Blog

Jul 23

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Posted by Craig Weston at Thursday, July 23, 2020

 

This morning I presented a speech at my regular Toastmasters meeting.

The title was Dr Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People".

I have long been a fan of the late Dr Stephen Covey.  He has left a legacy of thought and action that encourages us to be the best version of ourselves.

He tells us how we can apply 7 Habits into our lives that move us through dependence to independence to inter-dependence (ie working productively with others to get great outcomes for all parties).

Probably the key thing that stands out to me in what he says is that in order to be effective in our public life we must first be effective in our private life.  This means being "glass half full" type of people, having the "end in mind" and putting "first things first" (doing the important things, not just the urgent things).

His recently updated book is a great read and life changing (and is a very low cost right now on Kindle).

How did I get on with the speech? - I received the Toastmaster of the Day Award.

Thank you, Dr Stephen Covey!


May 20

Fraud Trial

Posted by Craig Weston at Wednesday, May 20, 2020

As I start to write this, I am sitting at the Auckland District Court waiting to give evidence in a fraud trial.  A company was defrauded of a large sum of money by a trusted employee.  We were asked to calculate the level of offending.

The matter has left the owner frustrated, hurt and out of pocket.

It's made me think about what can be done to reduce the possibility of this type of thing happening.

Here are some ideas:

  • Don't implicitly trust people (employees) who seem very nice and committed on the outside, without putting checks and balances in place to materially reduce the level of possible offending.
  • Ensure any cash coming into the business is soundly reconciled to back up documentation eg daily till totals
  • Make sure the boss authorises all payments made with supporting documentation available to check things
  • Keep an eye on monthly gross profit margins - how do these compare (actual vs expected).  If actual is way lower this may (or may not) indicate money is being siphoned off to where it shouldn't be
  • Ensure payments to employees are legitimate and in line with their employment agreements
  • Review monthly income and expense numbers against expected budget - are the variances explainable? This one is how the theft was picked up.
  • Take out officers and executive coverage on your Insurance policy
  • Never share logins - you need evidence to be attributable
  • Watch for sole charge people who never take holidays and hoard info, and have large debts (these can be fraud signs)

If any of the above throw up questions, then it pays to address them immediately.  Don't wait until later when it may be too late.

The outcome - the perpetrator was found guilty on all 32 counts but with reparation unlikely.  The person got 2 years 9 months prison.

Fortunately, the business will survive but it may not always be so for others unless the above things are taken heed of.

Craig


Apr 14

Biking and COVID-19

Posted by Craig Weston at Tuesday, April 14, 2020

 

What a change.

6 weeks ago I was out with my 3 old scouting mates doing our annual 4 day run of mountain bike trails - this time we biked the Waikato trails - really good, challenging and much more interesting that I first expected.

The first day was easy - biking beside the gentle flow of the Waikato river - life was good.  Until day two - much different terrain - hilly, demanding, unusual, needed the team to stay focused, needed to watch out for each other.  What a contrast.

And now 6 weeks later here we are..... it's lockdown.

Most people are prohibited from usual activities.  Most businesses have ground to some kind of halt or a radically changed level of activity.  A bit like day two....it's hilly, demanding, unusual, we need to stay focused, and watch out for each other.

What do I as an accountant make of all this?

I am heavily influenced by the interactions I have had with my clients.  Many like me were initially stunned by the turn of events and wondered what this would mean.

As time has gone on good practical help has become available:

  • There has been lots of help out there from various industry groups, individuals and Government.  I have been particularly impressed by a group that I am a member of - the Franchise Association of New Zealand.  This represents 37,000 individual franchised business in New Zealand and accounts for $27.6 billion of turnover (11% of GDP).  The Association has run a series of webinars for members focusing on what local franchisors are doing to help their franchisees, with experts in law, accounting and banking giving good advice.  Good down to earth advice from people wanting to help people.  Love this.

  • As accountants we are part of a group of 400+ other accountants based in NZ, Australia and the UK.  This group is known as GAP. Good solid advice and help coming from this group too as we seek to help our clients get to grips with that they can do to make the most of this time and beyond.  Through this group we were able to circulate our Business Continuity Plan resource and a number of our clients have used this to help them plan out their futures.

  • Cash Flow - this is the key to staying in business.  We have been assisting clients with simple forecasts for the bank - predicting what their bank balances will be for the next 12-36 months.  This Service is registered with the Management Capability Development Voucher Fund.

There are still lots of unknowns out there but lots of help available.  Its Kiwis helping Kiwis.

Biking? - as I reflect on the above, life was relatively smooth and easy up to COVID-19, like the "gentle flow of the Waikato river" ..... and now it's hilly, tough, and we need each other.

So, I'm looking forward to my annual bike trip next year and looking back and thinking, yes we all did the best we could together and while there are still big challenges ahead.... for the most part we as a country are succeeding!

Craig


Mar 25

Business Continuity Plan

Posted by Craig Weston at Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The impacts of Covid-19 on health and business are evolving fast. Currently, we are prioritising helping our clients who have the greatest need.  So, if you need urgent help, please get in touch.

It is essential that every business has a plan for dealing with the fallout from this pandemic.

A plan will give you peace of mind and clarify for decision-making for the future of your business, and ensure you access Government support entitlements and maximise opportunities to preserve your cashflow and profitability.  In the worst-case scenario, we want to have certainty about whether your business can continue and plan around that.

We've created some practical content to help you build your Business Continuity Plan and have three ways we can help you using our content:

  1. We can set aside 4 hours to create your Business Continuity Plan online with you.
  2. You can draft the plan before meeting with us online for 90-minutes to finalise it.
  3. You can create the plan yourself.

Doing nothing here is simply not an option.  If you would like us to send you the Business Continuity Plan and the Guide for Developing Your Business Continuity Plan then please get in touch (09) 309 2561. This gives you the option to do yourself or we can work with you to ensure you have a comprehensive plan that will see you through.

In the meantime, please understand that our team work from their home offices so there is no disruption to the service we provide.  Our accounting software is cloud based and we are available via email and phone.  So, contact us if you need help.

Lastly, now is the time to prioritise your mental health.  As they say, put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.  If the situation is affecting you, consider blocking out social media or things that may worsen anxiety, but whatever you do, please stay in touch with us - so that together we set a plan to help you in these difficult times.

Stay safe

Craig Weston and the Inspired Team


Mar 18

Yes, these are unprecedented times!

Posted by Craig Weston at Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Yes, these are unprecedented times!
I've spent part of yesterday afternoon and today talking to clients about how they are affected by Covid-19 and the Government assistance package announcement.
The Government have put out a comprehensive, well thought out plan with some clear guidelines. View here.
If you want to have a chat to me about this, please give me a call on (09) 969 7450 or drop me an email craig.weston@inspired.co.nz.
We are here to support your through this current situation.  We want to see you survive and thrive.
Keep talking, planning and being proactive.
Talk soon
Craig

Dec 17

We're predicting a happy and healthy holiday season

Posted by Craig Weston at Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Pour the sav,

Serve the pav,

And activate holiday mode!

The Inspired team would like to wish all our clients and colleagues a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We've put together some light reading to help you reflect on 2019 and start thinking about your goals for the coming year.

Here's to 2020, we're forecasting an epic year!

Click here to download our Christmas eBook


Our office is closed from Friday the 20th of December and reopens on Monday the 13th of January 2020.



Sep 26

Craig and Nick talk best business advice for business owners

Posted by Craig Weston at Thursday, September 26, 2019

Craig Weston recently sat down with Nick Giles, Head of Hospitality New Zealand at Link Business Broking.  Really impressed with Nick and his team and what they do.  See our short video where we talk about the important things to keep in mind when looking to buy and run a business.


Video Craig and Nick


May 30

Investing in our communities

Posted by Craig Weston at Thursday, May 30, 2019

 

Last week in my capacity as a co-director of a company called G-Fund Ltd, I had the pleasure of jointly accepting "The Business Institutional Innovation Award" along with our friends at ANZ Bank (Capital Markets) at the INFINZ 2019 Awards evening.  With 750 people from NZ professional finance community present it was a great night.

G-Fund Ltd is a subsidiary of Genesis Youth Trust which operates in South Auckland.

Two years ago, G-Fund Ltd promoted a $6 million social impact bond in conjunction with ANZ Bank who brought the Bond to market.

The idea is that socially minded investors invest in the bond through G-Fund, which in turn invests in the Genesis Youth Trust with the aim of reducing the level of youth re-offending in our communities.  Investors receive a commercial rate of return on their investment.

The Trust partners with NZ Police, Oranga Tamariki and ANZ Bank along with a number of community minded people and organisations.

The aim is to work with 1,000 medium to high risk young people in their communities over the 6 year life of the Bond.

After the first 18 months of operation, we are seeing a marked reduction in the level of re-offending and the severity of offending, which is awesome.

Genesis Youth Trust has with a great team of socially minded and committed people who make a difference every day in the lives of our at-risk young people.

It's a pleasure to be involved in this in my capacity as a co-director of the funding arm.  We are accountable to the investors - it's a big responsibility but well worth it when one sees the change that the Social Impact Bond is making.

Craig



Apr 15

Be Prepared

Posted by Craig Weston at Monday, April 15, 2019


 

Every year we do our annual back-country bike ride I learn something new.

Back up the story - each year a group of 4 old-boy scouts including me reunite to do an NZ mountain bike ride for a week.  This year was in February and we did the Motu area (in behind Opotiki).

So what did I learn this time? Read on....

When you don't fall off your bike for a while you start to think you have it licked.  You seem to be pretty good at surmounting problem areas, tight turns, rocks on the tracks etc.  I've heard it said 'Pride commeth before a fall" - not sure about the pride in this instance but I sure had the fall!

One of our party was injured - fell down a slope and cut his leg.  Slowed him down.  I was delegated to ride on ahead and get the vehicle and bring it to the road head to pick up the team who would follow up slowly.

Somewhere down the track alone about 17K from the vehicle, I came off my bike - went over a river bank and landed in a dead tree perched above the rocks below.  Upside down, bike on top of me, foot caught in the bike, no one around.  What to do?

Rising panic!  But managed to extricate myself from the bike, climb down the dead tree, jump onto the rocks below and climb back up on the track then go down the tree and pull my bike back up.  I noted some cuts and bumps on the body, jumped on the bike and carried on.  Another few km down the track the bike gave up! Turns out the tree had damaged the hanger mechanism which the chain goes through.  Nothing left but to walk the rest of the way!

Did that - got the vehicle and returned to pick up the guys.  Big day out, totally stuffed!

What did I learn?

When you think you have it licked - do a reality check. Are you prepared for the unexpected? The old Boy Scout motto - "Be Prepared"

Don't go it alone - should have been two of us going and two left to follow slowly.

Relates to Biking as well as Business I reckon.  In business:

  • Plan well and have a back up plan - be prepared

  • Involve others - don't go it alone

Craig


Dec 17

As 2018 comes to an end

Posted by Craig Weston at Monday, December 17, 2018

It's almost the end of the calendar year - an opportunity to glance back at what the past year held, take a long breath over the break, and then look at what could be for 2019.

There is something about looking back that is positive - reviewing what went well and what went not so well.  It's an opportunity to learn from the past to give us wisdom for the future.

As we end this year, our wish for our clients and friends is that you will truly enjoy your Christmas break (whether that be short or long) and come back positively renewed for the new year ahead.