business name registration), making it more important than ever to ensure that your business name, or company name is protected and is recognised as yours. How would you feel if someone opened up shop down the road from you, selling the same sorts of products and by a similar name?

What is a trademark?

A trademark is most commonly known as a brand. A registerable trademark can be a word or words, an image or images, a slogan, a colour, a scent, a shape or any combination of these things, so long as when they are applied to goods/services they distinguish them as originating from a particular business. It can therefore be more difficult to register a trademark if it’s too similar to an existing trademark or if it is too descriptive or made up of commonly used words that others would legitimately need to use during the normal course of business.

What are the rights of a Trademark Owner?

The owner of a registered trademark has rights that are not achieved through other registrations, such as:

  • The right to use the trademark for specified goods/services;
  • The right to authorise others to use the trademark for specified goods/services (such as licensing the use);
  • The right to take action against people using the same, or confusingly similar, trademark without permission.

How do you register a trademark?

The first step should always be to have a trademark search conducted. I would encourage this to occur before registering a business name or company, or as closely afterwards as possible. If you register a business or company that is too similar to a registered trademark then you could be infringing someone else’s rights as soon as you start promoting your new business or company name. The registration process in Australia for trademarks is a long one – it takes a minimum of 7.5 months from filing an application to securing protection. A trademark search can identify whether the name is ‘safe’ to use, and what the chances of securing registration are.

Once a search has been conducted and positive results are found (or if you choose not to have a search conducted. An application seeking registration is filed with the Trademarks Office in Australia. At this stage, you must advise the trademarks office as to the goods/services you brand (or intend to brand) with your trademark. All goods and services are split into categories that are nominated at the time you file your application. There are 45 of these categories to select from, and you will pay a fee per category that you are applying under. For example, if your new name will be a clothing label then you require one particular category that covers clothing. If the same name will also be the name of your shop, and therefore will brand a retail service, a second category is required to ensure protection when the name appears as the brand of clothing or the brand of retail services.

Once your application is filed, the government department will examine it to ensure it is registrable, which will take around 4 months. Once examination is complete they will issue a report if there are any problems to address, or will issue a notice that the trademark is approved for registration. In the event you receive a report you will have 15 months to respond and address any problems to bring your trademark into order to be approved.

The notice of acceptance will advise you of the date your trademark will be published in the Official Journal for the purposes of third party oppositions. If no-one objects to your trademark being registered during the prescribed period of 3-months then your mark can become fully protected once a final fee is paid (per category).

How long does trademark registration last?

Initially for 10 years (no annual renewal fees or requirements). You may renew each 10 years. Also, be mindful that if a trademark remains unused for a period of time it may be vulnerable to removal.


Author: Jacqui Pryor, Director of Mark My Words Trademark Services Pty Ltd

You can contact Jacqui via her website, or by email to After 13 years of experience and completion of a graduate certificate in Trade Mark Law and Practice Jacqui is able to answer any of your questions concerning trademark registration in Australia or overseas.


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