A CEO start-up guide to personal taxes

Communities

People depend on the CEO to get things right. A failure to manage your personal taxes may see you damage your reputation, send your startup belly up and let down all those people looking at you as an inspirational start-up CEO.

A chance to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a startup company can be one of the most exciting, challenging, inspiring, risky and adrenalin-filled periods of your life. Particularly for young innovators and entrepreneurs, the dynamic and fast paced environment can leave little time to reflect on your own tax position or obligations to any new employees.

A lot of great startups come undone by neglecting the mundane — but essential — regulatory or compliance functions. So while I would love to write an inspiring story of innovation and success, Why? Because you are the CEO and it is your job to get it right.

Read my full blog here.

Will your business expenses trigger a personal audit?

phone deer horns

Are you worried your business tax deductions will make you stand out? New techniques and ever evolving technology, may make you more obvious than you think. Photo © Andrew McIntosh CPA

Some of us went crazy with the Game of Thrones grand finale, with the show becoming the most pirated program in history. Australians were the worst offenders. Digital piracy is illegal; so too is tax evasion.

If you have cheated the tax system, it may not impact you now as a struggling entrepreneur or business owner, but perhaps years later when you are held to account for your actions. Long after the moment of greed, or seeming need, you may have a partner, child and a thriving business by then.

Do you participate in the cash or hidden economy? Read the full article here.

Storify: the Telstra 2013 Australian Digital Summit

On Tuesday Telstra hosted the 2013 Australian Digital Summit in Melbourne, social media and the #DigitalSummit hashtag went into overdrive.

Tools, strategies, innovations and techniques are constantly evolving in the digital space.

Storify.com

If you have not seen Storify before, please take a look at what it does here and also check out our story as a resource to catch up on what you may have missed at the Digital Summit!Today we spent about an hour using “Storify” to create a record of the #socialmedia chatter that surrounded the hashtag #DigitalSummit this week.

Minor CBA system upgrade leads to bank meltdown and social media backlash

The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has taken a beating overnight on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook. What started as a ‘minor upgrade’ to NetBank ended in a social media and literal spat for cash. By 3am the issue had not been resolved, with CBA customers at the end of their tether.

Read the posts on Storify.

It all started with a small Facebook post on the CBA page on Sunday 27, 2013. It was not dissimilar to the outage notice of the night before (1am – 7am), about a minor upgrades, except this notice was of an earlier start to a 6 hour upgrade may impact some accounts from 6pm-12midnight on Sunday evening:

“We’re upgrading NetBank tonight, making several minor enhancements to Australia’s #1 online bank. NetBank, mobile, tablet and CommBank Kaching apps will be online, however some accounts and features will be unavailable 6pm-12midnight (AEDT) on Sunday 27 October. You can stay up-to-date commbank.com.au/update
 

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The post from the Saturday outage from 1am caused no ripples, with 56 people liking that update and about 25 comments. Sunday’s post, however, turned into something of a social media storm with 85 likes and nearly 500 Facebook comments on the post and over 100 comments directly on the Commonwealth Bank’s Facebook Page. The @NetBank Twitter account also did a short innocuous tweet about the same time, then seemed to go to sleep for two hours before it responded to the tweets for updates, cash and help. Initially mild queries and complaints came in of inconvenience came in:

  • small business owners lamented the timing for their Australian Taxation Office Business Activity Statement due on Monday;
  • some asked “is netbank not working at the moment?”

Then some more desperation started to appear in the posts, like from Angela on Facebook over a 2 hour period:

  • What is going on?? I tried to make a purchase from a store and my card was declined…I went to an ATM and i kept getting error messages…I have tried calling …no response…..NOT HAPPY
  • I’m pissed off…i’ve been a customer since forever..paid THOUSANDS in interest and this is the service I get????
  • And what is wrong with the call centre…why cant I get through to anybody ..it even hangs up on me!! Very frustrsting. Feel sorry for the person at my local branch in the morning

After several hours, the impact of the “minor up-grade” became more apparent, with CBA customers almost crying out for help:

  • unable to pay for dinner or takeaway
  • spending hours shopping then being unable to pay
  • “humiliation” and “embarrassment” at having their cards declined
  • people trapped at petrol stations with a full tank but unable to pay
  • others frantic to transfer money, pay rent or withdraw cash
  • customers unable to pay for flights and facing the possibility of losing flights
  • employers unable to pay their staff 

And so the list of individual dramas, tension and frustration continued. Several CBA employees jumped in to defend the corporate giant and leading to with a tongue in cheek poke at impatient customers, led to them being identified as employees and images of their full name, work role and other details being taken as screen shots and posted online. CommBank posted a warning directed at several individuals, deleted several customer posts that identified an employee and reminded the customers of the Facebook Community Guidelines.

At 2:15 am CBA updated their web page with “We’ve had an unexpected issue that we’re working hard to resolve. We still have more investigation and testing to do before we bring our systems back up.”

At 2:30am the CBA posted on Facebook “Hi everyone, we apologies that NetBank still isn’t available right now. We’ve had an unexpected issue that we’re working hard to resolve. We still have more investigation and testing to do before we bring our systems back up. This is all the information we have at present, our next update will be later this morning. Again, we apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.”

And that brings us to 3am when this writer will cease monitoring the situation. I became involved while trying to phone the CBA tonight to advise of overseas transactions on my account, only to eventually get the message “we have encountered a technical problem” and the call was terminated by the CBA.

Creating value for society is not only measured in terms of publications and grants

On 28th Nov 2012, Senator Evans announced, on behalf of the Australian government, the National Research Investment Plan.

The plan states a commitment to “deliver a strong, cohesive research fabric”. I sincerely hope this means there will be renewed focus on developing a stronger “research and commercialisation ecosystem” than what we have today in Australia. If so, then this provides hope that we may be able to attract back to Australia and also retain, more of the experience necessary to help the nation better captialise on our world-class science.

And then there is the Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research in Australia, with the McKeon Review being finalised this month.

Will either of these reviews improve Australia’s biotech ecosystem?

I hope so.

Is there enough recognition that a key training ground for developing and commercializing medicines is the Biotech and Pharmaceutical industry? Some skills can only be obtained by “doing”.

Encouraging cross sector collaboration is key. Breaking down silos between academia, clinical practice and industry and encouraging easier movement of professionals across the sectors.

This works at a student and also senior practitioner level. One barrier to fluid movement across the industry and academic interface is the old “publish or perish” mentality. A greater awareness that “impact” and “creating value for society” is not only measured in terms of publications and grants.

An excellent example is the Monash University and Gates Inhaled Oxytocin program.This collaboration brings in the best and brightest, irrespective of sector, to be focused on finding a solution to the critical issue of postpartum hemorrhage.


Creating a new medicine is never a slam dunk. We wish it was. This means academic investigators engaged in such programs, based on the old “publish or perish” mentality risk their publication records whilst pursuing these potentially life changing areas. Should they be trading off career versus impact to society?

Extend this argument now to innovators who have left to academic environments to work on life changing medicines in biotech and Pharma.

We need the Australian research ecosystem to encourage, not discourage cross-sector collaboration. I hope the outcome of the reviews above address this mind-set.

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Optimize Business guest blogger Dr. Craig Rayner BPharm BPharmSc(Hons) PharmD MBA MAICD, is blogging at drcraigrayner.com and is Director of Clinical Pharmacology (previously Global Due Diligence Director) at Roche and Adjunct Associate Professor, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University.

Stranded sea turtles could help Australia transform locally discovered molecules into global medicines

How many of you had seen the articles Smart Country Sells Itself Short and Australia Blind to the Innovation Boom – Beattie published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 10th November 2012? Well, ironically, I was first made aware of these articles by three antipodean, but internationally stranded sea turtles!

The article titles themselves paint a view that is shared by many ‘international’ Australians who, having left for foreign shores at various stages of their careers, are faced with the desire of returning home; it hits a particularly raw nerve with those of us closely involved in the development and commercialisation of medicines.

The strengths of Australian science, discovery and optimisation of potential new drugs, are appreciated here at home, and also abroad. We celebrate our fair share of Nobel laureates and the discovery triumphs of brilliant scientists: Ian Frazer and his Queensland team’s cervical cancer vaccine discovery, the discovery of flu-fighting Relenza at CSIRO and Monash University; and world class research productivity from institutes like the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research that showcases Australia’s outstanding research focused medical fraternity.

So why is it that Australia sits 107th on the 2012 Global Innovation Index, behind Georgia, Malawi and Colombia?  As Peter Beattie highlighted, “Our basic research is world-class, our commercialisation is not”. Australia is viewed as a rich hunting ground for “early stage opportunities” for international medicine developers.  Real value capture in the life sciences space for Australia is lost when we sell our drugs too early in the development process. Rather, we should be managing risk and intelligently moving some of these early opportunities further along the development path. This requires “development and commercialisation” skills.

This process of “development and commercialisation” of a medicine, like rocket science, is extremely complex, expensive (>$1Bn), risky (<10% of drugs that eventually make it into humans reach the market), and it is definitely not an “individual” sport. It requires “teams” of dedicated, top minds tackling a problem from multiple perspectives in parallel. A typical core drug development team may have 10 or more highly qualified representatives (most with doctoral degrees, and many with multiple qualifications across disciplines) from diverse functional areas, each supported by many others. Roles include medical development, clinical pharmacology, clinical safety, toxicology, pharmaceutical science, project management, operations, commercial, intellectual property, modelling and simulation, epidemiology, regulatory affairs, health economics as well as very smart project leadership.

For a molecule to become a medicine, each of these elements must come together and be integrated successfully.  A seasoned “medicine developer” is someone who has not only deep technical knowledge, but importantly, an ability to integrate knowledge (and to ask for expert help as required) gained from substantial experience working within cross-functional development teams  solving development problems. The process of applying science in this way is not a discipline which is taught in Universities, but rather is a skill and art which is only learned by experience.

In contrast to US and Europe, this profile of a development professional is under-recognized, under-valued and under-resourced in Australia. A major reason is Australia’s lack of critical mass in this area, a fact which unfortunately drives abroad Australians seeking to pursue leading edge experiences in drug development and commercialisation. A seldom celebrated fact is many Australian’s do incredibly well in these environments. Some have established themselves internationally as leaders in their respective fields, making significant contributions to human health. In fact, the next time you open a medicine’s patient information leaflet, you should reflect that it is quite likely an Australian abroad had a hand in creating the product. Unfortunately, when after years away, such talented Australians ask themselves the question, “What opportunity could I return home too?”, the answer is generally silence.

Can we fix this? What really strikes me, is the chicken and egg problem that we have in Australia.

On one hand we bemoan the fact that we are not good at commercialising the discoveries from our brilliant scientists. I would argue, that an important driver is lack of critical mass in “development and commercialisation” experience in Australia. On the other hand, we actually have a bale (thanks Wikipedia) of sea turtles with critically relevant experience wanting to come home. China has recognised the value of its diaspora, encouraging the return home of internationally experienced scientsist: Australia should do the same.

Now is the time for Australia to be investing in our success beyond the mining boom.  I believe an important challenge for Australia, is determining how we can best access such “development and commercialisation” talent to support the existing strong discovery and innovation base our life sciences industry is reputed for.  However, retaining the talent will also require creating the right soft infrastructure for the sector. Bring our turtles home but make sure they have any environment in which they may thrive!

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Dr. Craig Rayner BPharm BPharmSc(Hons) PharmD MBA MAICD, is blogging at drcraigrayner.com and is Director of Clinical Pharmacology (previously Global Due Diligence Director) at Roche and Adjunct Associate Professor, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University.

Personal Note: After many years abroad, I was extremely fortunate to be able to continue a global role in an International Pharmaceutical company working from my home in Melbourne with teams based in Europe, US and China. What amazes me, is that incredibly talented Australian’s are peppered throughout the international industry.  If we could gather them all up and bring them home, I am sure we could assemble a faculty that could rival any major Pharmaceutical company.