Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Storybox Celebrates 1000 Hunter Stories


The Story Box in the Hunter.
What's the Story Box? It is a small box with a phone inside that is passed from person to person across the region.
Anyone who has possession of it must answer the phone when it rings and tell their story to 1233 ABC Newcastle.
The chain of stories continues until someone breaks the chain and fails to be there for the call. 
It has been in the hands of some amazing people with remarkable stories.
Follow the Story Box on SoundCloud. For archived stories click here.

Original Story Box - The Red Tardis

Story Tellers gathering at the ABC radio carpark to celebrate 1000 stories

Follow ABC Radio 1233 on Facebook and Twitter

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Rail Light On Parking In Newcastle

Visual of the way the light rail should look has been released.

Two hundred and eighty car parking spaces in Hunter Street are to go.  The spokesperson has suggested people should "leave their cars at home".

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Rankin Park Hospital A War Idea

A strange factoid on Treasure Hunter on the ABC radio fascinated me, so I went did some digging on Trove. 
The hospital at Rankin Park being built in response to the threat from invaders during WW2 - with the Royal Newcastle hospital being on the shoreline and in firing range.
For some years this hospital served as a respiratory disease ward, with patients suffering from tuberculosis and other ailments. Now of course it is a rehabilitation centre associated with the John Hunter. 

Trove - Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate  Thursday 12 June 1947
Thursday 17 April 1947
And what do you know? Transport for visitors to the hospital was a contentious issue even in 1948!
Thursday 27 May 1948

Rankin Park Hospital 1950

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Headphone Project On Facebook

  • The Headphone Project is a community based group in Newcastle NSW designed to help local musicians be heard. 

  • The Headphone Project is a collaborative piece from:

    Architect - Mark Tisdell
    Fabricator - Tom Ireland
    Graphic Designer - Sean Bell
    Electronic Engineer - Adrian Garner 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hunter Daytrip: The Drip Gorge Ulan

Looking for somewhere different to visit from the Hunter Valley? Check out The Drip, a sandstone gorge complete with ferns, moss, crevices and some Brett Whiteley rock painting! 

Government to purchase The Drip gorge

The Herald reports that The Drip is now back in government hands and will become part of the nearby national park, safe from coal mining. See details here 

From ABC

Water drips slowly onto rocks below, all along the sandstone gorge which lies next to the Goulburn River, near the New South Wales coal mining town of Ulan.

Locals regard The Drip as a national treasure: it has rich Aboriginal heritage, and is a popular picnic spot for residents and tourists."

The Drip Gorge Goulburn River: is a special place with a cathedral-like atmosphere. walk into The Drip Gorge through a riverside forest, past sculptured sandstone caves, honeycombed rocks and archways. ‘The drip’ or ‘Great Dripping Wall’ is a towering sandstone cliff-face dripping clear spring water into the clear pools of the rocky river bed. 

The Goulburn River National Park starts immediately down-river. A 1km walk along the river bed rock, brings to you the ‘Corner Gorge’. Travel 50km (30mins) north of Mudgee along the Ulan-Cassilis Road (37km from Gulgong) and 10km north of Ulan Mine. More information click here 

The Drip Gorge - Upper Hunter

Deep in the sandstone embrace of the Drip gorge, just north of Mudgee, is a painting - the work the result of a bush retreat in 1970 by internationally renowned Australian artist Brett Whiteley.

Campsite information at The Drip 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Jamie Parker Bookkeeper

Jamie Parker Accredited Bookkeeper - Newcastle NSW 
“I have noticed a lack of personal attention throughout the financial services industry. My goal is to give clients the service they need at a price they can afford.”

Do you have a particular industry or niche that you tend to work with business from? 

My niche is in Hospitality and Retail. These are the areas that I have a passion for and the businesses that need the most help. As they generally have the largest employee base in small business, they need constant assistance to decipher their complicated taxation, super and payroll obligations.

What advantages and traps do you see that are particular to young entrepreneurs?

Advantages: Young entrepreneurs have incredible motivation and passion for their businesses. They understand the market they’re appealing to and often have the confidence associated with youth to set themselves apart from the other competitors in their industry.

They have the energy to invest heavily in new concepts. Consumers are attracted to businesses that appeal to their interests and take extra steps to show their appreciation for their loyalty.

Disadvantages: Young entrepreneurs are often attracted to the idea of working for themselves. The majority don’t understand the amount of time and money that gets invested into running a successful business. Goals and hard work DO NOT ENSURE SUCCESS.

These are great attributes for any entrepreneur, however, these along with a good business plan and a small team of experienced professionals can help lead to a very profitable enterprise!

What would you say are the three most common problems that these businesses present with when you start working with them?

Trust in business is essential. Young entrepreneurs need to understand that being in total control is not often healthy. A good businessman/businesswoman understands when to offload their responsibilities.

  1. Poor Planning

Most businesses will often assume that a plan is going to develop over time. This is not the case. Business is a dollars and cents game.

Have a clearly established business plan. Have an exit plan, in case you wish to sell down the track.

In Accounting we use benchmarks to assess a business’ financial performance. These benchmarks are provided on the ATO website.

Benchmarks provide a target percentage for the expenses within the business, based on its turnover.

To understand more clearly:

Café Benchmark:

Wages: 27%

Turnover= $1 000 000

Total Wages per annum should be equal to or less than= $270 000

Business owners should use this as their guide.

A suggestion is to first create a realistic estimate for the Gross Turnover of the business in its first year, based on the surrounding market. They can then use the benchmarks as a guide for their pricing.

If the benchmarks can’t be met on that pricing, they need to re-evaluate the pricing in their business plan.

  1. Business Capital

Once invested in a company, it is important for any equity personally contributed to remain within the business. Owners should not be taking money from the business as they see fit. Rather, they benefit more by paying themselves a wage, allowing their equity share to grow with their assets. The wealthiest people in the world have become that way through the understanding of working capital.

Using equity invested in the business to pay something like backdated wages, although fixing the problem temporarily, often creates larger issues in the long term. If businesses are needing to borrow funds externally to pay wages, they have a serious cash flow problem that needs to be reviewed.

  1. Delegation of Responsibilities

A good work environment promotes a good work ethic.

Part of creating a good work environment is allowing employees the freedom to undertake their tasks with some independence. There should be procedures in place to guide staff, but micro-managing can often put added stress on the business owner as well as the employees.

A business owner’s biggest asset is their time.

Proper delegation of tasks ensures that the business owner has the time and energy to focus on the performance and growth of their business.

There needs to be a mutual trust between business owners and staff. If the team is not performing, this will become evident over time. Staff have a good sense of fairness, and will normally inform you as the business owner if they feel that another staff member is not pulling their weight.

Is there a particular training that businesses like this would benefit from doing that is not generally undertaken in the industry?

In most enterprises, the owner of the business has come from a background in the industry that they are trading in.

On the assumption they have previous experience in their industry, most business owners would benefit by undertaking a business course of some kind. This does not mean a 2-day seminar. Such seminars are often filled with slogans like “Make Your Dreams a Reality!” and quotes from celebrities with no business expertise. They are usually a sales pitch and lack any real practical advice on business growth.

Again, business is dollars and cents. An inspirational quote will not magically create cash flow within a business.

The courses most beneficial to a small business owner are usually accredited. They lay out the pros and cons of running a business and educate the business owner on how to manage their staff and their finances. Correctly identifying ways to cut costs and increase turnover are essential in running a profitable business. Therefore pick the right course.

How much money should someone reasonably expect to make in a business like this in the first few years? 

If it is an individual’s first venture, they need to be prepared to sacrifice an income while they grow their business. Income is accumulated over time. After paying the government, creditors and employees, there is often no surplus of funds from which to draw an income. Most businesses experience this during their initial period of growth. It is important to note that most successful entrepreneurs have had to endure these hardships.

A business’ value is commonly associated with the value of its assets less any debts.

Therefore, by accumulating assets in the business and making an earnest effort to pay off any debts associated with those assets, business owners grow their equity in the business and its resale value. A good bookkeeper and accountant will make an earnest effort to monitor and track the business’ assets, which is why it is so important to understand the value of these professionals.

To ensure the best chance of success, it may be best to consult professionals in the conceptual stage of the business.  

I see many cafes and restaurants opening and closing again in only a year or two. Can hospitality businesses improve the potential of their business to be one of the ones that lasts for the long term and is sell-able when the owners want to move on?

Most businesses close due to poor planning. They often hire financial professionals later on in their first year of operation. Hiring an accountant late can be like hiring a doctor post-mortem.

It is important not to narrow pricing margins in order to compete or undercut competitors in the industry. Business owners would do well to invest in a good quality product, rather than sacrificing the quality of that product to bring down their pricing.

For someone looking to start a new business, is there a way to calculate how much money they will need to have in reserve to support the business beyond the initial set-up costs? 

Each business requires different financial support. An accountant and business advisor can provide forecasting. The assistance of these professionals can give you some idea of the initial start-up costs. These costs in a start-up café/restaurant can include:

Rent and rental bond
Kitchen Equipment etc.

I see a lot of restaurant owners complaining lately about penalty rates. Is this not just a cost of doing business that should be factored in to the business by the owner as part of their business plan? 

Unfortunately, penalty rates are just a cost of trading. In the hospitality and retail sector, the weekends tend to be a higher turnover period, which is some consolation.

Business owners must follow the rules governed by Fair Work Australia. There are heavy penalties associated with non-compliance. As penalty rates are based on percentage, it may be more beneficial for a business to employ juniors during periods where penalty rates apply.

What are some other expenses that you find are not budgeted for or funded to get done that the business needs for it to be sustainable and able to last the distance?

Often businesses underestimate the cost of their wages. Although the business may pay an hourly rate, they often don’t include the costs associated with the employment of their staff. For example things like Super, Insurance, Annual Leave, Sick Leave, Worker’s Compensation etc. are commonly overlooked and not budgeted for when allowing for labour cost.

As a bookkeeper, I often find that business owners rarely separate their income from the GST that they have charged. Along with GST Withheld comes PAYG Withholding and other taxes that are lodged at BAS time.

When these accumulated taxes are not withheld, BAS time can hit a business hard. By correctly tracking GST and PAYG Withholding obligations, a business can ensure that at BAS time they have the funds aside to pay the government in a timely manner.

Have you found that businesses are typically good at pricing their goods? What is a good tip for a restaurant or cafe when it comes to pricing? 

Pricing is usually quite fair across the restaurant and café industries due to the overwhelming amount of competition. These businesses should aim to price their products somewhere mid-range.

Turnover is what helps promote the success of a hospitality business. Turnover in hospitality is linked to the number of patrons that frequent a business and how often they do so.

In the restaurant and café industries, patrons are attracted to service, atmosphere and product. Combined with a good location and the correct use of marketing tools such as social media and promotional deals, these businesses are more likely to see growth.

If you could advise every person considering starting a new business in hospitality, what would be your key recommendations for them BEFORE they start ... and when the business opens? 

As a bookkeeper I cannot legally advise anyone. As someone with a strong client base in hospitality I can suggest that these businesses estimate how much time they can commit and how much money they can invest. Regular family commitments and personal problems often distract a business owner from efficiently running their businesses. An honest self-evaluation of personal commitments will help a business owner decide if they can commit 100% to the growth of their business.

Once these decisions have been made, it is important that they seek professional advice BEFORE starting their business.

These professionals can suggest business structures that reduce tax and overall ways to ensure accuracy and efficiency in payroll function, pay rates, bank account structure and financial reporting. On the opening of the business they should work with small this team of professionals to keep clearly informed on the performance of their new venture.
In business, information is power. Your team of business service professionals can give your business the best chance of success.

Running a successful business can be a very rewarding accomplishment! Surround yourself with people that are passionate about your business!

Jamie Parker is: 
An Accredited Bookkeeper with a professional background in:

Industry Niches:
Construction &
Business Services

Value Focus:
A focus on timely and accurate reports for Financial Performance and BAS.

A networking professional with connections in:

Financial Services &
Legal Services

A full range of bookkeeping services including:

Bank Reconciliations
Financial Reporting &
GST Tracking

Accounting software:
Highly experienced using Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks.

You can reach Jamie Parker at
M 0412 938 049

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day Trips: Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens cover an area of 140 hectares, much of which has been preserved as natural bushland.

2100 Pacific Highway, (20 mins north of Newcastle), Heatherbrae NSW 2324, Australia +61 2 4987 1655

 The Gardens, which were opened to the public in 1986, are designed, developed and managed by a non-profit company of volunteers. The development of the Gardens was recognised in 1999, with the winning of the 'Significant Regional Attraction' award in the Hunter Regional Awards for Excellence in Tourism.

Hunter Region Botanic Gardens Website

Hunter Region Ecology
The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, through its Rare Plants Committee, is involved in research into the ecology of the Hunter Region of New South Wales, with a focus on Plant Biodiversity.
Technical Papers reporting this research and discussing Hunter Region Ecology are available in this section of the Gardens website, using the links below:
Hunter Region Ecosystems

See more on Panoramia