RSM Bird Cameron advises business owners to be proactive in a rapidly-changing sales environment

RSM_Bird_Cameron_Logo@2xNovember 28, 2013 – There is a significant shift happening in business-to-business (B2B) sales that will have a major impact on business and the wider economy according to RSM Bird Cameron.

Andrew Graham, national head of business solutions, RSM Bird Cameron, said, “Evolving consumer buying behaviours and preferences are changing the face of how business approaches its selling function. Gone are the days of business owners simply waiting to take orders from customers as decreased consumer demand leaves a gaping void.

“As a result, business owners are less optimistic about their medium-term prospects and the success of their business. This is demonstrated by the findings of thinkBIG 2013, which showed Australia’s difficult economic conditions are continuing to take a toll with business owners in general feeling their business is less successful than in 2012.”

“The most successful businesses will be those that address the rapidly-changing sales environment by recognising growth opportunities, ensuring due diligence and financing is appropriate and engaging their workforce to drive productivity.”

The Banjar Group, who assists businesses improve their sales strategy and outcomes, recently released a Sales Shift 2020 whitepaper, supported by RSM Bird Cameron, which provides valuable insights to improve sales effectiveness with a focus on revenue growth, rather than simply relying on reducing costs for long-term, sustainable profitability.

Graham said, “In the current economic environment, many businesses are confronted with the dilemma of whether to invest for growth or cut costs to maintain profits. The paper looks at the importance of changing the sales culture as a way for companies to be more successful in the future and is therefore highly timely.”

The Banjar Group suggests the following questions to help business owners analyse their real sales needs
* Is the current strength of your organisation’s products and services enough to guarantee success or will the future capability of your organisation’s sales function  be critical? 
* Do you need salespeople who can succeed in complex environments or are your salespeople equipped only with the tools they need to be successful in a relatively stable marketplace? 
* Are your recruitment strategies delivering the high-calibre, sales-focused people your business really needs? 
* Is your sales function fully integrated with the rest of your business and working collaboratively to deliver customer value?
* Is your organisation capable of disrupting the market with game-changing insights and advice?
* Are your sales processes in-tune with your customers buying processes?
* Is your current investment in sales training delivering you the value you need?

Graham said, “RSM Bird Cameron encourages businesses to address these questions and start preparing for a sales environment in 2014 and beyond that will be inherently different to today’s to ensure their business is sustainable and successful in the future.”

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About RSM Bird Cameron
RSM Bird Cameron is the largest mid-tier accounting firm in Australia with national ownership and profit sharing and offers a full range of specialist advisory services, including business consulting and advisory, assurance and advisory, taxation consulting, corporate consulting and turnaround and insolvency. RSM Bird Cameron is a core member firm of RSM International, the seventh largest network of independent accounting and consulting firms in the world.

12 things business owners should complete before 2012

October 25, 2011RSM Bird Cameron, one of the largest mid-tier accounting firms in Australia, offers 12 things business owners should complete before 2012 to improve profits, cash flow and reduce stress levels.

Andrew Graham, national head of business solutions, said, “Many businesses in Australia are again facing a volatile economic climate, and there is no doubt that an economic downturn could spell the end for some businesses.  This is demonstrated by a surge in insolvencies and the appearance of increased activity by the ATO in collecting long-standing tax debts.

“With this in mind there is a very real possibility many businesses will start the new year facing increased cash flow difficulties or just managing to get by, instead of looking at ways to strengthen and grow the business.”

Cash flow is already being stretched, and as always this will be felt even more throughout the new year period as the holiday season leads to payment terms being slowed beyond the delays businesses are already seeing.

Graham said, “Business owners need to remember that it is never too early to seek help and ask advice from accountants, business advisors or other specialists if they are worried about their business or managing cash flow over the holiday season.”

The below tips can help businesses start 2012 in the best way possible:

1. Review the products and services you sell and tailor the mix to appeal to changing customer needs for the holiday and new year season. Also start considering and planning for other times in the year when customers’ needs change, for example winter.

2. Review pricing structures to ensure competitiveness and profitability. Put formal procedures in place to monitor and proactively respond to competitor pricing changes.

3. Review stock levels to make sure you can satisfy customer demand for profitable product and service lines, and identify slow moving stock that can be liquidated as “bargain buys” or bundled into gift packages.

4. Review sales, marketing and promotion plans and make sure they are optimised to help achieve the best results not only during the holiday season but well into the new year. Ensure all staff are aware of the targets for each week and be proactive in addressing shortfalls.

5. Review staffing plans and confirm acceptance of the rosters by all staff. For non-retail businesses, annual leave plans need to be balanced and finalised as early as possible to ensure the business continues to operate effectively.

6. Review fraud and theft protection systems and ensure all staff are reminded of their responsibility to be vigilant as customer traffic increases and the pressures of Christmas expectations can motivate increased customer and staff theft.

7. Review debtor lists and actively chase all overdue accounts. Any amount not collected by December 23 is unlikely to be collected until February or later. Collecting money owed to you is good business – it does not make you a Grinch.

8. Review the use of finance products for effectiveness. Overdrafts, premium funding, lease facilities and cash flow funding products can all be excellent tools to help match a business’s cash supply with planned outlays, and may be especially useful in managing cash flow throughout the holiday season.

9. Complete a GST health check. Small businesses are in danger of losing time and money because of unreliable or outdated business systems causing them to incorrectly report GST.

10. Strategically plan end of year gifts and entertainment to key customers, prospects, suppliers and business partners to strengthen relationships into the new year rather than simply being a cost of doing business.

11. Carefully plan staff end of year parties to reward and recognise their efforts for the year. Remember your workplace obligations to provide a safe environment for the event in relation to alcohol and discrimination.

12. Remember that you deserve to enjoy a break as well. Plan some time off particularly around public holidays – take care of your health and enjoy some downtime with family and friends. The new year will dawn a brighter place if you end this one in a happy frame of mind, and feel prepared for the year ahead.

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About RSM Bird Cameron
RSM Bird Cameron is the largest mid-tier accounting firm in Australia with national ownership and profit sharing and offers a full range of specialist advisory services, including business consulting and advisory, assurance and advisory, taxation consulting, corporate consulting and turnaround and insolvency. RSM Bird Cameron is a core member firm of RSM International, the sixth largest network of independent accounting and consulting firms in the world.

RSM Bird Cameron says business owners must ask more of their accountants in tough times

October 17, 2011RSM Bird Cameron, one of the largest mid-tier accounting firms in Australia, says business owners must ask more of their accountants in tough times.

Andrew Graham, national head of business solutions, RSM Bird Cameron, said, “It is easy to have accountants for many years that do the basics well – but not fully realise the value they should be offering beyond that. Or sometimes a business simply outgrows their existing accountant in terms of what they need and what can be offered.

“The depth of experience your accountant has, and the advice they can give, is vital to the success of your business, and should be a resource you can call on. This is particularly important as many businesses face an uncertain economic future.

“Most accountants provide basic retrospective analysis on the numbers given to them, coupled with some compliance, tax and super advice. The best accountants offer real practical business advice on how to effectively operate, manage and grow the business.”

RSM Bird Cameron has developed this simple test to help business owners assess the value their accountants offer them. Does your accountant:
* take time to understand your personal goals, needs and ambitions and actively work with you to achieve them
* take the time to understand the dynamics of your business and industry rather than just look at the numbers?
* identify opportunities for your business’ growth and improvement?
* provide ideas on how to make those opportunities work?
* help you identify your vision for the future of your business, your personal goals and the steps to get you there?
* create a regularly updated action plan to achieve those goals?
* agree on all fees and payment terms up front?
* help you understand the profitability of each product or service offered by your business?
* provide feedback and new ideas on marketing and advertising to generate better a return on investment?
* help you address any management and human resource issues, such as tax, payroll and superannuation questions or concerns?
* build key performance indicators specific to your business?
* help you understand what drives cash in your business?
* create plans to maximise cash flow?
* proactively monitor progress on a monthly basis so you can adjust quickly to maximise profits?
* help you establish business management systems so you have clearer picture of your operations?
* help you find ways to work ‘on’ your business rather than in it so you can realise a better quality of life?
* work to constantly increase your financial rewards and provide for a well-funded retirement?
* help you implement strategies for the future to make your business a more valuable and realisable asset by sale or succession?

“Having access to reliable and sensible advice could mean the difference between a business that thrives and a business that just gets by. If your accountant isn’t contributing to the success of your business it may time to look at other options.

“Ultimately you should be able to call on your accountant as a trusted adviser to help you make your business the best it can be,” Graham said.

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About RSM Bird Cameron
RSM Bird Cameron is the largest mid-tier accounting firm in Australia with national ownership and profit sharing and offers a full range of specialist advisory services, including business consulting and advisory, assurance and advisory, taxation consulting, corporate consulting and turnaround and insolvency. RSM Bird Cameron is a core member firm of RSM International, the sixth largest network of independent accounting and consulting firms in the world.

RSM Bird Cameron highlights symptoms business owners should watch for to avoid insolvency

September 8, 2011RSM Bird Cameron, one of the largest mid-tier accounting firms in Australia, highlights symptoms business owners should watch for to avoid insolvency.

According to RSM Bird Cameron the most common causes of insolvency include:
* under capitalisation
* poor financial control including maintaining inadequate records
* poor debtor management
* poor strategic management
* inadequate cash flow or inefficient cash use (cash burn rate)
* natural disasters or other unplanned business interruptions
* fraud
* director disputes
* trading losses
* economic downturn
* industry restructuring.

Andrew Graham, national head of business solutions, RSM Bird Cameron, said, “It is important for businesses to be aware of the signs of distress before it is too late. By closely monitoring your business it may be possible to turn things around in time.

“Even more important is for businesses to have controls and processes in place to prevent the business becoming distressed in the first place. This includes financial, production, organisational, and marketing controls.”

Financial
Signs of financial distress include having inadequate reserves to cover periodic contingences, ineffective control systems, cash flow, and working capital requirements.

Businesses that have poor cash flow management and inadequate reserves will find it more difficult to survive the loss of a major product or contract, will be unable to finance inflationary increases in debtors and stocks, and may find themselves having a high incidence of last minute requests for urgent temporary bank accommodation, or may even be at the limit of their current borrowing capacity.

Graham said, “Given the potentially difficult economic climate Australian businesses could be facing, it is vital to have a plan in place should they lose major customers.”

Businesses should also be conscious of consistent delays in producing financial results, delayed recognition of losses, and financial results that are not indicative of where the company is making or losing money.

Graham said, “If a business is unable to track where its money is going it is likely that resources could be seeping out of the business, which can lead to bigger issues if not reigned in quickly.”

Other key signs of financial distress include delays in dispatch of customer’s statements, high incidence of bad debts, and excessive amount of debtors in the overdue and disputed category.

Production
Signs of distress in production include a shift in raw material availability, declining productivity and poor housekeeping.

Graham said, “Fluctuating commodity prices and uncertainty of the source of supply for production can raise concerns for businesses but is not necessarily within the realms of their control.

“Businesses need to watch for escalating costs of production, excessive downtime, and failing preventative maintenance programs. They should be constantly monitoring output to ensure they are achieving the most from available resources and reducing waste and inefficiency wherever possible.”

Organisation
Organisational distress signs include the lack of a well-defined and balanced organisation structure, no clear business strategic or tactical plans or strategies and a failing business model (who your customers are and how you make money from them).

Graham said, “Businesses need to have a clear idea of where they have come from and where they are going. This includes having an up-to-date organisational chart, succession planning, formal business planning, and performance management processes.

“Reliance on a handful of people can be risky for business. If a business suddenly loses key people they may find there is no one that is across the core business. In addition, management needs to be able to delegate effectively to ensure they can focus on business planning and improvement and not get bogged down by day-to-day activities.”

Marketing
Be mindful of having a balanced product range, watch for declining gross margins, vulnerability to competition, unrealistic pricing policies, and high customer or industry dependence.

Graham said, “Closely watch declining or fluctuating sales trends. If sales have declined comparative to the prior year in two of the past three years this can be a key warning sign that the business may be trouble.”

“Business managers should be across all areas of operation. If one area is starting to lapse it should be addressed immediately before other areas of the business start to show signs of distress. It is never too early to seek help and ask advice from accountants, business advisors or other business specialists to rectify issues before insolvency is the only option,” he concluded.

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About RSM Bird Cameron
RSM Bird Cameron is the largest mid-tier accounting firm in Australia with national ownership and profit sharing and offers a full range of specialist advisory services, including business consulting and advisory, assurance and advisory, taxation consulting, corporate consulting and turnaround and insolvency. RSM Bird Cameron is a core member firm of RSM International, the sixth largest network of independent accounting and consulting firms in the world.

SME owners still optimistic but not retiring any time soon

Perth, July 6, 2010 – Accounting firm RSM Bird Cameron’s fourth thinkBIG benchmark study into Australia’s small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) found that, for the second year in a row, one in five SME owners have delayed their exit date from their business because of economic uncertainty.

Business owners reported little change in their plans to exit the business from 2009, with more owners expecting to continue working after they dispose of their business compared with three years ago.

According to the study, SME owners are quite optimistic about their business’s medium-term prospects but remain concerned about cashflow management and continue to be more aware of the stress associated with managing their business.

More than half of business owners in the thinkBIG study do not expect to see any improvement in the availability of finance in the short term, underlining continuing uncertainty in the sector.

“thinkBIG found that business owners faced tougher trading conditions over the last two years, with nearly a third recording no revenue growth or a decline in revenues, up from the 2009 result,” said Terry Rodoni, director, Business Solutions, RSM Bird Cameron
“On a brighter note, business owners in regional centres experienced the strongest revenue growth.

“SME owners have told us they will increasingly improve efficiency through technology over the next 12 months, although many will continue to rely on price increases or overhead reduction to protect their margins,” Terry said.

Business owners more optimistic about next 12 months
The thinkBIG survey revealed there are some modest signs of a more optimistic outlook over the next 12 months, with fewer SME owners expecting to reduce personal drawings and fewer expecting to reduce staff. However, nearly a third of owners are not sure whether their business will grow over the next two years or do not believe it will grow.

The study shows that SME owners tend to be high on enthusiasm but many find it difficult to set aside time for planning. In spite of the difficult trading conditions over the last two years, SME owners remain satisfied with their decision to run their own business.

Planning still not high on the agenda for SMEs
Consistent with thinkBIG 2009 study, more than half of SME owners do not plan their business on a formal basis and the majority has no plans to invest a proportion of their retirement funds into superannuation after leaving the business.

“Business owners that make the commitment to undertake formal business planning are more likely to grow their business,” Terry said.
“thinkBIG found that significantly more businesses that plan their business recorded revenue growth compared with businesses that do not plan, in spite of the difficult trading conditions over the last two years.”

Superannuation unsatisfactory
Business owners’ satisfaction level with their retirement provisions has remained low over the last three years, with only one in 14 owners completely satisfied.

“SME owners continue to be highly dissatisfied with their superannuation provisions for retirement, which is not surprising given thinkBIG found that only a third of owners expect to invest some proportion of their retirement funds into superannuation after leaving the business.”

thinkBIG found that one in seven SME owners was impacted by government fiscal packages over the last 12 months, with nine percent reporting they brought forward an investment decision and six percent making a new investment.

About RSM Bird Cameron
RSM Bird Cameron is the largest mid-tier accounting firm in Australia serving business with technical and commercial expertise in agribusiness and SME’s and a full range of specialist corporate and business advisory services including succession planning, superannuation, assurance and advisory, corporate finance, taxation consulting and turnaround and insolvency.

RSM Bird Cameron is a core member firm of RSM International, the sixth largest accounting and consulting organisation in the world.

thinkBIG 2010 fast facts

Impact of the global financial crisis one year on
– Around one in nine SME owners faced extra scrutiny from external financiers in the last six months (12%), compared with one in seven owners in 2009
– This year SME owners reported facing tougher trading conditions over the last two years, with 32% experiencing no revenue growth or a decline in revenues, up from 26% in 2009
– SME owners in regional centres reported stronger revenue growth over the past two years compared with businesses in capital cities and rural areas, with 76% in regional centres reporting growth versus 66% and 61% respectively in capital cities and rural areas
– One in seven SME owners said their business was impacted by government fiscal packages over the last 12 months, with 9% reporting they brought forward an investment decision and 6% making a new investment
– Around a third of SME owners said they would increase investment in plant and equipment if the investment allowance were re-introduced (32%), although 34% said they would not increase investment and 34% are unsure

Business outlook
– A majority of SME owners expect their business to grow in the next two years (69%), although nearly a third are not sure or do not believe it will grow
– A majority of SME owners do not expect to see any improvement in the availability of finance in the short term, with 56% responding negatively when asked whether financing the business will be easier in the next 12 months
– There are some modest signs of a more optimistic outlook over the next 12 months, with fewer SME owners expecting to reduce personal drawings (37% in 2009 versus 27% in 2010) and fewer expecting to reduce staff (18% in 2009 versus 8% in 2010)

Business planning
Starting the business
– The desire for independence and work/life balance continues to be more important to SME owners than creating wealth. A majority of owners started their business because they wanted to be their own boss and 47% said it was because they wanted a better work/life balance, compared with around a third who said it was to create wealth

Planning the business
– Although significantly more businesses undertake formal business planning than three years ago, more than half of SME owners in this year’s study said they do not plan their business on a formal basis (61%)
– There is still a considerable gap between the planning practices of micro-SMEs and larger SMEs. Significantly fewer owners of SMEs with one to two employees reported a formal business planning process compared with larger SMEs
– Also, significantly fewer owners of SMEs in rural areas undertake formal business planning
– SME owners who undertake formal business planning are reviewing their plans more frequently than three years ago, which may be in response to the changing economic conditions over the last 18 months. Today, nearly two-thirds of this group completes a business plan every year (66%), although 18% complete a plan less often than every two years
– SME owners who undertake formal business planning continue to focus their attention mainly on business goals and financial planning. Three-quarters (76%) have a marketing plan, but only half have an operating plan or a management plan (54% and 48% respectively)

Growing the business
– More than two-thirds of SME enterprises experienced some form of growth over the last two years, although nearly a third experienced no growth or a decline. The largest group of SME owners reported growth in the range 1%-14%
– Businesses that plan are more likely to grow. Eight out of 10 SMEs that planned their business experienced revenue growth over the last two years compared with six out of 10 that did not plan
– Many SME owners continue to rely on reinvested profits, with over a third of owners nominating this as their main source of funding for growth. However, around a fifth continue to rely on foregone salary and bank debt
– Although SME owners continue to show faith in their businesses, with more than a quarter saying there are no barriers to growth (26%), similar sized groups identified skill shortages, lack of market opportunity and access to capital as key barriers (26%, 23% and 20% respectively)

Exiting the business
– Consistent with 2009, nearly one fifth of SME owners (19%) reported delayeding their exit date from the business because of the impact of economic uncertainty over the last two years
– Similar to their sentiment in 2009, SME owners also expect to work longer. Of the 28% of owners with an exit plan, seven out of ten think they will continue working after they exit the business compared with six out of 10 in 2007
– Around half of SME owners with an exit plan expect to exit their business some time in the next four years
– One in six SME owners with a plan to exit the business is not sure of the proportion of their retirement funds that will go into their superannuation (17%), but this figure rises to 46% for owners without a plan
– In 2010, 34% of SME owners with an exit plan said the proceeds of their business upon exit would be the primary source of their retirement funds, compared with 26% in 2007

Passing the business on
– Of the group of SME owners who expect to exit their business by passing it on to a family member or have another exit strategy, nearly one in two is unsure of the proportion of their retirement funds that will be invested into superannuation, which is consistent with the high level of uncertainty about retirement planning reported in 2009
–  One in seven SME owners who expect to pass on their business has delayed retirement because of the economic downturn (14%)
– Only a quarter of SME owners who expect to pass on their business have a succession plan (24%), although relatively more owners in regional centres have a plan compared with owners in capital cities and rural areas

Superannuation planning
– Only a third of business owners (34%) will invest some proportion of their retirement funds into superannuation after leaving the business
– Three years on from an earlier study in 2007, SME owners continue to be less than satisfied that their total superannuation provisions will be adequate in retirement, recording an overall satisfaction rating of only 4.4 on a scale of 1-10, where 10 represents complete satisfaction
– Owners of larger SMEs with 20 or more employees reported the highest level of satisfaction with the adequacy of their superannuation provisions, recording average scores of 6.0 and 7.9 (20-49 employees and 50+ employees respectively)
– A quarter of SME owners (25%) are not at all satisfied with the adequacy of their superannuation provisions, similar to the result reported in 2009
– Only one in 14 business owners (7%) is completely satisfied with their superannuation provisions

Use of external advisors
– Around half of SME owners sought help from external advisors in the past, with business planning and superannuation advice proving the most popular, followed by retirement planning advice
– The most commonly used external advisors are accountants, with nearly half of SME owners reporting they used an accountant in the past for exit planning and over a third using an accountant for business planning. Business owners also reported seeking advice from financial planners for retirement planning and superannuation planning

RSM Bird Cameron offers 10 tips for business owners to get done before the Christmas rush

Perth, December 3, 2009 – RSM Bird Cameron urges business owners to spring clean their business before the silly season hits to reap immediate benefits by improving profits, cash flow and reducing stress levels.

RSM Bird Cameron’s top 10 things for business owners to do before the Christmas rush:
1. Review product and service offerings and tailor the mix to appeal to the changing customer needs over the Christmas buying period and the following holiday phase
2. Review pricing structures pre and post Christmas to ensure competitiveness and profitability. Put formal procedures in place to monitor competitor pricing changes and respond proactively
3. Review stock levels to ensure you can satisfy customer demand for profitable product and service lines, and identify slow moving stock that can be liquidated as “bargain buys” or bundled into gift packages
4. Review sales, marketing and promotion plans for the pre and post Christmas periods and arrange the implementation phase before getting too busy. Ensure all staff are aware of the sales targets for each week and be proactive in addressing shortfalls
5. Review staffing plans and confirm acceptance of the rosters by all staff. For non retail businesses, annual leave plans need to be balanced and finalised early in December to ensure the business continues to operate effectively
6. Review fraud and theft protection systems and ensure all staff are reminded of their responsibility to be vigilant as customer traffic increases and the pressures of Christmas expectations motivate increased customer and staff theft
7. Review debtor lists and actively chase 90-plus day accounts. Any amount not collected by Christmas is unlikely to be collected until February or later. Collecting money owed to you is good business – it does not make you the Christmas Grinch
8. Strategically plan Christmas gifts and entertainment to key customers, prospects, suppliers and business partners to strengthen relationships into the New Year
9. Carefully plan staff Christmas parties to reward and recognise their efforts for the year. Remember your workplace obligations to provide a safe environment for the event in relation to alcohol and discrimination
10. Remember that you deserve to celebrate the festive season as well. Plan some time off, take care of your health and remember your family. The New Year will dawn a brighter place if you end this one in a happy frame of mind.

-ENDS-

About RSM Bird Cameron
RSM Bird Cameron is the largest mid-tier accounting firm in Australia serving the middle market with technical and commercial expertise over the full range of specialist corporate and business advisory services including assurance and advisory, corporate finance, taxation consulting and turnaround and insolvency.

RSM Bird Cameron is a core member firm of RSM International, the seventh largest accounting and consulting organisation in the world.

Please visit http://www.rsmi.com.au/home.html for more information.

Media contact
Traci St Lawrence
Recognition PR
02 9252 2266
tsl@recognition.com.au