Austral Accounting’s queen bean, Lynette van Nieuwenhuizen
Lynette van Nieuwenhuizen gets what business challenges are about. With her excellent accounting and tax knowledge, she talks to us about Austral Accounting celebrating 30 years as a trusted confidant of many businesses and shares some valuable advice for small and established businesses.
Lynette certainly shatters the accounting stereotype with her flaming red hair, huge personality and good sense of humour. Although she has a no-nonsense approach, her eyes and her smile immediately tell you that she is a person of depth who is still very much in love with being in the bean-counting industry for 24 years odd. Even now, her biggest joy is seeing her clients achieve their business goals.
‘I always loved accounting at school but when I was told at an after school aptitude test that it’s a suitable career, I thought I would rather be a starving homeless person. I certainly did not want to do accounting for life – how boring, especially as I actually had hopes of becoming an actress because my big love was drama. But life happened, as they say, and I was looking for a “job” and found my life instead.’
After completing her BCompt, focused in Accounting and Finance from UNISA, Lynette moved from Gauteng and finished her articles with the Umhlanga based firm, Austral Accounting. Her boss John Barnard, saw her dedication to the business and her high level of professionalism and passion for her work. He suggested that she become a partner and after he retired, Lynette took ownership of the firm. ‘Without John I would not have had all these opportunities as he had faith in me and my abilities, even bankrolling our share buyouts.’
If maths, spreadsheets and taxes are ambiguous to you, relax! Austral Accounting prides itself in keeping clients informed in a manner in which they truly understand. They will take the headache out of your paperwork, and whether you require assistance with your company or personal tax, they will assure that you, or your business, constantly remain legally compliant.
Commenting on the effect the pandemic has had on businesses, Lynette says Covid did not distinguish between big or small. The first thing Austral Accounting experienced was TERS. The firm was immediately able to secure staff payments from UIF for their clients. The other fact that Covd later brought to light, says Lynette, was that businesses who were prudent with their resources, and who had saved for a rainy day, were able to secure additional credit, while funding was not so readily available for those who had already maxed their credit lines.
‘In business, you can’t rely on the government to give stimulus packages – not in SA! You need to ensure that you are financially able to rebuild and invest when the opportunities present themselves. We can’t remember the great depression but we will remember Covid, and we will tell our grandkids to save! Save, save and save – you never know what can happen!’
According to Lynette some of the biggest failing factors established businesses are making today are: Not investing or saving; Not paying their taxes as and when they due – causing a 10 percent penalty and landing in a cash flow mess that becomes a nightmare to navigate; And, not investing in technology and refreshing their business and business processes.
Advice for a small one-man start-up:
Open a business bank account (for sole proprietors) to separate personal income and expenses from the business. Most entrepreneurs have no idea if they are actually making a profit if everything is in the mix.
The moment you employ your first staff member, register as an employer for UIF and Workmen’s Compensation. Your staff needs the security these funds provide. Registration is easy and can be done online at www.labour.gov.za – and make sure you provide your staff with a payslip. It doesn’t have to be very fancy and there are loads of solutions that will cost around R50 per payslip, this way you are compliant with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).
Keep records. Nothing too fancy or expensive, but a summary of daily sales and records of all the expenses incurred.
Make sure you get an accountant or tax practitioner that can assist with filing your tax return – if your turnover (for this sole proprietor example) is less than R1million per annum, there is no monthly or bi–monthly VAT submissions required, but an annual tax return needs to be submitted.
Pay yourself a salary! If you are working in your business, there is no reason not to!
Time is money
Many businesses may think they either too small or it will cost too much to use a professional accountant. Lynette says, ‘accounting and tax services are expensive, but these services are tailored to the clients needs. What the client gets is an expert that already knows the rules of the game and actually saves them so much in time and hassles.’ In the greater scheme using an accounting firm is worth it, especially If you are spending days trying to see someone at your local SARS branch to follow up on a refund, or verifying banking details, or having to be involved in any of those time eaters. Ask yourself if the services professionals charge are then expensive?
For the business that has its own accounting department, Austral Accounting can still assist with specialised services like, preparation of annual financial statements and tax submissions. But as Lynette says, their services are not limited to these items as they can also assist ad hoc with tax queries and consulting.
Love what you do
Are you a budding entrepreneur or want to be small business owner? Lynette offers these words of wisdom: ‘If you have big dreams of becoming an instant millionaire don’t do it! You have to love what you do, be prepared to spend time and energy at risk – if the opposite is true, just don’t do it then. Business is a great way to learn new things every single day, expand your horizons and build a financial future for yourself and your family.
TIP: Do it right from the start – it is very hard to change the path later on!
Local is Lekker is still very true and alive, even in 2021. ‘There are amazing local small businesses with a proven track record just like Austral Accounting, who for the past 30 years have been servicing clients and shaping the lives of their staff.’