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  • 25-Sep-2020 16:37 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    In 2019, renewable energy made up almost a quarter of Australia’s total energy generation – the highest of any year to date1. A significant driver of this demand is the uptake of solar energy. Businesses and households alike continue to install rooftop solar as more people chart a course towards net zero emissions. This is expected to continue apace.

    Australia has the highest uptake of residential solar energy globally, with almost 2.5 million homes now having rooftop solar2 nationwide. The number of businesses installing solar is growing too. Energy Action meter data shows that 5% per cent of its [10,000] commercial clients have on-site generation, including rooftop solar, and that’s up substantially from only a few years ago.

    Putting Net Zero into action

    The quest for net zero emissions is now firmly on the minds of Australian businesses. In fact, a survey conducted by Energy Action in March this year showed that four in five businesses across the country agree that they need to take action on climate change.

    However, just under one in four said they were actually incorporating net zero initiatives into their commercial strategy3. Those that have were driven by a combination of government support, cost savings and stakeholder demand.

    The use of solar energy generated through a rooftop system produces no direct carbon emissions and has formed a core part of many businesses’ net zero strategies. Furthermore, there are untapped opportunities for others to follow in their footsteps.

    Driving better outcomes in the solar market

    Despite growing demand for solar energy, there are a range of barriers that can prevent businesses from making a good decision. The commercial solar market has matured rapidly, accompanied by an influx of solar engineering procurement construction (solar EPC) providers entering the market. Navigating a plethora of options has tested some buyers’ market knowledge and slowed decision-making, and in some cases, eroded trust.

    The first step is ensuring that the sizing of the system is optimised for the roof space and load. Doing this effectively relies on quality data, particularly to maximise the return on investment and avoid over-capitalising. This can include identifying the right components for the right price and the Clean Energy Council certifies solar componentry into quality tiers, which can help make it simpler to compare components and warranties.

    “Obtaining an accurate and independent sizing and performance specification means that buyers can compare apples with apples when it comes to evaluating offers from suppliers,” says Energy Action’s Chief Executive Officer, John Huggart.

    Energy Action has identified a range of solar EPC providers that can provide high-quality systems to a consistent standard. To distinguish between the top providers and those that are still developing a track record, businesses should seek assistance from a knowledgeable partner like Energy Action.

    “Energy Action understands the solar EPC market and works with providers that deliver great projects every day, whether in particular regions or nationwide. It’s important to get it right, because poorly delivered projects can put your facility at risk.”

    To ensure that clients have a highly transparent view of the solar market, and can make an educated decision about the quality and price of their optimal system, Energy Action has just launched the Energy Action Solar Auction.

    “The market demand for solar is surging, and more businesses are seeing the benefits. That’s why we introduced an innovative solution that will maximise the investment in solar and de-risk the process. Ultimately, our role is to remove the friction from the transaction to deliver a better outcome. We explain the energy costs, emission reduction opportunities and project risk. We link our clients to high-quality suppliers, and then we create a marketplace where competitive bidding can drive the price down.” Mr Huggart says.

    The Energy Action Solar Auction uses technology to model the optimal on-site solar system and requirements, and invites bids from a panel of more than 15 top solar EPC providers. Businesses can run their solar system procurement process end-to-end through an online portal, and can select their preferred contract.

    In an environment where reducing carbon emissions and energy costs is now the expectation of every company board, on-site solar generation can play a crucial role. But navigating the market isn’t always easy. For businesses weighing up the best options for quality and price, you can find out more information here.


    1 https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/resources/resources-hub/clean-energy-australia-report

    2 https://www.energy.gov.au/households/solar-pv-and-batteries

    3 Energy Action online client survey, March 2020


  • 22-Sep-2020 17:10 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    Infrastructure will be critically important to our post-COVID recovery by helping to maintain the productive capacity of the economy, enabling businesses to recover and stimulate employment.

    Leading Deloitte partners Pete Forrester, Luke Houghton and Heidi Isreb discuss the role of infrastructure in boosting Australia’s economy as well as the types of projects that will benefit our country both now, and in the years to come.

    Watch


  • 22-Sep-2020 13:42 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    The Great Cycle Challenge may be a big test of strength, endurance and resilience for your average bike rider – but it’s nothing like the challenge that kids with cancer like four-year-old Sophie face every day of their little lives.

    Every October, tens of thousands of Australians take to their bikes to raise money for the ground-breaking cancer research being done in the labs at Children’s Medical Research Institute in Westmead. In the eight years since the challenge started, the riders have raised more than $20 million.

    Everyone knows someone with cancer and as Sophie’s mum Amanda Wigman knows too well, “this could happen to anyone – it’s a club that no one wants to be in’’.

    Back in March when the world was focused on a new pandemic, Amanda was keenly aware that her beautiful little girl was not herself. She experienced several days of high temperatures and being lethargic. A GP recommended Amanda take Sophie to emergency. She arrived at lunch time and had been diagnosed with cancer the next day.

    “The doctor sat down on the bed next to me and gently put his hand on my leg,’’ Amanda said. “That was the moment I knew it wasn’t going to be a standard ‘it’s the flu’ kind of response."

    “He said that her blood count is extremely low which falls in line with leukemia. He said there is a glimmer of hope it could just be an infection but it’s unlikely. I started shaking.’’

    Sophie was diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, but her body was also going into septic shock.

    “I remember thinking she’s going to die right here, and I couldn’t hug her or touch her. She had just shut off from us, she was feeling so sick. She pulled the blanket over her head and would not even look at us.’’

    It was a familiar feeling for Amanda. She had fought Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a teenager. She had also lost her mother to cancer.

    In the month since diagnosis, she has had multiple bone marrow transplants, lumbar punctures, blood transfusion and been on chemotherapy which will continue for some time.

    “I understand exactly how she feels. Because I was a teenager, I remember it all. It’s very hard for people to understand, unless you’ve gone through it yourself and even then – being a parent watching your child go through it, you would do anything to change that."

    “If one day there was just one pill and you’re done – how incredible would that be instead of this medication that makes you worse? That’s why fundraising for research is so important. This could happen to anyone. It’s a club that no one wants to be in.’’

    Children’s Medical Research Institute’s scientist Dr Tony Cesare studies the causes of cancer from the time that our cells are forming. His lab, and many others at CMRI, are trying to stop cancer in its tracks from the very beginning of life.

    He thanked all those who have taken part in Great Cycle Challenge from its inception to today.

    “I am enormously thankful for the community fundraising efforts in Australia,’’ Dr Cesare said.

    “Every advance in cancer treatment started as a new research project which required funding to make the discoveries that unlocked a medical breakthrough."

    “Community efforts, like the Great Cycle Challenge, have provided my laboratory with essential funding for new cutting-edge projects. Without community funding, I worry the well of new ideas can run dry and sacrifice the potential of improved treatments for our older selves and our children. The positive impact of community efforts inspires our work and gives hope to cancer patients.’’

    The Great Cycle Challenge can be done anywhere, anytime throughout October! You can hit the road or do it inside on a fixed bike. You choose how many kilometres you want to aim to ride and how much money you’d like to raise – then you just ask your friends to sponsor you.

    Learn more and register here: https://greatcyclechallenge.com.au/

         

  • 22-Sep-2020 12:47 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    By Jeffrey Brown, Principal at Matthews Folbigg in the Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

    As part of the Federal Government’s response to the COVD-19 crisis, a handbrake has effectively been applied to court proceedings aimed at bankrupting individuals and placing companies into liquidation. This has been achieved by lengthening the time for debtors to respond to formal demands, from 21 days to 6 months for both bankruptcy notices (in the case of individuals) and statutory demands (for payment of debts incurred by companies). As part of the same reforms, the minimum debt amount that can be the subject of bankruptcy or winding up proceedings has been increased to $20,000.00.

    The Federal Government intends to have these extended compliance periods and amounts in place until at least the end of 2020. While they remain in place, debtors will be aware that creditors have limited options open to them to enforce their debts.

    Anecdotal evidence would suggest that many of those debtors are choosing to trade on their businesses well beyond the point at which they have become insolvent (that is, unable to pay their debts as they fall due).

    At the risk of stating the obvious, measures like placing a freeze on enforcing debts, or banks deferring loan repayment obligations, do nothing to reduce the amount of debt that is out there. Rather, it pushes the debt problem out into next year, in the hope that COVID-19 restrictions will have ended or at least greatly eased by then.

    All of this begs the question: what will happen once those restrictions are lifted? Most industry pundits are predicting a tsunami of liquidations and bankruptcies by 2021.

    In the meantime, all business who supply goods and services on credit are well advised to maintain best practice credit control. This would include:

    • carefully reviewing all credit agreements as they are signed, to ensure they are enforceable if the need arises;
    • keeping accurate and reliable records of debtors, and maintaining a policy of contacting debtors as soon as agreed trading terms are breached;
    • incorporating personal guarantees into your terms of trade when possible, and
    • considering whether the terms of trade allow you to register your sales agreement on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR), which may give you priority over other creditors and allow you to enforce your debt notwithstanding the current restrictions
    If you would like more information or advice in relation to insolvency, restructuring or debt collection practice and procedure, contact Jeffrey Brown on 02 9806 7446 or jeffreyb@matthewsfolbigg.com.au



  • 22-Sep-2020 12:32 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    By Diana Tapp, CEO at World Class Teams

    As you lead your business during this recession, it is crucial to be forward-thinking. How can you change, restart, reinvigorate and reinvent so that your business thrives rather than struggles to survive?

    As Leaders, we need to step up and be stronger than ever. To serve your businesses best you can no longer have a bias towards having authority or showing empathy, you now need both in equal measure.

    You need the decisiveness, overt confidence and genuine (not fake!) positivity for your staff and clients to feel a level of comfort that their work is going to be okay. You also need to show empathy as so many of your staff continue to be impacted by the events of 2020.

    While your people may be very grateful that their job is reasonably secure, they may have a partner who is out of work, a mortgage they are struggling to pay, elderly parents whose health and care they are concerned about. And of course, these concerns will not quickly disappear. Hence, the level of care and understanding, while still enabling people to be productive, is a skill and quality that is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for stand-out leaders, it is now an essential skill for leaders.

    These two qualities, authority and empathy, need to be overarching as you take the three steps to lead your business during this recession. As Leaders, you need to visibly switch gears from ‘survival mode’ to ‘reinvigorate mode’.

    • For much of the last six months you have probably been in ‘survival mode’. This has required you to be decisive, to create certainty for your staff, to communicate clearly and frequently.
    • Now in ‘reinvigorate mode’ you must have a strong forward focus. It is time to rethink and reinvent. It is time to move up, not merely move on (and yes, the words you choose make a huge difference to people’s thinking and therefore behaviours).

    In ‘reinvigorate mode’, there are three critical steps for Leaders to take.

    Step 1: Ask the Right Questions

    Business and life will never ‘go back’. The notion of ‘returning to normal’ or to ‘business as usual’ is unrealistic.

    To move up rather than simply survive, you need to ask specific questions of your team. You need to be very adept at asking the right questions in this current environment. And they are difficult questions to answer, so you must create the opportunity for them to think and to collaborate on the answers.

    The key questions are:

    Ask this  Not this 
    ‘How can we?’ ‘Can we?’
    ‘What if?’ ‘Do you think it will be possible?’
    ‘How will we?’ ‘How did we?’

    Step 2: Start with the Future

    We say ‘begin with the end in mind’, but then we always begin with ‘where are we at the moment?’

    For your business to come out of the blocks ahead of competitors, you need to do what you say. Begin with the end in mind. Start with the future. You need to put your blinkers back and encourage your team to do the same by asking ‘How would we like our business to look?’ ‘What if …..?’

    This future is inspiring and challenging and gets people looking up and outwards rather than behind and inwards.

    The ‘now’ is useful as the second step. It enables you to plan how you will achieve this new future, in the classic mapping of the route from A to B. Because B is a big prize, it is likely the route will challenge you to design a step-change.

    The step-change may well require a significant change for some of your people too. Do they have the necessary skills? Are they engaged, motivated and prepared to go the extra mile to help create this new future?

    Step 3: Show Empathy through Acknowledgement

    The impact of COVID is different for everyone, and their personality traits will also contribute to the way they are feeling and coping.

    As a leader, you need to acknowledge their thoughts and feelings. You don’t need to agree, but you do need to acknowledge them because this acknowledgement is what enables the person to feel understood. People must feel understood before they have the capacity to take on board your suggestions.

    One of two phrases, said sincerely, is all that is required. These phrases are ‘That sounds really difficult/frustrating.’ Or ‘I can see/hear this has been tough.’

    The challenge is to implement these three steps well. Rate yourself in terms of your authority and empathy, so that you’re confident in your ability to lead in these unprecedented times, times that require a step change in leadership ability and commitment.

    Do you want your business to move up and become world class? Take the test to see how close you are. Our scorecard benchmarks your people’s ability to operate at a world class level, rating performance on 7 key attributes and identifying opportunities to rapidly improve results. Take the test now. Simply email info@worldclassteams.com.au with the subject line FREE WORLD CLASS TEST.


  • 22-Sep-2020 11:49 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    Last week Laser Wizard were honoured to be part of NOVA Employment’s “Focus on Ability” Employer Event at The Skyline Drive-In, Blacktown. As a long term advocate and client of Nova Employment, Laser Wizard has employed a number of people with various disabilities. Laser Wizard has had the opportunity to teach them about the various Sheet Metal services Laser Wizard offers, and upskill them in these areas at their Advanced Manufacturing facility in St Marys.

    At the event, Laser Wizard’s Director, Muir Thomson, spoke with NOVA’s CEO Martin Wren about the partnership over the past 15 years. Muir shared how important it is for Laser Wizard to be inclusive, so they can continue to be as diverse as the markets they serve. Laser Wizard is a strong advocate of equal opportunity, as diversity brings in new ideas and experiences, leading to collaboration and better problem-solving.

    Martin Wren said having great businesses endorse the concept of disability employment is vital for their success and for creating opportunities for other would-be workers. His hope for the night was for other Employers who were considering working with NOVA, listen to how beneficial the process has been and in turn match other Employers with excellent candidates from NOVA Employment.

    Laser Wizard would like to thank the team at NOVA Employment, The Skyline Drive-In Blacktown & entertainers for an excellent night. For more information regarding NOVA Employment involvement in your work place, visit: www.novaemployment.com.au

    Curious on how Laser Wizard can help you with your next project? Visit www.laserwizard.com.au to view their vast range of services & capabilities.


  • 21-Sep-2020 12:37 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    The majority of businesses across Australia are small in size. They form the backbone of our local economies.

    In Blacktown City, there are about 25,000 registered businesses operating across the LGA. Of these, around 15,300 are sole traders. Set out below is a breakdown of the key features of business size and type in Blacktown City.

    Size  No. (2019) Dominant business sectors
    Sole trader 15,334 Transport/postal/warehouse (4,650); construction (2,236); rental/real estate (1,399); profession service (1,385); finance/insurance (1,123) – 70% of the total
    1 – 19 9,081 Construction (2,134); professional services (1,125); transport/postal/warehouse (868); retail (772); manufacturing (564); wholesale (544)
    20 – 199 575 Wholesale (96); construction (90); manufacturing (85); accommodation/food services (55); retail (44)
    +200 13 

    Administrative/support (4); wholesale (3); arts/recreation (3); transport/postal /warehouse (3)     


    These figures are sourced from Economy.id. They do not, however, take into account the effects of the pandemic on business activity or those businesses which are no longer trading.

    The Small Business Bureau

    Blacktown City’s Economic Development Strategy identifies the importance of micro/small business and its influence on the local economy. A key sub-service is dedicated to their ‘Small Business Bureau’. The below diagram from Council's strategy document illustrates the elements of their evolving service delivery for small business.


    Active Services Council Currently Deliver

    Since 2018, Council has been actively implementing several components of its Small Business Service. 3 examples below set out how this has been accomplished.


    Business Training

    Many micro/small businesses want to attend business training workshops close to their business operations and not have to travel out-of-area. Through the generous sponsorship of CGU Insurance, Council is running Year 1 of its Business Success Program. Click here for more information. 



    Business Directory

    In the previous edition of WSBC, Council presented their recently launched ‘Riverstone Schofields Business Finder'. This directory has been created, currently as a trial, to assist local micro/small businesses advertise their services to the local community in Riverstone Schofields. It is being developed to provide more information and details about these businesses, than alternative search devices.



    Networks and Connections

    As a member of the main business associations in Blacktown City, Council are able to stay closely connected with their business networks. They can also support them in their various activities. For example, they are currently collaborating with the Blacktown Business Network on their annual ‘Business Booster’ event as part of Small Business Month, in October.


  • 21-Sep-2020 10:47 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    JobKeeper 2.0 is the next phase of the JobKeeper scheme that applies from 28 September 2020 to 28 March 2021.

    Under this next phase, the core JobKeeper eligibility rules continue to apply but with some adjustments. There are also some new aspects, including:

    • An additional test which requires the actual turnover of the entity to have sufficiently declined;
    • Changes to the payment rate (and which individuals qualify for a particular rate); and
    • Some additional notification requirements.

    Click here to read more or download William Buck's September checklist of key actions here.



  • 18-Sep-2020 10:59 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    Celebrate in style at PARKROYAL Parramatta from just AUD99 per person.

    Enjoy a delightful Canapé package, delicious set menu or a Christmas themed buffet hosted with care by the friendly and expert associates at PARKROYAL Parramatta.

    At PARKROYAL Parramatta the health and safety of their guests is of upmost importance. They will adhere to the government mandated guidelines and restrictions, adapting as required for all events to ensure your celebration is a success.

    To book your Christmas party, speak with their Meetings and Events team at +61 2 9685 0309 or email events.prsyp@parkroyalhotels.com

    Special Offer for WSBC Members

    Book your Christmas Party and quote ‘WSBC’ and receive a complimentary upgrade to a Premium Beverage Package!


    Terms and Conditions

    • Valid for new bookings only.
    • Valid for meetings held before 31 December 2020.
    • Not valid with any other offer.
    • Subject to availability.
    • Minimum numbers and spends apply.
    • Number of people attending is restricted to current government regulations.
    • Rates are quoted in AUD and include GST.
    • A merchant service fee of 1.25% for American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Union Pay and 3% for Diners and JCB will be applied to all credit card payments.


  • 17-Sep-2020 17:34 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    By Karly Whitehead, William Buck 

    The success of every business is based on the bottom line and startups are no exception. Your startup, your idea, will be judged on how well you can translate it into financials. A good accounting foundation allows you to examine your finances and identify risks and opportunities for growth.

    If you have the right accounting structures in place, you’re in a better position to know how the company is performing and where you’re heading. Not having a solid accounting foundation is like trying to fly a plane with no navigation system. You’re in the air flying but with no idea of which direction you’re heading or if you’re on the right path.

    Here are five simple tips that can help startups get the basics right, as presented to the UNSW Founders pre-accelerator program on “Accounting 101”.

    Here are five simple tips that can help startups get the basics right, as presented to the UNSW Founders pre-accelerator program on “Accounting 101”.

    1. It all starts with a funding strategy

    Most founders find it hard to know which finances and funding sources to prioritise or which approach will give them the best advantage – this can be a major stumbling block. There are a lot of factors to consider when finding the right finance path for your startup but ultimately, it’s about demonstrating how you will develop and manage finances and how the financial projections align to the business’s long\term goals.

    Tip: Before developing your funding strategy, know the risks and advantages of each and how it fits with your longterm growth plans. For more information click here.

    2. Know the difference between cash flow and profit

    While profit is an indicator of how your startup is performing, it’s not an accurate prediction of whether you can keep the business running. Cash flow considers your overall cash inflows (sales, cash injections etc.) minus the outgoings at any point in time. Keeping a close eye on cash flow will help you understand whether there is enough cash to keep the business going.

    Tip: Schedule a cash flow analysis at least once a month to help predict when cash might be tight and where you need to redistribute expenses. A positive cash flow will enable your startup to grow and increase profits.

    3. Be realistic with your budget

    This is about getting the balance right and setting boundaries. Be realistic about projected sales and margins and consider the impact from growing business operations, rising costs or new competitors. You also need to recognise pitfalls and how you can prepare for them – no startup is flawless. The three items of every startup budget are initial costs, fixed costs and variable costs.

    Tip: You can still set aggressive growth targets, but you need to know your breakeven point. This will be critical when investors want to visualise their return or to convince lenders. 

    4. Your cash flow determines your cash runway

    Running out of money is one of the most common reasons a startup fails. You need to know the ins and outs of your cash flow and how long your ‘runway’ is. Being smart about tracking your money has a number of benefits – it controls spending, helps to prioritise expenses and prepares a solid cash reserve.

    Tip: Make it easy for investors to see the ROI. Clear financials help to show your cash position, burn rate and when cash will run out. Investors want to see that you can keep control over the business operations and the business’ finances.

    5. Know when to see an accountant

    It’s a common misunderstanding that bookkeeping and accounting are the same – they’re not. While bookkeeping tracks and prepares all financial records, i.e. income and expenses, accounting manages the strategic tax planning, financial analysis and forecasting and ensures your budget aligns to future business goals.

    Tip: You may want to consider hiring a virtual CFO to offer expert guidance with crucial decisions as your startup grows. They often have strong connections and large professional networks that could also help your business.

    Founders don’t need to know all the details of accounting but it’s important to have a plan and a good accounting system. The best time to set up your financial structure is in the early stages of the business. You don’t want to run into trouble down the track that will require you to redo or correct work. This will end up costing you more money, more time and could even have a negative impact on your brand with clients, customers or investors.

    You’re better in most cases to outsource your bookkeeping and accounting services to ensure you get the level of support your company needs at each stage. A smart financial strategy will grow with your business.



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