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Changing habits one step at a time

In support of Plastic Free July, we’re catching up with a few Kiwi businesses that are determined to improve sustainability in New Zealand. Lilybee Wrap is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic food wrap. Owners Stacia and Miko Jensen created the reusable handmade wraps, made from cotton and beeswax to reduce the impact of plastic on our land and sea. We talk to Stacia to find out how her business is helping reduce the amount of plastic in our environment. A drive to leave the world a better place A dream trip around New Zealand in 2015 opened Stacia and Miko’s eyes to a growing plastic problem. “While appreciating all of the beauty here, we also noticed the rubbish left behind. Using plastic drove us crazy. And once we learned how the toxicity of plastic easily leaches into our food it scared us,” says Stacia. The couple started to look into how food was stored before plastic became the default method. After trying a few products that didn’t quite fit their needs, they decided to create their own. “It was when I became pregnant that spurred us on wanting to leave a healthier planet and life for the next generation coming through.” If they’re looked after well, LilyBee Wraps last for between six months to a year or more. This eliminates countless rolls of single-use plastic wrap and brightens up lunch boxes across the country with their beautiful prints. Small changes can make a big difference Replacing plastic food wrap with LilyBee wraps has been a starting point for a lot of Kiwis looking for easy ways to reduce their plastic consumption. “It kind of plants the seed and gives them confidence to try other easy wins like reusable water bottles and KeepCups. One of my favourites recently though is using glass jars to freeze food,” says Stacia. A movement of everyday New Zealanders who want to do their bit to improve the environment is gathering steam. Stacia is proud that Lilybee is encouraging customers to think about what other steps they can take to reduce plastic. “We heard about LilyBee…

Decoding New York City’s Fair Workweek Law and what it means for you

New York City and State are joining a growing number of regions moving to implement laws that protect shift workers. Late last year, the Fair Workweek Law was introduced to set out shift scheduling guidelines for employees in retail and hospitality. The law has a rather specific impact on the management of affected businesses. Here is how it works and how you can stay compliant. The Fair Workweek Law covers employees who perform at least one of the following tasks at a fast food establishment in NYC: customer service, cooking, food or drink preparation, delivery, security, stocking supplies or equipment, cleaning, or routine maintenance. It also covers retail employees. This refers to retail businesses where more than 50% of sales transactions go to retail consumers in a calendar year at one or more locations in New York City. Retail businesses that do not meet this definition are not subject to the Law. Employers are required to provide employees with a written notice of work schedules (Good Faith Estimate) containing all an employee’s scheduled shifts. The rules provide that, on or before an employee’s first day of work, the employer must provide an initial work schedule containing all shifts the employee will work until the start of the first shift on the next work schedule. The employer must also issue an updated work schedule as required by the advance scheduling provisions of the Law. In addition, the law provides that employers must pay an amount between $10 and $75 in “premium pay” for any changes to an employee’s schedule that is made less than two weeks in advance. A schedule change premium is required when the total change to a shift exceeds 15 minutes. Furthermore, an employer must pay the employee a $100 premium if the employee is involved in both the opening and closing of the establishment. This is known as a “clopening shift”. It involves working two shifts over two days when the first shift ends and there is less than 11 hours between shifts. The employer must secure written consent from the employee for all shift changes. Employers…

How to start a successful computer repair business

Technical skills aren’t enough to open a computer repair business – your success depends on writing a business plan, securing financing, and taking several other key steps that will have long-term impacts on your business. The ability to configure a motherboard or coax a CPU back to life is a valuable skill, and those who have the technical chops are a hot commodity in the job market. But what about tech whizzes who dream of being their own boss? If you have a knack for fixing electronics, starting a computer repair business could be a logical career move. However, going into business for yourself is not something you should do on a whim. The more time you spend planning, promoting, and protecting your business, the more likely your business is to succeed. Here are some tips to turn the dream of starting a computer repair business into a reality. Build up your savings Starting a business is exciting, but shouldn’t be rushed. It takes time, planning, hustle, and money to launch a successful computer repair business. Once you’ve decided you want to take the plunge, your first step should be to build up your savings. It’s important to build up a financial cushion in case there is not enough billable work to cover your expenses and salary when you first start your business. Savings can keep your business afloat during those lean early months. Ideally, you should stockpile enough cash to pay your bills for at least six to nine months before quitting your day job. Create a business plan A solid business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company. It forces you to not only think about how you want to structure the business initially, but also how you envision it evolving over time. Some of the questions your computer repair business plan should answer include: What services will you offer? (repairs, server maintenance, retail sales, etc.) Who is your target customer? (individuals, businesses, or both) What is the business structure? (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.) Where will you perform the work? (retail location, coworking space, client sites, etc.)…

Exporting: why no business is too small to send goods overseas

Historically, exporting was perceived as the reserve for big businesses. Those producing goods en-masse were more desirable for innovation (Dyson) or prestige (Land Rover). And it’s not hard to see why, when you consider the amount of goods being shipped, not to mention the cost and logistics involved. Sending goods overseas gives the impression of The post Exporting: why no business is too small to send goods overseas appeared first on Small Business.

How Xero helps this popsicle purveyor manage his growing business

After being laid off from his corporate job at the height of the Great Recession, Steven Carse reached a crossroads. He took it as an opportunity to seriously consider what he wanted to do with his life – he thought this could be the moment to bring an idea to life. Over the course of a few trips to Latin America in his teens, Steven and his brothers quickly became ardent consumers of the countries’ frozen treats. ‘Paletas’ or popsicles, can be found on nearly every street corner in Latin America – vendors and their carts pop up everywhere when the temperature rises. Steven and his brothers thought that this style of popsicle, made with real fruit and featuring unique flavor combinations, could do really well in the US. Now that Steven was at a juncture in his life where he had the time to get the idea off the ground, he gave it a shot. So, with minimal planning and little idea of what to expect, King of Pops was born. In the years since, the Atlanta-based company has taken off in a big way – they have expanded to sell their icy treats from their own storefronts, pushcarts, a recently opened bar and on store shelves in cities across the South. They’re not afraid to experiment with flavor. Over the years, they’ve offered more than 500 flavor varieties – everything from the standard strawberry lemonade, to the more unique grapefruit mint or tangerine basil. Steven talked to us about their rapid expansion and why they’re keeping it local. A happy accident Initially, Steven planned on selling from just one pushcart, but it quickly took off from there. Not long after, Steven’s brother, Nick, left his job to become King of Pops’ second employee. Steven has been pleasantly surprised with the success of his business. He uses Xero to manage King of Pops’ financials, and it has made a big difference in the company’s back office operations. “I’m not the detail-oriented person in my company,” Steven said. “We went from desktop accounting software and going web-based has been a…

A sought-after solution to a catastrophic plastic waste issue

In support of Plastic Free July, we’re catching up with a few Kiwi businesses that are determined to improve sustainability in New Zealand. GoodFor allows customers to fill their pantries without the wasteful and environmentally-damaging packaging that usually goes hand-in-hand with grocery shopping. We talk to James Denton, Managing Director, for some insights into the environmentally-friendly business. A plastic-free shopping experience The realisation that the world faces a “catastrophic plastic waste” issue is what drove James Denton to open GoodFor; a plastic-free wholefoods refillery. At Goodfor, customers bring their own reusable storage containers and fill them up with the bulk foods on offer. These range from baking needs to nuts, herbs and spices and cleaning staples. The store also offers a range of reusable storage options, such as stackable stainless steel lunch boxes, glass jars and organic cotton bags. You might think that someone who has created a business with a core focus on sustainable shopping would have grown up living and breathing sustainability, but James says he only started using reusable bags three years ago. Admittedly fairly new to the movement, he is making up for lost time. He opened up his “ultimate packaging-free store” in Grey Lynn after struggling to find anywhere to shop package-free. It turns out, he’s not the only one who was looking for a more environmentally-friendly shopping solution. Goodfor can now be found in two Auckland locations, as well as online. Two more Auckland stores are coming in the next couple of months, and a store in Wellington is also in the works. “Our customers are incredibly self-aware, intelligent people who are grounded and understand the importance of preservation. They care about the future and those who will be involved in that future, regardless of whether they are part of it or not,” says James. Sustainability for a more promising future Goodfor’s motto is that sustainability starts with a packaging-free pantry, which can take some serious time to build. “You begin to understand the cycle of shopping waste-free. It flows through to making you reconsider a lot of other wasteful habits in your life,”…

What tradespeople want from their accountants and bookkeepers

With construction booming all over the world and government crackdowns on the cash economy driving tradies to tidy up their books, there’s never been a better time to grow your practice specialising in the trade industry. By providing a service tailored specifically toward tradies, you open yourself up to a huge market of small businesses, many of whom are desperately in need of a little tough business advice. As consummate DIYers, many tradespeople have been going it alone with their accounts for years, spending hours at nights and on weekends trying to balance their books. Some have even pulled the wool over their wife or partner’s eyes and roped them into help – it’s a wonder how their relationship even stays afloat. That’s where you can become an ally – not only by getting their accounts sorted but by showing them tools and software to help their business flourish. If your firm is proactively growing its advisory services, you’ll be exposed to an equally growing throng of tradespeople who are keen for support in these areas. We talked to our customers and spoke to other tradespeople in Facebook groups like The Site Shed about what they’re looking for in an accountant. Use their advice to tailor your marketing to approach tradespeople with the perfect solution 1. I’m looking to save time Saving time is one of the key reasons trade businesses go out to market for business software and service professionals; efficiency is the driver behind achieving business goals. For one thing, chances are high your tradie is doing their accounts on paper, using spreadsheets or worse… in their head. Just by getting them to jump into online accounting software like Xero, you’ll be able to save them (and you) hours every month. Secondly, you can put together a list of preferred applications that integrate with your accounting system, such as Tradify for job management, Spotlight Reporting for reports, and Debtor Daddy for chasing unpaid invoices. Giving your trade client a ready-built package of time-saving tools will help them improve their business and see you as a powerful ally in…

Xero + GoCardless launch integration to help combat late payments

Xero and direct debit payment solution GoCardless have teamed up to launch an integration to help tackle late payments in Australia. Businesses can now accept direct debit payments through GoCardless for Xero, which is expected to improve payment times, and the transaction is automatically marked paid in Xero. Late payments are a big issue for small business and hugely impacts how they make day-to-day decisions. Data from Xero Small Business Insights shows that in the month of April 2018, businesses with 30-day payment terms are waiting on average 36.3 days to get paid. So what’s the effect of this mountain of debt on daily operations for small business? For starters, they must chase those late payments. This leads to a great deal of time and money wasted. In fact most small business owners spend up to five hours a week chasing late payers. Benefits of direct debit for small business While it takes 30 days or more for a customer to pay an invoice, direct debit can be  a lot faster. With permission from the account holder, GoCardless for Xero can automatically debit money regularly from a nominated account on an agreed day. It offers businesses of all sizes the benefits of direct debit. It’s convenient, too. Customers don’t have to approve payments or remember to make payments, which simplifies their life. Co-founder of Mork Chocolate, Josefin Zernell, says that using the GoCardless for Xero has saved both the business and their customers time. “GoCardless for Xero integration is seamless. Invoices are automatically reconciled, which showed us just how much time can be saved on payments admin – as well as improving our cash flow. We first used it in the UK and we jumped at the chance to introduce it to our customers here. It allows us to spend more time building relationships with our customers rather than focusing on the accounts.” Traditionally direct debit is used for regular and recurring payments however the GoCardless for Xero integration offers a lot more flexibility. Through GoCardless for Xero a business can change the amount or frequency of a payment without…

Apply for bank feeds through Westpac Australia’s online banking

Together, Xero and Westpac are committed to removing points of friction for small businesses and their advisors. As part of an ongoing move to reduce paperwork for small business owners, Westpac have launched a new way to apply for direct bank feeds. Direct bank feeds allow bank transactions to flow seamlessly into Xero, reducing manual admin and the risk of data entry errors. Bank feeds make daily reconciliation a reality and allow businesses to see their true financial position each business day. Working on the exact same data, accountants and bookkeepers can forecast, plan, and help businesses remain financially stable and viable. No more paper This new update means instead of the current lengthy process of manual forms  to activate bank feeds, small businesses can now apply directly via their Westpac online banking platform (Westpac Live). Both Xero and Westpac want to improve the process for every customer. This means not only making it more efficient but also making it more secure. Once a customer has entered their Xero details into Westpac Live, they’ll begin receiving bank statement transactions the following day. For advisors, instead of asking clients to sign and scan a form, you can ask them to simply go to their Westpac internet banking, and request a connection from there. Setting up Westpac bank feeds Here’s how to set up Westpac bank feeds to Xero. In Westpac Live, select the accounts you want to connect. Select Xero as the third-party service provider. Enter the the Xero organisation name. You can see the organisation name at the top left corner of any Xero screen. We recommend copying and pasting it from Xero into Westpac Live. Enter the email address used to log into Xero. To see the email address, click the user name at the top right corner of Xero, then click Account. For a full guide on how to set up Westpac Bank Feeds head to our help page. This is just a small change, but it’s an example of how banks are partnering with Xero to make incremental improvements to make the lives of small businesses easier.…

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