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The zombie apocalypse is here 🧟

April 27, 2023

Things that should be on your radar this month 👀

  1. ICYMI: The Treasurer released the findings of a landmark enquiry into Australia’s Reserve Bank, and the government is planning to implement all 51 recommendations. Read about the proposed changes and the impact they could have on our economy here.
  2. Food delivery company Milkrun became the latest in a string of on-demand grocery startups to fold earlier this month, with its founder blaming an increasingly tough economic environment for the closure. We were impressed to see the call was made early enough that the company had enough money to pay all of its staff and suppliers – this doesn’t happen often enough.
  3. March saw a sharp spike in company insolvencies, with analysts reporting that tough economic conditions have already picked off most zombie companies (in what the AFR has dubbed a zombie apocalypse) and have started affecting relatively healthy businesses.
  4. Slack has launched its next-gen API that makes it easier for developers to design integrations. We can’t wait to see what the community comes up with (and maybe we’ll have a tinker around ourselves).
  5. ANZAC day fell on a Tuesday this year, and HR experts are advocating for business owners to encourage their employees to take extra long weekends when future public holidays fall midweek. One expert said “Smart employers will jump on the chance to help the team plan for that and maximise their holiday time” in order to be proactive about supporting work-life balance.

Tech we’re super excited to try

🌩️ Prompt Storm: If you’ve started using ChatGPT like a search engine (which you absolutely should be doing, by the way) you’ll love this prompt generation app that gives you exactly the answer you were looking for.

🔊 Krisp: Say goodbye to terrible audio quality on calls 👋  This app uses AI to improve audio input and output in virtual meetings, so you can concentrate on what your collaborator is saying, not the weird noise coming from off-camera. Oh, and did we mention it transcribes the meeting for you, too?

🖥️ ProBase: We never thought we’d get so excited about a monitor stand 😳 It’s got multiple ports for charging and data transfer, plus a wired ethernet connection. It also looks *really* nice.

The highs 📈  and lows 📉 of small business life

📈 One thing you’ll hear us say over and over again is: We’re more than accountants – we’re an extension of your team. These close relationships make us better accountants, and they also mean lots of clients are our friends, too. Earlier this month, a client asked our founder Liam to look after his house and dog while he was on holiday with his family. It’s displays of trust like this that reinforce we’re on the right track, and that our ways of working really do bring our ethos to life.

📉 We’re working on something big for Project Alfred right now, and while we can’t wait to tell everyone about it soon, there’s a lot of work to be done before we see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We’ve always made sure to build time into our schedules to work on our business, but we’ve been taken off guard by how much time this particular project is demanding of us. It’s reinforced that running a business can be challenging, and it’s reminded us that managing workloads is more of an art than a science – we’ve certainly had to get creative!

Productivity hacks 👩‍💻

  • We’ve got two messages for all the Slack users out there: 1. You’re cool, and 2. You need to start using the status feature more. Being able to contact your team quickly and easily is great for productivity, but being constantly available can easily become a huge distraction

    The status feature lets you set a custom message and an emoji to communicate at a glance how available you are to chat. You could put yourself as things like 🥗 On lunch or 🗓️ In a meeting, but you could also mark yourself as 🙉 Focused or ✍️ On a deadline if you need some time without distractions. You could also just have some fun with it and mess with your team, which is also a great option.
  • This might sound obvious, but if you’re finding yourself with too few hours in a day to run your business, it’s probably time to outsource some of your work.

    We might be biased, but we think bookkeeping should be the first to go. While it’s relatively straightforward if you’re using platforms like Xero, you’re probably underestimating the amount of time you spend managing your finances. Check out how we saved one business 60 hours a month by taking on their books, and ask yourself what you would do with all that extra time.

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Lately, we’ve been in a pattern of signing these newsletters off with a note about all the grim business news floating around, but let’s be honest: Reading about rising company insolvency rates and general doom and gloom about economic conditions is stressful when you’re running a business. As regular readers would know, we’re massive advocates for finding healthy ways to deal with that stress – but today we’ll offer some general practical advice.

Always look through the lens of sustainability. As a business owner, there will be times when you’ll be faced with decisions between a windfall profit and a slower, but more reliable, source of income. (And it almost goes without saying, but not spending windfalls or outside investments wisely is a surefire way to land yourself in hot water.) One-off cash injections are all well and good, but if your revenue isn’t reliable enough to build a comprehensive cash flow forecast it’s worth thinking about diversifying your income streams.

Businesses with well-established ongoing customer relationships are simply more resilient. If you don’t have those, there’s no time like the present to start building them.

That's just our two pennies' worth.

- Liam and Amy, co-founders of Project Alfred

(changing the way people think about accounting)

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