MANY YEARS AGO I spent $100,000 in advertising in one year. But I didn’t make truckloads of money and became utterly exhausted with the sales process. Yet I still see companies using this approach today: Selling short courses for over-inflated prices to recoup the money they spend on advertising.
When I spent that exorbitant chunk of money on advertising, I then had to hire more people to sell the courses. I had to train these people about what was in the courses, and train the trainers and, well to cut a long story short, spend so much more on resources and overheads that I didn’t make a huge sum of money out of the whole venture at all.
I HAD THE PLEASURE of being invited to meet with some fabulous registered BAS agents at a recent function for VIP’s before this week’s QuickBooks Connect Conference in Sydney’s Intuit head office.
The VIP event included presentations from lots of App developers who provide Bookkeeping and Accounting Apps which integrate with QuickBooks Online (and also Xero and MYOB) as well as practice and workflow management systems like Practice Ignition and HubDoc which help bookkeeper’s assist their clients.
These BAS agents have been bookkeepers for decades, yet rather than sit on their past practices, they are constantly learning and improving their knowledge of software, systems and apps and talking to them about this new technology seemed very natural. This actually surprised me because I thought I was the only one who was right into this stuff — well, not the only one, but I can get very passionate about it! But I digress.
These BAS agents are a growing number of Certified bookkeepers with plenty of knowledge AND experience, and who are willing to share that knowledge by training anybody who is keen to learn about bookkeeping on a one-to-one or face-to-face basis. They are:
Tracey and Sharon are part of National Bookkeeping and, as such, they have access to training on all software programs as well as the tools to help them teach small business managers and owners how to use the software in their own businesses.
Combined with their experience and training, Tracey and Sharon are part of a growing trend of bookkeepers who are willing to share their knowledge to help business owners do as much of their own bookkeeping as possible. Here are some quotes from clients who used their services in May 2018:
Thank you Natbooks! The training was excellent. Tracey was a great teacher and we had a lot of fun. I learned a lot as different scenarios were popping up all the time and Tracey was able to take me through solving them in the time we had together. I’m so glad I chose one-to-one training because I would not have been able to do the setup. Group training would not have taught me how to do this. With one-to-one I found it was relevant to my business only and could straight away apply what I was learning in real time to my business instead of a trial business. Many thanks!”
— Donna Larder, Administrator, BOULDER WALLS & BOBCAT HIRE PTY LTD
What’s stopping YOU becoming a Bookkeeping Software Trainer?
Performing one-to-one training on all aspects of computer software was how I got started in the training business in the early 1990’s. It’s great fun if you love using and learning about technology and I recall hundreds of times when I went to someone’s house or office to teach them how to use software and technology to do things that were important to them; from file transfer, working with images or mastering MS Office. It was very gratifying.
Since those early days I discovered that when you use great accounting software, and you use it properly, it saves you hundreds of hours, keeps you efficient, makes it easier to find information and ensures you remain compliant every quarter.
Thinking about getting started? If you want to find out more about how you can train other business people in how to use accounting software, speak with the digital marketing team at National Bookkeeping and Pre Qualify.
Can you make real money by selling stuff on Amazon?
NOW THAT AMAZON has launched in Australia, one of the hottest work-at-home opportunities is to become an Amazon seller, especially if you become part of the “fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program”, which is due to launch in Australia in 2018, along with Amazon’s “fresh” program.
In the FBA program, there are no upfront costs, and sellers don’t hold any stock or have to worry about shipping products to customers — they just have to find items to sell on Amazon.
How the FBA program works
Amazon collects products from sellers and stores them at their fulfillment centres (currently, just one centre based outside Melbourne, with another planned for Sydney). When a product is sold, Amazon ships it to the customer.
Amazon fees and charges are subtracted from the sale (sellers only pay Amazon to collect items and bring them to the fulfilment centre, not to ship to customers) and the remainder is deposited into an escrow account for a few weeks before it’s released to the seller.
Amazon vs. eBay
The Amazon FBA program is unlike any offering on rival marketplaces. Besides, not dealing with the logistical side of selling products online, Amazon sellers don’t create product listings and don’t deal with customers in any way.
By contrast, people who sell items on eBay are not just responsible for holding their own stock and shipping it to customers, but they also deal with customers every step of the way — from questions about the product through to shipping and disputes. It’s a time consuming process.
It’s similarly time consuming for buyers, who have to navigate a minefield of listings and seller pages; checking prices, shipping and seller ratings to make sure they’re getting the best deal. On Amazon, you search a product, click on the listing, and decide to buy. It’s as though you’re buying directly from Amazon.
Will the Amazon model work in Australia?
Amazon’s FBA program (and its marketplace in general) has been extremely successful in the United States (Amazon’s share price is trading above $1,100 U.S., after all), but the U.S. is a huge and very different country to ours. Each state has different sales taxes; prices for simple household items like toothpaste can vary state-to-state, and there are hundreds of large- to -medium department stores that operate in some states, but not in others.
The Australian market is far more homogenous. We have one national sales tax (GST), prices are fairly uniform across each state and territory, we have a half dozen department stores, and they operate nationally; we’re also a much smaller market.
Since Amazon’s launch in December (it’s FBA program hasn’t launched yet, though there are plans to), most shoppers reported being underwhelmed by the offering — it was limited, expensive, and shipping times too long. Items were often more expensive on Amazon than to purchase elsewhere. This could just be teething issues, due to the rushed launch, but it could be illustrative of how the Australian retail market had prepared for Amazon’s impending launch by tightening up their own offerings, and making it a lot harder for Amazon sellers to compete.
How to find goods to sell
People go to Amazon to find items they’d traditionally find at a department store, only much cheaper. That’s Amazon’s game: cheap. If you’re going to sell goods on Amazon and be successful at it, you need to be really good at procuring items that are in high demand, but can be sold far cheaper than anywhere else.
Amazon is the place you go to for books, music, DVDs, household appliances, shoes, clothing, toys, and so on. It’s not the place for unique one-offs — you want that; go to Etsy. Or if you want it secondhand, then eBay, Facebook Marketplace or good old Gumtree. On Amazon, you sell anything, whether you have a personal interest in it or not; if there’s a margin that’s favourable, sell it.
On Amazon, you sell anything, whether you have a personal interest in it or not; if there’s a margin that’s favourable, sell it.
Most people who sell on Amazon in the U.S. make money by engaging in retail arbitrage (an Amazon app lets sellers can scan the barcodes of items in retail shops to see whether it’s worthwhile reselling them on Amazon), but this would be hard to replicate in Australia.
Retail stores in Australia have higher prices due to the cost of employing staff. We have a national minimum wage remember, and the U.S. does not. In some U.S. states, the minimum wage is as low as $6 an hour, while others may be as much as $12 an hour. In California, where people earn $12 an hour, goods in shops cost more than in a state where people earn $6 an hour. This presents an opportunity for Amazon FBA sellers in the U.S. that is unlikely to ever exist in Australia.
How do you make money?
There are lots of online training courses promising to train you in the ways of Amazon’s FBA program. Some even promise to help you find inventory that’ll always be profitable — typically private label items, rather than via retail arbitrage — and teach you the dark arts of Amazon promotion — so you’re one of the top sellers on the site. (This has nothing to do with seller ratings, which don’t exist on Amazon.)
Starting out with private label items can be dicey, and it’s probably only a good idea if you’re already selling your own items on eBay, but you’re looking for an easier alternative. Again, Amazon is a good place to sell books, video games, clothing, toys, etc; handmade jewellery, clothing or furnishings: not so much.
IT’S NEVER REALLY a good idea to work for new client or potential new clients for free, particularly if you’re an established business. But it’s also difficult getting a client to feel comfortable that you’ll do a good job for them, when they don’t know you from the proverbial bar of soap.
Aside from making you look professional and organised, it’ll also make your job easier because you’ve clearly outlined how you operate, what’s expected from the client in order for you to do your job, and what happens after you’ve finished your work.
For example, is BAS lodgement included in your fees, or is that additional? Do you follow up late payers on your client’s behalf or is that additional?
It’s a good idea to look at how much knowledge your new clients have of bookkeeping and the software you’ll be using (Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks, etc). Carry out some quick needs analysis during your consultation, so that if there are any areas they are unfamiliar with you’re both prepared and able to give them a quick overview. Further, in-depth training is a potential source of additional revenue, so be careful not to spend too much time here. All of this will help you form your bookkeeping business strategy and, in particular, ensure your rates are competitive, yet sustainable.
If you’d like to start a bookkeeping business, then visit our online bookkeeping directory, National Bookkeeping. You can find information about how to start your own bookkeeping business, promote yourself through our directory or become a licensee.
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.
I RECENTLY MET A PAINTER during a residential renovation I was involved with in Newcastle (an extremely valuable experience that will help us add to our property investment courses.)
We got talking about how he wins new clients and he said:
I advertise on social media that I’m available for $150 a day because no one can compete with it.
The price he chose is insanely cheap, and he knew other painters wouldn’t be able to compete with this as a day rate. However, there are downsides to this. Such a cheap day rate also means that he’ll be stretched financially and that he won’t be able to hire anyone else to do the work. He’ll need to be paid daily and likely can’t afford to provide any sort of credit (like 7 day terms etc).
It made me wonder whether it was such a good idea because cheap prices is a volume game. Companies like Amazon and Kmart are willing to lower their profit margins to undercut other retailers if it means they make up for it in the volume of product their shift.
In other words, rather than make $20 profit on an item, and only selling 200, they’re willing to make $5 as long as they sell 100, minimum. Otherwise, it’s just a bad business strategy. You may want to read more about blue ocean versus red ocean strategies.
Is trades and services ever a volume game?
Mark, the painter I was talking about, received lots of enquiries. In that respect, his social media campaign had been a success! But Mark wasn’t a big company; he was a one man band. Now he spent most of his days driving around and quoting for jobs.
This meant that when he was working for clients, there were often days where he could only work a half day or had to break the day rate down into an hourly one. Some days, Mark only earned $100. This was simply because he wasn’t doing the number of jobs he needed to in order to make his low day rate a profitable strategy for his business.
Focus on your business strategy first
What Mark had inadvertently done was prioritise his marketing strategy over that of his business. He’d generated lot of interest in his business by advertising his services at such a low day rate, but by not setting any terms or conditions around that rate, it makes it really hard to Mark to increase his rates next time those clients ask him to work for them again.
Setting rates correctly is something we cover in our Business Start Up Online Training Course. In particular, we look at determining a business strategy for your business, before you start marketing your business and services.
The question of pricing and what we offer in our advertising is something we consider before ever going live when we help clients with their marketing strategies too. Hire a marketing manager to oversea all your digital and social media marketing for a low monthly fee.
I’VE BEEN IN BUSINESS since my early twenties but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I had any clue about how larger companies use and pay for software. I was going through the process of selling a water filter business that I’d been operating in Sydney’s Dee Why when I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of Fountainhead Water Company, Mark Darling.
Fountainhead used a specialised accounting system for the bottled water business which did everything from receipts for each delivery to capturing bottle deposits, tracking rental coolers and more — and they were paying hundreds of dollars per month for this software. It was a far cry from purchasing the MYOB software for a couple hundred dollars and NEVER upgrading (no payroll at the time).
Now I understand the importance of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and how they are almost sewn into the fabric of the procedures for medium to large businesses. I was contacted by someone at Sage, asking if EzyLearn had ever thought about offering training in Sage One, their software for their smaller clients. I replied by saying: “Yes, but what is the demand?” I never heard back from this person (might be a good tactic for you if you get too many cold calls!)
Getting Setup Using an ERP System
This Sage person piqued my interest so I did a bit of research.
I soon realised that these ERP systems are sold almost exclusively through ‘integrators’ or channel partners who visit your business and really get into the nitty and gritty of the procedures and processes.
They perform their analysis and then set about a plan to implement the new software in the business using deft project management and people skills to CHANGE the way the business works.
These ERP system integrators get very involved in the operations of these larger companies and they get to see the BIG mistakes that small businesses make when dealing with them and know how easy these problems are to fix.
One such person is Carmel Crane, a Finance Manager and ERP Specialist at National Bookkeeping, with specialist knowledge of midsize businesses in the mining and related industries. Carmel points out that tier one ERPs, such as SAP, JDE and Oracle are “large, expensive and all-encompassing software systems that tend to be implemented by large, multi-currency organisations.”
In a way, even small business software programs like MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks are ERPs but no one really uses that term and the process of getting set up is often much less formal and done by a high-level bookkeeper like a Finance Manager or accountant.
The most interesting aspect of my research was when I came to the site of Leverage Technologies and found their sign up form for Sage One. I thought back to those days of working with Mark Darling, but more importantly, how true ERP systems don’t just do invoicing and payments but manage:
e-commerce — and even —
These are services that “integrate” with software like Xero and Quickbooks.
What are tier one and two ERPs?
When you start delving deeper into ERP’s you realise there are different tiers of software which depend on the size of the company using them. Tier one ERPs are relatively inexpensive but fairly flexible applications that enable small businesses to manage their accounting and operational needs. But larger midsize businesses will have different needs that will exceed the capabilities of a tier three software like MYOB or Xero.
“Tier two is aimed at mid- to -large companies — I have a lot of mining companies in this space,” she tells EzyLearn, “and would include [software such as] Pronto, Sage and Green Trees.”
“This software has more modules than tier three, but it’s not as complex as tier one. Tier three is for small businesses, [and they] focus on the accounting side of business with simple relationships across modules.”
Tier three software is for small business and focuses on the accounting side of business.”
— Carmel Crane, ERP Specialist, National Bookkeeping
How to know if you need a tier one or two ERP?
Any midsize business — so if you’re running a mining company, a substantial wholesale business or manufacturing or retail business — would need to work with at least a tier two ERP. And for the implementation of a tier two ERP like Sage or Pronto, Carmel strongly suggests engaging the services of an ERP specialist rather than just seeking input from the ERP company.
“An ERP specialist understands the relationship between the modules,” Carmel says. “They can direct you in how purchasing will affect inventory and how plant maintenance will affect asset values — there is a holistic view of transactions.”
“And they know that when a problem occurs, a simple fix may just cause further error down the track. It’s important to understand the big picture.” Carmel Crane, ERP Specialist
Selecting the right ERP for your business
Just as small businesses would select a tier three ERP based on their requirements and the cost of the system, businesses selecting a tier one or two ERP do the same.
“The software is selected based on requirements, scope and cost,” Carmel notes. “Coca Cola are likely to run SAP or JDE, whereas a local operation with branches across Australia is more likely to go with Pronto or Sage.”
But she adds: “That said, just to contradict myself, I spoke with a company last week that had received an implementation quote from JDE for $1.8 million, and when I asked Pronto for the same requirements, they came back with a ballpark of $1.6 million. However, the quotes were for 30 licenses; most mid-range businesses will only use 10-15 licenses, so it would cost less.”
To select the right ERP — and for the right price! — engage an ERP specialist. Their knowledge of how various elements of your business operations — inventory or machinery maintenance — will affect your business, combined with their in-depth knowledge of ERP systems make them an invaluable resource.
How to find an ERP Specialist
Carmel Crane specialises in ERP systems for businesses in the mining and related sectors. Her knowledge of Xero & MYOB enables smaller businesses to get set up and systemised so they are better equipped to deal with larger clients.
As a Finance Manager, she works with businesses in the Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Chillagoe to Charter Towers regions, Dalby through to Dubbo (including Broken Hill, Cobar and surrounds), and the Riverina, Wagga Wagga and Wyalong areas.
Carmel is looking to expand her list of clients in these and surrounding areas. If your business is in need of an experienced finance manager for managing Xero or MYOB or even a mid sized business looking for an ERP specialist, you can contact Carmel through the National Bookkeeping website.
THE BURDEN ON Australian small businesses to stay compliant with the ATO is immense. A lot of that is to do with the Government not distinguishing between a small business with upwards of 20 staff, and a micro business which may have 5 or fewer staff — sometimes even no staff.
All of this compliance — bookkeeping, activity statements, payroll, superannuation, and so on — is costly and time consuming, so most business owners outsource this work to a professional contractor. Before the Government changed the tax laws, it was bookkeepers who small or micro business turned to.
Prior to 2010, a bookkeeper could complete and lodge your BAS and tax returns without needing any formal qualifications — that’s since changed.
Accountants kill two birds with one stone
Even though few small or micro businesses actually need the services a financial accountant provides — financial planning, say — a lot of tax accountants are picking up clients that would have, prior to the law change, gone to a bookkeeper, and it’s usually because they are scared of getting something wrong and then getting slapped on the wrist about it.
Small businesses (SME’s) want the cheapest and easiest way to stay compliant, and dealing with one person is easier than dealing with multiple people, especially if there are any issues with how one person has worked, and the business owner winds up stuck in the middle.
If a business is large enough, a Finance Manager can be employed to systemise the work and then manage the low cost junior bookkeeper, and the accountant and provide the business owner with the results and reports they need and want.
[box] In the new bookkeeper induction for new members of National Bookkeeping we take students through the formalities of signing up a new client, defining the type of clients they want and the category of bookkeeper they want to be and we find it helps them get into the systemising mindset.[/box]
BAS agents and accountants charge the same
If you’re only hiring an accountant to complete and lodge your activity statements, they’ll only charge you to do that. This rate is similar to what most BAS agents charge, only BAS agents generally charge a lot less for bookkeeping tasks, while in my experience accountants charge BAS service rates for more junior bookkeeping tasks.
If you’re only hiring an accountant to complete and lodge your activity statements, they’ll only charge you to do that. This rate is similar to what most BAS agents charge, only BAS agents generally charge a lot less for bookkeeping tasks, while in my experience accountants charge BAS service rates for more junior bookkeeping tasks.
Junior bookkeepers can win business they’d normally lose to an accountant by becoming a qualified BAS agent, or going to work for an accountant where they’re allowed to perform all of the bookkeeping and BAS work because they’re being “supervised” by an accountant.
Finding the middle ground
The middle ground for people who want to start their own bookkeeping business and become a contract bookkeeper is often to perform bookkeeping tasks that involve more than just data entry, but less than the tasks covered under the tax act as a BAS Service, like credit management. It’s also important to be emotionally intelligent.
This involves data entry and accessing customer information but also communicating with late payers, difficult customers and problem solving for complex sales transactions. This work requires a bit more bookkeeping experience AND life experience and it’s very important to the financial health of the business.
WHETHER YOU USE A contract or remote bookkeeper, it’s crucial that they keep your bookkeeping in good order. If you ever have to replace them, you don’t want to be redoing your entire bookkeeping system.
So what are some ways that bookkeepers can work, and what can they include in their bookkeeping, that makes it easier for someone new to pick up the reigns? Let’s take a look:
Use the correct codes and descriptions
According to Western Australia-based bookkeeper, Deb Crompton, you should always ensure your bookkeeper selects the correct code and account for each and every transaction. They should also include detailed descriptions or memos of the transaction in each entry.
This will allow the replacement — or relief bookkeeper, if your usual one is sick or takes holidays — to conduct a simple transaction search to see how similar transactions have been recorded.
Ensure software subscriptions are in your name
There are a lot of bookkeeping firms that include, as part of their monthly retainer, the cost of a subscription to Xero, QuickBooks or whichever accounting software you’re using. This is usually because the bookkeeper earns a small margin of the fee by holding it in their name.
Most of the time, there aren’t any problems, but there could be if, for any reason, you decide not to use the services of that bookkeeper anymore, and they still have control over your software subscription — the subscriber has to give permission for a subscription to be transferred.
A smarter idea is to subscribe to your accounting software in your name, no matter how easy it seems to go through your bookkeeper.
Need a qualified bookkeeper?
Is your business in need of a reliable bookkeeper to manage your daily or weekly bookkeeping and accounts, either remotely or in-person? Would you like to find someone with tertiary qualifications and the practical experience of having operated her own business in the past?
Our National Bookkeeping website has recently gone through a significant upgrade. Visit National Bookkeeping to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud.
Real estate agents specialise in knowing their local area. It’s how they get listings and it’s how they find buyers for those listings. In a former post, when we talked about setting your prices, we suggested getting to know your market and who your customer are. As a contract bookkeeper, you can, in theory, work for any business, based anywhere in the world, but you should still specialise in your local area, the reasons for which are twofold:
Fewer to compete with: This isn’t about being the biggest fish in the smallest pond. It’s about getting clients, and that’s what you want. If you’re based in Sydney, specialise in Sydney. Don’t try and compete with everyone in Australia, if you can just complete with Sydneysiders.
Convenience: The truth is, lots of businesses still like to meet their contractors in person. If you’re happy to fly all over the country to earn your regular bookkeeping rate, then by all means. If you’d rather not, then look for clients that are nearby — in the same state, at least.
When you’re setting up your Facebook advertising campaign, instead of trying to target everyone interested in bookkeeping services in Australia, stick to your state or local area, depending on the size of the market for your services in your local area. Sure, this reduces the pool of potential people seeing your advertisement, but it also reduces the pool of potential competitors.
When Local is Appealing to Global Clients Too
And just a note on getting international clients: Try to land international clients who are looking for an Australian, because you have skills they need — you’re in the same country as their Australian clients, you understand Australian tax, and so forth. Remember also that Australian wages are higher than anywhere else in the world, so international businesses need to be willing to pay that because you provide a service or possess skills they can’t get elsewhere.
Our EzyStartUp Course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning, plus much more. If you’re starting a bookkeeping business or you already have started on, enrol in our EzyStartUp course to ensure you’re not selling yourself short.
Our Facebook Marketing Course which not only teaches you how to set up a Facebook Page, but how to use Facebook for business, how to advertise on Facebook; it also features our own real life case study.
I’m a fan of QuickBooks as the functionality is excellent and the cost of the software is still low. I’m really pleased to announce that you can now enrol in our QuickBooks Online Daily Transactions Course — but does QuickBooks fulfil Australian legal obligations to be SuperStream compliant?
The background is that from July 1 this year, all Australian businesses with fewer than 20 employees were required, by law, to be SuperStream compliant. SuperStream is a government initiative to improve the efficiency of Australia’s superannuation system, namely by making superannuation a totally electronic process.
Most cloud-accounting packages that have been developed for the Australian market (such as major applications, like MYOB, Xero, Reckon and so forth, but not smaller apps like Zoho or QuickBooks, which can be used in Australia but don’t interface well with Australian tax procedures) are now all SuperStream compliant, with one exception: QuickBooks.
As it turned out, QuickBooks itself isn’t listed as being SuperStream compliant because it doesn’t, technically, provide any payroll services. It’s partner, KeyPay, does. KeyPay is owned by an entity called Webscale, and Webscale is SuperStream compliant. It uses ClickSuper as their superannuation clearing house. In other words, although QuickBooks itself isn’t SuperStream compliant, it doesn’t matter because they’re partnered with a payroll company that is SuperStream compliant.
You Can Be SuperStream Compliant for Free
If you’re not using a cloud accounting application that’s SuperStream compliant because you’re using Freshbooks or Zoho, for example, or because you’re not using any account software at all (although, in this case, you need to stop being silly and implement an electronic procedure for managing your accounts now), there are still other, free options to ensure you’re SuperStream compliant.
The ATO’s Small Business Superannuation Clearing House is free for businesses with fewer than 20 employees and an aggregated annual revenue of under $2 million. You can register your business details with the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House and use it to make super contributions to your employees.
Alternatively, the superannuation fund, AustralianSuper, has its own clearing house, which is free to use for its members (i.e. as a registered employer using AustralianSuper as your default super fund). AustralianSuper’s clearing house, called QuickSuper, allows members to make electronic super payments regardless of the number of employees or whether the employee belongs to another super fund.
Need a Good Local Bookkeeper to Help Manage Your Financials?
Whether you are a bookkeeper keen to expand your client base or perhaps work remotely, or whether you’re a business person needing some vital bookkeeping advice and assistance, check out our newly updated, online National Bookkeeping Directory. Our goal? To match experienced and highly qualified local bookkeepers to local businesses around Australia.
But of course, with cloud accounting technologies, you are not limited to only working locally. Plenty of our bookkeepers and accountants work remotely for clients located all over the country.
Finding prospects and converting them into clients involves selling and most of us hate doing it, but wait…
For those of us in small business, be it as a bookkeeper, real estate agent, sales rep or the like, most of us are selling every day of our lives. This means we get pretty good at it. We develop techniques that we can replicate and that become part of our daily lives.
The process of selling is really no longer about selling per se; it becomes about a systemised process of:
sourcing new leads (using content marketing, networking and advertising)
educating those leads about their services (using websites, social media, white papers, property reports)
understanding whether the lead would in fact be a good buyer or potential client (using face-to-face meetings, phone conversations and emails)
closing the sale (via offer and acceptance, funds transfer, receipts and after sales support).
do an efficient job in managing their schedule and dealing with clients, and
market their services effectively.
Content Marketing takes the “salesy” out of selling
I’ve written a lot about content marketing lately because content marketing is simply imperative for anybody looking to sell their products and services and source new clients. The beauty of content marketing is that, as a system to source new leads, you can cover all the steps of the selling process without it seeming like a chore and, best of all, without feeling “salesy”, cheesy or inauthentic. It’s focus is about the potential client — it’s about providing them with relevant information that will benefit them — not ramming a sales pitch down their throat.
Good sales people realise that sales and the very process of selling is not about just “closing” a sale. Rather, it’s about understanding what the customer needs, seeing if your product is a good fit and then offering a solution to a customer’s problem.
How much of sales is Content Marketing?
To this end, content marketing is about 80% of the selling process or 80% of the sales funnel (as corporate sales people like to call it). This is because content marketing involves information gathering; it involves seeing if your product and YOU are a good fit for your client.
These are the content marketing stages:
creating relevant and interest website content
‘call to action’ that results in email or mobile number capture
email or SMS marketing
social media profiles to engage with your prospects
CRM’s to manage the final parts of the selling process.
When you implement these systems you can sit back and watch it work and then focus on your conversion rate or what industry experts call CRO – Conversion Rate Optimisation.
Do you really want to be an online marketing professional? Let us manage it for you
As a business owner, one of the most frustrating things I come across is talking to a team member who stretches time out because they’re being paid by the hour! It’s not what I particularly wanted to write about today, but it relates to the good bookkeepers who are part of National Bookkeeping and a conversation we were having about doing such a good job you do yourself out of a job.
The best way to do yourself out of a bookkeeping job is to systemise the bookkeeping process to the extent that anyone can do the work!
My answer to that is systemise as much as you can because it makes you MORE valuable as the person to operate the system. The other reason I believe this is a good path for a bookkeeper is because many industry leaders believe that bookkeepers, and many other professionals, will be replaced by automated online systems and technology before long, and bookkeepers need to keep abreast of these changes otherwise they’ll be left behind.
What It Takes to Help a Business Systemise their Processes
They key to staying relevant is to always keep your customer’s needs in mind. When you focus your efforts on how you can help others you will always be automatically on high alert for what your customers want. I find that the key to being a business owner is remembering that your job is really to be helping someone with their problems — always trying to help them solve problems that they mention to you. The hard part, even for a bookkeeper, is to then systemise how you deliver your services!
In our Microsoft Word Intermediate and Advanced courses we cover topics that help students create professional documents by inserting tables of contents and using styles for headings. The goal always is to be able to create good, well structured documents that help people systemise their business.
With the raging industry of online services, most businesses are constantly searching for ways to use technology to replace high costs in their business. The main costs are rent, staff and then their expenses. We encourage all of our students and clients to document the steps they take to perform regular work — and it’s something we constantly try to do at EzyLearn. Some students would suggest that we go too far by creating quite a few forms to fill in but it’s a great way to ensure that all students needs are met and that we can manage the needs of many students — for a low cost.
With National Bookkeeping we offer the bookkeeping procedures manual as a way of ensuring that the tricky parts of the business like which codes to use for each transaction or entry is documented, that the process of capturing and retain a copy of all receipts is documented so that everyone involved knows what they need to do to maintain the accounting records.
I guess we’re in a lucky position because we spend most of our time creating systemised manuals to help students learn the software programs that power small and even larger businesses, like Microsoft Excel, Word, MYOB, Xero and more. See all our online training courses.
Do You Have to Drop a Client Because of a Bad Credit Check?
A Credit Check is one of the most important first steps of good credit and debt management but you can still do business if the check comes back negative.
In our previous post on credit and debt management, we recommended that all businesses — regardless of whether they offer credit to customers on a 30-day account or not — perform a credit check on any new client who will spend more than $1000 on goods or services in one sale, on an ongoing basis. But what should you do if the credit check comes back negative, and shows that the potential customer is guilty of late payments, pending legal action or already carries a significant level of debt?
It may not be a case of having to turn a potential customer away. You may still be able to offer services to the customer without the risk that they won’t pay by trying the following approach, before refusing them entirely:
Advise the Client of the Bad Credit Rating
If the client filled out your credit application or work authorisation form, which should have stated that you were collecting their information for the purpose of credit check, there may be a good chance they filled it out in good faith and they’re unaware of their bad credit rating. There may be a reason for the rating, like, for instance, that the business was recently sold. It may even, potentially, stem from an ongoing dispute with another supplier over the standard of their goods or services (although proceed with caution here, as this, too, throws up a few red flags).
Look a Little Closer
When you search deeper, you might discover that the customer experiences predictable fluctuations in trading conditions which render them more vulnerable to being cash flow poor at certain times of the year. You may be able to accommodate this in how you design your credit terms with this customer. You might also ask for a list of suppliers (ensure you get a complete list, not one that has been hand-picked by the customer to only show them in a positive light) who you can call and verify as to their likely credit risk for future.
Request Payment in Advance
This said, a bad credit rating is a bad credit rating, even if the client has a perfectly good and reasonable explanation for you. You have the upper hand here, so you’re well within your rights to only agree to do business with this client so long as they pay for your goods or services in advance.
If you’re a supplier, say, of goods and your delivery driver has the capacity to accept cash payments on delivery, you may accept COD, however it’s not recommended. If the client is unwilling to prepay for your goods or services, then there’s a good chance they’re not acting in good faith, and so you’re best to avoid doing business with them.
Need a Bookkeeper? Sydney’s North Shore
If you’re in need of some help with your own business’ credit and debt management and are seeking a reliable bookkeeper to manage your daily or weekly bookkeeping and accounts, either remotely or in-person, we are pleased to recommend Roz, a qualified bookkeeper based at St Ives, with tertiary qualifications in accounting. She is a National Bookkeeping member and comes to us with the practical experience of having operated her own business and proficient in the day-to-day accounting functions of a small business. Visit her profile page and Request a Quote for Bookkeeping Services.
Unfortunately, too many business owners feel uncomfortable talking about credit and debt management upfront with new clients, believing it begins if, and when, a customer doesn’t pay a bill. In fact, credit management starts much, much earlier than that — long before the two businesses even agree to work with each other, to be precise.
The 3 Stages of Credit Management
Credit management falls, generally, into 3 broad stages, beginning with how new customers are assessed before you do business with them. If you extend a line of credit to your customers, payable on a 30-day account, then a credit check is an imperative first step. But even if you don’t offer credit, a credit check should be a routine part of the new customer set-up process.
If you provide services to customers that aren’t paid for in advance or upon receipt, and you allow that customer between 14 and 30 days to pay your invoice, you’ve essentially just extended them a line of credit. Indeed, it’s recommended that any business, whether they’re a sole trader, freelancer or independent contractor, carry out credit checks on any new, ongoing customer for jobs over the value of $1000.
Create credit application or work authorisation form
Establish terms of trade
Obtain a credit check.
As long as the credit check doesn’t raise any issues of concern in relation to the business’ previous track record with paying suppliers on time, you can then decide to take them on as a client. From here you move to the next stage of credit management.
Stage 2: Management
This is the most involved stage of the credit management process, as it requires diligence to ensure your processes don’t slip. Some aspects of the management stage may require a phone call to your client to find out why they haven’t paid, however, for the most part, cloud-accounting software has made it a lot easier to stay on top of your debtors. Ensure your process includes the following:
Prompt invoicing (as soon as goods / services have been provided)
Establish payment reminders, either by email or text
Send regular statements (if customer is on a 30-day credit account)
As soon as payment is overdue and in breach of terms of trade
Send to debt collection.
If you speak to your client twice about an overdue invoice / account, and they still don’t make payment within an agreed time, refer them to your debt collection agency, however harsh that may seem.
Stage 3: Enforcement
Although debt collection agencies can chase a debt that’s as much as 5 years old, the older the debt, the harder it is to collect payment. As soon as a client is in breach of your terms of trade, and your other attempts to collect payment have failed, refer the debt to your collection agency. If debt collection is unsuccessful, you should speak to your accountant or financial advisor about writing the debt off in your next tax return.
Good Credit Management Should Mean Few Phone Calls
As you can probably tell, if you have a good credit management process, and you’ve properly vetted all new customers before doing business with them, you should infrequently have to pick up the phone to chase them for payment. In that sense, credit management is not about getting on the phone, it’s about implementing a range of procedures for managing your debtors, and it begins before you even do any work for them.
We Can Help You Set Up Your Credit Management and Much More
Has your business yet to set up proper credit management systems? Having the assistance of a reliable, experienced professional to help you do so may cost a lot less than you think. We have thoroughly-vetted, reliable bookkeepers across Australia, capable of setting up your systems so you can continue to do your bookkeeping yourself, or able to keep managing your daily or weekly bookkeeping and accounts.
In Your Office or In the Cloud
All of this can be done either remotely or in person, with most of our bookkeepers tertiary qualified and able to assist in basic bookkeeping to more complex accounting tasks, such as accounts receivable and payable and payroll, or financial strategising. We also have registered BAS agents in our national directory. See our newly upgraded website, National Bookkeeping for more information.
Based in WA? Experienced Bookkeeper Available
If you are located in Western Australia, Deb from Mandurah, WA, is a qualified bookkeeper with tertiary qualifications and the practical, hands-on experience of having operated her own business in the past. Deb has a great deal of experience in the day-to-day accounting functions of a small business and you can contact her directly as a fully licensed member of National Bookkeeping from her profile page.
Our National Bookkeeping website has recently undergone a significant upgrade so keep a look out for more stories about featured bookkeepers in forthcoming blogs. Join now and we can feature YOU in our articles too.
Bookkeeping business marketing includes price, packaging and the marketing message
I had an opportunity to interview the man who managed the entire marketing program for Dyson when they came to Australia from the UK and helped Dyson become a phenomenal success and a leading brand in Australia. Michael Locke pointed out very clearly in that interview that product (and service) design, including packaging and pricing, is one of the pillars of good marketing – one of the Four P’s and Bookkeeping Business marketing is the same. Watch the video to learn more.
Many bookkeepers, particularly those starting a new bookkeeping business after coming from the corporate accounting world, think in terms of earning dollars per hour and days per week whether they work short term or several days a week so a big part of our bookkeeper induction into National Bookkeeping is to help manage their calendar for multiple clients and clients of different sizes.
Business plans, spreadsheets and other templates for bookkeepers
It’s not hard to find a template for a business plan and if you are good at spreadsheets or have used Microsoft Excel in the past you’ve probably already got some good “templates” to work with. Things like business cards, flyers and prospect questionnaires are included in the National Bookkeeping licence but again I’ve met many bookkeepers who spend money on graphic design, websites and flyers before they even “advertise” their message to potential clients and I often ask how important that really is considering most clients make a decision based on the person they communicate with for bookkeeping work.
We include our Microsoft Excel Course – all 9 in the licence. We also include the MYOB and Xero courses and if you let us know you’d like to be promoted as a local face to face trainer for MYOB we’ll work to connect you to businesses who want to learn how to use these programs for their business.
While I’m at it I should mention that our Beefed Up Bookkeeping Basics – Level 2 workbook is included in the licence as well as a number of new workbooks, guides and other content that we are currently working on!
Less work for you and a team to help you succeed
I’m writing this post because I’ve had several conversations with Deb, our Mandurah Bookkeeper licensee, and we’ve managed to focus most of our time on constructive marketing content for blogs, flyers and other material that we’re working on together to get her discovered in her local area. There’s work that Deb needs to do but its focused on customer service and helping local businesses rather than on marketing.
The other aspect of starting a bookkeeping business as a National Bookkeeping licensee is that the
Cost is very low
Mark and I are able to provide mentoring support to our licensee to help them during the various stages of their bookkeeping business
Our content marketing team can focus on building a great story around you, and
We can leverage the national marketing reach of our existing websites
Something small business clients like is that National Bookkeeping licensee are vetted during the Pre Qualification process so they feel confident that they are working with high calibre bookkeepers (and even qualified accountants with corporate experience).
Looking for experienced bookkeepers in Brisbane/Gold Coast and Melbourne
We’ve received interest from small businesses in Melbourne and are also looking at expanding our marketing in Brisbane Gold Coast so if you are looking for more clients and want to be part of something bigger Pre Qualify now.