Unlocking Financial Success: The Mindset Your Accountant Won't Discuss

I’ve been in the ‘business of numbers’ since 1984, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1990. 15 years into my career, I started to get a sneaking suspicion that something was missing. 

The conversations I was having with business owners lacked a critical element, and it was affecting their decision making in their businesses, as well as the results I was trying to help them achieve. 

Once I discovered this missing piece, I took it with me as I moved into business advisory, allowing me to complete the conversations I was having with my clients. Everything changed - my clients grew in confidence, they gained valuable insights into their enterprise through the lens of their numbers, and their lives improved. 

That missing piece that was so critical to their success?

It’s a word you’ll likely never hear in an appointment with your accountant. And yet without it, you’re leaving answers - and ultimately money - on the table.

It’s time to talk about mindset.

That’s right. Mindset. The word too woo woo for the financial world. 

And yet, if we don’t get our headspace right when dealing with our business numbers, we’ll never get the whole story. If you feel like there’s something incomplete about your finances, here are the top 5 reframes you can make to get a better perspective on the bigger picture. 

1. From Abdication to Delegation.

Question: have you delegated your finances, or completely abdicated responsibility for them? Here’s the difference:

  • Delegation: handing over a task to a subordinate or subcontractor (like a bookkeeper) whilst still fully understanding the process. You are able to check their work on occasion, you can detect if something is incorrect, and you have the knowledge to find the answer. You see their role as maintaining the data on your behalf. 
  • Abdication: handing over a task to a third party (like an accountant) with no real knowledge, or desire to understand, the process you have handed off. You are unable to check their work, and you are at the mercy of their skills and expertise (also something you have no ability to measure). You see their role as maintaining the data on your behalf. 

Notice how the result is the same - someone else is doing the work - but the intention is radically different?

This is a great example of how our mindset really matters. If you take the time to understand the process - even on a fundamental level - your knowledge will give you the confidence to check data, ask questions and sometimes even disagree. Businesses flourish under confident, informed ownership. 

2. Expert Status

Closely linked to point 1, too quickly do we defer to the expertise of others. This is especially true in our interactions with our accountants and bookkeeping professionals, especially if we don’t consider ourselves as ‘numbers people’. 

However, we need to remember that we are in fact the experts of our own enterprise. No one will ever have the level of expertise that we do when it comes to the businesses we build and run ourselves. Don’t leave that out of the equation when dealing with other service providers - bring it to the table and hold your head high. 

3. Facts, Figures and Feelings

There’s not much room for the warm fuzzies in the accounting world - another reason why I took a different approach. 

Because I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve worked with a business owner and, when going over their numbers, they suddenly cry ‘that can’t be right!’ And usually, they’re right - they just didn’t know why at first. 

There’s a lot to be said for a business owner’s intuition. 

In my experience, it’s not all instinct and it’s not all facts - it’s both, together. The entrepreneur's instincts act like a hound, pointing us in the right direction as we work our way to the bottom of things. Financial savvy and good data management are what bring us the answers we seek.

Don’t ignore your intuition. Educate yourself to use it more effectively.  

4. Who is all this information for?

Tough question: did you hire your bookkeeper to help you understand your numbers, or as an excuse to never look at them again?

I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. Let’s face it: sitting down with your finances, ensuring there’s a place for everything and everything in its place, analysing your incomings and your outgoings - 

That’s no one’s idea of a good time. But we all acknowledge that it needs doing, so we wrangle ourselves a bookkeeper, leave them to it as fast as possible and kick the proverbial can down the road. 

And that can you’re kicking is all your financial data that is potentially not being accurately managed, nor being put to effective use. 

So just who is all your financial data for? 

If your answer is your bookkeeper, your accountant, or the ATO, I would argue that YOU in fact are the most important user of your financial information. 

The data you’re collecting - when organised correctly - can tell you infinite truths about your business at any given moment, empowering you to make big decisions and propel your business forward. This data is gold for making smarter decisions. 

To help you get started, implement an end-of-month routine that is your commitment to regularly update, review and reflect. Make yourself the main beneficiary of the data and the knowledge. 

Then just flick your accountant a copy. After all, it’s your business, not theirs. 

5. Remember: you will always be an essential part of the process. 

Until the day you sell up or retire, you will be an essential part of your business’ success. 

While you’re in those early hustle days, you’re critical to the ‘doing’ getting done. As your organisation grows along with your team, the clarity of data and information organisation becomes more important as you zoom out and make bigger, broader decisions.

But the decisions are still yours to make.

Remain the expert of your enterprise. Educate yourself so you can trust your instincts, knowing you can back them up with facts. Make sure the information is well structured and close at hand to do so. And only hand information and tasks on to others when you fully appreciate the role they play.

Complete clarity creates confidence.

If this resonates with you, and you’d like to work together on developing your mindset around numbers, I can’t wait to get started. Book a FREE 30 minute chat with me and let’s get started: https://betterbusinessdecisions.com.au/ 

Disclaimer: These are yuck and boring but unfortunately a legal requirement for professionals in my industry. So just a reminder, the information contained here is general in nature and you should seek financial and business advice tailored to your own personal circumstances. Which, by no small coincidence, I can help you out with. Head over to my website and book a free 30 minute chat with me: https://betterbusinessdecisions.com.au/ 

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Hi there. Welcome to Better Business Insights with me, Liz Jarvis.
Today we're going to be talking about tax deductions. Is something tax deductible, or is it not?
There is so much conjecture around this. We've got to understand that. In fact, the tax legislation is simple. BUT it has complex carve outs.
So anything that you spend, in order to produce income is tax deductible, BUT then there are all these little carve-outs that say personal travel is not deductible.
Entertainment's not deductible.
Alcohol's not deductible.
This is not that deductible.
That's not deductible.
And so it's actually a little bit complicated, BUT but it's very important that you feel empowered to ask the right questions because the right questions around what is tax deductible for your business will give you the answers to enable you to make better business decisions.
Do not rely on your Bookkeeper to tell you what is deductible or not.
I've had a case quite recently, where a Bookkeeper really thought that they knew better than the Business Owner who had spoken to the Accountant about what was personal and what was business in that particular business.
Or sometimes you have a Bookkeeper who isn't sure what something is, so they just stick it all to drawings and you might have a hundred thousand dollars worth of things that are deductible because of the nature of them. Then your Bookkeeper just doesn't understand the nuances around the tax law in that area.
It is too risky to ask a friend, a colleague, someone else's business - what is deductible and what isn't?
Because it is always around context. So, a simple conversation around the context of a deduction can really make a huge difference to your business. And at the end of the day, you don't want a tax audit that discovers that things weren't done correctly and sets you back hours and hours of time sorting things out.
So look out for tax deductible items.
Also remember the rate of tax that you pay is what determines how big, the benefit of the tax deduction is. If you have lots and lots of losses and you want to go and get that deduction for the new $20,000 dollar vehicle? Well, that's all very fine, but actually the tax man won't be paying a cent of it.
So don't take tax advice from Salesman either. They have quite often [00:03:00] incorrect.
Hope this is helpful. And I'd love to hear from you if you've got any questions around what is tax deductible.
Please join us on another episode of Better Business Insights.

Hi there. Today we're going to be talking about getting ready for your Accountant at tax time. Now, this is a very important area that a lot of people get quite wrong, because. when your business accounts go to the Tax Accountant at the end of the financial year, often Business Owners think it's all done?. The Bookkeeper's done their job.
It's all set - we're right. And they might even think the Accountant doesn't have anything to do. Just spit out a tax return? But often that is not the case. You need to first look at the information that you're sending to your Accountant. Because you as a Business Owner should be able to have some feel for whether or not it's ready for the Accountant.
Things like it doesn't make sense to you. You should be able to read through your profit and Loss statement, look at the different types of income. Look at the different types of expenses. Does it speak to you? Is it making sense to you? The way things are categorised? Is it polluted? One of the things that I think is a real shame about our industry is Accountants that prepare tax returns have gone from, in the last 20 years since we've had the more of the do-it-yourself accounting, have gone from being able to sit down with you with your shoe box full of information. Talking about your business and how it's been, and then preparing that financial information from what you've told them and giving it to you in the form of a tax return.
Now, instead, sometimes that very important discussion is missed and your information s delivered by the cloud. Maybe conversations are had , and the accountant might find that there's all sorts of mess in there? Now you might've done something wrong. Your Bookkeeper, might've done something wrong.
The personal stuff might be in there with the business stuff. Anything could have happened with the data that's in there after all. There's a good saying; garbage in / garbage out, but if there are things missing, the garbage hasn't even got in there yet, if you haven't put in information about, perhaps using a vehicle, you might be missing out on some tax deduction.
So, it's still important that you talk to your Accountant. It's still important that you look at what's going to them before it gets there. So, if you've got any questions about preparing yourself, ready for your Tax Accountant, please reach out and join us on another episode of Better Business Insights.

When getting ready to pass your information on the accountant for preparation of tax returns, you can save heaps of time and money by checking a few key things.

Hi there. Welcome to today's episode of Better Business Insights.
Today We are going to talk about why I think accounting is broken because it's important for you to understand that accounting hasn't always been the big, scary monster that often people find it to be.
Accounting can be many other things. It's about collaboration between the numbers and your mindset about your business. It's about collaboration between an accounting type person and you the business owner, because without collaboration, you can't use the numbers to get better outcomes from your business.
Use those numbers to tell you what's working and what's not working in your business. Whether you're paying too much tax, whether you're paying too many wages, whether you haven't got a big enough margin?
All of those things are discovered when you work through the numbers. Often, after you
get the tax return back, that might be when you're looking at your numbers.
That's not enough - That type of accounting is the accounting that I think is broken.
So, reach out to your accounting professional, and start looking at your numbers today. We hope you enjoy them because that's what we are here for.
Thank you.

Accounting can be many other things. It's about collaboration between the numbers and your mindset about your business. It's about collaboration between an accounting type person, and you the Business Owner, because without collaboration, you can't use the numbers to get better outcomes from your business. Use those numbers to tell you what's working and what's not working in your business, whether you're paying too much tax, whether you're paying too many wages, whether you, haven't got a big enough margin. All of those things are discovered when you work through the numbers. Accounting often after you get the tax return back, that might be when you’re looking at your numbers. That's not enough. That type of accounting is the accounting that I think is broken. So, reach out to your accounting professional, and start looking at your numbers today. Want to know more ?

Hi there.
Thanks for joining us for this episode of Better Business Insights.
Today, we're talking about profit and profit is not led by metrics. It's actually often led by curiosity, the curiosity that surrounds what your customer will pay for your product.
The curiosity around, can we get our product cheaper so that we have more margin? The curiosity around are our overheads too high or too low. Is growth going to help our profit? Is cutting our costs, going to help our profit? Or are we actually cutting out essential parts of our business when we have profit?
So profit is not determined by metrics. Metrics are something that we apply - often after the fact. Profit comes from curiosity and an increased curiosity into your numbers will help your profits to grow, and will help you to better understand what's going on in the background of your
business so that you are making the decisions that make the difference!. And give you a better profit.
Thanks for joining us

Many business owners avoid their numbers and leave them up to someone else. When you do look at your numbers regularly you can find opportunity to improve your profits! If you are a beginner ask your accountant to walk you through your numbers the first few times. Unfortunately, many accountants don't have time to help their clients to understand - That's why we are here! Everything we do for our clients is with our clients - We empower them to be more confident and profitable through the exploration of their unique financial information. If you would like some support to understand your numbers reach out to us. We work directly with business owners through Zoom sessions to dig into your accounting system and explore - sometimes it's like a driving lesson where we can take control of your mouse to show you where to find what you are looking for.

Hi there. Welcome to Better Business Insights with me, Liz Jarvis. Today, we're talking about cashflow. Cashflow is a very important part of every business, whether you're starting out and you've got some savings built up, and you're wondering how they're going to decline or whether you've been in business for a very long time.
And you're ready to expand cashflow is a very, very complex calculation of the things that are going on in your business. Things that you have a lot of opportunity to make decisions about. So, for example, if your cashflow is getting tight and you're really just racing one day at a time to meet the things that you absolutely have to pay to stay going, that's okay.
Lots of people do. But if you do that for too long, you'll find that you've wasted money on freight charges. For example, that you didn't need to pay on extra interest on bank fees for speeding up the payments and things. And you might find yourself six months down the track, wishing that you had addressed your cashflow properly earlier.
Now often you'll need some assistance with that, and you'll need to have an understanding of how your business works with your numbers. So here at Better Business Decisions, we find it really important that business owners get some enjoyment out of their numbers. You need to start somewhere, but cashflow is now a bit of a more advanced topic.
However, if you've got specific tax, cashflow questions, you might like to reach out to us. Through our website or our Facebook page and ask away, we're happy to take.
Hi there. Welcome to Better Business Insights. I'm Liz Jarvis. Today. We’re going to be talking about margins, gross profit margins. Your gross profit margin is the amount of money that's left after you've taken off the cost of whatever you've sold. And this is an area where lots of people have rules of thumb.
You know, your margins should be this. It should be that. You know, in the fashion industry, it should be this in the car industry, it should be that. But, it's really important that you, as the business owner, engage in the process of deciding what your margin is, and deciding how you measure those costs that create the product that you're selling.
How much overhead should you be including in that cost? What about freight? How much does that vary? There are many, many things to examine when you look at your margin and it is the margin that ultimately determines just how profitable you can be. We have overheads, of course, that sometimes are fixed, but the difference between what you can sell your product for and what it costs you is a very important calculation and it can be manipulated quite badly.
I've had over the years experience of a number of different players manipulating a number of different things. So for example, your salesman might be throwing in free product or free time or discounts, and they might be doing this to close the deal.
But in doing that, they're pushing down the overall margin of the business and they might be doing it without you knowing, depending on how well your systems are set up to capture that information. Another thing that could happen is that whoever is involved in determining what's fixed and what's variable in a business hasn't taken into consideration all of the things that are important.
Now, the Business Owner really does need to get involved in these decisions. It's not the Accountant’s job, it can't be abdicated to somebody else. You've got to have a good idea of what goes on and what profitability that generates for your company. It's from getting that nuts and bolts understanding and working in collaboration with professionals that you can find the tweaks that are necessary to just get that extra inch of profit, [to understand, where it's worth moving into a market or not moving into a market, whether you've got enough margin to make that tender worthwhile and so on and so forth.
So, margin is a big topic. But it's one of the most important reasons that Business Owners should start to connect with their numbers. And that of course is why we're here at Better Business Decisions, because we want to empower business owners everywhere to actually enjoy their numbers. And what's more enjoyable than setting your gross profits at levels that make your business profitable.
Have a great day. See you next time.
Hi there. Welcome to Better Business Insights. My name is Liz Jarvis. And today we're going to be talking about one of my passions. “Your chart of accounts.”
Now the chart of accounts is simply the list of names and numbers, the words that make up the story of your business! The words that end up printed on your profit and loss statement and your balance sheet.
Now the problem is if those words are not meaningful to you, how the hell are you supposed to interpret them? How are you supposed to use that information for better business decisions? I’ve realised in some of the research that I've done.
In trying to work out how it is that business owners got so behind. In my passion that I want to] find the way to get business owners back to good relationships with their numbers. I worked out that one of the problems is these standard charts of accounts. Now ages ago, cash books were written up and the business owner was the one that decided what the label on the top of that column might've been.
So they decided: What things they wanted to track in their business. They wrote that into their cash book and their accountant then took that information and converted it into words that the tax office wanted to know about and produced financial statements that way so that they could fill the 10 or 15 or so fields in the tax return.
Then we had all this, “do it yourself, accounting” came in. Then we started to get some standard charts of accounts. But those charts of accounts might not be right for you. It's your story. You can change the words to be meaningful to you. Let me give you an example from farming, in the standard chart of accounts, that seems to be used all the time.
Here is a code for seed fodder and fertiliser, one code for those three things. And if you look at how detailed that can be for some farmers, the Dairy Australia standard chart of accounts is actually a good example. There could be up to 20 different categories that should be used for what is often one line, because we need more detail to make decisions.
We probably need to know how much the seed was, compared to the fodder, compared to the fertiliser. And yet they're generally lumped into one line.
So I won't go into great amounts of detail here, but I want you to have some curiosity. Profit and Loss and your Balance Sheet. What do those words mean?
How are those things being described? Does it mean anything to you? and if it doesn't, can you just change the names of those accounts? It's good to talk to your professional about whether or not that's okay. But I can guarantee you, if you use words that are meaningful to you in your chart of accounts, suddenly the story becomes clearer, your curiosity is more confident and you'll start to enjoy looking behind the scenes of what's going on in your business.
Now you can have more or less detail depending on how you like to work. I have clients that work with masses of detail. It works for them. It works with their brain and how it works. Sometimes we summarize that up for other analysis.
I have clients that don't want much detail at all.
There's no right. There's no wrong. It's not black and white - It's all a bit grey; But that's what we're here for to help you get good relationships with your financial information so that you can read it and find out your own story and then take your business to where you want it to be.
Thanks for joining me today. See you next time.

Welcome to Better Business Insights. I'm Liz Jarvis. Today we’re going to talk about curiosity and discovery and why it takes practise. Now you may have heard me before talk about the need for curiosity, when getting into your numbers and getting to understand your business. But it's not that simple, is it?
If you've not been encouraged to be curious, if you're scared of numbers or have been judged about those numbers, then you're going to find that you don't want to look at them, let alone get curious about them, but modern accounting systems are actually pretty cool for being curious. If you can pull your balance sheet or your P and L up - so profit and loss statement, is the story of your business for a period of time, about what came in and what went out. Your balance sheet is the story of your business at a point in time, not over, but at the balances at 30th of June, for example. If you can pull either of those two reports up on your screen in MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks - any of those - you can actually drill down.
It's pretty cool. You can drill down into those numbers and see what makes them up.
You can't really break it while you're just drilling down. You're not going to change any transactions. Don't let your Bookkeeper tell you that you shouldn't touch it. You should be curious.
Curiosity and discovery takes a bit of practise, but you've got to start somewhere. And the more you do it, the more you review your financial statements, the more you dig into things, the better you're going to understand whether those numbers are right or wrong. They say numbers don't lie and that's fine. They don't really, however, sometimes they're wrong and sometimes things are allocated to the wrong place. And, unfortunately, in this day and age without computers and everything being automated, they're quite often wrong because, you know, QuickBooks decided where to put that particular expense and the Bookkeeper didn't think that that was wrong, so off it goes into this corner or that corner.
So, it's more important than ever that we review our financial statements. And that's why you got to be curious. So have a go. Check some things out. Start to get curious, start to discover everything behind your financials. And if you come across any problems, reach out to us. We'd love to help or reach out to your Accountant or your Bookkeeper that you already have. If they're not giving you the answers you need, come and see us. We're an additional service. You don't have to change Bookkeepers or Accountants to have a chat with me about what your financial statements mean.
So I hope that's been a little bit helpful. I hope you'll get curious, share your stories with me about what you've discovered.
See you next time.

To make more money, find out more about how to read your Profit and Loss Statement and Balance Sheet. Numbers can lie if the decisions made about how they are allocated are misguided. Luckily you can drill down into your information to see what's behind it and get a feel for whether it's being correctly allocated. All it takes is a little curiosity - let me support you and show you the way with a free strategy session.

Hi, there I'm Liz Jarvis. Welcome to Better Business Insights. At our business, Better Business Decisions, we work with clients one-on-one to unpack all sorts of things that are going on in their business, and we apply our accounting knowledge to help them. Now, today I'm going to talk about “doing the books”. I mean, what does it mean anyway?
For some of you youngsters, it must make no sense at all. Why is it called “doing the books”? Well, not that long ago, when I started, PCs were only just happening. Not that long ago, Business Owners hand-wrote their books. They had cheque-books and cheque-butts, which they wrote on the butt of what that cheque was for. And the cheque went off in the mail and eventually got to where it was supposed to be, eventually got banked in the bank. And then, it would show up on your bank statement. “Doing the books” was writing up into a book, what your money had been spent on, what money had come in.
And so “doing the books” was the label that we had for getting your accounting information ready. Also, from that book's idea comes “cooking the books”. “Cooking the books” is about actually recording the information incorrectly, that might involve stealing money out of that business. Unfortunately, I've heard of a number of Bookkeepers that have stolen money from Business Owners, without them realising they're “cooking the books”.
It doesn't matter whether it's handwritten or into our modern computers, doing the bookkeeping is a very important part of a business. The Business Owner needs to check over the books, properties. It was easy when I was a ledger book and you could just look at it, make sense of it and say, “yep, that looks good enough”.
Now you've got to look inside the computer. How do you do that? It's confused a lot of people and it's made a lot of people scared. And a lot of Business Owners, abdicate that. They're like, ”Whoa, that's someone else's job. I don't understand it. It's got nothing to do with me.”. It's got everything to do with you.
The books tell the story of your business and no matter how they're getting into the computer and no matter what reports are coming out of the computer, that is a wealth of information for you. So, be careful. Like I said earlier, I'm from the time when there were books and even then, back in the fifties, sixties….Actually I finished school in the eighties, I'm not that old. There was a saying about computers when, when computers took up the whole room. - they said “to err is human, but to really foul things up, takes a computer”.
Now I think these days we use a different F word, but it can get really fouled up, really fouled up in your computer because things happen these days. It's fantastic. It's all automated. And the bank feed comes in and the software decides based on all sorts of statistical observation. The fuel docket comes in - no, I'll rephrase that.. Something comes in from Smith Proprietary Limited, and the computer might assume that’s for petrol because there's this other Smith Pty Ltd that everybody has stuff for that's for petrol, but maybe it's marketing, maybe it's for something else.
Maybe the interface between that data coming in automatically, and the way it's recorded in your business books, isn't being properly observed. I mean, if you've just, offshored your bookkeeping - who set the rules? Who decided what goes where? Back when we had cheque butts, we decided: this is for fuel, this is for dog food, whatever.
Now that interface isn't so much there and a business owner, more than ever, needs to look at the output of the books. The output is your profit and loss statement, your balance sheet. It's really important to get to understand them and look at them regularly, which is another topic on one of my other Better Business Insights. Reach out if we can help in any way. Reach out through our social media, through our website. We'd love to hear from you because we want Business Owners to be able to make better business decisions using their financial information.
Have a fantastic day. See you next time!

Are you a business owner that isn't really sure about bookkeeping? Well you certainly are not alone. The problem is without a base understanding of what " doing the books" is all about you may be leaving money on the table! To help you to understand, I explore some of the terminology of the past and the transformation to the tools we have now. Be sure you are protected from unscrupulous people stealing form your business by having a better understanding of how that could happen.

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