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The Virtual Business: Transitioning from the Real World to the Digital World

If you prepare and test first, then the transition from physical to virtual office should be smooth sailing.
If you prepare and test first, then the transition from physical to virtual office should be smooth sailing.

There are many benefits to be had by operating a virtual business — both to yourself as a business owner and to your clients — and in our last post about closing your bricks and mortar office doors to create a virtual one, we discussed the importance of getting the timing right.

But once you know the timing is right, how do you make the transition? Continue reading The Virtual Business: Transitioning from the Real World to the Digital World

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Virtual Offices: The Reality of Closing Your Office Doors

You can save on overheads by making your office virtual, but not every business can make it work.
You can save on overheads by making your office virtual, but not every business can make it work.

In the past we’ve talked about the benefits of operating a virtual bookkeeping business by using cloud accounting software like MYOB Account Right Live and storage software like Dropbox. But before you transform your traditional bricks-and-mortar bookkeeping business into a virtual one, it’s important to consider whether virtual is right for you.

A recent article in the Journal of Accountancy discussed the many benefits of making a bricks-and-mortar business a virtual one. Of course saving money on the monthly rent cheque factored quite high on the ‘pros’ list — but when is the right time to go virtual?

Steps to Becoming Virtual

As human beings we’re creatures of habit, so the decision to turn your business into an entirely virtual one shouldn’t be taken lightly, particularly if you have clients who visit your premises regularly. But even once you get your clients onboard, you’ve still got a way to go before you can close your doors for good.

  1. The first step is determining whether your team can work remotely. Self-starters and highly motivated individuals thrive in the virtual environment, whereas, those who need a lot of supervision, direction and even daily interaction with colleagues, generally aren’t suited to working remotely.
  2. Virtual offices do not have the space to store paper and hardcopy files. While your own business may use online storage software like Dropbox, you also need to consider your clients. If they’re not using cloud accounting software and you’re still required to store their client files, a virtual office may not be the way to go yet.
  3. In order to function effectively and efficiently as a virtual business, you must ensure you have the systems in place first. This means making sure your employees have the devices they need to do their job from home and, in turn, that your business has the necessary infrastructure and software to facilitate that as well.

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So before you pack up your goods and chattels and close your office doors for good, make sure you’re business is truly ready to take the plunge. Be sure to read our next post; we discuss what steps you should take in readying your business to go virtual.

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More on Virtual Bookkeeping Businesses

Everyone's smiling: Your clients will benefit if you opt to go virtual.
Everyone’s smiling: Your clients will benefit if you opt to go virtual.

In our last post we discussed why we updated our MYOB training material to include MYOB’s cloud accounting software Account Right Live and how you could benefit from operating a completely remote or virtual bookkeeping business, which is great; but how do your clients benefit from your working remotely?

Convincing the Clients

Winning new clients is always difficult, but it can be especially difficult to convince the old school business owner that hiring a virtual bookkeeper is the way to go: “But I like having someone come in and sit down with me” is not an uncommon counter remark; while for many the idea of a remote bookkeeper conjures notions of unqualified cowboys.

If you’re thinking about starting a virtual bookkeeping business or turning your existing business into a virtual one, then you need to get used to overcoming these obstacles if you’re going to have any success.

It’s worth stating upfront to any potential clients, or existing clients you’re trying to convert, the benefits of retaining a remote bookkeeper over your bookkeeper that makes house calls, or office calls, rather.

Just some benefits:

  • By retaining a virtual bookkeeper, your clients only pay for time worked; that means their hourly rate is not inflated with hidden travel costs, which usually includes the time they spend commuting to your office
  • Virtual bookkeepers don’t have the costly overheads of renting office space, paying for utilities, equipment, storage space, and so forth — all of which decreases their hourly rate
  • For those businesses that may usually employ a bookkeeper as a full-time or part-time member of staff, using a remote bookkeeper means they’re no longer paying sick leave, annual leave and other entitlements
  • All bookkeepers, whether they work remotely or otherwise, have to be accredited by the Tax Practitioners Board to offer BAS services.

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If you’re thinking of starting a virtual bookkeeping business, our online MYOB course covers MYOB Account Right Live — a necessary piece of software to make any virtual bookkeeping business not only successful, but also feasible.

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What’s a Virtual Bookkeeping Business?

Virtual bookkeepers can dictate their hours and place of work.
Virtual bookkeepers can dictate their hours and place of work.

WHEN MYOB FINALLY ENTERED the cloud accounting fray in 2012, we were pretty excited and we quickly updated our course material to reflect this new era of MYOB.

Moving MYOB online gave contract and home-based bookkeepers new career opportunities: the ability to go virtual.

A virtual or remote bookkeeping business is much the same as any other home-based or contract bookkeeping business; you still offer the same services — BAS and GST, for instance — except for one notable difference: you work entirely remotely from your home office.

Run Your Bookkeeping Business Anywhere, 24/7

Running your bookkeeping business from any location, any time of any day means you are never required to visit a client’s office to collect documents — or even work from their office. With MYOB in the cloud, all of your clients’ accounts are accessible from any computer, anywhere, any time you choose.

Rather than being confined to a client base in your immediate local area or city, working as a virtual bookkeeper opens you up to the possibility of working with people all over the country.

For bookkeepers operating in small communities where business opportunities may have previously been limited, becoming a remote or virtual bookkeeper will increase your business exponentially.

But virtual bookkeeping businesses have their benefits to city folk, as well. Because you don’t have to spend hours commuting to and from your clients’ offices, you can use that time to either pick up additional clients — or spend it with your family.

A remote or virtual bookkeeping business allows you the flexibility of working when you want, where you want, without having to compromise on your earning potential.

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And it’s why we were so excited when MYOB created MYOB Account Right Live: now the graduates from our online MYOB courses can compete with the big-name bookkeeping firms from their own homes; wherever they might be.

Excel and Xero combined importing_comp

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How to Get Paid on Time by Doing Absolutely Nothing

Doing nothing in office
Keep on top of invoices without lifting a finger!

In the past, we have talked about debtor management, the ways you can avoid late-payers by keeping an eye on your cash and assets cycle, and now we thought it was time we talked about the ways you can keep on top of those outstanding invoices without even lifting a finger!

Why Getting Paid on Time Matters

Dealing with late-payers is frustrating, time-consuming, and at times, downright awkward. For freelancers, sole-traders and small businesses, getting paid on time is essential to keeping your cash flow under control.

If you’re not in the position to turn down those perpetual late-payers’ business, then you need to put strategies into place to best manage those late-payers.

Gentle Email Reminders for Getting Paid on Time

Sending a polite, yet firm reminder email to clients a few days before their invoice becomes due is a good way to remind people an invoice is due to be paid, particularly if you have terms of 21 days or more. Often you’ll find most people will pay you once they’re given a gentle nudge via an email reminder.

Of course, there are always those who’ll still try and stretch it out as long as possible — it’s likely their cash flow isn’t much chop; in a sense, by paying you late they’re robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Most of the time, these clients are hoping you haven’t noticed. By sending them a follow up email reminder a couple of days after your invoice was due will show them you have noticed, you haven’t forgotten, and they’ll likely concede defeat and pay — if they still don’t respond, it may be time to implement some of the strategies we discussed here.

More Stringent Payment Terms

But if you find emailing you clients each time their invoices come due and then again when they’re late is not only time-consuming, but also awkward, try setting up the parameters in your invoicing software so that automatic reminder emails are sent out before and after your invoices come due.

Most cloud-based accounting programs, like Freshbooks, Zoho, Shoebooks, Saasu and Salestastic now offer this automatic reminder facility, freeing you up to concentrate on the other areas of your business.

For businesses that have a dedicated accounts receivable department, the ability to send automatic reminders could, depending on the size of your business, save hours, even days of manpower. Plus, it eliminates any awkwardness you may feel chasing someone for a $50 invoice — sure, that one $50 isn’t much, but over time they do add up.

So get paid on time without even lifting a finger by using the automated reminders in your accounting software.

Remember: If you have already completed one of our MYOB training courses and need a bit of a refresher on the Accounts Receivable module, which deals with the ways to get paid on time, you can review it again for FREE if you are within your 12 month enrolment access period OR if you selected our additional option of Lifetime Access.

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How Do You Account For Bad Debt?

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One of the things we cover in our MYOB Training Courses is how to deal with what is, unfortunately, becoming a rather common accounting issue—bad debt.

If you provide your goods or services on credit, it’s likely that at some point, particularly during times of economic volatility, you will encounter a customer that is unable to pay for the goods or services rendered.

Most of the time, many customers just need more time to pay, however, there will also be those customers that never will pay. And in the case of the latter, the debt will need to be written off.

For a debt to be considered bad and written off you need to show that all the necessary steps have been taken to recover the debt, but there is still no likelihood of the debt ever being recovered for one of the following reasons:

  • The debtor has died leaving no assets or insufficient assets
  • The debtor cannot be traced and no assets discovered
  • The debtor is bankrupt or in liquidation and insufficient funds exist

Once you’ve reached this point, however, is when things start to get complicated. Often how you record the income for your business will determine how you account for a bad debt, particularly if you’re using accruals-basis accounting.

While there may still even be instances where, even though you’ve written off a customer’s debt as bad debt, it may later be paid to you—often in another tax year and affecting that year’s income.

This is what makes the accounting treatment of bad debts complicated. While you’ll learn about how to account for bad debt in our MYOB Training Courses, if you’re unsure you should always consult your accountant to help determine the best course of action for your business or the business you’re representing.

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Teleworking – How Does It Affect Your Work-Life Balance?

ID-10090542We are constantly refreshing the content of our MYOB training course so that you can benefit from all the new information that is always coming in about being a bookkeeper, running your own bookkeeping business — or doing the books for someone else’s business.

We have previously discussed the benefits of teleworking to both the employer and the employee, and while the benefits  of, for instance, reducing the home-office commute and increasing workforce participation, are hard to ignore, there are some downsides that could adversely affect your work-life balance.

High-speed internet, smart phones, tablet devices and cloud accounting software like MYOB Account Right Live may make it so much easier to connect with work from the comfort of your own home, but it’s also making it increasingly difficult to switch off.

Study Proves We Work More from Home

A study conducted by Dr Carolyn Axtell, a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield in the UK, found that many workers often worked an additional 15-20 hours per week merely because they could remotely access their work from home.

In addition to the self-reported “voluntary” additional work hours, in a separate study carried out by the University of Toronto, workers also reported that it was often expected of them to check emails, take calls and log into work outside of office hours, including when on holidays.

But the additional work hours and interruption to workers’ recreation time, according to Dr Axtell, can significantly impact a person’s health as well as their relationships with friends and family.

Poorer quality of sleep and psychological stress brought on by an increase in phone calls, emails and texts out of work hours were among workers’ main complaints, while Dr Axtell also found many employees felt they became less productive working from home.

Productivity levels, according to Dr Axtell, tend to level off among employees that are working long hours and, over time, even drop when tiredness and stress impairs performance.

You need to take time out

Quiet timeTo combat stress and losses in productivity, managers and employees alike, need to implement protocols to enable teleworkers to switch off.

Working to time—rather than task, taking regular breaks, sticking to a work routine and maintaining usual sleep and work patterns are among the top tips teleworkers can adopt to avoid overwork. By switching off gadgets at the end of the day and notifying colleagues, managers and clients of when you are and are not available will ensure you’re not stressing about returning an email during your holiday!

Want to work hard, start a business

I’ve written several blog posts about starting a business and in particular starting a bookkeeping business (because a large number of our students enrol into our MYOB Training Courses) and the fact that we are so well connected to the Internet and each other almost makes us work as though we own the business.

If you are looking to start your own business or want to learn the skills required to manage a small business remember that we have just launched our Cert IV in Small Business Management. Enrol today and enjoy a massive discount for a limited time only.

 

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Are you thinking about starting a business this year?

small business course and business plan

Starting a Business

The first step in the process of starting a business is making the decision, but what happens next? It’s the idea. The great thing about being human is that we are always full of ideas. It doesn’t matter what level of education or even your age we all have ideas and we all have desires so the first step of starting a business is pretty simple.

The most important step however is action, how you develop your idea into a product or service that others are interested in or need. We provide online training for Australia’s most popular accounting software, MYOB so it’s clear there is a demand for bookkeeping skills in small businesses. If you have accounting or bookkeeping skills and qualifications and are interested in starting a business you might want to explore a Small Business Course that has now been loaded on our Learning Management System (LMS).

The Small Business Management course covers all the aspects you need when starting a business and the first subject covers “Originate and Develop Concepts“. The rest of the course goes through all the skills you need to create a business plan for your new business so it is a great course to do if you are thinking about starting a business. It’s also a good course if you want to elevate your skills in your current work too.

Our small business course is designed by Maggie Richardson from the Australian Small Business Centre and the good news is that she’s helped over 1,000 people build business plans to turn their ideas into reality. You’ll also be happy to learn that businesses are more successful when they operate to a business plan. If this is your year to start a business come and join us online with the Small Business Management Course.

National Bookkeeping Business Plan Template
Get a bookkeeping business plan created by a registered BAS agent and get started fast

Start a Bookkeeping Business

If a bookkeeping business is something you’re interested in then you’ll be excited to learn that our Registered BAS Agent and Course Creator, Jacci has completed Maggie’s Small Business Management Course and created a business plan for a bookkeeping business that you can use as the basis for your own plan – most of the hard work has been done.

Just change the details for your own circumstances and you’ll have a plan that will help you get clients and stay on track to make a profit and enjoy the benefits of choosing your own hours and working close to home.

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Cloud Accounting Software and Automatic Bank Feeds (MYOB training video)

As part of our commitment to be the number one choice for online MYOB Bookkeeping training courses we are always keeping an eye and ear out for changes and improvements in the bookkeeping industry. If you do your own banking reconciliation, you might agree that sifting through printed statements and checking each entry off in your accounting software is maybe the most tedious part of bookkeeping.

But it need not be. With accounting bank feeds – a new feature in the world of cloud accounting – your bank transactions are automatically synched with your cloud accounting software.

This means that as long as you’ve entered your purchases into your accounting software, when your statement comes in from your bank, it will automatically marry up your purchases for you to approve with just the click of a button.

Automatic bank feeds removes the single most tedious step from the banking reconciliation process, which, depending on the size of your company, can take anywhere fifteen minutes to two hours (sometimes even more).

For a little more detail on how MYOB and bank feeds works, watch this video:

Or, for more information on how Xero and bank feeds work, watch this video:

But it’s important to know how your accounting software will access your sensitive banking information as currently there are two main methods for doing so.

First there is the method used by the likes of MYOB where your accounting software provider integrates a direct feed of your bank transactions from each of your banks into your software without needing your bank username and password.

The second method, called screen scraping, requires your accounting software to use a third party to access your bank transactions, thus necessitating your bank usernames and passwords, which can become a grey area with regards to protecting yourself from banking fraud.

While the companies that use the screen scraping method take security very seriously, should a breach occur, you could find yourself in violation of your bank’s terms and conditions because you gave out your usernames and passwords.

It’s up to you to choose what method you feel comfortable with but always check your bank’s terms and conditions before you give out your login in details.

Whatever option you choose, by eliminating the hours of data entry, your saving not only time, but also money.

And for the layperson doing their banking reconciliation themselves, services like Shoeboxed only eliminate the data entry even further.

PS: We’re also almost ready to announce our new Cert IV in Small Business Management with the Australian Small Business Centre so if you are looking to start a business or learn the skills to manage one stay tuned…

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Teleworking – how does it benefit you?

Teleworking, home based business work from home

Teleworking from home

While Australians have had the ability to telework by using laptops, tablet devices, and smartphones, to connect to work for sometime, it’s unusual for employees to do this on a regular basis or even to be employed solely on this basis.

However, research both locally and internationally has shown the great benefits that teleworking can offer employers and employees, and in fact, the country as a whole.

For employers, teleworking assists with the recruitment and retention of staff, particularly young employees and those transitioning to retirement, but it also reduces staff turnover and absenteeism usually triggered by changes to family circumstances.

Teleworking saves money

In other, more tangible senses, teleworking reduces the costs associated with office space, such as energy costs and infrastructure, now that employees can remotely access files and documents using cloud accounting and storage software like DropBox.

But the real benefits for employers are derived from the benefits experienced by their employees.

Being able to work from home has been shown to greatly increase an employee’s work/life balance, which in turn drives job satisfaction and on-the-job productivity.

And by reducing commute times and the mental stress associated with juggling work and family commitments, employees have more time to up-skill by enrolling in distance education or online courses (like one of our MYOB courses), which will be even better with the NBN, which increases the number of highly skilled workers in the labour force.

Teleworking levels the playing field

While employers have access to a larger labour pool and employees likewise have access to a larger pool of employers now that geographical restrictions have been removed, teleworking also increases the instances of people starting a home-based business.

It is these benefits from teleworking, such as the increase in labour participation, the uptake of further education, and the growth in new home-based businesses that is not just great news for Australian employers and employees, but also for the Australian economy.

The scary news about teleworking

The major risk to Australian workers is that the increased pool of workers also includes workers in developing countries like the Philippines and India who are often very well trained and willing to work very hard for much lower pay. Even if we look at the USA we find remote workers who are willing to perform most small business operational tasks for $15 per hour.

There may be a benefit in living in the Australian time zone, speaking good English and writing well, but when it comes to many fields of work like graphic design it has really become a global market place for workers.

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How Do You Earn $80 Per Hour as a MYOB Bookkeeper?

How much can you earn as a MYOB Bookkeeper?

FOR ANYBODY WHO DECIDES to be self-employed and own their own business, or who is doing so already, the question of how to match the hourly rate of someone working on salary while working in your pyjamas is one that frequently goes unanswered.

But ponder no more.

If you’re well versed in the advanced features of MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks, possess an accounting qualification and can operate your business as an independent contractor, you’re well on your way to earning the big bucks as a bookkeeping consultant.

Specialist skills earn you more money

Currently, bookkeepers with a good understanding of things like time billing, job reporting and forecasting, advanced payroll, end-of-period transactions and journal entries, as well as Australian tax, are highly sought after by other businesses to work as consultants.

Of course, you could also carve out a niche specialty for yourself if you happen to be highly skilled in a particular sector or industry.

MYOB Training Online

Our MYOB courses (offered for one low price and include lifetime access) cover 85% of the MYOB skills the majority of MYOB bookkeepers require to perform most bookkeeping tasks. For everything else, however, it’s a good idea to engage the services of a specialist who can provide a solution to your specific needs.

We also provide in-depth online training courses in Xero, Quickbooks, Small Business Management and start up and social media.


learn cloud accounting online training course videos xero excel myob quickbooks

At EzyLearn we include all versions of a software program in our training courses. 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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Does Google compete with MYOB in cloud accounting?

Cloud accounting software and training

I was recently speaking with a professional journalist who told me she uses ZoHo for her accounting. Luckily I am aware that ZoHo offer a large range of office applications that all run in the cloud on Google Chrome market place. If you are a gmail user you know what I mean.

Google is one of the largest cloud based software companies that most people know. Everything they do is in the cloud. If you have seen their Android platform for mobile phones you’ll be familiar with their Play service (where you can buy apps and games and music from the Google store as opposed to Apple’s iStore. The Google Apps market-place is just the same, and there are thousands of applications (many of them free) that you can install and use.

I spoke with her about our online MYOB Training Courses and when I probed a bit deeper in my conversation with Angela, this is what I discovered:

How I came to ZoHo is pretty simple: it was a Friday afternoon (notoriously the busiest day of the media’s week) before a long weekend (it was a lot like a Yoko Ono album: a shambolic combination of chaos fraught with anxiety) and I had to file my first freelance article and invoice the magazine in order to get paid.

When you start out as a freelancer, all your energies are solely trained towards getting that first commission. You worry about that other stuff later.

Later was now. And I had less than thirty minutes to whip up an invoice that didn’t betray that this was my first commission. But I had never properly seen an invoice before in my life. After all, I was a writer, not an accountant.

Enter the miracle of the modern world (some say electricity, I say Google). After Googling “invoice template”, up popped ZoHo and while the journalist in me wants to tell you that I shopped around, did my research, made comparisons with other cloud accounting apps, I didn’t. It had me at Sign Up For Free.

Like most other writers I know, I rather loathe the admin/business side of my business. Chasing people for money, in particular, is maybe the least favourite part of my job.

Aside from it going against my “be free and artistic, not rigid and business-like” mantra, I do not ever recall seeing Carrie Bradshaw awkwardly hunt down her editor at Vogue for money that was owed to her.

So imagine my surprise, then, when I came across clients that didn’t pay up by the invoice due date!

Fortunately, ZoHo takes care of all the awkward “overdue invoice” correspondence, with a nice, albeit slightly passive aggressive, form email that’s automatically sent out to those offending late-payers.

If only I could just remember to record the payments for the invoices that have been paid, I’d also be able to avoid some awkward “sorry, I did receive your payment – ZoHo must have malfunctioned somehow” emails.

Clearly, the business side of my business is still a work in progress.

The thing about Google is that if you think about it, they compete with almost everybody in some aspects, but ZoHo is just one of many apps that provide accounting services on the Google Apps market place.

As part of our offer for MYOB courses we include 12 months access to the Bookkeeping Academy which provides training on a number of different cloud accounting programs including Reach Accounting from NetRegistry, SAASU and Xero.