ABNs – Important News

This is an article I shared with my own VA network members and was asked to share it here too. This relates to all VAs in Australia.

A year or so ago I asked for stories of those who were struggling to obtain, or keep their ABN for their business. The reason why I asked this is because an organisation, of which I am on the Board, is looking into these matters and dealings with the ATO and building a picture. We are now aware of over 30 cases and are looking for more. Self Employed Australia (formerly Independent Contractors Australia) is a group that was formed some years ago to assist and aid those who are self-employed here in Australia. You would do well to subscribe to their newsletter. Their article ‘Can an Incoming Tide be Stopped?‘ is just one example. But you might also like to read ‘Lies and blatant misrepresentation really get up our nose!‘ I’m sure you’ll find them interesting reading.  In fact, all of their articles are worth reading. You’ll see a list of others on the right of the screen when you view either of them.

The two articles above are very recent and the ATO are aware we’re watching them. That’s where you come in. If you’ve contacted me before, or even of you haven’t, and have a story you want to share, please do get in touch with me direct so that I can let this group know about the challenges you, or someone you know, has been experiencing. The more numbers we can get, the better.  Just today someone on their Facebook group (more members welcome) shared she knew of several people who had problems with obtaining ABNs or keeping them with no explanation, no notice, nothing. It is important to make sure that each and every one of you do have a separate bank account for your business and that you’re not using a personal account only. This is one of the things that is a trigger for the ATO with respect to withdrawing ABNs.  We have even had Robert Gottliebsen write articles in The Australian on things that the Self Employed Australia group have been working on. And it is good having someone with such a high profile on our side.

Now, it’s possible your Accountant might have told you that you don’t need to have a separate bank account as a sole proprietor – that has certainly been discussed recently on a VA forum at Facebook. However, other Accountants advise that you should (mine did). While the ATO website indicates you don’t need to, what ATO staff say can be quite different – depending on who you get on the phone.  Why risk your business for the sake of one bank account? Besides it makes it easier for tax and accounting purposes if all, or most transactions, in that one account are business related rather than mixed with personal stuff.

If you have had challenges with accessing or keeping an ABN, the Self Employed Australia group would really like to know about it. And their membership is worth exploring. If ever you did end up with a case against the ATO, knowing this group is on your side is going to be worth it. Feel free to contact me (Kathie) direct if you wish to discuss. You can find me online or ask the AVAA committee to put you in contact with me.

Kathie M. Thomas,
AVAA Past President

Why It’s Important to Attend Your Industry’s Conventions or Conferences

The Australian Virtual Assistants Association is proud to announce it will be holding its 8th Annual Conference end of April 2017

The Australian Virtual Assistants Association is proud to announce it will be holding its 8th Annual Conference – The Australian Virtual Assistant Conference, AVAC 2017, on 28th and 29th April 2017 in Melbourne, Victoria.

Every year VAs join together to celebrate their industry and learn from prominent speakers, mix with their peers, network, share tips and ideas and just to have fun.

Social Media interaction and connection via online forums and Facebook groups is not enough to stay active in your industry. Interaction via a live setting with your peers is an important part of staying connected. Face to face interaction helps you engage and participate in your industry organisation. It’s all too easy not to commit to an annual event when life gets busy and day to day priorities take precedent.

Face to face is still the number one way to connect. It’s the interactions with your peers, suppliers and other attendees which can be the most valuable part of the event. Deeper, meaningful conversations during the breakout sessions can help you develop new ideas and meet potential business partners. Also, discussing talks given by the speakers with your peers helps to reinforce learnings and ideas developed while in the conference room.

Due to the current unstable economic climate of rapid global change where business owners may not need full time assistance, Virtual Assistants (VAs) are now more in demand than ever before and play a crucial support role. They align themselves with small business operators, solo entrepreneurs and major corporations on an “as needs” basis or for a set amount of hours on a regular basis. Working as a solo business owner can be isolating and there’s the potential to lose touch with what’s happening in your industry. Coming together at industry events helps you stay on top of the latest global, national and local business trends and enables you to exchange ideas with others to add to your knowledge and productivity.

Even though this event is targeted at VAs you don’t need to be a VA to benefit from what the speakers and attendees have to share. Any small business owner or potential VAs would gain value by attending.

Your industry event needs to be scheduled in and planned for way ahead of time and should be a non-negotiable in your diary.

Click on this link http://australianvaconference.com/ to find out more about this event and decide whether it’s for you.


Industry Survey

We often get people contacting AVAA for statistical information on our industry and we’d love to have first-hand information we can share with them. Please do participate and share it with anyone else you know who is a VA, irrespective of the country they are in. We want to spread this as far and wide as possible amongst all VA forums and groups.

To access the survey please click on this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AVAA2016web

Do you want to be a VA?

Want to be a VA? Do you know what it takes? It’s not as easy as you think … The reality is that not just ‘anyone’ could become a VA and it is important that you have good keyboarding skills and are familiar with the software programs that you are providing support in.

So often we see people commenting on forums that they have a new client and now they need to learn how to do ………….  That is not a good way to start a new working relationship with a client.

There is a vast difference between working for a client for a period of time who has gained trust in your abilities, who then asks you to explore or try something you haven’t done before. I have had that happen often, as I know many experienced VAs have. But it’s not how to start off your business. And you must understand that this is a business and should be taken seriously.

If you’re looking to start out as a VA then please read the article on our site and then look to join any of the VA networks listed on our site so you can be mixing and mingling with other VAs. Join our Facebook group and learn from that also. And also consider doing a VA course or a business management course, to help you on your way. That’s not to say everyone needs training. If you’ve been in a managerial position in the corporate world for a few years you may have all the skills and experience you require to succeed. But worth checking them out anyway.

Help us to help you be more professional in your role as a VA and let us know what else we can do to assist.

Ernst & Young goes offshore for VA support

Another large corporate, Ernst & Young, has decided to take their support needs offshore, thereby taking more jobs away from Australia. To date we’re not aware of them actually contacting any Australian based VAs to provide the support they needed. I wonder if they even know we exist – despite having been here since 1996 – the industry that is, not our association 🙂

It is important that all VA networks here in Australia, and VAs individually, help to educate the public and particularly businesses, about the benefits of engaging a VA, or VAs, here in Australia.

While it might cost a lot to employ full time staff, the reality is that engaging a VA means only paying $$ per hour (or a package rate) for the work being done. There are no extras such as morning and afternoon teas, or lunch, or leave breaks, or sick leave, or equipment, software, Superannuation, taxes, or any of the other overheads involved in engaging staff.  This has to be an immediate saving in itself.

The majority of VAs here in Australia have good corporate background experience and, I daresay, there are probably some who used to work with E&Y and know their work culture.

Hey, Ernst & Young, and other corporations, please do look in your own backyard and consider the Australian VA workforce that is here, ready, willing and able!  We’ll save you money, know the language and culture of our land, understand the laws and tax needs here and will also protect your IP. After all, we’re governed by the same laws you are.