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Welcome to the November 2023 edition of the Small Business Financial Counselling Service (SBFCS) Southern Queensland newsletter.
 
In this edition: Message from CEO Meet our new Business Wellness Coach Business continuity planning Get Prepared app Adapting to change Changes to the law on unfair contract terms Nick’s tip for small businesses Small Business Cyber Security Guide Business Energy Saving and Transformation Rebates
Message from CEO The recent bushfires across Southern Queensland have again demonstrated the unpredictable nature of the Australian operating environment. Unfortunately, we remain at the start of the Queensland disaster season and I fear that these most recent events may not be all that nature has in store for us over the coming months. Our thoughts go out to the communities who have been impacted and I encourage any small business owners to reach out to our team of Small Business Financial Counsellors or Business Wellness Coaches for support at this time.

Potential weather-related disruptions can have a massive impact on a small business, whether it be physical damage from an event or financial loss due to loss of power, loss of access or a downturn in customer traffic (particularly in tourism areas). Whilst Queensland is a fantastic place to live and do business, it is not without its challenges and I encourage everyone to consider what is their continuity plan over the coming months. Now is also a great time, before summer officially arrives, to review insurance policies and level of cover to make sure you are covered for what you think you are. All too often we see clients caught out when making a claim, discovering too late that they are not covered for what they thought they were. The financial impacts of recovering after an event without an insurance claim are often devastating.

Alongside the often visible impacts of natural disaster events, it is not uncommon for financial counsellors to be contacted to assist a small business impacted by a scam or data breach, which has had terrible consequences for their business, often financial and reputational. The best analogy I have heard is that whilst firewalls and antivirus help us put up a virtual security fence, everyone who has a username and password for the system has the key to the gate. If you haven’t recently, I encourage everyone to consider their cyber security. At a practical level, review who has access to your systems and whether they need this access. All too often, we see and hear of former employees still having user profiles that could be used maliciously and harm businesses.

Earlier this year, I participated in a Small Business and Agribusiness Workshop held by the Australian Banking Code Compliance Committee which considered how lenders can better support primary producers and small business owners who begin to encounter financial difficulty. The workshop report has been published and can now be accessed. I fully support the commentary in this report about early engagement and discussions between banks and clients, the benefits of a relationship approach and the value of debt mediation practices if this stage is reached.
 
Best regards, 

Ross Leggett
Chief Executive Officer
Meet our new Business Wellness Coach Madeline Turnbull has recently joined our team as a Business Wellness Coach. She will be supporting small business owners throughout Southern Queensland by offering free and confidential emotional coaching and wellbeing support.

Madeline is a Registered Psychologist, holding a Bachelor of Psychology (with Honours) and a Post Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology. She has experience operating her own private psychology practice where she has helped a diverse range of clients across South Brisbane.

As a small business owner herself for eight years, she understands that while running a business can be extremely rewarding, it also has its challenges. Her understanding of business adds to her passion about enhancing the wellbeing of her clients.

If you are a business owner in Southern Queensland needing wellbeing support, please reach out to Madeline.
Contact Madeline
Business continuity planning Planning is an integral part of any business and planning for unexpected events can mean the difference between continuing business in the face of disaster or failing to do so. Prevention, preparedness and mitigation allows business owners to be one step ahead of disaster.

A business continuity plan allows you to navigate the challenges of unexpected events such as floods, storms, fire, cyber attacks, staff shortages, power outages and pandemics, in order to return to trading within the shortest period of time possible.

The plan should: identify, prevent or reduce risks where possible prepare for risks that are out of your control respond and recover if an incident or crisis occurs. You don’t have to come up with all of the ideas or solutions on your own. Involving staff in your business continuity plan creation not only assists with identifying risks but also engages them in times of crisis.
Create your plan now
Get Prepared app Get Prepared is a simple to use app which assists in making important decisions about disaster planning ahead of time.

By completing your RediPlan, you will have access to a personal emergency plan to be better prepared for emergencies. This plan not only includes practical steps, recording information such as contacts, support networks and likely hazards, it also includes preparation for emergency stress management and techniques you can use to keep yourself thinking clearly during an emergency.
Download app
Adapting to change Change is the one constant we can expect in our life and business. Whether it is positive, negative, somewhat expected or very much unexpected, the one similarity with all change is that it can often bring with it a level of stress and anxiety. Even if the changes occurring are positive, this can bring about busy times where adaptability needs to take place.

As a small business owner, your personal life and business life are interlinked. Therefore, changes in either of these areas can impact the other. To help you manage the effects of change, consider the following strategies. Change your mindset – look for new opportunities within the new circumstances. Be prepared – focus on your priorities and make a plan. Be proactive – get creative, brainstorm solutions and possible outcomes. Gather the troops – build a safe and reliable team around you and seek out external support networks. Take care of yourself – prioritise self-care and avoid alcohol or other drugs for self-medication. It’s natural for change to feel uncomfortable and destabilising. How we adapt to change can help us to flourish, even though it may not feel like it at the time. Focus on the positive aspects of change and remember that negative changes can also bring opportunities.
 
Sandra O’Neill
Business Wellness Coach
Changes to the law on unfair contract terms The law regarding unfair contract terms will change, effective 9 November 2023. When buying a product or service, buyers enter into a contract with the seller. This means if one of the parties breaks the contract, the other party can take legal action against them. Laws are in place that protect consumers and small businesses from unfair terms in standard contract forms.

The changes will prohibit proposing, using or relying on unfair contract terms in standard form contracts.
Contract terms are unfair if they: cause a significant imbalance in the rights and obligations of the parties under the contract are not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the party who gets an advantage from the term, and would cause financial or other harm to the other party if enforced.
More information
With rising costs adversely affecting company margins, it is even more important to review your current pricing to ensure that all costs are being covered and factored in. Small increases in input costs and overheads can have large impacts on your business’s viability, should the increases not be passed on through product pricing.

Here’s a simple case study:

In 2022, a business made a gross profit of $5 per product sold and interest costs were $1,000 per month. To cover these interest costs, the business needed to sell 200 products a month.

Assuming gross profit remained the same in 2023, but the interest rates doubled, interest is now $2,000 per month. This means the business will need to double sales just to cover the interest costs.

Additionally, any increases in input costs or decreases in gross profit will also impact the required sales. Understanding the true cost of your product, and the revenue required to breakeven and generate a profit helps determine the long-term viability of your business.
 
Nick Hess
Small Business Financial Counsellor
Small Business Cyber Security Guide In our digital business world, cyber security threats have fast become the number one risk of business interruption faced by any business – small or large. If you haven’t already started to consider your cyber risk or if you would like to make sure your current plan is on the right track, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has developed a suite of resources to assist small businesses to protect themselves against common cyber security threats.

The Small Business Cyber Security Guide explains the following topics and easy steps you can take to protect your small business including: the cyber threats to your small business how to secure your accounts how to protect your devices and information how to prepare your staff. Even minor cyber security incidents can have significant impacts, with the average cost of cybercrime being over $39,000 for small businesses.

For more information about cyber security and to access further small business resources visit the ACSC website.
ACSC website
Business Energy Saving and Transformation Rebates The Queensland Business Energy Saving and Transformation (QBEST) scheme provides rebates to eligible small and medium businesses to install energy-efficient equipment.

The energy-efficient equipment purchased and installed must decrease the energy consumption and reduce energy bills of your business, as well as contribute to the Queensland Government’s carbon reduction targets.

Key Details Eligible Business Size: small to medium-sized businesses with 2 to 199 full-time employees. Closing Date: 30 June 2025. Available Funding: a rebate of up to 50% of the purchase and installation costs (GST exclusive) of eligible equipment, up to a maximum of $12,500. A minimum spend of $8,000 (GST exclusive) is required. Co-contribution: 50% of the purchase and installation cost (GST exclusive).
Find out more
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