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Posts tagged with: Tips

6 tips on using LinkedIn: a powerful tool for any professional

Posted on December 12, 2018

Written by Shahe Momdjian – director at Young Wisdom – marketing communications consultancy

LinkedIn is a powerful tool that enables professionals to showcase their: skills and experience, knowledge and opinions, connections and reputation. It can be used passively (i.e. simply having a profile for people to find and learn more about you) or actively (e.g. to find a job, boost your profile as an industry thought leader or raise funds for charitable causes).
LinkedIn is not just for young professionals or job-seekers; your LinkedIn profile is not simply a “digital resume”. It certainly can be used to land a new job or contract, but it offers a lot more.

LinkedIn LogoHere are some pointers on using more of LinkedIn’s full potential.

1. Add media to your summary or professional experience

Under your summary paragraph, or any individual job role, you are able to attach additional media (i.e. document, photo, link, video or presentation) to further illustrate your past experiences, skills or capabilities. You can do this by uploading the content directly or linking to it (when it’s hosted elsewhere e.g. YouTube for videos). Make sure you only attach things that are appropriate for the public domain. If the content is hosted by another person or company (but you appear in or helped produce it), simply acknowledge the source in the description field. If you’re uploading a presentation, e.g. a slide deck you compiled on an important industry issue, you may consider using “SlideShare” (a presentation publishing platform owned by LinkedIn) to host the slides and then link to them.

2.Keep your writing concise and personable

Write in the 1st person (even if you actually have a biographer writing your profile for you!) and make sure that your writing represents you accurately. If you’re generally a friendly and humble person, there’s no need to write in an overly boastful or assertive manner. Select the tone and messaging that will best represent you. Although LinkedIn is a professional arena, your profile can include: things that personally drive or interest you, the goals you have in life or business and even what you’re hoping to get out of being on LinkedIn.

3. Add skills to your profile

In the “skills and endorsements” section of your profile, you can add professional skills that you believe you possess (e.g. data analytics, social media, accounting, leadership, public speaking and much more). Skills can also be added to your profile by your connections. If they would prefer to simply “endorse” you in one of the skills already listed on your profile, they can click on it. A count will appear next to each skill with the number of endorsements you have received. The higher the count, the better your profile looks. If you wish to increase your endorsements, it’s a good idea to start by endorsing the skills of your colleagues on their profiles. Contributing in this manner and interacting with others is what social media is all about.

4. Give and receive recommendations

It’s fair to say that those who give endorsements are more likely to receive them (due to reciprocity). The same goes for recommendations, which are written testimonials from your connections about your performance in a specific job role or project team. This is pretty much the highest compliment you can be paid on LinkedIn; it’s public, lasting (because it stays on your profile) and- when it happens- broadcasted to your connections. You can formally request recommendations by clicking “ask to be recommended” in the “recommendations” section of your profile, or you can simply write one for a colleague and hope that they reciprocate. Recommendations need to be approved by the recipient before they are published publicly.
For employers, it may be a good idea to encourage clients to recommend individual staff members on their own LinkedIn profiles (once a compliment about a particular individual has been received). Some view this as a risk (since it could lead to losing that staff member), but it’s also possible that this could actually lead to more enquiries for your company (when the networks of both the writer and the receiver see the glowing review). It may also be a good way to build goodwill with your team and keep them satisfied about the work they are doing.

5. Publish blog posts

On the “home” tab, you will see an option that says “publish a post”. This will take you to LinkedIn’s own blogging platform. If you are a subject matter expert on a particular topic, you might periodically blog about changes or developments in your field. You might simply document a story or experience that taught you something. You might discuss a charitable cause that you are involved in and why. You should plan your blog posts based on your audience, current goals and interests. Blog posts (once published) are pushed to your entire network. Your connections will then view, like, comment on and/or share them as they wish. While you could publish blog posts on other platforms, the advantage of using LinkedIn is that you already have a large base of followers to receive them. The other advantage is that these posts remain on your profile page, making it look fuller and more authoritative.
Add a banner image (ideally 700×400 pixels), use an intriguing headline that accurately represents what’s covered in the post, and do whatever you can to make the post more interesting than a solid block of text (e.g. embed relevant videos or images, use dot points for key takeaways and provide links to further reading or the sources you used). LinkedIn blog posts can also be used to drive traffic to your main website; you could publish part of your full blog post on LinkedIn (make sure it’s a decently-sized part) with a “click here to read more” call to action.

6. Publish updates and interact with others

Also on the “home” tab, you will see another option that says “share an update”. Unlike blog posts, these are more ephemeral updates that don’t stay on your profile page forever. Comparatively less thought is required in making them, so you can do it a lot more often. These updates aren’t pushed to your connections like blog posts are, but they do appear in your connections’ news feeds (where they can be liked and shared). Making these posts on a regular basis means that you’re remaining visible to your connections, which is important if you wish to cultivate a reputation of being a thought leader or industry commentator.
You can “tag” connections or organisations in these posts (by adding a “@” before their name and then selecting them from the list that will appear), e.g. if you wish to congratulate someone specifically, to drive more engagement with the update. Tagged people or companies will be notified that they were mentioned. You can also add links to these updates, e.g. if you wish to feature a news article that you appear in or a video that you have made. It’s always a good idea to add media, to make the update more engaging than a solid wall of text.

We hope you find these tips useful as you explore more of LinkedIn’s full potential. Let us know if you have any questions on the suggestions above or requests for future blog posts on this and related topics!

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Ups & Downs: Managing in uncertain times

Posted on December 12, 2018

How do you create certainty in uncertain times? Much of what we do personally to grow and protect our wealth, and commercially for the businesses we manage is subject to unpredictability and change.

The answer is that there are no certainties in life – sorry about that. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t take charge and protect against uncertainty – you just need to know where and how to look at it.

Where we are at

Government spending will continue to be a focus this year with the interest on Government debt now running at $1 billion per month according to Treasury. There are only a few ways the Government has of dealing with the increasingly ominous debt trend; initiatives to lift productivity and growth to boost tax revenues, spending cuts, and increased taxes or a reduction in tax concessions. This year, for you personally, your SMSF, and your business, you should keep this in mind when trying to manage change as Government policy is likely to provide both opportunities and risks in the short and long term.

For you

Your wealth

In the last 9 months, we have seen a huge drop in the value of equity markets, especially here in Australia. The All Ordinaries Index sat at close to 5,955 points at the end of April 2015. As at 21 January 2016, the index was 4,896 points. A drop of over 1,000 points or close to 18%.

It’s a volatile market and difficult to know what to do beyond “don’t panic.” Most of the leading economists are predicting continued growth despite the market being easily spooked. It’s important to know your individual position and the likely impact of change on you – investing vs paying down the mortgage, different investment types, SMSF vs retail funds. Reacting with the crowd to change is never a good idea. If you haven’t already, talk to one of our advisers about your options.

Also bear in mind the impact of Government policy. Negative gearing currently costs more than Australia’s defence budget. It’s likely to be cut back or grandfathered out of existence at some point.

Got kids?

The reforms to social welfare in the last few Federal Budgets didn’t quite make it through the Senate in full. But, times have changed and Palmer United is no longer the Senate ‘king pin’ it once was – directing traffic on Government policy and social reform.

One change that did pass Parliament was the ‘no jab, no pay’ reforms. From 1 January 2016, if your kids are not immunised then your family is no longer eligible for subsidised childcare or the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement.

Extensive reforms introduced to Parliament pre-Christmas will change the structure of childcare subsidies to consolidate the current system of multiple subsidies to just one. The new subsidy will be income and activity tested. While these reforms will not take effect until 2017 (assuming they pass Parliament) it’s important to understand that change is coming and its impact on you.

In general, if you currently receive family tax benefits and your household income is getting towards the upper threshold limits, you should do a quick check and see if you can still cover your expenses if any benefit payments you currently receive were removed. Further reforms to refocus benefits on lower income families are likely.

Work in the not-for profit sector or for hospitals or ambulance services?

From 1 April 2016, changes to salary sacrificed meal entertainment and entertainment facility leasing benefits come into effect. A single grossed-up cap of $5,000 will apply to these benefits from this date. Many people in these sectors benefit from these concessions so it’s important to check the changes and the implications to you.

Living outside of Australia?

From 1 January 2016, Family Tax Benefit A will be reduced for people outside of Australia. Families will only be able to receive FTB A for 6 weeks in a 12 month period while they are overseas.

Also, if you have a Higher Education Loan and live overseas for 6 months or more, from 1 January 2016 you will be required to make repayments of your HELP debt if your worldwide income exceeds the minimum repayment threshold at the same repayment rates as debtors in Australia.

Stocktake debt

Every so often it’s important to review what you’re spending money on and why. Debt is a big issue for most as we accumulate debt in different forms over time – home loans, investments, credit cards, etc. If this sounds like you, it’s almost guaranteed you are paying too much. It’s time to take stock and see what debt you have and if there is a way of getting a better deal.

Your Business

Look at the trends and opportunities

Many of the ‘dramatic’ changes that impact on mature business models – online retail vs traditional retailers, the shift from paper publishing to online publishing, the demise of packaged electronic products on shelves to download delivery, or for example, the impact of Uber on taxi services – were reasonably predictable. There were recognisable indicators for each of these changes well before they had a direct impact on Australian businesses. Online retailing existed decades before denting bricks and mortar retail sales in any recognisable way, and as soon as faster internet speeds enabled quicker downloads the packaging and B2B sale of most electronic products became unnecessary. Tech company Uber started in 2009, spreading exponentially around the world well before it launched in Australia in 2014. If anything, Uber proves that the foundation of any industry can be shaken dramatically in less than a few years.

In many cases, these ‘disruptive’ businesses offered something to consumers not reliably fulfilled by the existing market – efficiency, access, range, and importantly, greater consumer control not just acceptance of what is on offer.

As business operators, it’s important to constantly assess the impact of trends on our current business and product range and work toward the ‘what ifs’.

Trends also exist in Government policy and can have a positive or negative effect on your business. At present, the Government is firmly focussed on boosting business productivity and investment. There are a wide range of incentives to stimulate spending and the entrepreneurial spirit:

P  Crowd funding – funding is difficult for entrepreneurial start-up businesses in Australia. New frameworks are currently being developed to formalise crowd and other funding sources to encourage investment opportunities beyond bank finance.
P  Employee share schemes (ESS) – new rules introduced last year bolster the tax benefits for employees of ESSs and provide special concessions for start-ups. Further changes should follow shortly.
P  Accelerated depreciation – small business and primary producers can access a range of concessions that enable them to offset expenses in the same year as the expense – rather than depreciating the expense over time.
P  Tax relief for restructures – changes to be introduced this year should allow small business to change their business structure without the risk of triggering CGT and other income tax implications. So, it is a good time to check whether your structure is right for your long-term business plans.

Your Superannuation

There is almost no doubt that the current raft of concessions available to superannuation will change. To lock in your access to the current concessions, you should focus on maximising the tax-free component of your superannuation. If you haven’t already, come and see us to have a chat as there are different strategies that can be utilised depending on your situation.

SMSF and related party loans

The ATO is looking closely at related party loans in SMSFs. If your fund has borrowed money from a related party, for example a member of the fund, to acquire an asset and the terms of that loan are not at arm’s length or well documented, then you need to get the paperwork and the loan terms in order ASAP. While the ATO have stated that they are not necessarily looking at arrangements before the 2014-15 income year (unless it comes up in audit), you can expect a much closer scrutiny from now on.

Super and Social Security

The social security income test tightened on 1 January 2016 for superannuants. If you receive defined benefit income from your superannuation, a larger portion of this income will now be taken into account when applying the relevant social security income tests – capping the proportion of income that can be excluded at 10%. This affects aged care fees, income support payments, the Low Income Health Care Card, etc.

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Instant Write-Off for Small Business – Some Technical Aspects

Posted on December 12, 2018

Our clients continue to ask us about the operation of the new tax law applicable to small businesses in relation to immediate tax deduction of assets under $20,000.

We have provided below some practical examples that will help you understand the rules.

Question 1

If I bought a motor vehicle for $22,000 GST inclusive on 30 November 2015 and my business is GST registered, would this asset qualify for the immediate deduction?

Answer

No, this asset would not qualify for the immediate deduction. Why? If the company is a small business entity and GST registered, the motor vehicle cost for depreciation purpose is $20,000. The instant asset write-off threshold is less than $20,000. Assets that cost $20,000 or more are deducted over time using the general small business pool. Depreciation rate is 15% for the first year and 30% for the following years.

Tips

If you could negotiate to reduce the purchase price just by $2 to $21,998 GST inclusive, you would be able to claim the deduction of the entire cost immediately as the asset cost will be $19,998, provided that you are a small business entity (see explanation below)

Eligible small business…
is any individual, partnership, company or trust that does both of the following:

  • Operates a business for all or part of the income year
  • has less than $2 million aggregated turnover

Question 2

If my business is not GST registered, would the instant asset write-off threshold apply to the GST exclusive amount or the GST inclusive amount?

Answer

GST inclusive amount.

Tips

If an asset was purchased for $18,000 incl GST between 12 May 15 to 30 June 17, the immediate deduction would be $18,000.

If an asset was purchased for $30,000 incl GST between 12 May 15 to 30 June 17, immediate deduction is not available and the asset will be added to the general small business pool for depreciation purpose.

Question 3

XYZ Trust is a small business entity and has a small business general pool balance of $16,000 at the start of the financial year (e.g 01/07/2014). Is there any special asset write off in this case?

Answer

Yes and No. The same threshold (below $20,000) applies to small business general pool.

Yes – If during the financial year the total assets added to the general pool were less than $4,000, the entire pool balance can be deducted in the same financial year. The increased threshold of $20,000 will apply for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 tax years.

No – If during the financial year, the total assets added to the general pool were $4,000 or more, the entire pool balance will be limited to the relevant depreciation percentage for new (15%) or older (30%) assets within that pool for the tax year.

Question 4

Does the instant asset write off threshold of $20,000 apply to one asset or a group of asset?

Answer

One asset

Do you have any questions? Please contact us to find out more.

 

Written by Fiona Leung

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8 tips on writing better resumes and cover letters

Posted on December 12, 2018

A good resume/cover letter will go a long way in helping you land that dream job. This is where you outline your skills, achievements and compatibility with the position on offer. Your potential employer will generally base their first impression of you on these documents and consequently decide whether or not to grant you that all-important first interview. So, they’re clearly important to get right.

Lately I have had the opportunity to review an influx of resumes and cover letters in response to a job ad that we’ve posted. I have noticed some common traits among the strong applications, as well as some common weaknesses in the not-so-strong. Since we all know that writing your resume/cover letter can be daunting, we wanted to assist you with some handy tips on refining your application and improving your chances:

P  Ensure you cover any requirements set by the employer 
Read through the employer’s ad and highlight everything that you need to provide upon application. If the ad asks for a response to a question, make sure you answer this in your cover letter otherwise it will appear that you are not serious about the job offer.

P  Use a basic font
An employer does not want to have to struggle to read your resume/cover letter because you think the font is too boring and needs to be “jazzed up”. Keep it simple and easy on the eyes.

P  Check your spelling!
There is nothing worse than spelling or grammatical mistakes on a resume/cover letter. Everyone has spell check, make sure you use it, but don’t get tricked by the spell check automatic suggestions.

P  Be professional
A resume/cover letter is not the place to show how much fun you are. Keep it professional, you can show off your jokes once you get the job.

P  Keep it brief 
Don’t use 20 words when 5 will do. Again, keep it simple and to the point.

P  Stay relevant
Make sure the information you provide in your resume/cover letter is relevant to the job you are applying for.

P  Have clear contact details
Ensure your contact details are correct and clearly identifiable so that you don’t miss the invitation to an interview as the employer will not email or call you twice.

P  Have your resume and cover letter reviewed before submitting 
Although something might look and sound good to you, it’s always beneficial to have your resume/cover letter checked by someone else. A fresh set of eyes might pick up something that you missed or offer a useful suggestion.

Now it’s time to put the above into practice! See our recent job offering and apply these tips for a better chance of progressing to the next round. We hope to see you there!

Written by Sean Crowley

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2015 Financial Year End Tax Tips

Posted on December 12, 2018

With the end of the financial year fast approaching we want to remind you of the possible tax planning opportunities still available if you act by 30th June 2015.

Here are links to our two fact sheets with our 2015 tax tips and planning opportunities:

P HCG Fact Sheet – Tax Planning Strategies 30 June 2015
P HCG Fact Sheet – End of year planning 2015

We look forward to hearing from you if you have any questions.

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Insights
Hall Consulting Group