Risk Management

What to do when you don’t know what you don’t know in Business

Business Licenses Laws Regulations PermitsHave you heard the one about the Personal Trainer who turned up at the regular time at the regular park for the regular boot camp only to find another PT had “permitted” the area with the local council preventing the regular PT from being able to use the space.

Or the one about the Office of Fair Trading Officer walking into a computer service business and asking to see the required terms and conditions for every booking they do which needed to be in triplicate with one copy always being provided to the client.

Or the one about the business who played the radio all day in the premises rather than music believing that they only had to pay a fee if they piped music and not the radio.

Or the one about … or the one about … and so on. How frequently do we hear about businesses trying to do the right thing complying with rules, regulations, laws, licences, permits, requirements etc to find that they have erred on something that they just didn’t know about or where they should have gone to find out about it. How frequently do you hear about business owners when they have erred and explained it was in error has it fallen on deaf ears and replied to with “you are in business, it is your responsibility to know what you need to do and have in place to run your business”.

The Albany Creek Business Contacts members all agreed how easy it is for business owners (particularly small business) to struggle with knowing all compliance requirements particularly when new ones are being created on an ongoing basis. So what is the best starting point to know if you have all of the bases covered. Here’s some suggestions (if you are a business in Queensland):

  • The easiest starting point to obtain all Queensland, local and Australian government licensing information is to visit the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS). ABLIS assists you to find the government licences, permits, approvals, registrations, codes of practice, standards and guidelines you need to know about to meet your compliance responsibilities. Information can be found here if you are starting, operating, growing, or closing a business. The process enables you to create and download a personalised report containing:
    • A summary of state or territory, local and Australian government requirements relevant to your business.
    • Information about licence fees, how to apply, periods of cover and renewals.
    • How to access application and renewal forms.
    • Where to go for more help and information.
  • Check out the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) http://www.asic.gov.au/
  • Australian Taxation Office (ATO) https://www.ato.gov.au/
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) https://www.accc.gov.au/
  • Directly with your Local Council and the State Government (Office of Fair Trading)
  • Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland
  • Industry Bodies (eg, REIQ, CPA Australia)
  • Your accountant and/or solicitor

Another best practice is to undertake a risk assessment of your business every year or two and research if any rules or regulations have changed. Follow the SMART rule to minimise your risk:

Seek                 (seek out the risks that are or may impact your business)

Manage            (put in place strategies to manage those risks)

Avoid              (put in place strategies to avoid those risks occurring)

Retain              (put in place strategies to retain systems & processes to manage and mitigate risks)

Transfer           (put in place strategies to transfer the risk elsewhere)


(Blog contributors – Leonard Whittaker (Action Cycle Learning) Rob Carmody (Australian Integrated Communications) Mike McFillin (Australian Training School) Damian Jenkins (Australian Unity, North Lakes) Sally Balwin (Balanix Solutions) Kathy Patterson (Brendale Stationery Supplies) Matthew Fox (Brisbane hosting & Web Design) Kirsty Newbery (Caring Cottage) Brad Davies (Conquest Pest & Termite Control) Nathan Dobbins (Core Computers) Scott Deaves (David Deane Real Estate) De Wet van der Nest (Express Air Con Cleaning) Dan Milgate (Fit4Life Personal Training) Oriano Giammichele (GT Racing, Mobile Mechanic) Jason Matthey (Insurance Web) Andrew Gallagher (Lollyworld) Lynne Somerville (About you Promotions) Michael Manttan (Jims Car Cleaning Aspley) Anne-Louise Underwood (SMS Toolkits) Tracey Carter (Scrub Mutts)

Albany Creek Business Contacts consists of local quality and reliable businesses who provide a wide range of services from home and residential services to B2B and commercial services. Our service areas cover primarily Albany Creek, Eatons Hill, Brendale, Aspley, Warner, Chermside, Strathpine, North Lakes. However many members will cover greater areas.

Albany Creek Business Contacts meet fortnightly on a Wednesday morning for a 7am breakfast and networking meeting.

Balanix Solutions – Accountant, Business Advisor, Bookkeeping.

Situated in Strathpine on Brisbane North, we partner with our clients to assist them in their accounting, business management and bookkeeping needs. Our clients vary in industries from professional services (such as law, vet and dentist) to the trades (mechanic, bricklaying, plasterer etc), hospitality and retail. Are clients are located in the Pine Rivers area (including Brendale, Lawnton, Albany Creek and Eatons Hill) through to Kallangur, Petrie, North Lakes and Caboolture, as well as Brisbane South, the Gold Coast and various other parts of Queensland.

Call us today … we can help (07 3264 4783)

STOP! – It May Cost You to Remove that Negative Review

"David Balwin Accountant CPA Registered BAS Agent Australian Institute of Company Directors Brisbane Strathpine Brendale Albany Creek"

David Balwin
CPA | Accountant | Business Advisor

Marketing 101 – publish testimonials and reviews to help create a positive view of your brand, to boost sales, to attract future customers/clients and to boost your website’s SEO.

It’s awesome to be loved by your customers/clients and for the love to be shared through testimonials and reviews shouted out on websites, social media and review sites.  Clients/customers expect reviews to be independent and genuine.  Problem is, the increase of review platforms has bought an increase in fake testimonials and reviews.

Enter the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) who have issued guidelines for managing online reviews to combat dishonest, misleading and shonky practices.

BE Warned – breaching the guidelines can result in hefty fines.  The 2011, the ACCC fined a removalist business $6,600 for misleading online reviews.  The business admitted to having made representations on its website that purported to be testimonials by genuine consumers when they were not.

So, generally speaking, what are the NoNos when it comes to testimonials and reviews.  In a nutshell:

  • You need to remove fake or misleading reviews.  Testimonials/reviews may be considered fake or misleading if they are presented as impartial, but were written by:
    • the reviewed business
    • a competitor
    • someone paid to write the review who has not used the product or service
    • someone who has used the product or service but written an inflated review to receive a financial or non-financial benefit.

Reviews you know to be fake or misleading risk breeching the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

  • You should not:
    • encourage family and friends to write reviews about your business without disclosing their personal connection with your business in that review
    • write reviews when you have not experienced the product or service reviewed or which do not reflect a genuinely held position
    • solicit others to write reviews about your business or a competitor’s business if they have not experienced the product or service.
  • You should only offer incentives in exchange for reviews if:
    • incentives are offered equally to consumers likely to be complimentary and consumers likely to be critical, and positive and negative reviews are treated the same
    • the reviewer is expressly told that the incentive is available whether the review is positive or negative
    • the incentive is prominently disclosed to users who rely on affected reviews.
  • You should disclose commercial relationships between review platforms and your business to ensure the relationship does not influence the overall rating of a business on the site.  For example, a review platform may allow a business that advertises on the site to select a review to appear at the top of the page or prevent negative reviews from being automatically uploaded.
  • Ensure the consumer review platforms you rely on disclose the total number of reviews that the rating is based on next to the aggregated rating (eg, 3 stars, 24 reviews).
  • Think twice before selectively removing or editing reviews, particularly negative/critical reviews.  If the total body of reviews doesn’t reflect the opinions of consumers who have submitted the reviews consumers may be misled.

For more information about the ACCC’s guidelines, here’s the link.


Balanix Solutions – Accountant, Business Advisor, Bookkeeping.

Situated in Strathpine on Brisbane North, we partner with our clients to assist them in their accounting, business management and bookkeeping needs.  Our clients vary in industries from professional services (such as law, vet and dentist) to the trades (mechanic, bricklaying, plasterer etc), hospitality and retail.  Are clients are located in the Pine Rivers area (including Brendale, Lawnton, Albany Creek and Eatons Hill) through to Kallangur, Petrie, North Lakes and Caboolture, as well as Brisbane South, the Gold Coast and various other parts of Queensland.

Call us today …  we can help (07 3264 4783)

“Complaint” is not a Dirty Word

Sally Balwin Recruitment HRM Business Development Organisational Development Brisbane Brendale Strathpine Albany Creek

Sally Balwin
Recruitment | HR | Business Development

We only have one chance to make a first impression.  We all know that to succeed in business we need to get it right the first time and every time.

However, mistakes and misunderstandings do happen and there is usually an opportunity to recover if handled properly.

Unfortunately, statistics indicate that more customers than not don’t complain to the business they are dealing with but rather just take their custom elsewhere.  Moreover, unhappy people will tell more people about the cause of their unhappiness than happy satisfied people will tell of their good experience.  This human nature does not help with word of mouth advertising!!

So how does one recover from a complaint?  In a nut shell, FIX IT ASAP and in such a way to reduce retelling of the incident.

Not always that simple I hear you say  …  that’s right!  It depends on the nature and severity of the complaint and the facts of the circumstance.

One key strategy to ensure starting on the right foot in a difficult situation is the current relationship with the complainant.  If the nature of the business facilitates, ensure good and nurtured relationships with your customers.  Starting with a strong relationship will encourage empathy and willingness from the customer to resolve things with you rather than going elsewhere.

If a customer complains don’t be defensive and retain composure at all times.  Address the customer by name and demonstrate empathy for their frustration and anger whether at fault or not.

Offer an apology even if the issue is not your fault – for example, “I’m very sorry you are upset” – such response does not admit blame but does establish some rapport with the customer and shows your interest.

Give the customer your full attention and demonstrate this both verbally (ie, in the responses you give) and with your body language.  Maintain eye contact with the customer, don’t fold your arms or use facial expressions which indicate not caring, disinterest or boredom.  Don’t allow interruptions, such as taking phone calls or dealing with staff or other customers, when dealing with a complaint.

Don’t make excuses or blame others.  Remember, the customer is looking for resolution and not to be fobbed off or worn down by explanation.

If you can’t resolve the matter on the spot, don’t explain the steps you will take to resolve the situation.  Don’t lie about what you will or won’t do as this can make things worse.  If you tell the customer you will contact them within two days then contact them within two days if only to tell them you are still investigating things and to keep them informed as to where you are at.

Endeavour to make the customer part of the solution  …  let them know what you can do (not what you can’t so) and see if you can find out what will turn the customer’s dissatisfaction in to satisfaction.  Do they want a refund, discount, replacement etc.

If the customer agrees to a solution, act quickly.  Don’t create another problem by dragging the chain.  Finally, follow up with the customer to strengthen the relationship for the future.

ACCC’s Small Business Online Program

Sally Balwin Recruitment HRM Business Development Organisational Development Brisbane Brendale Strathpine Albany Creek

Sally Balwin
Recruitment | HR | Business Development

As busy business owners you may or may not have delved much into the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission commonly known as the ACCC (pronounced A triple C).  In a nutshell, the ACCC is an independent Commonwealth statutory authority whose role is to enforce the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and a range of additional legislation, promoting competition, fair trading and regulating national infrastructure for the benefit of all Australians.  In other words, the ACCC protect, strengthen and supplement the way competition works in Australian markets and industries.   This means they will take action where such action improves consumer welfare, protects competition or stops conduct that is anti-competitive or harmful to consumers, and promotes the proper functioning of Australian markets.

All businesses operating in Australia are subject to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (the Act).  However, many small businesses don’t know such an Act exists nor what it says.

Part of the ACCCs role is to inform and educate business owners on their rights and obligations under the Act.  To this end, the ACCC has released a free online education program for small business owners to help you learn.

The program is a simple, interactive learning tool which provides a broad overview of the key parts of the Act through ten (10) modules.  Each module takes about 15-20 minutes to complete and covers:

  • Misleading conduct & advertising;
  • Pricing and unfair selling practices;
  • Consumer rights and guarantees;
  • Selling safe products;
  • Scams;
  • Consumer contracts;
  • Unconscionable conduct;
  • Exclusive dealing & resale price maintenance;
  • Cartels; and
  • Misuse of market power.

You don’t have to do all modules, only those relevant to your business.

Dr Michael Schaper, ACCC Deputy Chair said “the ACCC is committed to helping businesses understand their rights and responsibilities under the Act.  We recognise that small business operators are busy running their businesses and need simple clear information which can be accessed at any time, at their own pace.”  Dr Schaper went on to say “I strongly encourage small businesses to take advantage of this free, easy-to-use online education program to ensure they are aware of all the protections and obligations they have.”

Dr Schaper is right – business owners, particularly small business owners, are very busy getting on with running their businesses.  Being time poor, it is great to have information culled and explained in a simple way so time is not wasted on error or noncompliance.

Here’s the link to the program for your benefit http://www.ccaeducationprograms.org/?page=smallbusiness .

It’s About the Investment-Not the Tax

"David Balwin

David Balwin
CPA | Accountant | Business Advisor

I am forever hearing small business complaining about the tax they pay and asking how to reduce their liability.  I find this very interesting as if these business owners spent as much time focusing on increasing revenue then the tax issue would not be such a focus.

I agree  …  No one likes to pay tax … but at the end of the day Government needs taxes to fund services to the community like police, education, health, roads etc.

The point a lot of small business owners forget is that the main focus of any business decision should be based on the return that the investment is going to provide.  If the investment does not stack up then any potential tax advantages are not worth considering.

I suggest that the first criteria when considering making an investment is – does the opportunity provide a suitable return for the risk you are taking e.g. if you were to invest $100,000 purchasing a business what return would you want to make on your investment.  A simple starting point in considering the return on investment is to look at what would one of the big four banks offer you to invest the money with them – (somewhere between 3% and 5% depending on the period the money was invested for etc).

So, if the bank was offering say 4% with minimal risk, then what is the risk/return you should be seeking from a business that does not have a credit rating, may have little management skills and lack policies.  Maybe a 20 to 30 percent return would not be unreasonable, for if you were not to achieve this type of return would you simply invest your hard earned money in one of the banks or government bonds where risk is low.

Same applies if you are looking to invest in, for example, property.  For example, if you were considering purchasing a commercial unit in Strathpine on Brisbane’s north for say $250,000 you would need to consider the return on investment, tenancy trends, out-goings etc and see how it all stacks up well before considering tax benefits.

Having said this, once you have determined whether the investment is sound from an economic return perspective, then look at how tax can be minimised within the boundaries of the legislation.

The bottom line to any business decision should therefore always focus on expected returns for risk first and only then look at the tax consequences before making a final decision.