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New Tax Concessions for Small Business

Four big changes to small biz tax concessions

ato tax concessions for small business under $25mAS YOU MAY BE AWARE, each year the ATO updates the tax concessions for businesses. This is usually the result of a budget measure being passed by the Government. Other times it’s due to the ATO simplifying the tax processes for businesses.

For the financial year ending June 30, 2018 (FY17/18), there have been four big changes that affect small business. In particular, how a small business is defined, which lowers the tax rates for more Australian businesses.

Small business threshold increases to $25m

The threshold for how a small business is defined was increased to an aggregated turnover of $25 million. Aggregated turned over includes any other form of income associated with the main business — i.e., shares on the stock market, revenue-generating property owned by the business, shareholdings in other companies, and so on.

Providing your aggregated turnover is below $25 million, your business is eligible for the company tax rate of 27.5 percent.

In the financial year ending June 30, 2019 (FY18/19), the turnover threshold will increase to $50 million, while the company tax rate will progressively decrease until it reaches 25 percent by FY26/27.

Instant asset write-off

The instant $20,000 asset write-off threshold has been extended until June 30, 2018, which means any computers, vehicles, furnishings or other assets purchased for your business between July 1, 2017 and 30 June, 2018 can be deducted immediately.

This deduction can be used for any asset that costs less than $20,000, whether new or secondhand.

Professional expenses deductions for startups

Startups can immediately deduct any profession, accounting, legal advice in the year it was incurred. For instance, a person who, in the process of setting up a cafe, hires a consultant to determine a suitable location for the business, may deduct the consultant’s fees in the year they incurred. This is true even for an established business that is setting up a new business, unrelated to their existing one.

For example, the cafe owner may already operate a restaurant. As long as the cafe doesn’t share the same name and is independent of the cafe, the fees may be deducted. If the new cafe was an expansion on the existing business, the deductions wouldn’t apply.

Immediate deductions for prepaid expenses

You can now claim an immediate deduction for prepaid expenses where the payment covers a period of up to 12 months and ends in the next financial year. If you took out a 12 month lease on premises for your business and paid 12 months rent upfront, the deduction would apply. It wouldn’t apply, however, if you signed a 24 month lease, as the service period is greater than 12 months.

Small business restructure rollover

Small businesses can now change the legal structure of their business — from partnership to a company, for example — without incurring any income liability when the assets are transferred from the partnership to the company.

This rollover applies to any active asset, whether they’re CGT assets, stock, revenue assets or depreciating assets.

In changing the structure of a partnership to a company, the rollover only applies where there is no change in economic ownership. For example, if a husband and wife decide to change the structure of their caravan park to a company, and both husband and wife remain equal shareholders in the business.

The rollover wouldn’t apply, however, if a third person became a shareholder in the company or the shares were distributed unevenly between husband and wife. Both would constitute an economic change in the ownership of any assets, even though they’re a couple.

***

We’ll keep you informed of new and emerging technologies that help you do business better. As part of our Updates and Additions policy, any new content we add is yours’ FOR FREE as a current EzyLearn student. 

Interested in finding out about more Xero-integrated apps to help you manage your project more efficiently? See our recent blogs where we review for you and come up with a list of pros, cons and prices: Best Xero-Integrated Time Management Apps and Best Xero-Integrated Project Management Apps and the Best Xero-Integrated Document Management Platforms.


 

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Why Do You Want Xero and MYOB for Free?

If money is an issue there are alternatives when it comes to accounting software programs

WaveApps Transaction journal in the free accounting software competitors to Xero, QuickBooks Online and MYOB with receipt scanning built inWE’RE OFTEN ASKED whether Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks software is provided free with our training courses.

Unfortunately, we’re not given free access to accounting software, so we can’t pass free software access onto our students either. However, we do let you know where you can access trial or student versions while you complete our courses.

It made me wonder: Who’s driving the demand for these programs? It turns out, it’s usually someone’s bookkeeper or accountant recommending them. And this is usually because they’ve done a training course and learnt how to use one or more of the major accounting packages.

Does your bookkeeper or accountant disclose whether they’re earning a commission?

Some bookkeepers take a 15 percent cut of the monthly subscription fee because they’re a certified MYOB / Xero / QuickBooks consultant — and that’s why they recommend a particular package. I personally think that bookkeepers or BAS agents who do this should disclose that they are earning an ongoing commission — just as real estate agents need to make these declarations in their agency agreements.

Businesses don’t know any alternatives  

It also happens that a lot of business owners don’t know about alternative accounting packages. Therefore they simply choose the brand name they’ve heard about the most. I discovered this with real estate agents when it comes to who they choose for their social media marketing services — most of them ask what software or which person Joe Blow uses and then assume it’s good enough for them.

Selecting an accounting package to use is often one of the first things a new business owner does. At this stage, however, they may not even be aware of what they require from an accounting package; never mind what sorts of alternatives they should be looking at. When first starting out, they’re just anxious to be able to invoice and get paid by their first client.

Freshbooks, Zoho, WaveApps alternatives to Xero & QuickBooks Online

Three low cost alternatives to the “three brand names”

Zoho, Freshbooks and Wave are three other accounting packages that are either free or very inexpensive.

These three also include many of the same features you’ll find in the three big name accounting packages — MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks.

Zoho: Free invoicing software allows one user, invoice up to five customers; paid subscriptions from $7 U.S. per month; add extra features (expenses, subscription management, inventory management) as required. Pricing for Zoho Books, the complete accounting package, start at $9 U.S. per month for 2 users, 50 contacts, 5 automated workflows.

Freshbooks: Complete accounting software includes unlimited invoices, accept online and credit card payments, multiple devices, reports, payment reminders, notifications when clients have received, viewed, paid invoices; pricing starts at $15 U.S. per month for 5 active contacts (customers).

Wave: Forever free invoicing and accounting software includes unlimited estimates and invoices, generate reports, scan receipts, bank feeds (accounting package), and more; accept credit card and online payments for a fee (1.75 percent for ever 30 cents AUD); payroll $36 AUD per month.

Consider your business needs first

We recommend either Wave or Zoho for small but growing businesses, looking for a cheap or free accounting solution. Wave, in particular, provides a fairly robust accounting package that’s entirely free, and remains so if you don’t intend to take credit card or online payments (lots of businesses do, but many more don’t). In fact, they even have their own smartphone apps to capture receipts and create invoices while you’re at a clients!

If you anticipate you might want to add other productivity apps, like a CRM, inventory management, IT helpdesk, recruitment tools, or collaborate in a team project, Zoho is a good place to start, as these features can be turned on and off as required.

Of course, these accounting packages are rarely used or recommended by accountants or bookkeepers, who prefer to work with Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks because they provide the functionality needed to complete and lodge activity statements. If you’ll be working with a bookkeeper or accountant, it’s best to stick with one of the brand name three.

***

If you need training in MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks, our online training courses will show you how to set up and use various aspects of the software. More importantly, they will take you through detailed case studies where you can enter all the transactions performed by various different business types eg. professional services, trades and even the sale of inventory products. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.

 

Ref: #715

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$99 MYOB Course: Intro, Intermediate, Payroll – ALL FOR $99!?

Mr Ed a horse is not just a horse and an online course is not just an online course

When a training course is not really a training course…

WE REGULARLY PARTAKE in competitive analysis so we can keep giving you top quality online training courses for the best value out there, and in doing so, I found an online offer for not just one, but THREE levels of MYOB — Intro, Intermediate and Payroll OR ALL THREE for $99.

Not mentioning any names; we’re not in the business of naming and shaming and, besides, you can search the deal easily enough online yourself, but it prompted me to put out a reminder that not all courses are created equal.

Not all training courses are the same

I guess it’s obvious to some degree, but many of us are still misled by marketing, and sometimes what’s packaged to the customer as an online training course, is simply a pile of videos (and not even featuring current and up-to-date software versions, either!) all plonked together. You know what, you can get this, and possibly more, directly off You Tube for free!

Using old versions of the accounting software

myob logo online myob training course videosThere are many online courses available for cheap prices, but many of these same courses are not providing training on the latest version of software packages. A quick scan of the fine print shows that this particular $99 MYOB deal is training you on Version 19 of MYOB. This dates back to 2010, which in any one’s language, is very old. Very, very old.

As part of our suite of online MYOB courses, we include access to our old “archived” courses where we use version 19 of MYOB; only for the benefit of those people who still use it and don’t need features like payroll, super and other added features that you’d expect to get after 8 or so years of software development.

What’s retail price anyway?

Box saying If its too good to be true read the fine print for online training courses

Another thing to be wary of is “retail price” comparisons. Plenty of these may be legit, but there are others out there who deliberately distort the truth or make a current cheap offer seem far more appealing by comparing their cheap price to a retail price that isn’t really indicative of what’s on offer out there online.

Make sure you’re talking “courses for courses” and that the retail price comparison isn’t looking at prices from half a decade ago or thereabouts. The price of online training courses is a forever shifting thing, so do your research!

What your online training course should include

In our books, an online training course that’s actually going to deliver results for you should come with these ingredients at the very least:

  1. A detailed workbook to supplement your training and absorption
  2. Knowledge reviews, quizzes and tests (so you can see how you’re absorbing information as you go)
  3. Certificate of completion option formally stating what you’ve achieved
  4. Case studies that keep the content based in real-world scenarios and ensure you’re learning things that will be practical in real-life circumstances and situations
  5. Responsive email and phone student support for all queries
  6. Money-back guarantee; if you’re not happy with the course content, or it’s not what you thought it would be, you shouldn’t be stuffed around in the fine print by not getting a full refund, (no matter how small the amount you’ve originally paid).

The training course should feature the training on the software as it is in its current version and this training, or training videos, workbooks, whatever, should be provided in an order that’s been carefully considered, trialled and tested.

Oh, and some testimonials by real people vouching for the effectiveness, quality and professionalism of the course content and course content provider is pretty important too. Then there’s CPD point accreditation, access to lifelong learning platforms, the option to get lifetime course membership to course content so you’ll always get updates at no extra cost and have an “after course resource” … yep, don’t get me started, courses simply ain’t all the same and you usually pay for what you get (though I think we’re super cost-effective by those standards!)

***

People say “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. This isn’t always the case, and sometimes excellent opportunities in life seem, at first, too good to be true. But when it comes to online MYOB courses for $99 or $29 or $69 or whatever the probably-too-good-to-be-true price point is, just make sure you’re getting apples for apples, or courses for courses, or horses for horses, Mr Ed.

Mr Ed a horse is not just a horse and an online course is not just an online course

You can watch some FREE MYOB course videos? Scroll through our freebies list of online training videos that you can watch without charge or obligation and subscribe to our blog to get updates to more free videos as we’re adding them all the time. Or check out our special offers page to see what discounts we’re giving at the moment or online training courses in MYOB, Xero, Excel and many others.


Online bookkeeping accounting training courses for CPD points


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MYOB AccountRight Plus and MYOB Essentials – they’re different

myob-essentials online training course live logo

MYOB became the cloud laggard

NOT ALL TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES were 100% committed to cloud-based software (commonly known at the time as SAAS — Software As A Service) when the high level of Internet adoption made it more feasible. One of those companies was MYOB.

At the time, MYOB was the accounting software leader by a HUGE margin in Australia, and the strategy that Craig Winkler used from the very beginning, meant the company was entrenched as the software of choice for accountants. The market leading software for small business was MYOB AccountRight and AccountRight Plus (for payroll and other advanced features).

The problem faced by MYOB was that the company required a lot of capital and had a lot of work to do to rewrite their Windows and Macintosh software programs. They only had a basic online version called Essentials which didn’t capture much attention because it was feature poor. This enabled the New Zealand company, Xero, to gain traction as the alternative accounting program which was focused on cloud-based features like:

  • bank feeds
  • automatic back ups
  • simultaneous multi-user access.

Craig Winkler sold out to Archer Capital who later did a 3-bagger to triple the value of the software company when they sold to Bain Capital. Therefore the company is well resourced financially to make up for any lost ground. Indeed, it seems they are starting to come good with their MYOB Essentials software as a reasonable competitor in the cloud-accounting space.

MYOB Essentials Evolution

myob-essentials online training course live logoAs a training organisation, EzyLearn’s service provision is driven by the needs of our students and what they ask for. Very few companies or job seekers have ever asked about MYOB Essentials until recently.

We create our own MYOB training course materials and update and add to it regularly and because we have our own micro courses and case studies (some are starting to call these “playbooks”) we’re able to replicate those for different software programs and we’re currently doing it for MYOB Essentials.

Best of all, when you enrol into any of our MYOB AccountRight training courses you’ll now get access to the new MYOB Essentials Course materials we create as part of a combination offer at the Bookkeeping Academy website – Click here>

Make sure you subscribe to get alerts about all of our new, ongoing content.

On a side note, the elephant in the room is still Intuit and their QuickBooks Online program — they are the market leader in the US and are HUGE!


learn to use excel online training course videos cheap best

Creating and managing databases is included as part of our Advanced Microsoft Excel training courses — and you receive access to ALL OF OUR COURSES, including ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW PRICE. You can even start your Excel journey with our FREE Beginners’ Excel Course Workbook. Read more about our beginners’, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow!


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Interest-free student loans and course finance VERSUS cheap courses

Interest free student loans for Xero, MYOB, Excel, Marketing and Business Startup Courses cost someoneIT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR again when my team and I review the success of our marketing for 2017 and plan our strategies for the New Year. The topic of interest-free student loans was on the agenda, so I thought I’ll write something about it.

Personally, debt has always been something that has terrified me until about 5 years ago. This stemmed from a time in my mid twenties when I got a commercial hire purchase (CHP) loan to buy an extra Telstra Mitsubishi van. It was selling for $12,000 at the time (which was a lot of money for me) and I paid it off within a year but needed to pay a penalty because the loan was for a fixed period — it cost me $16,000!

This experience left me feeling completely ripped off and began my intrigue into the different type of loans available to businesses, the risks, and how lenders cover their risks as much as possible. Then Jerry Harvey started spruiking the “buy now with nothing to pay for 3 years” mantra that has become commonplace for many retail businesses. We now have every man and his dog business giving away interest-free credit which usually comes with a credit card attached.

The fact is that borrowing money costs someone and if you’re offered an interest free loan it just means that the loan cost is being absorbed by the seller.

If you’ve completed our MYOB or Xero courses (or you’re already working in accounts) you’d know that a course debt is a liability to the student but an asset to the lender and that asset can be sold or written off. Further, if you read the financial news you’ll see that major retailers are either selling their debt or their in-store cards or credit card to the highest bidder.

The problem I have with any form of debt, except buying an income producing asset like real estate or business assets (or a business), is that if you can’t afford it now how will you be able to pay it back later?

Cashflow for a business is often lumpy and the interest cost for cashflow lending is an expense which comes off your taxable income. In this sense it’s “good debt”, but personal debt that can’t be claimed as an expense is bad and often you’re better off finding the same product or course for a cheaper price and just paying that — or use your existing credit card (and pay it back in time). Read about our newest Xero Cashflow, Budgets and ROI Course.

So, back to our marketing dilemma. EzyLearn has only ever tested part payments of courses and realised that we’re not a lender and rather than pay the cost of having a loan facility we’d prefer to include as much as possible in our courses (including additions and updates) and offer our courses at a cheap and competitive price with occasional special offers.


learn xero myob excel cheap online training courses videos

At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of cloud-based online accounting software courses, to business start up and management courses, to marketing and sales courses, or update and further your skills in a range of Microsoft Office programs (ExcelPowerPointWord) or social media and WordPress web design). 


 

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The Perfect Job; the Ideal Employee

the perfect administrative executive assistant office manager learn online courses training

And the online training to help you get there

the perfect administrative executive assistant office manager learn online courses training
Do you have the skills needed to be the perfect office manager, administrative or executive assistant?

I WAS BROWSING THROUGH my contacts on LinkedIn and found an advertisement by a company that was looking to hire people.

They were in the AI (Artificial Intelligence) space and their headquarters were in Europe.

However, the ad looked like it could be for any company including trades, professional services etc.

Here’s what the ad contained:

Executive Assistant / Office Manager

Overview

The Executive Assistant / Office Manager will be primarily responsible for helping to keep everyone (and everything) working at peak performance. We’re a growing company, and there will be new and interesting challenges every day. Ideal candidates are curious and interested in learning more about what we do, and always interested in learning new skills and taking on new challenges.


Tasks

  • Manage all aspects of office administration
  • Coordinate team schedules and events
  • Manage executive schedules
  • Handle payment of invoices and associated bookkeeping
  • Order supplies and equipment
  • Arrange travel

Skills

Required

  • Excellent verbal and written English communication skills
  • Strong organizational and time management skills
  • Ability to work with minimum supervision, prioritizing work as needed
  • Strong knowledge of office applications, including Word, Powerpoint, and Excel

The training you need

Apart from the soft skills like good time management, communications, speaking and writing the software skills you can learn to apply for this job are:

Microsoft Office Applications:

Office Admin and Bookkeeping:

Organisational and Time Management:

My thoughts on this ad?

Why I’m sharing this ad is that I reckon it encapsulates “the perfect” administrative or executive assistant, or office manager. What I mean is that anybody possessing all the skills and capabilities listed above would be well qualified for almost any job in this area — for pretty much any type of company.

And they wouldn’t be limited to any particular industry either. Any intelligent person who is a quick learner would be able to pick up the nuances for various different industries and apply their skills as necessary.

Online courses to help you

The other positive thing about this ad is that it reinforces the fact that so many of our EzyLearn online training courses are geared towards people who want to do office administrative-type roles or office management positions. They are also perfect for people wanting to run their own business in any industry.


learn xero myob excel cheap online training courses videos

At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of cloud-based online accounting software courses, to business start up and management courses, to marketing and sales courses, or update and further your skills in a range of Microsoft Office programs (ExcelPowerPointWord) or social media and WordPress web design). 


 

 

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Save 48% off Excel, MYOB and Xero Training Courses

EzyLearn Last Dasher Sale November 2017 for cheap Xero, Cheap MYOB and Cheap Excel courses

EzyLearn Last Dasher Sale November 2017Now almost half the price and twice the speed!

I HAVE JUST BEEN THROUGH a gruuelling experience with our hosting company, technical people and course creators to make sure that EzyLearn continues to be the first choice for Bookkeeping and Marketing Courses.

Our servers are now twice as fast and have more storage so existing students should experience some nice and fast access speeds — unless you’re in an NBN area that drops out all the time (sorry Telstra, I love you BUT the access speed is no different from what it was over here in the NSW Lake Macquarie area!)

In case you weren’t aware, I was recently heavily involved in a renovation of an investment property in Newcastle (which I really enjoyed and has given us a whole lot of extra content from real world experiences with local tradies like electricians, plumbers, chippies, painters and more) but am now back on the tools (the internet and software tools, that is) and keen to continue improving every aspects of our courses for existing AND new students.

We’ve coming up to the crazy, silly season once again that is Christmas, and I thought I’d push our marketing up another notch to help those who want to learn more to improve their lives and businesses in 2018. I hope I’m not too early in thinking like this but it’s a great time to think about what’s important in life and go and get it.

New people, new experience and MORE new content

I’ve spoken with some fantastic people who’ve joined us in the accounting software space and they have some tremendous experience in the ERP (Enterprise resource planning) side of accounting — that is accounting software as used by mid size companies. From this, we’re going to share some great information, tips and experiences to help those businesses who either deal with larger companies as clients, or who are at the stage of ramping up their accounting as a mid size business.

We’ve also just gone through the upgrade of training materials for Microsoft Excel 2016 and Xero Courses, including the new Xero Cashflow Course, and I’ll share some of that information with you as it gets published on our LMS.

If you are an existing Xero Course student you can access this course for free as part of our EzyLearn Updates policy.

There’s much more news to come, but for now please take advantage of and share our currentLAST DASHer SALE!” with your friends. And do subscribe to receive our updates!


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MYOB Unlimited Offer Not Really Fair

MYOB, Xero & QuickBooks Online Courses for tradespeople
MYOB, Xero & QuickBooks Online Courses for tradespeople
Is MYOB mocking tradies in their new ad

I WAS DOING SOME research about MYOB’s large and confusing product suite recently, when I came across the word “unlimited”, followed by an asterisk.

I thought this was odd, since I didn’t think the word “unlimited” required much more explanation — doesn’t it, after all, mean inexhaustible, limitless, boundless, and so on?

It turns out there ARE limitations around MYOB’s products — and it relates to bank feeds. They are subject to a fair use policy, but the downloaded document doesn’t actually quantify what constitutes “fair use”, so our team had to go and do a little digging.

What is “fair use”?

The term “fair use” has been unusually co-opted by companies and businesses, usually telcos and ISPs, to put some limitations around their “unlimited” product plans. Traditionally, “fair use” referred to copyright, and the use of texts — be they music, films, books, etc — in a manner that is considered fair. I was involved in a VoIP telephone business when a company from the US called Fonality made a HUGE running dive into the Australian telecom market with fixed cost plans when it was still new to Aussies.

They offered an “Everything’s Included” package based on a fixed cost per line and it too was based around a “Fair Use Policy” which you had to dig really deep to find and understand. The most common example I’m aware of is for Internet access by gamers who use an incredible amount of download data compared to most people and I understand that their usage may be unfair but I also think this type of clause in a product offering is very UNFAIR — particularly on your competitors (who would probably happily match it!).

In copyright law, brief excerpts of copyrighted material may be used verbatim for the purposes of criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research without requiring the permission (or payment to) the copyright holder.

How does “fair use” apply to MYOB?

Click the image and then zoom in to see if you can see it.

In the case of MYOB’s not-unlimited bank feeds, there’s a monthly threshold, depending on the type of MYOB product or plan you’re on, and once you exceed that threshold, you’ll be charged a fee for each bank feed transaction you carry out that month.

It’s basically a reinterpretation of the “fair use” policy as it relates to copyright law, to suit MYOB’s purposes.

Although the document I was encouraged to download didn’t outline MYOB’s Bank Feeds Fair Use Policy, I managed to find it elsewhere on the MYOB site, which has been republished below (under the fair use policy for copyrighted material!).

So long as you don’t exceed the number of monthly bank feed transactions your plan permits, you should be fine, though the term “unlimited” is fairly misleading in this instance, since they have a clearly defined number of transactions they allow.

No Ambiguity with LIFETIME Access

EzyLearn Online Course Updates & Additions for latest versions of Xero, Excel & MYOB coursesEzyLearn has been in business since 1996 and online only since 2006. In 2011 we launched LIFETIME course access as an option for selected courses and we did it because we could!

We have the systems in place to track students enrolments so it’s something we feel very comfortable with and we’ve had many students ask us about it a couple years after doing their course — obviously they were thrilled that we still had their details on file and gave them access to the CURRENT course. Yes, when we offer lifetime course access it means you get to the NEW version of the software course as well as the older one. That’s part of our Update and Addition Policy.

You can learn more about bank feeds with MYOB and how to set them up in our MYOB training courses. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.


 

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Finding Help with Your Bookkeeping

Why you should employ a bookkeeper to help manage the books

best way to find a bookkeeper myob xero quickbooks online
If you’re a small business owner, it shouldn’t be taking you an inordinate amount of time to keep your bookkeeping orderly and up to date. If it is, perhaps now is the time to get help.

PERHAPS YOU ARE a small business owner who is trying hard to keep up to speed with your regulatory bookkeeping requirements. But no sooner does one quarter end and another one seems to roll by with the commensurate paperwork due all over again. This is taking away from your regular work and you’re falling behind — and half the time you’re not even sure that it’s being done correctly. It sounds like you should be seriously considering finding a bookkeeper for your business.

Even if you have training in how to use Xero, MYOB or Quickbooks, or some other cloud accounting program, finding a great bookkeeper can make all the difference to your business. However, although there might seem to be plenty of “bookkeepers” around, finding the right one bookkeeper for your business is not an altogether easy thing to do. And if you’re financially challenged, you also need to find a bookkeeper who won’t break the bank.

Bookkeeper, accountant or tax professional?

These days, the term bookkeeper is almost an umbrella term for all the different types of accounting and tax professionals available to you, from basic data entry bookkeepers right through to specialised BAS and tax agents.

There are even some bookkeepers who are so knowledgeable in one particular accounting program that the software company has endorsed them as certified consultants or advisors, and some earn commission from accounting software companies, while there are others who aren’t beholden to any particular software company. We outline four steps you can take to narrow down the search.

Step One: What Kind of Bookkeeper Do You Need?

Think about your business and how it operates. Do you have lots of business purchases and transactions each week? Do you employ staff? Do you work in a specialised industry? Are you registered for GST? Do you require a bookkeeper to work onsite at your premises or can they work remotely?

Write down the needs of your business to help you determine the kind of financial help, and therefore, what kind of bookkeeper you need for your business.

Step Two: Research Local Bookkeepers in Your Area

Visit the websites of some local bookkeepers in your area, or search the National Bookkeeping Directory to find bookkeepers matching your requirements located near you. If you don’t require a bookkeeper to visit your premises, broaden your scope and research bookkeepers who can work remotely. Make a shortlist of potential bookkeepers.

Step Three: Check the TPB Register

BAS and tax agents are required, by law, to register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), so if your business requires either a tax or BAS agent (or both), the TPB Register should be your first port of call to ensure the person who have in mind is currently registered to provide BAS or tax services.

Step Four: Interview Your Preferred Bookkeepers

During step two, you made a shortlist of potential bookkeepers, and, assuming your TPB search didn’t turn up anything to be wary of, you should now set about contacting each one to get to know more about the services they provide.

It’s a good idea to ask them how long they’ve been working as a bookkeeper for, the sorts of businesses they’ve worked with in the past, and any expectations they may have of you. You should also ask for a written quote for their services. This quote should form part of your professional services agreement.

***

Many bookkeepers will provide an initial consultation, and if not, ask them to. We outline a number of things you can expect and ask them at this first consultation.

If you need help making your small business dream become a reality — with business planning and templates, identifying target markets, with any form of marketing and advertising, including social media, even just setting up a great looking website — then check out our EzyStartUp Course or contact us for more information. 


 

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When Do You Need to Register as a BAS Agent?

Making the effort to specialise reaps rewards

becoming a registered BAS agent
Without BAS agent registration you may be limiting your options for employment as a bookkeeper.

BECOMING A REGISTERED BAS agent means you are permitted to lodge a client’s business activity statements (BAS) on their behalf, each month or quarter, or as determined by the ATO.

BAS agents are really bookkeepers; but they’re ones who have done some extra training and applied to the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB) for a BAS agent’s accreditation.

Not every bookkeeper has to register as a BAS agent, but those who do typically earn more as a registered BAS agent than a straightforward, no-frills bookkeeper does. That’s largely due to the way cloud-based software, like Xero and Quickbooks, has made it a lot easier for businesses to manage their own bookkeeping. But even just speaking generally, bookkeepers who have specialised skills always tend to earn more.

So when don’t you need to register?

You don’t need to register as a BAS agent if:

  • You’re an employee of a registered BAS agent, who pays you wages to help them with BAS services
  • You’re an employee of a business doing its BAS
  • You do the books for your own business – you prepare the activity statements for your own virtual assistant business
  • You don’t receive a fee or reward for the BAS services you provide – you’re helping a relative or in-law prepare their activity statements.

You may still need to register, however, even if the client lodges their own activity statements, simply because they relied on your advice or work relating to their BAS.

Who needs to register, then?

In a nutshell, if you provide BAS services that you are paid for – that is, you receive a fee or reward – then you need to register with the TPB.

Even if you’re being paid for your BAS work as part of other types of work (like a freelance office manager whose duties include providing BAS services, along with other duties, like customer service and general administrative tasks), you still need to register.

You’ll also need to register if you’re a contractor, providing BAS services to another registered agent. This applies even if you work at the registered agent’s office or premises and you’re not considered an employee of that agent (for further info, see the ATO’s guide to determining when someone is a contractor and not an employee).

Why register to be a BAS agent?

As we’ve said, there’s the legal requirement to register to be a BAS agent if you’re deriving an income, or some other form of remuneration, for providing BAS services to another business. But there are other reasons why a person with the knowledge and know-how of BAS should register as an agent.

Example:

Say you’re someone who doesn’t need to register, but you’d like to pick up extra work as a contract or freelance bookkeeper, being a registered BAS agent makes you more valuable to businesses; not just because you can complete and lodge their activity statements, but because you can also advise them on their BAS.

As noted above, even if you don’t lodge the activity statement because your client does, you may still need to register if they relied on any part of your work or advice. For your services to be clearly delineated from your client’s BAS, you’re only able to provide very basic data entry services.

becoming a registered bas agentIf you don’t register, it means you can’t:

  • Work out the codes for GST or FBT collection
  • Provide reconciliation, because it involves deciding on the tax codes to apply
  • Manage your client’s payroll

You wouldn’t even be able to set up a client’s accounting software for their business.

If you don’t register as a BAS agent

A bookkeeper that’s only able to provide very basic data entry services – which isn’t even a huge component of the bookkeeping job now that most accounting packages have the bank feeds feature – isn’t very valuable to a business, simply because they don’t add any value to their client’s business.

When people hire a freelancer or a contractor, they tend to hire someone who can fit one of two criteria; either they’re:

  • Highly skilled in their particular field; or
  • Inexpensive

If they want someone highly skilled, it’s usually because the project they’ll be working on is very important to them; if they hire someone inexpensive, it’s because the project isn’t particularly important, but does need to be done nevertheless.

You can probably see where we’re heading here. We happen to think bookkeeping is extremely important, because it indisputably has many far and wide ranging implications for all of our businesses.

How and with whom you need to register

First you need to have completed, as a minimum, a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping at a TAFE or another registered training organisation. Then you need to register with the TPB, which requires registrants to meet a certain criterion before they can be accredited as BAS agents.

Although it’s not a requirement, you’ll also need to know how to use some of the most popular accounting packages. At the moment, the three most popular accounting packages with both accountants and most business owners, are QuickBooks, MYOB and Xero, of which we offer online training courses in. All of these packages have pros and cons.

We say it’s not a requirement to know each of the above, because a Cert IV in Bookkeeping trains you in the intricacies of Australian tax law, but doesn’t teach you how to apply that in any accounting software; that’s something you have to learn yourself if you’re going to put your education into practice.

To read more about becoming a bookkeeper, and in particular how to start a bookkeeping business, continue reading or subscribe to our blog. Alternatively, to learn how to use MYOB or Xero, you can enrol in one of our many training courses online.

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Read more about being a BAS agent

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Starting your own bookkeeping business can provide a lucrative and flexible career option. As a BAS agent you can lodge Taxable Payments Annual Reports (TPARs) which are used in the construction industry. Also, don’t fear that you should automatically choose to affiliate with one accounting software application over another — oftentimes having a qualified BAS agent is far more valuable to a business than a certified consultant or advisor.  


 

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Is Xero Really All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

How does Xero stack up in the cloud accounting game?

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Xero CEO, Rod Drury

WHEN XERO FIRST ENTERED the accounting space, it gave MYOB a real run for its money — something Xero continues to do to this very day.

When Xero first entered the market, it was with a bang. You see, even though  Xero and MYOB share many of the same features, Xero was cheaper and easier to use than MYOB, but perhaps even more so, it was also cloud-based. Being cloud-based meant you didn’t have to buy and install pricey software that would be out-of-date within 12 months. A huge advantage.

Since then, however, a number of cloud-based accounting applications have entered the market — QuickBooks Online (now distributed by their US-based parent company Intuit), Reckon One, Saasu, Zoho, and so on.

As business owners have more choice than ever before, it’s got a lot of people wondering about whether the two market leaders (Xero and MYOB) are really all they’re cracked up to be, Xero in particular.

Missing a dropdown menu

Even though Xero was hailed as a breath of fresh air when it first entered the market, it is still a little more complicated to use when compared with other cloud accounting apps, like QuickBooks and Reckon One. For instance, the purchase orders feature is still hidden behind bills, when it could easily be access via a dropdown menu. But it’s not a major quibble.

Xero’s contact profile misses a beat

Although Xero allows you to assign customer numbers for your suppliers or customers in the contact profile, it doesn’t have the functionality to record customer numbers assigned by supplier or customer.

If you’re trying to get in touch with Telstra, for example, with whom you’ll have been assigned a customer or account number, you’ll have to dig around for the paper bill to find that customer or account number.

It’s easy to file bills, though

This feature is available in QuickBooks, and it’s also available in MYOB, but as is often the case with MYOB, it requires more steps to do what you can in Xero in just a few clicks. Rather than keep paper bills on hand, Xero allows you to attach them to you transactions, so you never have to go hunting around for a bill again (very useful given the contact profile issue mentioned above).

In MYOB, you must upload your bills to your in-tray, and then link them to your transactions. This is annoying, because it requires you to leave the transaction window and open the in-tray one.

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Remember that when you select a cloud accounting package for your business, do not choose solely based on price. Make a list of the needs of your business and the functions you’ll require, and then select the accounting package that suits your needs the most. Ask your bookkeeper and other business friends for their recommendations as well.


Announcement: Microsoft Excel 2016 Beginners’ to Advanced courses now available!

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At EzyLearn we include all versions of a software program in our training courses. That means when you enrol into Excel you get 2016 — AND — the older Excel courses which include version 2013, 2010, 2007 and even 2003 (if you really need it).
When you enrol in Lifetime Course Access you get access to ALL versions and ALL FUTURE VERSIONS as we continually update them — at no extra cost!

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Do You Need a Bookkeeper or an Accountant? Or Someone Else?

There are many finance professionals — who does your business need?

find a good local bookkeeper
Does your business need a bookkeeper, accountant or perhaps just a BAS agent – or a little bit of everyone?

WE’VE MENTIONED PREVIOUSLY THAT finding a bookkeeper, when you may not know much about bookkeeping, can be a difficult task.

In fact, a lot of new business owners assume their accountant will take care of everything for them, which may be costly if their accountant has to perform a year’s worth of bookkeeping in order to file the business’s tax return. But bookkeepers and accountants can work harmoniously in your business.

As a general rule, every business needs at least two finance professionals working on their business accounts, but which two professionals you’ll need to hire depends on your business needs. If you’re not sure who you need to hire for your business, here’s a cheat sheet to help you out.

Bookkeepers (not registered with the TPB)

An independent bookkeeper not employed by an accountant and not registered with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB) may only perform basic bookkeeping services, such as the entering of receipts, coding financial transactions, generating invoices and, possibly, some accounts receivable work. If you hire this type of bookkeeper, you’ll still need an accountant.

BAS agents

BAS agents must, by law, register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), which certifies that they are qualified and have completed the necessary continuing education requirements to perform the tasks of a BAS agent, which involves carrying out most of the bookkeeping tasks mentioned above, in addition to preparing and lodging business activity statements on a business’s behalf.

If your business is registered for GST, you will need to file regular activity statements. If you hire a BAS agent, you’ll also need an accountant. In some instances, you may find a BAS agent who’s also a registered tax agent and vice versa, who may be able to take care of all your taxation needs.

Tax agents

Although tax agents, like BAS agents, must also register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), a tax agent is focused on income tax — how much income you have to declare, how much you can claim back, etc.

This is distinct from a BAS agent who is concerned with the day-to-day financial tasks of your business (bookkeeping and BAS lodgements). That said, some tax agents will also perform some the basic bookkeeping tasks on a regular basis, though they primarily specialise in lodging tax returns.

If you’re not registered for GST, and your tax agent will also perform regular bookkeeping tasks (or you can do it yourself), you may not need to hire an accountant. In some instances, you may find a tax agent who’s also a registered BAS agent and vice versa, who may be able to take care of all your taxation needs.

Accountants

An accountant is mostly concerned with planning and strategy. Unlike bookkeepers and BAS or tax agents, an accountant will assess and advise you on what actions you should take to maximise your income. Great accountants will get involved with planning the direction of your business and ensure it’s been structured properly and that you’re meeting any additional tax obligations.

They’ll also help you to make strategic purchases for equipment and machinery, and work with your BAS agent or bookkeeper to ensure these decisions are reflected in your daily financial records. An accountant is also able to prepare and lodge tax returns on your behalf.

How much should I pay a bookkeeper?

Check out the National Bookkeeping Directory, which features the details of bookkeepers, capable of doing data entry and clerical tasks, through to high-level accounting work as undertaken by BAS agents, accountants and CFOs.

You can also see the National Bookkeeping rates page to find out what level bookkeeper your business needs.


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

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Should Your Bookkeeper Earn a Commission Off Your Software Subscription?

Is your bookkeeper’s bias disadvantaging you?

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Although a bookkeeper who is certified by a major accounting software company can be a good thing, you need to make sure their accounting package is best for your business.

SOME BOOKKEEPERS HAVE BEEN endorsed by software companies and are known as certified consultants or advisors. At EzyLearn we provide online training in Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks and we know that some people who hire bookkeepers aren’t aware of the benefits these certified consultants and advisors receive.

So what are some of the benefits? One; they get their accounting software for free, two; they receive a discount or commission for each new business they sign up to use that particular software.

Does this make certified consultants and advisors biased?

For a business owner, the upside to hiring a bookkeeper endorsed by a software company is that they will be able to work with that software application quickly and efficiently. The potential downside, however, is that the software application may not be especially suited to the business, but has been recommended anyway because the bookkeeper earns a commission for doing so.

Research first

A way around this is to do some research first. Compare a few different accounting applications before making contact with a certified consultant or advisor. Once you’ve decided on a particular software, you shouldn’t find yourself in any strife.

If, however, you contact a bookkeeper without doing your own research first, there are some things to be wary of, such as whose name the subscription will be in — failing to do so could prove to be a costly mistake.

Independent bookkeepers bring software skills and more

Most independent bookkeepers are usually proficient in a few of the major accounting applications, like Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks, rather than just one, so they’ll be able to recommend the software that suits you and your business needs the best.

They’re also able to set up your accounting software for you and provide training if necessary, just as a certified consultant or advisor can — only you’ll be in control of your subscription instead of your bookkeeper.

To ensure your independent bookkeeper is just as qualified as a certified consultant or advisor, ask to check their references. By law, a bookkeeper can’t perform BAS or tax services unless they’re registered with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB) so you can check with them to ensure they are. If you’re worried about their software skills, ask if they’ve taken any short courses in a particular accounting application.

We want to help you get the best from your bookkeeper. Check out our recently upgraded National Bookkeeping directory which features bookkeepers from all over Australia. Or perhaps you’re after software training in MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks? We feature online training in these, and many other business-related courses: see our website for more


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

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Ratings, Reviews, Testimonials, Recommendations

Why you can’t beat old-fashioned word of mouth

social media ratings reviews online word of mouth referrals
Online ratings and reviews have a role to play in buying decisions, but sometimes you just can’t go past traditional word of mouth to find good workers.

ONLINE RATINGS AND REVIEWS ARE a great way to determine whether a business is trustworthy or whether they products and services they provide will suit your needs. TripAdvisor and Yelp have transformed the hospitality and accommodation industry, for example. And Airbnb is doing similar with short-term rentals.

But as we’ve previously discussed, online ratings and reviews can be easily faked and sometimes biased or devoid of useful information

Looking for a local? Ask around!

While recently working on a home renovation in Newcastle, I came across a carpenter who had seven employees working for him. Jimmy the Chippy in Belmont has been in business nine years, has no website or online presence — but his business is booming.

How does he do it?

The old fashioned way! He does exceptional work for his customers and clients, who hire him again and again and refer him to friends, relatives, colleagues and so on. He also made a point of networking with local builders and plumbers in the area, who contact him when they have work to do, and refer him to other builders and plumbers as well.

Use word of mouth

If you’re looking locally, and the online ratings and reviews of the businesses you’re trying to decide between aren’t helping, asking a friend, relative or work colleague if they know any of the businesses.

If no one in your social network knows the business, you can also google an online forum like Whirlpool, where members frequently provide fair and balanced opinions of businesses they’ve dealt with — and if they don’t, they’re usually called out for it.

Testimonials are helpful, too

Real estate agents, accountants and many other businesses — EzyLearn included — use testimonials rather than ratings or reviews (except on Facebook), so you shouldn’t discount these just because they’ve been vetted before going online.

And don’t be put off if a business has received the odd bad review. Look at why they’ve received the review and what the business has done or said to address the bad review. Some businesses with a less than perfect record may be more trustworthy than those with reviews and ratings moderated by the businesses themselves.

At EzyLearn we provide testimonials from our students, which include their full name and location, and why they chose EzyLearn to study in the first place. We ask each student whether it is ok to publish these beforehand. We also offer a money-back guarantee and free samples of our course content, so students know they can trust they’re making the right choice.

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At EzyLearn, we’re committed to helping students of our online training courses, be it in in Xero, MYOB, Excelsocial media or other courses, gain employment as bookkeepers, generally better their businesses, or even start their own bookkeeping business. To this end, we provide you with a Lifetime Access option to our cloud accounting training courses.


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


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What are Online Ratings Based On?

Reviews tell a whole lot more

online reviews and online ratings social media
Many people make buying decisions based on online reviews and ratings but how “real” are these? And how can you tell?

IT CAN BE DIFFICULT to tell whether online ratings and reviews are real or not. One easy way to get a pretty good idea of what’s real and what’s not is checking for a balance of positive and negative ratings and reviews that have been left by real people who’ve used their Gmail or Facebook account.

Reviews are better than ratings

If you’re a person who relies on ratings and reviews to make purchasing decisions, you’ll know you can’t really tell the trustworthiness of a businesses if it only asks customers to leave a rating (usually out of 4 or 5). Similarly it’s hard to tell what people really think of a business if they’ve only left ratings rather than reviews. 

Businesses with a good mixture of ratings and reviews, where a customer has been able to leave a comment justifying the rating they gave the business, make it much easier to make a decision.

Check the content of reviews

You don’t need to read thousands of reviews for a business, but it helps to read a few of them to see what customers are saying. This also helps determine whether these reviews are truly independent or not.

What are reviewers actually commenting on, and if they’re negative, is there a pattern? Is a local restaurant consistently understaffed or does a plumber often fail to turn up on time? Are the complaints about things that would concern you or are they petty — a long queue at a cafe that still serves good food and coffee, for example.

Positive reviews provide useful information

If the reviews of a business are mostly positive, do they provide any useful information? Hundreds and hundreds of reviews that simply say “great” or “fantastic” don’t tell you enough about what customers thought were great or fantastic about that business.

People might have really liked something that doesn’t suit your needs. It is also a good indicator that they’re not entirely true or real reviews either.

At EzyLearn we provide testimonials from our students, which include their full name and location, and why they chose EzyLearn to study in the first place. We also offer a money-back guarantee and free samples of our course content, so students know they can trust they’re making the right choice.

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Want to brush up your skills in cloud accounting software? Ready to progress to intermediate or advanced levels in MYOBMicrosoft ExcelXero or another accounting package? Need help with social media? Take a look at our wide range of online course options or visit our website for more information.


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

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Should You Buy Commercial Property Outright or Get a Mortgage?

The power of using Excel and Xero combined

Excel and Xero combined importing_comp
Our courses cover how to import from Excel into Xero and visa versa, for purposes such as working out depreciation on a business premises.

THERE ARE MANY UPSIDES to buying a commercial property for your business and if you’re able to buy an industrial unit like a Cubbyhole, it can also be a lot cheaper than renting premises.

Buying outright

If you’re in the financial position to buy your business premises outright, it may seem like a no-brainer to do this instead of getting a mortgage. However, there are some things you need to consider:

  • You’ll lose liquidity on the assets in your property, which means you won’t be able to tap into any equity in the property, unless you take out an equity loan against the property.
  • You’re tying all your cash to one asset class, which may limit your ability to make other investments and prevent your business from expanding. This could run counter to your reasons for making the property purchase in the first place.

Getting a mortgage

When you get a mortgage, you have the benefit of being able to access equity in the property, which will enable to invest elsewhere. Of course, there are still factors to keep in mind:

  • You’re spreading the payments over many years, which ties you to paying down that asset for the foreseeable future.
  • You’re paying interest, which although it’s a tax deduction, will significantly inflate the price of the property.

Work out the best way in Excel

Using the data from your Xero accounting software package, Microsoft Excel can help you determine whether your business will be financially better off buying its premises outright or getting a mortgage.

You can also create a financial forecast in Excel. Using Excel, you can calculate the depreciation amounts, which can then be entered into Xero. We cover how to deal with aspects like depreciation in our Xero Bank Reconciliation Course, because many businesses own, or will own, a capital asset at some point.

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Check out our new Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI Course for Xero which shows you how to deal with an asset purchase like a business premises in Xero. Remember, you get access to ALL our Xero courses for ONE LOW COST. Visit our website for more information on our suite of online training courses or enrol today!


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Importing from Xero to Excel and back again is included as part of our Advanced Microsoft Excel training courses — and you receive access to ALL OF OUR COURSES, including ALL skill levels for ONE LOW PRICE. You can even start your Excel journey with our FREE Beginners’ Excel Course Workbook. Read more about our beginners’, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow!