All businesses need to manage their financial affairs and report their financial results to tax and reporting authorities so they need staff or contractors from junior level bookkeepers for accounts receivable and payable and accounts reconciliation as well as Accounts and Office Managers who look after GST and BAS tasks as well as Payroll Administration.
DO YOU GET frustrated when you see the little box at the bottom of the BAS lodgement form? You know, the one where they ask how long it took to complete the form because I feel like writing, “It took 10 minutes to complete the form, but 4 hours to do the data entry and bank reconciliation work!”
Junior bookkeepers, accounts receivable and accounts payable clerks, and office administrators will all share that their most time-consuming work is data entry, coding and bank reconciliations. However, there is software available which almost totally automates this work — and it’s becoming increasingly accurate and speedy.
THE ULTIMATE GOAL of a job site (and they are not all created equal!) is to deliver the highest volume of candidate applications to the job poster (the recruiter or employer), while also providing candidates (job-seekers) with access to the highest volume of top-quality job listings.
Since recruitment classifieds moved online more than two decades ago, the ease with which job-seekers could apply for jobs increased.
JOB SITES ARE IN ABUNDANCE in Australia. The market leader is Seek, which controls 85 percent of the online recruitment market. Most job site advertisers use Seek because they will get the widest and potentially best range of job applicants and job seekers.
Typically, if you’re looking for a good-quality job that doesn’t tie you to a specific industry — the way journalism ties journalists to the media industry, or construction work ties builders and plumbers and cabinet-makers to the construction industry — you’ll find it on Seek. But here are 8 more website you can use.
AN OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR, or administration officer, will provide an array of general administrative tasks for a business or organisation.
These include filing, archiving, calendar & project management, reporting and customer service. Some office administrators carry out basic bookkeeping tasks, such as creating and recording invoices and expenses and the more skills you have the more valuable you become.
ACCOUNTS PAYABLE OFFICERS are responsible for paying invoices owed by a company to its suppliers or vendors.
They typically work in medium to large-sized businesses, where they may also be called an accounts officer and be responsible for investigating the cost of wages, materials, overheads and other operating expenses.
Here are some of the other common tasks you’ll find in an accounts payable officers job description.
IF YOU’RE A TRADIE, working as a plumber, builder or carpenter, handyman, gardener or electrician, then you probably already know that some of the best jobs come by referral.
Identify “real world” marketing opportunities
During my recent renovation of an investment property in Newcastle, most of the good tradies would tell me, “Someone you’re working on a job with on Monday will ask you to do a job for them somewhere else on Friday, or a neighbour of a client will ask you to do some work for them.” I soon saw from other tradespeople how “work can come to you just because someone happens to be walking by while you’re on the job” — gardeners get a lot of work this way, for example.
The important thing in this scenario is to act efficiently in finding out what the potential client needs, finding out what else is important, and then selling them on your services. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kristine Seymour, an experienced sales person and business builder, for the Sales Training Course at the Australian Small Business Centre (ASBC). She spoke in detail about how to act when your future income depends on how well you can sell. This Sales Training Course is available on the EzyLearn LMS.
Take advantage of business opportunities
This course is also available to new licencees for the National Bookkeeping Business Opportunity. The key to getting new clients is to be proactive and take advantage of these on-the-spot business opportunities by using some “real world” marketing tactics. These skills can be used even if you are just looking for part-time clients or doing bookkeeping or marketing as a side hustle — more on side hustles in a forthcoming blog.
Some “real-world marketing” examples
Another good example of a real-world marketing tactic is to conduct a letterbox drop in the local area where you’ve just started work. Clearly, this lets residents in the area know you’re working there, what you do, and that you are available.
This alone may lead to thousands of dollars in additional revenue if even just a few people get in touch. But always, it’s vital to keep track of what marketing you do and where leads are coming from. It’s vital to schedule quotes and start dates for work and so forth, and have a handle on Office Productivity Software like Microsoft Office or Google G Suite. These will not only help you organise your workload, but you’ll also appear organised and professional to your clients.
MICROSOFT EXCEL IS THE most widely used spreadsheet application in modern computing. That said, it’s also one of the more difficult programs of the Microsoft Office Suite to learn, which is why we recently updated the content of our Excel training courses.
A lot of people do our Excel training courses to help them “skill up” to find a job, find a position better suited to them, or develop their career path. However, Excel is a fantastic tool for small business owners as well.
But whether you use Excel to create a pivot table or a database, there are a few things you should do each time you open an Excel document. Here we present you with three:
1. Vertical align: always centre
Always align the text in the cells of your Excel spreadsheet to the centre, or the top in certain circumstances. But never, ever align it to the bottom. It’s hard on the eyes and, when you’re looking at lots and lots of data in lots and lots of cells, it becomes difficult to know which row, column, etc, you’re looking in. Centre alignment, always.
2. Build error-checking into formulas
There should never be an instance where one of your workbooks is showing a #DIV/0, #N/A, #REF, #NAME?, #NUM!, or #NULL! error. This is especially true if you’re sharing these workbooks with your business partners or accountant or whomever.
Seeing an error in a financial report may cause the reader to doubt the accuracy of the entire workbook, so ensure your workbooks remain error free by using the simple IFERROR() error-checking function in Excel.
3. Print preview your work
Again, if you intend to share workbooks with other people, you should always ensure that your Excel workbooks can be printed nicely and easily, even if you don’t intend to ever print the document yourself. This is easy enough to do via File > Print Preview and adjusting the print margins before sharing (or printing) the document.
However, judging by the number of times I’ve printed an Excel document only to collect 87 sheets of paper off my printer to read the contents one 4×4 table, the function is seldom used by anyone else but me!
We show you how to write off stock and inventory before the EOFY
IT’S A GOOD TIME TO START looking at any slow-moving or obsolete stock that your business (or your client’s business) may be holding, as we’ve reached the end of Quarter 3 and have now started Quarter 4 for the 2016/17 financial year — which means the end of the financial year is fast approaching.
Writing off stock in MYOB or Xero is known as making an inventory adjustment, and our MYOB BAS Reporting and GST or Xero GST, Reporting and BAS training courses take you through the steps to do this. But first, you need to identify which items aren’t selling. We’ve created this case study to help you understand how.
Understanding your inventory’s performance
Every business needs to understand how their inventory is performing, and how it impacts their business. If the business owner is too busy to stay on top of this, then they should employ a bookkeeper to help.
A good example of why understanding inventory is important to a business is to look at an air conditioning company. This business makes money two ways:
Selling air conditioning units
Installing / maintaining air conditioning units
The margin on the sale of an air conditioning unit is not much, a few percent on top of the wholesale price. Where the business makes its money is in the installation or maintenance of the units it sells.
The business purchases three dozen units, of varying brands, models, price points, etcetera. It now needs to know which units are most popular with customers and why; which units aren’t popular with customers and why; whether it’s profitable for the business to continue to stock the unpopular units; or, conversely, whether it’s profitable for the business to continue stocking the popular units.
The business’s bookkeeper regularly runs a number of reports in their accounting software, including profit and loss reports and stock-on-hand reports. These reports are used to identify which units sell quickly, as well as the units that take longer to sell, and the profit margins on each.
The units that sell quickly don’t require a technician to install them. Although they’re responsible for the majority of sales, they don’t generate more revenue for the business. The units that sell slowly, do generate more revenue as they require installation and maintenance, however too many units were ordered and they’ve now been discontinued by the manufacturer. Some units have hardly sold, and, although not discontinued, have been superseded by newer models.
In particular, the bookkeeper suggests that the units that have been superseded are marked down to clear as much stock as possible, and cease any new orders. Likewise, the discontinued models will be marked down.
Orders for the units that replaced the discontinued models will halve the order volume. Likewise, order volumes for the top selling units will reduced. The profit margin on these units is very low and they result in no additional revenue from installation or maintenance. The profit that would be earned on the additional units is negligible, however by reducing the unit volumes, the business improves its cash flow.
Act NOW for EOFY
If your business sells stock or a combination of stock and services, like the air conditioning business does above, start looking at your inventory now. Markdown any slow-moving stock at the end of Q3, to give your business time to move the remainder of it. If it doesn’t sell, write it off at EOFY.
We feature our own online directory of local bookkeepers looking to add to their customers. Visit National Bookkeeping to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud. Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper looking to expand your client list or find contract work, you can register and become part of our network for free.
We’ve had several hundred bookkeepers Pre-Qualify for our National Bookkeeping, Bookkeeper Directory and most of them upload a resume demonstrating their qualifications, experience and references but I’m baffled at how bad the formatting is in these resumes!
To help our students do the best job presenting themselves on paper we’re including the Microsoft Word Course for free when you enrol into either the MYOB Courses or Microsoft Excel Courses (when you choose the all courses and 12 months access with Certificate option). That’s a saving of $267!
The problem with making mistakes with your Microsoft Word formatting is that questions could come up in an interview. The Interviewer might throw in a question about software skills, particularly if you’ll be writing some detailed reports or proposals, forecasts etc. in the new job.
Here are some extra tips for Bookkeeper resumes
Most of the Microsoft Word skills you need to write a good resume are covered in our Word Intermediate Courses, but we’re including the entire 9 courses so you can become a power Microsoft Word user! Here are a couple other things to think about when writing you resume:
Include an image – it makes you stand out and brings the reader closer (make it a selfie where you’re smiling 🙂
Include your full name and desired role in the filename (we’re all using files these days! use it to your advantage)
The last one about filenames is a big one because if interviewers are like me they’ll put all the resumes for one role into a folder and I find myself renaming most of them!
FREE Microsoft Word Workbook
We spend a lot of time on marketing so I assume that you know we offer free samples of our training material, but I should mention again that the Microsoft Word sample is actually the entire Word Beginners Course 201 Training Workbook, make sure you get it! Get it now.
Quickbooks Course Update
It’s been a while in the making, but we have the final draft of our Quickbooks Course workbook! Unlike some training companies, we write up a detailed course story based on a real business scenario and use that as the basis for recording our screen videos that demonstrate how to use the software. We’ve had a huge number of Course Alert Registrations and they’ll ALL receive a free copy of the workbook, so if you haven’t already registered do it NOW!
EzyLearn Wholesale Partner Update
I made a brief reference to our new Enrolment Voucher system in a recent post about BAS deadlines and we’ve got an update. The new enrolment voucher system is now in beta testing which means we’ll shortly be inviting EzyLearn students who love our courses to receive a massive wholesale discount on selected courses. Make sure you register your interest.
I’ve always believed that as soon as you offer credit you’ve got yourself another business – a credit management business. When we first created our MYOB Daily Transactions course we designed it to take students through the cashflow process of where money goes when it first leaves your bank account and these are the main steps:
Money in the bank (cash asset)
Buy stock (inventory asset)
Products sold on account (accounts receivable asset – Trade Debtors)
Customer pays their account (cash asset)
The interesting part of this business process to me is the marketing (choosing the products, pricing, marketing message and advertising) and the credit management to get the money back. Each of these stages and their tasks carry a certain amount of risk but the credit risk part is actually something you can manage to try to eliminate altogether, but it takes work and a system.
Well the good news is that we’ve created a Credit Management Training Guide that goes through the different parts of your business where you can put measures in place to reduce this risk significantly – even if you are in the trades or building industry.
Credit Management is a Job for Contractors
Many tasks in businesses these days is actually contracted out to independent contractors because of the flexibility and credit management is a great example because it can be performed a day a week (for smaller businesses) and it can even be performed by a remote contractor (virtual assistant) working from their own home office. See Credit Management Services at Natbooks!
Since we’ve started working with local bookkeepers at National Bookkeeping we’ve realised that credit management and daily transactions type work is by far the most common form of task performed by a bookkeeper. The rate of pay for bookkeepers performing this work is generally lower, but it’s a great option for people like working mums or dads who want to fit their work into their children’s school schedules as well as corporate accountants who want to make a start on their own bookkeeping business in their local area.
The corporate accountants or accounts managers we speak with often start performing this work in their new bookkeeping business but as their business grows they fill this position with a contractor of their own. Pre Qualify to join National Bookkeeping
Paypal and Quickbooks
Last year I wrote about the joint venture between Quickbooks (Intuit) and Paypal and how they want to help businesses get paid faster. They commissioned a study last year found that Australian small businesses are owed a collective $26 million in unpaid invoices. That’s roughly $13,200 owed to each business at any given time, for which business owners will spend an average of 12 days chasing them each year.
It’s a lot of time and effort to earn that kind of money particularly if you’ve actually already earned it by supplying your products and services!
Check out our Credit Management information page and watch out for the announcement when we include it as a student inclusion for ALL students. We created this guide to help businesses use their accounting software to better manage the credit risk in their business. We’ve included information for builders and contractors about the Security of Payments Act.
Questions can ‘weed out’ bookkeepers until you get your perfect fit
I have been reviewing the chat requests we receive via National Bookkeeping and it confirms my own thoughts about bookkeepers and the rates that businesses pay for good bookkeepers. These rates have a lot to do with overheads and qualifications — and often very little to do with experience. Allow me to explain.
Most of the daily transactions (see Daily Transactions Courses for MYOB and Xero) performed by bookkeepers involve data entry and coding. This data entry work is repetitive and once a new bookkeeper or accounts person understands the tasks, (which is often quite quickly) they can be performed over and over again with little variation except for client details and total hours worked (I’m assuming invoicing for services provided).
In the case of invoicing your contract bookkeeper could then provide reports and followup with clients to make sure your debtors management is sorted out.
The hardest thing for some small businesses is understanding how to weed out exactly the bookkeeper they need — and I hope these questions make your job easier. Remember, it’s often the answer that helps you find the right person.
The questions you should be asking a prospective bookkeeper:
How long have you been performing bookkeeping work?
What type of bookkeeping tasks can you perform?
Are you familiar with cloud accounting software and, if so, which ones?
When are you available to do bookkeeping work?
Where are you based?
Do you have professional indemnity insurance?
I’m going to further break down these questions and show you the answers you should be looking for. Remember that our goal with this case study is to find the cheapest bookkeeper for daily transactions accounting.
1. Bookkeeping Experience
This was once the most important aspect of a bookkeeper’s resume for employers because it demonstrated that this particular candidate has experience that will benefit the business. If the bookkeeper you’re looking for has plenty of experience, then follow up with Question 3 regarding cloud-based functionality and whether they’ve used the latest versions of MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks.
2. Bookkeeping Tasks
This question is important because if someone is educated enough to complete and lodge your BAS, or even lodge your end of year financials, then they’ll want to be charging for the skills they have. You may as well get your accountant to do your bookkeeping if you are prepared to pay for someone with high skills education and experience. Many bookkeepers have plenty of experience doing accounts receivable and accounts payable and all of the steps in between so if it’s a cheap bookkeeper you want, then weed out the ones who can lodge your BAS for you. Read more about bookkeeping tasks.
3. Cloud Accounting Software
It’s important to know if your bookkeeper is familiar with accounting software that is accessible in the cloud because they may know some of the advanced features that comes with that — like integrations with other cloud-based services for project management, estimating, time billing etc. It may also come in handy because they’ll be able to work at home, or even from remote locations, and be more available at potentially lower cost (less travel time and cost).
4. Work Availability
Many bookkeepers will SAY that they’re available whenever you need them, but in reality they each have their own set of requirements and they may not want to say this right up front for fear of limiting their chances of getting your work. Some bookkeepers are mums (or dads) and they need to fit into school hours, while others are really looking for a full-time or part-time job. Some bookkeepers will be prepared to work at night and on the weekend (others may only work at these times) whilst some bookkeepers will only want to work during business hours.
We all need to manage the work-life balance that comes with leading a fulfilling life, and for some people, this includes working at night. Some bookkeepers want to spend time with their kids during the day and work when they have quiet time. Some bookkeepers work for multiple clients and can only fit you in one half day a week. It’s important to understand where your bookkeeper sits in this area.
5. Bookkeeper Location
This is a pretty big consideration, even in the modern times of cloud-based bookkeeping because your bookkeeper’s location can affect how busy they are or how long it will take them to get into your office to do their work. We’ve had some examples where some of our team members live miles from the nearest town; therefore to have to travel there takes time and considerable cost. If you have faith in remote contractors and are willing to work with a bookkeeper who works from home you may find you’ll get the most ideal bookkeeper and the best price — this is something I managed to do when I closed EzyLearn’s bricks and mortar training centres and instead went totally online!
6. Do you have Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance?
This one is a biggie because if the bookkeeper has PI Insurance they’ll also have the trappings that comes with it like:
Professional association membership
CPD / CPE point requirements
Basic Education Requirements to attain their Registration
If a bookkeeper has PI insurance you’re probably talking to a Registered BAS Agent, as bookkeepers who attain this level of bookkeeping do so because they want to perform one of the most important tasks they can for a business — lodge the BAS. A Registered BAS Agent is governed by the same government authority that governs Tax Accountants — the Tax Practitioners Board (TPD). Indeed, many businesses already have a tax agent or accountant who is responsible for lodging their BAS. Therefore, I’ve found the biggest reason BAS agents are popular is because you know you’ll receive an excellent job on the tricky aspects of GST and Payroll, PAYG, Superannuation etc without paying accounting rates.
I hope these questions help you filter a great bookkeeper from all the enquiries that come for your job ads and remember if you’re interested in finding a cloud-based bookkeeper, feel free to browse the National Bookkeeping Directory or Request a Quote.
Case Study: Tradespeople Using Xero Cloud Accounting
Tradies across Australia are getting onto the cloud for their accounting and there’s a good reason for it — many busy people can use the system from remote locations to get their work done.
This means the estimator can use it to generate a quote at a site, the office administrator can convert quotes to orders and invoices and the remote contractor can sign in and do accounts receivable calls from their home office. This is good news! All major accounting programs now offer cloud access — MYOB, Xero and Intuit Quickbooks.
I wrote in the past about Rohan from Painters, Men in White; Ken the home theatre installer and Jason the kitchen appliance repairer. Today I’m happy to announce that we’ve released a case study in the Xero Daily Transactions course that relates to the building and construction industry — in particular a concreting business that quotes for the pouring of a 3 level apartment building. Sue, a contract bookkeeper from Yarra Junction helped me write this Case Study based on her experience in the building sector and in particular with concrete companies.
Bookkeepers Upskilling with EzyLearn
Sue is typical of the students who enrol with us to broaden their skills in cloud accounting — existing bookkeepers who want to upskill. She has a lot of experience in the day-to-day management and accounts for tradespeople and found that she could perform the bookkeeping from her own home at any time.
We’re Constantly Updating Online Course Content
While I’m blowing my trumpet I may as well add that this is an example of what we promote with our online courses — that during your student access period you’ll have access to ALL the courses you’ve enrolled into including updates and new content. This is particularly useful for MYOB and Excel Course students who enrol using the LIFETIME course access option.
Xero Course Student Testimonials
I haven’t posted any new pages with student testimonials to the website for a while (but they come in with every course) but today it must be trumpet-practising time for me because here I blow again! When Sue completed the course, she commented:
“I would recommend this learning site to others and I am thinking about studying Excel next with this learning centre“. She also commented: “Convenient in that I can do it from home at my own leisure. The price was very reasonable.“
While Sue was working with us we put her through our Microsoft Word and Excel courses at no cost and the main thing that really stands out to me is how much everyone benefits by doing a Microsoft Word course!
Use Microsoft Word to Create Xero Courses
Many students enquire about the Microsoft Excel courses because spreadsheets are complicated for people who don’t know how to use them. However, I never cease to be amazed at how many people confidently state, “I know how to use Word, that’s easy”.
Microsoft Word is used in so many aspects of a business yet too many people think that just because they can type they are good at Word. Things like:
are covered in our 203 to 205 courses (so they are considered beginners to intermediate Word skills) yet I am surprised at the number of people I meet who don’t truly understand how these work!
When we work with a new contractor, even as part of our National Bookkeeping Network, we ask new members to write up an education guide if a bookkeeping customer is looking for a certain task to be completed. We end up putting the bookkeeper through our Word course and they discover a whole new world of computer skills that enable them to do more office admin work for their employers or customers — particularly when it comes to long form documents like instruction guides, tenders and even eBooks which are becoming increasing used in online digital marketing.
Bookkeepers Can Be Great Web Designers!
As I’m sharing so many EzyLearn student stories, I’ll provide another example of a recent student, Helen from Bright in Victoria (check out where Bright is located in Google maps and you’ll see just how far away she is from the nearest capital city — again, the beauty of working from home using the internet!)
Helen is a Registered BAS Agent and has been for a long time. She performs all the bookkeeping tasks that many of our students aim to offer by being a BAS agent, but she is also interested in being a little more visually creative — at least part of the time — so she completed our WordPress Course and as a result we’ve introduced her to some clients. Since then she’s actually been paid for creating and editing websites! One website she created and continues to edit as required is for ANOTHER student, Sonia who completed our MYOB course years ago to help her with her husband’s business!
Sonia now spends a lot of her time teaching mums (AND dad’s) about baby massage and how they can use infant massage to build a bond with their new baby and help them relax when they are uncomfortable. With a nursing degree and a huge amount of experience with children, Sonia is able to help parents and babies alike create a special bond through touch, and ease new parents into the sometimes stressful experience of welcoming a new baby into their family.
I hope I’ve managed to share with you how we genuinely like to support our students and clients in their journey. We welcome your feedback and love to hear directly how you’re progressing along the way, how we can improve what we do, and any other input you may have.
If you’re looking for a new job, we can advise you on our comprehensive courses with lots of content and examples and a fantastic price. If you’re looking to start a new business we can help you with our Business Startup Course. If you’re a small business in need of a good bookkeeper, writer or website designer — we can connect you.
Stay tuned for some new training content releases about Selling Your Property, Facebook Marketing and Intuit Quickbooks.
You don’t need to know double entry bookkeeping to complete our online MYOB, Xero and Quickbooks Courses but the more you know the better. We include educational videos about basic bookkeeping terms in our bookkeeping courses and they were created by Jacci a Registered BAS agent, but we’ve also created a separate bookkeeping basics guide that is available to you for free.
These are the types of terms I am talking about:
Chart of Accounts
Tax codes like FRE, N-T, GST and CAP
How to create proper tax invoices
Cash and Accrual accounting
Income and Expense accounts
Sales & Purchases vs Cashbook
Change in Debit and Credit accounts
Debtors and Creditors report
When you perform the daily bookkeeping tasks for a business you focus on the tasks at hand like:
buying goods on account,
making sales and generating invoices and then
keeping track of the payments and receipts.
When you learn how to do these tasks using accounting software you don’t need to understand all the debits, credits and double entry of accounting because the software takes care of it for you.
The most popular of our MYOB courses is the Daily Transactions Course 502 because it takes students through a typical scenario of the accounting transactions of a VoIP telephone system supplier and installer.
This telephone company is very similar to a plumber, electrician, builder and most tradespeople because they combine products and services in their invoices. They’ll also often hold an inventory of items they sell regularly and they need to purchase items specifically for a job they are working on for a client.