From valuing a business and business assets to forecasting and setting budgets and reviewing reports to make management accounting decisions the financial courses are designed to give you an understand of the type of information you’ll see and how you can deal with it. Also important at startup and at liquidation, selling or raising capital stages
TAX TIME IS NIGH and it might be a good time to think about whether there are any assets your business may need, and try to get them in before June 30 rolls around. Whether it’s new computers, tablets, office furniture, a new car — as long as each item costs less than $20,000, you can deduct it immediately, rather than depreciating it over time, as was the previous method for assets over $1,000 in value (depreciation still applies for asset purchases above $20,000) — but only until and including 30 June 2018.
The small business tax breaks were introduced by the Abbott-Hockey government, but having already been extended, they will cease on 30 June 2018. Following this date, any big ticket assets for your business (and of course there are some exceptions) can be used to reduce your taxable income immediately.
Pick an asset, any asset…
There are a lot of items you can deduct, with the exception of some small items, such as horticultural plants, software that’s allocated to a software development pool and some capital works, which have special depreciation rules. If you’re not sure of what you can claim, it’s wise to ask your account or financial adviser first, particularly if you have a penchant for horticultural plants (perhaps try artificial ones?), otherwise make sure to keep your receipts!
After 1 July 2018, the asset threshold will reduce back to $1,000. After then, any asset purchase you make that’s greater than $1,000 will have to be depreciated, using the traditional methods of depreciation, which you can read about in this blog post.
Australia is a services nation
While you’re thinking about starting a business, don’t forget to consider starting a business within the leading four service groups, identified by Australia’s Chief Economist Mark Cully:
Professional and support services
Information and communications technology (ICT) and the digital economy
Trade, transport and logistic services
Professional and support services, in particular, is currently experiencing a phase of high growth, largely because starting a business in this sector is both low risk and cost. Most businesses operating within the professional and support services sector are home-based, providing vital services to other businesses located across Australia and, sometimes, the world.
Starting Your Own Bookkeeping Business
One such profession currently in high demand is bookkeeping, specifically BAS and tax services. As more and more Australians start their own businesses, there becomes a greater demand for bookkeeping, BAS and tax services. EzyLearn recently partnered with National Bookkeeping to help registered BAS and tax agents to start, growth and develop their business, by becoming National Bookkeeping licensees.
Cloud Accounting Software is CONSTANTLY Updated – SO IS OUR XERO COURSE
When I made the decision to convert EzyLearn from a Bricks and Mortar training centre to an online only provider of training courses I realised that we were going to have to get good at:
online digital marketing,
online pre-sales and student support, and
course content creation.
EzyLearn has been in business helping job seekers, business owners, managers and clients of rehabilitation providers learn how to use software for over 20 years. Read our story here..
I’m lucky today to have a professional team who’s sole focus is on getting better at all of these tasks – every week! I guess this post is as much a thank you to all of them for their help as it is an announcement that ALL of our XERO courses have recently been updated!
Beginners and Advanced Xero Training Course updates
Almost every course has been touched in our latest updates but here is a summary:
Available to New, Current Students and LIFELONG Students
The usual time to finish the COMPLETE set of Beginners to Advanced Xero Courses is 3 weeks but one of the reasons we offer 12 months course access (and the LIFETIME Xero Course Access) is so that students can go back and review the contents when they need it in their business or job.
When the downside of cloud accounting becomes apparent
IF YOU FOLLOW XERO in the news, then you might already be aware that since the cloud accounting giant’s migrated over to Amazon Web Services (AWS), the technology arm of the e-commerce company, Xero’s servers have gone offline a number of times — twice this March alone.
Two weeks later, Xero had server issues again. This time an upgrade to its database server to improve performance resulted in issues that prevented some Xero users from logging into their account or to experience issues using the service once they did log in.
No options for offline access
Unlike some MYOB products, most cloud accounting programs, like Xero and QuickBooks, don’t allow for users to access their accounts in an offline mode or to download a copy of their own data to store locally on their computer or tablet.
MYOB, for example, allows users to access and work on a local desktop version of their accounts, which they can then sync with the cloud when they’re finished. This means, that even if the MYOB server is down, MYOB users can still work on and access their accounts, and sync later when the server is back online. (Or, conversely, when the user is back online, which handy in case of internet access issues.)
Xero, QuickBooks MYOB and AWS
Amazon Web Services provides either partial or complete cloud hosting to all three of the top cloud accounting programs — Xero, QuickBooks and MYOB — yet only Xero appears to have been significantly impacted by the AWS outage this past March.
While QuickBooks is mostly hosted by parent company, Intuit’s, own servers; some features and functions of the QuickBooks service have been developed on AWS as well, though it’s not totally reliant on the Amazon service and may have been spared from the Amazon outage.
But two key cloud-based MYOB products — MYOB Essentials and MYOB Advanced — have operated on AWS since 2011. Because users can access their MYOB products offline, however, any interruption to their service appears to have been minimal.
For what it’s worth, Amazon Web Services is the largest cloud hosting company in the world. It’s used by Netflix, Spotify and Apple Music, none of which went offline during the AWS outage.
Xero to learn from AWS issues
A Xero spokesman promised a “post-mortem” to learn what happened to cause their service to go offline on March 1, admitting that the company didn’t realise “it was entirely reliant on a United States storage facility operated by AWS until it crashed.”
Although AWS is the largest and, probably, most reliable cloud hosting service in the world, it’s not immune to problems. The challenge, then, for companies, such as Xero, is to learn from and about the potential issues that can arise, and implement measure to mitigate the impact to their customers.
In Xero’s case, a simple offline mode could have prevented much of the ire its outage caused bookkeepers, accountants and small business owners trying to access their service on a time limit.
Will your business be able to stand up without an earnings guarantee?
WHEN YOU START A NEW franchise business, you may be offered what’s called an “earnings guarantee” or “income guarantee” for a period of time after you first start the business. It usually lasts the first six months but it could possibly last as long as a year.
Earnings guarantees are designed to help people transition from having a salary to being self-employed, by providing them with a top-up payment each month if their sales fall short; peace of mind for those would-be business owners, concerned about all the “what if’s” that come with starting a new business.
Most franchisors offer some kind of an income or earnings guarantee, though the amounts and thresholds for when they kick in can differ business-to-business. It’s important to note than an income guarantee is merely a promise of sales revenue for a particular period of time, based on the average amount other franchisees earned in the past. And it in no way reflects what your business will earn in the area you’re looking — you may well earn more, but you may also earn less — nor is it a customer guarantee, as some franchisees may be required to carry out promotional work or make-good work for other franchisees in the event there are no leads available.
Consider the following earnings guarantees at these businesses:
Reliance Roof Restoration: A roof restoration, replacement, painting and guttering services business based in Brisbane, and became a franchise in 2011 after nine years operating throughout Queensland. It offers new franchisees a $75,000 (net) income guarantee for the first 12 months.
In other words, if you only earn $45,000 in the first year, they’ll kick in the additional $30,000. It’s not clear how frequently payments are made to franchisees — whether they’re fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, or annually — though the director of the Franchise Advisory Centre Jason Gehrke told Franchise Business that “profit guarantees tend to be assessed at the end of 12 months or at the end of the financial year.”
Cafe2U: The mobile cafe business developed a “Cafe2U Acceleration Package”, which provides new franchisees with a two-week income guarantee of $500 a day (or $2,500 a week). It’s paid to franchisees at the end of the two week period, but the business claims hardly any of their franchisees ever end up claiming it because their daily sales always exceed the $500.
Hire-A-Hubby: Australia’s largest handyman business, Hire-A-Hubby implemented an earnings guarantee for certain franchise packages it offer — there’s gold, silver and bronze packages available. The business offers new franchisees a $125,000 per annum gross earnings guarantee for the first 12 months.
To receive the earnings guarantee, the franchisee must work a minimum of 45 hours per week (a minimum of 8 hours a day), and must accept whatever leads are provided via head office. If no leads are available, the franchisee must perform whatever marketing or promotional activities that are assigned to them by the Hire-A-Hubby head office; franchisees may be asked to perform “rectification work” to other franchisee clients. The income guarantee is paid each fortnight. The business also offers a “buyback” guarantee to franchisees whose businesses are never profitable, despite following the franchise agreement to the letter.
After the income guarantee ends
Jason Gehrke from the Franchise Advisory Centre cautions potential franchisees against selecting a business based on the income or earning guarantee provided, which he says can provide a false sense of security.
“If franchisees are conditioned to receive top-up payment from the franchisor when sales are low,” he told Franchise Business, “they might not understand just how financially self-reliant they need to become.”
“A person who is used to clearing $1,000 per week may not realise that the promised sales turnover of $1,000 a week will not have the same spending power … Business expenses such as taxes could leave them with less cash for their mortgage repayments and other fixed living costs than they were expecting.”
A franchisee consistently claiming their top up payments each fortnight for the duration of the income guarantee indicates a couple of things: a) they underestimated how much work is involved in generating new business and sustaining it; or b) the territory they operate in isn’t going to generate enough leads to be profitable.
If it’s the latter, that’s often the franchisee’s tough luck. Many franchisees who bought Dominoes and 7Eleven businesses found that the franchise model would never be profitable enough to pay them a living wage, never mind cover the costs of employing staff. That resulted in one of the Australia’s biggest and most systemic instances of worker exploitation, which led to a Senate inquiry that subsequently found the company was liable to pay workers a total of $4.3 million in underpaid wages.
Do your due diligence!
At the end of the day, earnings guarantee or not, you’re still buying a business. Prospective franchisees should look around at two or three franchise models and do their due diligence — research the market, test how much demand for the business there may be. Just because a business says there are franchise opportunities in a particular area doesn’t mean the business will be viable there.
And look beyond the earnings guarantee to what the rest of the franchise agreement offers. Remember that an income guarantee is usually built into the upfront franchise fee, so a business that doesn’t offer an income guarantee but has lower entry costs might be a better option.
“I call [income guarantees] a ‘capitalised form of working capital’ and you might be better off keeping the money and controlling it yourself,” Gehrke said. “My recommendation is to make an assessment of any income guarantee as part of the overall decision-making process, but not the deciding factor.”
There’s never been a better time to start your own business!
Fast forward a decade, and Xero is now the preferred accounting software in Australia and New Zealand, with 692,000 subscribers compared with MYOB’s 585,000 paid users. (Overall, Xero claims 1.2 million subscribers worldwide.) In the 2016/17 financial year, Xero’s revenue increased 43 percent year-on-year to $295.4 million NZD ($271.7 million AUD); during the same period, MYOB’s revenue increased 13 percent to $370.4 million AUD.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice Xero has more paid subscribers than MYOB, but its revenue is about $100 million AUD behind. That’s largely due to differences in the price of both products.
So you can’t tell which one of Xero or MYOB is the true market leader — yet.
How Xero is growing their subscriber base
Basically, they’ve reached an impasse. There’s not much opportunity left in Australia and New Zealand (there are other players, like Intuit’s QuickBooks and Zoho competing the same space, too) to grow your subscriber base — unless you’ve a carrot to dangle under their noses that’ll lure them away from your competitor.
[Xero has lured people away from competitors via their] suite of apps, plug-ins and integrations [they’ve] added to their offering through acquisitions and partnerships — anything that would make Xero a one-stop-shop for small businesses…
Meanwhile, MYOB’s strategy for market share
To its credit, MYOB has pursued a similar strategy, acquiring payment firm PayCorp last year, which followed the launch of the company’s PayDirect Mobile and PayDirect Online payments service in 2014 and 2016 respectively, as part of MYOB’s push into payment processing technology.
MYOB also acquired Reckon’s accounting practice software last November for $180 million AUD. The company said the acquisition was part of MYOB’s strategy to see accountants become business advisors, rather than tax and compliance experts.
MYOB chief executive Tim Reed sees automation as being critical to the company’s ongoing success, as it pursues a “connected practice strategy,” which brings transaction processing, compliance and business advisory together and sees accountants become more like business coaches.
“They will be like personal trainers in the gym, but for business,” he said. “This is starting today. Accountants are already working down this process and what I’m seeing is the pace of change start to increase.”
And unlike Xero, which is simultaneously pursuing overseas markets (the U.K., North America, Southeast Asia), MYOB is content to stay focussed on its home market — Australia and New Zealand. (It’s also pushing deeper into big businesses with its enterprise software Greentree, acquired in 2016.)
Accountants and the cloud accounting ecosystem
With Xero pursuing code-free accounting, MYOB pushing into “connected practices,” and Intuit beefing up its own ecosystem of apps and integrations to simplify the bookkeeping and accounting process for small businesses, where does that leave accountants and bookkeepers?
Better off, actually.
Bookkeeping is a necessary step in the overall accounting process. But it’s the most time intensive one. There’s reconciling bank accounts, entering receipts, coding transactions, invoices, and so on. Small business owners don’t — or won’t — do it, so they outsource it to a bookkeeper or accountant, who has a preferred or in-house bookkeeper.
Despite being a time intensive task, it’s lower skilled work — like untangling a jumble of coat hangers; almost anyone can do it. And so it commands a lower rate of pay than other tasks, like financial forecasting, business planning and filing activity statements.
Automating elements of the accounting process, in particular the coding of transactions, eliminates inefficiencies and time wastage. Bookkeepers and accountants can charge their clients the same hourly rates, but they’ll spend much less time doing it.
More apps, more services
And with access to more apps — like a payroll plug-in — they can begin offering more services.
Just as QuickBooks, MYOB and Xero have become more valuable to their customers, by positioning themselves as a one-stop-shop for small business, accountants and bookkeepers can do the same.
Why would a business need to engage a data entry bookkeeper, a tax or BAS agent, and a payroll company when they can hire just one individual to manage all of these tasks efficiently in one cloud accounting program?
Food for thought: Why would a business need to engage a data entry bookkeeper, a tax or BAS agent, and a payroll company when they can hire just one individual to manage all of these tasks efficiently in one cloud accounting program?
And just as MYOB boss Tim Reed stated: Accountants and bookkeepers have already cottoned onto this.
But it means bookkeepers and accountants need to become more skilled at what they do; they need to possess a greater understanding of a wider array of softwares and systems in order to remain competitive.
And even though Intuit, MYOB and Xero have all acquired or partnered with companies that offer payroll platforms, there are still plenty of third parties businesses can choose to connect to their accounting system — that’s democratised accounting for you — so you need to watch the market, and keep your skills up-to-date.
Where to from here?
The cloud accounting space is certainly in flux. There’ll be more acquisitions, more technologies, and definitely more automation. There’ll also be more global companies, as more businesses export their goods and services overseas — and more fintech companies pursuing growth outside Australia.
KeyPay is one such company. It’s based in Wollongong in NSW, and last December announced it would expand its services to the U.K. — a pre-release was slated for January this year, with a full launch due in April.
According to CRN, the company grew 53 percent last year (though it didn’t specify what or how that “growth” was calculated; as a private company, it doesn’t disclose financials or its share of customers). And KeyPay’s co-founder Richard McLean said the company decided to enter the U.K. market because 60 percent of businesses there outsource their payroll to a third party company.
The company intends to rollout its automated payroll system in the U.K. first, with an Australian launch due later in year, and also plans to expand to New Zealand and Southeast Asia.
And how bookkeepers and accountants can become a “one-stop-shop” for those needing help with their finances (Part 1 of 2)
EARLIER THIS YEAR, Intuit, the parent company of cloud accounting system QuickBooks, announced it had acquired U.S.-based time-tracker platform, TSheets, in a deal worth $340 million U.S.. This was part of Intuit’s strategy to expand its offerings to small businesses and the self-employed. (In the U.S. and Canada, Intuit also operates a cloud software package called TurboTax, which lets individuals file their own federal taxes.)
What the TSheets acquisition means
The TSheets acquisition makes a lot of sense, and provides a good guide to the kinds of businesses cloud accounting firms look to acquire. For example, TSheets and QuickBooks already shared 12,000 customers worldwide, and TSheets had been developed to integrate specifically with QuickBooks (though it also works with Xero and Reckon). It also brings Intuit and QuickBooks in line with one of its competitors, Xero, which acquired a similar project management system WorkflowMax back in 2012.
For TSheets, being part of a big global brands means it’ll be able to innovate faster, with access to the Intuit technology and product team; for Intuit, it’s an additional source of revenue and market share. (Although a privately held company prior to the acquisition, TSheets had been valued at around $40 billion US.)
The cloud accounting ecosystem
Intuit’s TSheets acquisition signals that both Xero and QuickBooks intend to push further into the cloud accounting ecosystem, by partnering with, acquiring, or developing integrations that simplify the accounting process and expand their product offering.
Intuit’s TSheets acquisition signals that both Xero and QuickBooks intend to push further into the cloud accounting ecosystem, by partnering with, acquiring, or developing integrations that simplify the accounting process and expand their product offering.
Xero’s latest suite of products
In 2017, Xero introduced a new suite of products — Xero Expenses, Xero Projects, Xero HQ App Suite, Xero HQ Ask, and Xero Discuss — all aimed at providing SMEs with the technology generally reserved for big enterprises, only far cheaper.
Xero already has an app ecosystem of more than 600 certified app partners and 40,000 developers. And since Xero migrated its platform to Amazon Web Services, the subsidiary of Amazon that provides cloud-computing platforms to companies, Xero has been developing its machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in a push towards completely code-free accounting; in March 2017, Xero released a code-free invoicing and bank transactions feature. (MYOB previously released a similar feature called SmartBills two years earlier.)
Xero has been developing its machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in a push towards completely code-free accounting.
The company’s chief executive Rod Drury said that the move towards automation “will be bigger than the move to the cloud.” He also said the company was working on a feature that would automate invoices entirely.
What else has Intuit acquired?
On Intuit’s part, it’s Asia Pacific arm of the businesses has made a number of acquisitions over the last few years to beef up its product offering, some of them you might not even be readily aware of — like the 2014 acquisition of Invitco, which created a product called Invitbox that extracts data from PDFs, and operates behind the scenes to extract data from bills and receipts uploaded to the QuickBooks system.
Intuit Asia Pacific also acquired the document management company Fifo in 2013.
Next blog: We look at how the cloud accounting ecosystem has paid off and how and why bookkeepers and others working in the accounting space must continue to up-skill.
They’re not. In fact, there’s no nationally accredited training course for Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks or any other accounting software.
That’s because software skills are all the same, regardless of the program you’re using. (You won’t find any “nationally accredited” training courses for Adobe Photoshop or WordPress or Microsoft Office either.)
Nationally accredited training courses are for professions
The government only grants accreditation to training courses for professions, not individual skills. In other words, a Certificate IV in Financial Services is nationally accredited because it’s a pathway to a profession.
That meant that students could complete an EzyLearn course and get a free ICB student membership. The ICB charged us $1,200 a year, which we thought was a good investment, as it gave aspiring BAS agents a foot-in-the-door with an industry organisation, so they could continue their career development.
Because we provided relevant training, the onus was on EzyLearn to ensure that students completed our training courses with the skills they needed to provide MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks bookkeeping services to their clients.
Since we ceased being an ICB-accredited training provider, our course content hasn’t changed — well it has actually; it’s gotten better as it continues to always get better because we continue to keep adding new modules and courses to our Xero and MYOB training. But the standard of training hasn’t slipped — it, too, has only gotten better.
CPD is mandatory, but industry associations aren’t
Unless you would like discounts off in-person training and seminars and a discounted subscription to an industry publication or journal, you can completed all of your CPD hours with online training courses, just like the EzyLearn CPD courses.
For people who choose our training courses offering lifetime access, they can go back a review different modules whenever they like — whether it’s a month, six months or two years later! Visit our website to learn more about our lifetime access courses.
EzyLearn’s online training courses are accredited by BAS agents, accountants and bookkeepers — those we deem to be the industry’s “high water mark” for bookkeeping work. These people are the highest qualified individuals operating in the accounting and bookkeeping space. If they believe the content of our courses is genuinely of high quality and relevant to the bookkeeping world, then this is the accreditation that we trust will give you peace of mind as well.
I found the EzyLearn Xero course great — a comprehensive step-by-step learning tool to add to my resume and a new tool to use in my Bookkeeping Practice.”
— Patricia Darby Registered BAS Agent and Bookkeeper, High Quality Bookkeeping
AS 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.
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.
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.
How can you provide great customer service? Consistently?
IF YOU ARE LIKE most businesses, you’re probably communicating with your customers and clients via multiple touch points — email, social media, phone calls, chat bots. But how are you keeping track of all these interactions?
Batchbook is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that collects your communications in one central place. It also lets you organise to-do lists and automate tasks, but you will need to go elsewhere if you’re looking for a platform that will automate the sales process.
Batchbook integrates with Campaign Monitor, Wufoo, G Suite (on the “advanced” plan only), Twitter, Hootsuite (if you’ve multiple social channels), Xero, Quickbooks and Freshbooks.
Pricing starts at $19.50 per month for an “essential” plan and tops out at $39.95 for the “advanced” plan.
Hubspot is one of the leading CRM apps and it’s always free. Businesses get everything they need to manage their contacts and companies, book meetings, log emails, phone calls (you can phone any telephone number for free through the Hubspot app) and sales.
If you want to manage your marketing and social media, you’ll need to go up a step to the paid Marketing plans.
It integrates with Zendesk, PandaDoc, Proposify, WorkflowMax, and Freshbooks; a Google Chrome extension lets you track emails so you can see when emails, documents and links are opened.
Zoho CRM lets you manage your contacts, log emails, phone calls (you can make calls to any telephone number through the Zoho app) social media, and online chats, while Zoho provides detailed analytics of each communication.
Meanwhile, advanced CRM analytics give clear snapshots of top performing salespeople and your best clients. It also lets you “gamify” the sales process to motivate your sales team.
Zoho CRM integrates it Slack, Zendesk, Microsoft Office and Google G Suite. Being part of the Zoho ecosystem, you can also connect to other Zoho apps — Zoho Books, Projects, Campaigns, etcetera.
Pricing starts at $15 per month, per user for the “standard” plan and tops out at $100 per month, per user for the “ultimate” plan. A free plan for a maximum of 10 users is also available.
Freshsales is the fourth addition to the Freshdesk ecosystem, which includes its online customer service platform, IT support, call centre management, HR, messaging, and marketing platforms.
With Freshsales you can manage your leads, contacts, accounts, and deals; send and reply to emails, while its built-in phone lets you make and log calls. It integrates with Google G Suite, as well as other Freshdesk apps.
Basic “sprout” plans are free, while paid plans begin at $12 per user, per month for “blossom” plans and top out at $49 per user per month for “estate” plans.
We will help you keep abreast of new and emerging technologies for doing business better. As part of our Updates and Additions policy, any new content we add is yours’ FOR FREE as a current EzyLearn student.
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
There 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?
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!
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
Responsive email and phone student support for all queries
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.
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.
In these instances, you’ll need to send a proposal to potential clients to explain your value proposition and how you’ll solve their business problem. Rather than sending a proposal in a Word document that you can’t track, use a cloud-based document management platform.
Now powered by PandaDoc, Quote Roller lets businesses create proposals and quotes quickly and uniformly, using templates and pre-set content blocks.
The platform’s real selling point is its back-end analytics that provides insights. For instance, you can see how long a prospect has spent reading each section; prospects can also ask questions in the built-in messaging tool and sign electronically.
Quote Roller integrates with Salesforce, Zoho CRM, Basecamp, time management app Harvest and cloud accounting software Xero.
Professional plan pricing starts at $19 per month, per user; business plans cost $39 per month, per user. Enterprise plans can be tailored to your business needs.
Quote Roller alternatives
PandaDoc acquired Quote Roller in 2015, but the two still provide fairly different services. Quote Roller is a basic solution for businesses wanting to automate and monitor their documents using analytics; PandaDoc, on the other hand, provides a robust tool to generate proposals, contracts and quotes.
It integrates with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Hubspot CRM, Oracle, Zoho CRM, Zendesk, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Xero.
Professional plan pricing starts at $19 per month, per user, and business plans cost $39 per month, per user. Enterprise plans can be tailored to your business needs.
Proposify promises tohelp you create beautiful proposals that close deals. It’s where design meets business, with a gallery of free, customisable templates that get the full electronic treatment — document analytics, electronic signatures, messaging.
Proposify also integrates with a boatload of third party apps, including Salesforce, Zoho CRM, Hubspot CRM, Harvest, Basecamp, and the cloud accounting apps Quickbooks, Xero and Freshbooks. Next on the list: PayPal, Dropbox, Trello, Slack, Asana, and more.
Pricing begins at $25 per month for individuals (5 active proposals) or $75 per month for unlimited users (50 active proposals).
Better Proposals will help smaller businesses create beautiful proposals, just like Proposify; they’ll also close deals. The difference? Template design is limited, the analytics aren’t as in-depth, there’s no messaging built into the platform, but the pricing is more affordable. You get what you pay for.
It’ll integrate with Salesforce, Hubspot CRM and Zoho CRM, as well as payment provider PayPal; no accounting software integrations, though.
We will help you keep abreast of new and emerging technologies for doing business better. As part of our Updates and Additions policy, any new content we add is yours’ FOR FREE as a current EzyLearn student.
Established in 2006, Harvest was one of the first cloud-based time management applications, and the first to integrate with Twitter so users could track time via tweets. It’s broken down into three core functions:
The biggest barrier to effective time management is remembering to start the timer. Harvest’s mobile apps, integrations and extensions make it easy to start a timer, without having to exit one program, open one, or forgo one when you’re on the road.
Harvest has been purpose-built to integrate with apps like Atlassian, Basecamp, Slack, Github and Trello, as well as cloud accounting platforms Xero and Quickbooks, and payment platform PayPal.
Pricing starts at $12 per month, per person for unlimited projects; a free, one-person, two-project plan is also available.
Hubstaff, a time management app that was developed to help businesses manage their freelancers and remote workers, but works just as efficiently with teams operating in house.
Hubstaff bills itself as the next best alternative to Harvest, not just because it provides all the same features a few months a month cheaper, but because it’s also a project management app that can be set to take screenshots and track keystrokes to analyse employee activity.
It integrates with all the usual suspects: Asana, Basecamp, Github, Trello and Salesforce, along with accounting apps Quickbooks and Freshbooks and payment provider PayPal.
Basic plans start at $5 per month, per person, while premium plans start at $9 per month, per person; a free “solo lite” plan is also available for one user teams.
HiveDesk, another freelancer time management app, promising to make “remote collaboration easier”, also takes screenshots and tracks keystrokes.
HiveDesk isn’t web-based, so users must download an app for both desktop and mobile; it’s compatible with most operating systems (Windows, Mac OS, Linux, etcetera). Because it’s not web-based it doesn’t integrate with any third party applications.
Pricing starts at $15 per month for up to three users (plus one administrator) and costs as much as $100 per month for up to 20 users (plus one administrator).
Time Doctor, again, provides all the features you’d expect of a time management app — timers, screen monitoring, keystroke tracking, timesheets — plus GPS tracking and payroll. It integrates with Asana, Basecamp, Google Apps (G Suite), Salesforce, Trello, Yammer, Zoho Projects, Slack, and the cloud accounting apps Quickbooks and Freshbooks.
Pricing starts at $5 per month for one user on a limited feature plan or $9.99 per month, per user for all features.
FOR BUSINESSES WORKING on large projects spanning weeks or even months, keeping track of time, cash flow and profitability is imperative. This is even more so for businesses that work on fixed-rate contracts or tenders.
Such fixed-rate projects are common in the building and construction industry, but also the creative, engineering, and IT industries.
Many of these businesses manage a project’s workflow across a number of different documents (spreadsheets, their CRM, accounting software) — and many don’t manage it properly at all.
As a consequence, projects often come in over budget. A number of cloud-based project management and workflow apps aim to change that, however.
This Xero-owned and operated project management platform contains four elements:
Cash flow management
PROS: Being a Xero product, it integrates “seamlessly” with the Xero accounting software, along with other third party software, such as Salesforce, Dropbox, Google Drive, ZenDesk and Receipt Bank, plus a number of payroll applications — Smooth Pay, MYOB Payroll (note: not MYOB’s accounting package) and SimplePay.
CONS: Unlike Xero, however, WorkflowMax is pricey; a one-user plan starts at $27.50 per month and can cost as much as $275 a month for a plan for 21-50 users.
Zoho Projects provides planning tools, Gantt charts, timesheets, document management and collaboration tools. Visually, it’s not much, but it’s easy to use. It isn’t as robust as WorkflowMax, but it’s a good tool for smaller businesses. And it’s part of the Zoho ecosystem.
For a Zoho app, there’s a good number of third party apps it integrates with, including Github, Google Drive, Google Sheets, Gmail, Microsoft Office, Basecamp, Dropbox and Slack.
Pricing starts at $25 per month for 20 projects on an “express plan” and tops out at $100 per month for an enterprise plan with unlimited projects; a free, one-project plan is also available.
Fergus is the project management app built by tradies for tradies. Again, like the project management apps before it, Fergus is broken down into three elements:
The tradie-specific features include a GPS tracker and a site visits feature. Fergus integrates with Xero and MYOB AccountRight.
Basic “starter” plans begin at $19 per month, per user (recommended for concreters, plasterers, roofers and small firms) and tops out at $39 per month, per user for the “professional” plan. Sole traders get access to the starter plans for free forever.
ProWorkflow is the project management app that promises to be “the project management software your team will love!”
The features — task management, timesheets, messaging, invoices, etcetera — are standard fare.
But the software has opened up its APIs, so businesses can build their own apps, reports and integrations. It already integrates with Xero, QuickBooks online (and desktop), MYOB AccountRight and Freshbooks. It also integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.
Basic “solo” plans start at $10 NZD per month, per user; advanced plans cost $30 per month, per user.