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. 


 

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. 


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. 


 

Can You Trust Online Ratings and Reviews?

How to tell a review is authentic

online reviews are they real
If using online reviews to help you work out what to buy, you want to make sure you’re really hearing it from the horse’s mouth, and not just reading fake marketing guff.

IF YOU’RE ANYTHING LIKE most people, rating and reviews are how you probably make many of your purchase decisions. This can be for purchasing white goods, clothing, a holiday, or even choosing a real estate agent.

The OpenAgent example

Take OpenAgent. A core function of OpenAgent, the real estate agent comparison site and lead generator, is its customer reviews, which serve two purposes:

  • The first is to help consumers to make an informed decision when selecting a real estate agent
  • And the second is to recommend top rated real estate agents to new OpenAgent customers.

True and and real ratings and reviews for businesses, whether they’re real estate agents on the OpenAgent site or reviews for OpenAgent itself on third party review sites, are important, because they’re the basis for which many consumers make their decisions.

Check reviewers are real people

So how do you know which ratings and reviews you see online are true, and which ones aren’t? It’s something companies like Google and Amazon and TripAdvisor have had to grapple with, because there are ways that companies can game them.

Lots of review sites don’t allow anonymous reviews or reviews that are left by people who don’t verify their identity by signing in with their Gmail or Facebook account. The theory goes that people are less likely to leave false reviews if they’re using their own name, and can be easily identified.

You can test this further by checking how many reviews, and the kinds of reviews, certain individuals leave on sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.

If the same person shows up multiple times leaving only positive or only negative reviews for lots of different businesses, there’s a good chance this person isn’t real or they’re being paid to leave these reviews.

Likewise, a good test is to see how long the account has been active for. If it’s only recently been set up to give glowing (or negative) reviews to a new business, it’s likely there’s an ulterior motive at play.

Negative feedback is responded to

Not every business will be able to satisfy every customer or do everything right 100 percent of the time. But the businesses that make an effort to respond to negative reviews and criticisms, prove they’re committed to delivering the best possible service to all their customers, and also help show some reviewers for what they really are: baseless complaints or fakes.   

Also keep your eyes peeled for the language used in reviews on businesses websites. If all the reviews say mostly the same thing, mostly the same way, they’re more than likely not legitimate.

Reviews with full names and locations

We believe there’s many reasons you can trust the reviews provided at EzyLearn. All of our student testimonials 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 can trust they’re making the right choice. 

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Looking to brush up your skills in cloud accounting software? Looking to progress to intermediate or advanced levels in MYOB, Microsoft Excel, Xero or another accounting package? Need help with social media? Take a look at our wide range of online course options


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Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.


 

Is a Certified Advisor or Certified Consultant Better Than a BAS Agent?

Finding the best bookkeeper for your business

find a good bookkeeper xero myob quickbooks learn online training course videos
A bookkeeper who’s certified in a particular accounting software may not mean that much for your business. Better to have someone who is simply a good bookkeeper. Period.

IT’S NOT ALWAYS EASY to find a bookkeeper who suits your business’s needs. This can be further complicated by the fact that a lot of business owners don’t know too much about bookkeeping.

Now that virtual bookkeepers have become more common, lots of business owners have started selecting bookkeepers based on their affiliation with an accounting application. Such bookkeepers are often called a Certified Advisor (Xero), Pro Advisor (QuickBooks) or Certified Consultant (MYOB). But are they really the best bookkeeper for your business?

What are Certified Advisors, Consultants and Pro Advisors?

In a nutshell, a certified advisor, consultant or pro advisor is just an individual who has been endorsed by a software company because they’ve demonstrated a high level of knowledge and skill with a particular accounting product.

Hiring a bookkeeper who’s been endorsed by MYOB, say, means you shouldn’t have to worry about whether your bookkeeper has set up your accounting package correctly, or whether they’re using the correct codes. What it doesn’t guarantee, however, is that each consultant or advisor is a highly experienced BAS or tax agent, as the certification relates to their software knowledge only.

Find a highly qualified BAS or tax agent instead

Sure, a bookkeeper who’s experienced in your accounting package is important. It’ll help keep your bookkeeping bill down because they’re able to perform certain functions quickly, while your accountant shouldn’t need to fix any errors, either. But that’s only providing that they’re as knowledgeable in Australian tax as they are MYOB or Xero or QuickBooks.

Unfortunately, however, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. So instead of focussing on a bookkeeper’s software experience, it’s more beneficial to ensure they’re qualified BAS and tax agents, with either a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping or higher.

If you don’t get a bad reference from their current and former clients, then there’s a pretty good chance they’re proficient in the major accounting packages, and if they’re not, most bookkeepers will tell you upfront.

Get the accounting package that’s best for your business, not your bookkeeper

There are lots of reasons a bookkeeper would choose to become certified with a software company, the biggest being that they get their accounting software for free and receive a commission for each new client they sign up to use the accounting package they’ve been certified with.

However, when you hire an independent bookkeeper who’s well-versed in a few different accounting packages, you’re more likely to get better advice about which accounting package is best suited to you and your business’s needs, rather than the accounting package that will generate income for your bookkeeper.

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Are you looking to brush up your skills in cloud-accounting packages like XERO, MYOB or Quickbooks? We provide a range of online training courses in all of these packages at ONE LOW COST for ALL SKILLS LEVELS. Find out more.


find a local bookkeeper

We feature our own online directory of local bookkeepers looking to add to their customers. Visit National Bookkeeping to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud. Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper looking to expand your client list or find contract work, you can register and become part of our network for free


 

3 Things You MUST Do in Excel!

Business owners and job seekers take note!

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Excel isn’t just for budding bookkeepers; it’s a great tool for all business owners to know.

MICROSOFT EXCEL IS THE most widely used spreadsheet application in modern computing. That said, it’s also one of the more difficult programs of the Microsoft Office Suite to learn, which is why we recently updated the content of our Excel training courses.

A lot of people do our Excel training courses to help them “skill up” to find a job, find a position better suited to them, or develop their career path. However, Excel is a fantastic tool for small business owners as well.

But whether you use Excel to create a pivot table or a database, there are a few things you should do each time you open an Excel document. Here we present you with three:

1. Vertical align: always centre

Always align the text in the cells of your Excel spreadsheet to the centre, or the top in certain circumstances. But never, ever align it to the bottom. It’s hard on the eyes and, when you’re looking at lots and lots of data in lots and lots of cells, it becomes difficult to know which row, column, etc, you’re looking in. Centre alignment, always.

2. Build error-checking into formulas

There should never be an instance where one of your workbooks is showing a #DIV/0, #N/A, #REF, #NAME?, #NUM!, or #NULL! error. This is especially true if you’re sharing these workbooks with your business partners or accountant or whomever.

Seeing an error in a financial report may cause the reader to doubt the accuracy of the entire workbook, so ensure your workbooks remain error free by using the simple IFERROR() error-checking function in Excel.

3. Print preview your work

Again, if you intend to share workbooks with other people, you should always ensure that your Excel workbooks can be printed nicely and easily, even if you don’t intend to ever print the document yourself. This is easy enough to do via File > Print Preview and adjusting the print margins before sharing (or printing) the document.

However, judging by the number of times I’ve printed an Excel document only to collect 87 sheets of paper off my printer to read the contents one 4×4 table, the function is seldom used by anyone else but me!

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For more Excel formatting tips and tricks, download our FREE Beginners’ Guide to Excel, or enrol in our intermediate or advanced online Excel training courses to learn how to create databases, pivot tables, charts, graphs, and much more…

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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At EzyLearn, we’re committed to helping students of our MYOB, Xero and Quickbooks courses gain employment as a bookkeeper or even start their own bookkeeping business; it’s why we provide you with lifetime access to our online cloud-accounting training courses as part of our commitment to continuing professional development


 

New Financial Year, New Financial Habits

Help us help you get your business financials set up right

account set up with xero online training learning course
Taking time to set up your accounts correctly at the outset and recording your reconciliations regularly will save you time, money and a nasty, aching headache!

SO WE’RE INTO THE new Australian financial year. With the start of each financial year comes the chance to right last year’s financial habits and avoid repeating them again. You know what they say about people who repeat the same actions over and over again expecting different results …

If you had a crazy end of financial year, try starting off the next 12 months (well, 11 now, can you believe it!) on a positive footing, with these good financial habits.

Check your accounting software is set up correctly

Something that causes businesses and their owners countless headaches at tax time is accounting software that’s been setup incorrectly or not set up completely. Transactions that are coded wrong or bank feeds that are connected to the wrong account — or too few accounts — can leave you in the middle of a bookkeeping nightmare come June 30.

Spend some time sorting this out, or employ a bookkeeper to get you set up correctly. It’s worth that little bit of extra time now to get it right, truly!

Aim for daily reconciliations

Reconciling your business accounts regularly is important for a number of reasons, fostering good habits being chief among them. You may not need to reconcile your accounts each day, but it’s certainly a lot easier to find 10 or 15 minutes two or three times a week, rather than two or three hours once a month. The most often you do your bookkeeper the more unlikely it is that you’ll leave it pile up, eventually requiring costly rescue bookkeeping. You’ll also have a much better picture of your business’s performance with current accounting data.

Monitor cash flow

Positive cash flow is the marker of a healthy business. Negative cash flow is not. There are plenty of seemingly profitable businesses suffering negative cash flow that threatens to put them out of business. Don’t let yours be one of them. Create your own cash flow forecast reports in Excel or use a cash flow forecasting or expense app to determine if you’ll have enough money in the bank to meet your ongoing commitments (which includes paying yourself a living wage to meet your personal commitments).

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Our cloud accounting training courses will show you how to set up your accounting software correctly. Learn how to use Xero, Quickbooks or MYOB with our online training courses and be able to invoice customers on time, reconcile your account and run financial reports, including cash flow statements. Visit our website for more information.


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Xero for less…

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. 


 

Why are there More Expense Tracking Apps for Xero than MYOB?

Less complicated accounting software, like Xero, connects better with mobile apps

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The robust nature of MYOB can make it harder to link with mobile apps that track your expenses and cash flow and the like.

WE RECENTLY PUBLISHED A blog examining the different expense tracking apps you can connect with Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks, but during our research it became clear that most expense apps integrate with Xero or QuickBooks, but not MYOB.

That’s not to say there are no expense apps that integrate with MYOB. There are. Receipt Bank is one, Squirrel Street is another, and there are probably a lot more on the MYOB marketplace (or add-ons page). Probably the best expense tracking application we found is ExpenseManager, and it only integrates with MYOB.

MYOB is a robust, yet complicated system

As anyone who’s ever used MYOB can attest, it’s a complicated piece of software to navigate, even if it is a robust one. When Xero came along, it aimed to be both robust and easy-to-use, and for the most part it succeeded (it’s probably not as easy as QuickBooks, but then QuickBooks isn’t quite as robust).

Behind the scenes, there’s also a lot of complicated code driving MYOB that’s not easy to integrate with, unlike QuickBooks and Xero which rely on third-party integrations to deliver payroll and other services, so Xero and QuickBooks can keep the cost of their platforms down.

MYOB is used by accountants and bookkeepers

MYOB doesn’t really go after to same market that Xero and QuickBooks do (small and micro businesses), which is reflected in MYOB’s price. It’s aimed at medium sized businesses, which employ accountants and bookkeepers, and that’s not really the market expense apps like Expensify and Xpenditure are targeting.

Xero is one of our most popular training courses

That’s why Xero has become one of our most popular training courses. It’s robust and once you understand the principles of bookkeeping, fairly easy to use. And it integrates with a tonne of third party applications developed to make the life of the small business owner much easier and more efficient.

Keep an eagle eye on your expenses by using Xero and an expense app, and you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is the most profitable and where it’s not, so you can modify it accordingly.

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Our Xero training courses will show you have to track expenses in Xero and how to connect third party apps to your Xero account. You can also brush up your MYOB skills or learn how to use MYOB with our MYOB online training course, incorporating 5 courses and 12 months’ access — all for one low cost. Visit our website for more information covering our ONE LOW COST for ALL LEVELS course options.


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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. 


 

Top 3 Expense Applications for Xero, QuickBooks and MYOB

Get your financial software working harder

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There are a number of apps which link with Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks to help you closely and seamlessly track ALL your business expenses.

WE PREVIOUSLY WROTE ABOUT using Expensify and Xero to do the grunt work of your account reconciliations. We’ve also touched on how Expensify works for retail shops, online shops and hospitality businesses.

This time we’re looking at other expense applications that not only integrate with Xero, but other platforms like MYOB and QuickBooks, too. (For the record, every transaction Expensify does with Xero, it also does with QuickBooks; and also for the record, we not only provide online training in Xero [all levels for one low cost] but MYOB and Quickbooks too.)

Xpenditure (QuickBooks, Xero, Fresh Books)

It’s a little more expensive than Expensify, but you also get a little more bang for your buck. From around $4 a month, you can scan 200 receipts per month, plus all of Xpenditure’s core features, such as expense rules, real time reporting, accounting integration, and mileage tracking. Speaking of which, Xpenditure tracks your mileage using Google Maps, which as discussed previously, isn’t the the most accurate way to do it.

However, it does calculate the estimated cost of each trip using the current “mileage rate” — or kilometre rate for Australians — set by the Tax Office. It’s mobile app, however, only has an average 1 star rating in the Australian Apple App Store, while it’s currently rates at 3.5 stars in the Google Play store, so it appears it’s best served on an Android platform.

Abacus (Xero, QuickBooks)

At $9 a month for up to 50 users, it’s on the pricier side for small businesses. And although Abacus lets you give your accountant or tax agent free access to your Expensify account, it doesn’t really make up for the higher price tag (we happen to think the point of an expense app is that you only need to give your accountant or tax agent access to your accounting software).

Yes, it includes all the standard features, such as receipt scanning, real time reporting, multi-level approval workflows, and automatic approvals — plus, an EzyLearn favourite: automatic direct deposits for reimbursing employees once an expense is approved — but features like mileage tracking are absent. It’s rated 4 stars on the Google Play app store, but unrated in the Apple App Store.

Squirrel Street (Xero, QuickBooks, MYOB)

Formerly known as Shoeboxed (they explain name change on their website), Squirrel Street is a rather expensive way to track your expenses and store your receipts. Plans start at $26.95 a month for 50 receipt uploads and 2-5 day turnaround, which explains the steep price: This is a software application that relies on manual labour, rather than machine learning, to import expense data. As a consequence, there’s no other features of note — no real time reporting, no expense reports, no automatic approvals.

There is also a “forever free” five document per month DIY plan available. Of course, they are an Australian owned and operated business, but it’s still not the best service for your dollar. It’s rated 4 stars on the Apple App Store and 4.5 stars on Google Play.

By keeping an eagle eye on your expenses using an expense app that integrates with your cloud accounting software, you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is most profitable and where it’s not so you can modify it accordingly.

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Our online courses in Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks will show you how to track expenses and connect third party apps to your account. Read more about cloud accounting.


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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!


 

Are You Making these GST Mistakes in Your Bookkeeping?

Being Jack of All Trades can land you in hot water with BAS

find a bas agent in your local area
Don’t submit inaccurate financial documents by trying to do everything yourself by way of bookkeeping.

IT’S PERHAPS EASIER TO do your own bookkeeping these days than it used to be; particularly if you’re using a cloud accounting program like MYOBXero or QuickBooks, which are among the easiest, yet robust, accounting applications currently on the market.

But even so, there are many aspects of Australian tax that, while accounting software makes it possible to carry them out yourself (like business activity statements, for example), it’s not a good idea unless you really know what you’re doing. Here are the three GST mistakes nearly every business owner makes in their bookkeeping.

Claiming GST twice

This is most common when a business has vehicles, machinery, plant equipment, etcetera that are either being leased or are under hire purchase. The business owner’s accountant will typically claim the full GST component for in the first quarter that the business purchased the equipment, but confusion generally sets in when it comes to recording regular monthly payments.

Very often the business owner will record it as GST or a capital expense, and because both show up in their BAS reporting sheet, they end up claiming the GST twice.

Recording GST for all expenses

There are many expenses that do attract GST. They include:

  • Motor vehicle registrations
  • Bank charges
  • ASIC fees
  • Paypal transaction fees
  • Interest and director fees / drawings.

Claiming GST credits on purchases from suppliers not registered for GST

Not all business owners are registered for GST, and although they should state somewhere on their invoice that no GST has been charged, oftentimes they’ll leave you to assume that. As a general rule of thumb, if the invoice doesn’t show an amount in the GST column, there’s a good chance the supplier isn’t registered. To make sure, though, visit the ABN Lookup Page and search their ABN.

Accounting software is easier, but Aussie tax remains as complicated as ever

Even though MYOBXero and QuickBooks are among the most user friendly accounting software applications on the market, Australia’s tax laws remain as complicated as they’ve ever been. So while you can do your own data entry (reconciling your bank statements), it’s a good idea to hire a BAS or Tax agent to look after the more complicated aspects of your tax and BAS requirements.

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Want to learn or brush up your cloud accounting and bookkeeping skills?

At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of online accounting software courses, as well as 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). Many of our courses come with a ONE LOW COST for ALL SKILLS LEVEL option. 


Need help finding a BAS or TAX Agent?

find a local bookkeeper

National Bookkeeping is an online directory of local bookkeepers looking to add to their customers. Visit National Bookkeeping to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud. Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper looking to expand your client list or find contract work, you can register and become part of our network for free


 

What to Do When You Have More than One Income Stream

Why it’s important to track your income streams

keep-track-of-more-than-one-income-stream-using-excel-myob-xero-learn-online-training-course-videos
It can be easy to lose track of separate income streams; Excel is a great tool for monitoring which work your income is coming from.

IF YOU’RE AN INDEPENDENT contractor, or you’re a full-time employee about to start up a side business, then you need to be able to keep a good track of all your income streams. There are a couple of reasons for this and both of them relate to tax. 

Basically, income is income, regardless of how you earned it, and you’ll pay tax on the total amount. As an employee of another business, you’re likely to be earning money through your tax file number. Each week, your employer will withhold tax commensurate with how much money your employer has paid you. But this doesn’t take into account any other income.

If you’re also earning money from a side business, using an ABN, there’s no one to withhold tax on your behalf, so you need to keep a close eye on your income to ensure you have enough money in the bank to pay your tax bill — which you will get, I’m afraid — after your tax return has been filed.

Two tax returns? Use Excel

Although income is income, you will still have to file two tax returns, one for each income stream. That’s why you need to keep an eye on your accumulative income, and not just the money earned through your business.

There are lots of personal finance and budget apps that help you to track and manage your income, but the easiest, most flexible and most straightforward way to do this is to create an Excel spending or expense sheet, which our Excel training courses will teach you how to do.

Reasons why people have two income streams

It’s not just full time employees who are starting their own side business that have two income streams. Plenty of freelancers and independent contractors earn money through their ABN and TFN.

There are some businesses that prefer to put contractors on the payroll, usually because they’ll be working on a regular basis, onsite, and it’s just easier for the business to employ them as casuals. Often for insurance purposes, but it’s also because the work involved doesn’t conform to the definition the ATO uses for an independent contractor.

Other times, it’s because the contractor or freelancer is working in an entirely different industry on the side — hospitality or retail, for example — to supplement their freelance income, which is how a lot of people get businesses off the ground.

Focus on how to earn money

The main take away from all of this, is that when you’re tracking your income, focus on the ways to earn more income. If you discover that each month, you have a week where your income is lower, there’s an opportunity to fill that gap with another job or other income stream.

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You can learn how to create and manage your expenses or spending in our Excel training courses, where you’ll be able to create your own spending or expense sheet, and how to perform daily bank reconciliations in MYOB or Xero in our cloud accounting training courses. For more information, visit our website.


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Learn Microsoft Excel from scratch or brush up your Excel skills, at your own pace, with our affordable Excel online training courses — where you get THE LOT (that’s 9 courses in total) for ONE LOW PRICE — everything included! Volume corporate discounts are available.


 

A Close-Up Look at a Listed Company and How it’s Performing

We show you what financial data really reveals

how to read financial reports
There’s more to profit and loss than meets the eye: Sometimes a company’s losses outweigh its revenue, but it doesn’t mean that company is in a bad position.

AS A BUSINESS OWNER you’ll need to run regular financial reports (never more so than at the end of financial year) to ensure your business is in good shape. Understanding what each element of a financial report means is critical to your business’s financial health.

You’ll learn to run and interpret financial reports in our Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks training courses, but we’re just going to look at a couple of areas of most importance.

Close up: BuyMyPlace’s financial results

BuyMyPlace is an ASX-listed service that allows property owners to sell their properties without a real estate agent. Because it’s a publicly-listed company, they have to make all of their financials public too.

As such, we got hold of their most recent financial results for the first half of financial year 16/17.

It’s not the most detailed financial report, probably because the company itself is still in its early stages — there’s actually a good argument against early stage ventures listing on the stock exchange, but that’s fodder for another post.

Revenue vs. losses for the period

The good news for BuyMyPlace is that its revenue increased 129 percent on the prior comparative period (PCP) to $1 million for H1 FY16/17, up from $133,518 in H1 FY15/16.

That’s an impressive leap in revenues in just 12 months, however, the BuyMyPlace financial results also reveal that the business made an even greater loss of $1.7 million, an increase of 1205 percent on the PCP.

A closer look at the report shows that, while the losses increased more than a thousand percent, it was due to an increased investment in marketing and advertising — principally on TV spots which totalled $517,723 compared with $98,578 the year prior.

This resulted in an 80 percent increase in the number of listings on the site (that is, the number of people using BuyMyPlace to sell their home), while order value increased 27 percent (people who were choosing more expensive packages).

BuyMyPlace is in good health

Although this business recorded losses that outweighed its revenue, BuyMyPlace is still in good financial health.

The report also shows that it has over $4 million in cash and cash equivalents, and only a little over $600,000 in liabilities. Although the liabilities have increased, it’s not due to taking on any additional debt — indeed, BuyMyPlace has paid down all of its loans — but was instead due to a 786 percent increase in staff salaries and, as a consequence, an increase in staff provisions and benefits — i.e., sick and annual leave.

Strategy for future growth

Not many homeowners actually want to sell their properties themselves — one estimate puts it at around 7 percent of the total number of homeowners. However, most people do want greater clarity around how the process works (including fees and commissions) — even if they still want assistance selling their homes.

Perhaps realising this, or perhaps in response to increased competition in the fixed-fee real estate services (see: Purplebricks, Settl, etc), BuyMyPlace also launched its own full service package, giving homeowners access to a real estate agent to sell their home for a fixed fee.

This will enable BuyMyPlace to capture a greater volume of homeowners, who are looking for a low cost alternative to sell their homes, but who don’t want to do it entirely themselves.

The other strategy for growth: increasing listing depth revenues.

At some point, BuyMyPlace will stop growing its market share. Or, in other words, the market of people looking for a low-cost option to sell their home will be tapped out.

But as a business, and as a publicly listed one, BuyMyPlace will need to keep growing its revenue, not merely keep it steady. It’ll need to do as other real estate services, such as REA Group and Domain have done, and increase listing revenue depths, by selling more expensive packages to customers.  

BuyMyPlace will need to find additional value it can sell to customers, without necessarily increasing its own expenses to do so — or putting up its prices, which a business can usually only do once it’s cornered about 65 percent of the market, and BuyMyPlace is a long way off that yet.

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That’s a lesson for every business owner out there. And it’s something we cover in our online Business StartUp Course.

You’ll learn how to run and understand the financial reports for your business in our Xero and MYOB training courses. You can also learn about strategies for business growth in our Business StartUp Course. Or for more information, visit our website.


learn to use excel online training course videos cheap best

Learn Microsoft Excel from scratch or brush up your Excel skills, at your own pace, with our affordable Excel online training courses — where you get THE LOT (that’s 9 courses in total) for ONE LOW PRICE — everything included! Volume corporate discounts are available.


 

Keeping Tabs on those ‘Little’ Monthly Expenses

Why Excel is Great for Keeping Track of Your Spending if You’re Self Employed

excel online training course using excel for monthly expenses sheet
That take away coffee that you buy each morning should be added to your business expenses sheet; even if not claimable it shows where your money is going.

WHETHER YOU’RE ABOUT TO start your own bookkeeping business, or whether you work as an independent contractor (even if you’ve been doing this for a while), it’s really important to know how much you’re spending each month.

Your Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks accounting software will help you with some of this, but the very best way is to create an expense or spending sheet in Excel — which we teach you how to do in our Excel training courses — as this gives you a far more detailed look at your expenses and spending.

Not all your expenses are 100% business ones

Sometimes you can’t claim 100 percent of your expenses as business ones — the costs of running your car, home internet, rent, utilities, etc — but you should nevertheless keep track of your spending on these items because it will affect your cash flow.

That’s why keeping an Excel spending or expense sheet is a good idea for contractors and home-based business owners. You don’t want to enter your home internet into your accounting software as a business expense, if only 30 percent of it is used for business purposes, but you still need to keep track of it, so you can manage your cashflow.

Monitor frivolous spending

One of the things we love about using Excel to track your expenses and spending is that every little expenditure is right there, in plain view.

This isn’t the case with Xero or MYOB or other accounting software. Your expenses are hidden away, and you have to run a report to get a good breakdown on where your money is going.

Not so with Excel,. If you buy a coffee every morning, it’s right there, in a category you can label as “coffee”.

Now, we’re not saying that coffee is frivolous. Far from it. Many of us need coffee just to function (!) but there are lots of small things we spend money on every day, week, month that add up. When you’re self-employed you need to keep an eye on these “little” things.

Sometimes, you’ll find that you’re spending lots of money each month on subscription services that you’re not even using. Eliminating $15 a month here and there makes a big difference.

Create as many categories as you need

That’s the other great thing about using Excel to track your spending: You can create all the expense categories you like.

Of course, not everyone wants to track each and every expense right down to their last bag of jelly beans — that actually would be a little ridiculous — and for most the most part, you can lump your groceries into a category for discretionary spending, but there are some things you might want to separate out — movie tickets, money spent on lunches and dinners, and so forth.

These things tend to add up, and if you want to keep an eye on them, separating them out is the easiest way to do that.

Back to those business expenses

Each fortnight or month or however regularly you complete your bookkeeping, you can easily add in those business expenses into your accounting software — or your bookkeeper can.

Remember, if you spend $60 a month on internet, but only 30 percent of its use is for business purposes, you should only add $18 a month as a business expense in your accounting software. In your Excel expense or spending sheet, however, you’ll put the full $60 in, as you need to have the money in the bank to cover this expense each month.

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You can learn how to create and manage your expenses or spending in our Excel training courses, where you’ll be able to create your own spending or expense sheet. 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. 


 

Online Training: A Cost Effective Way to Train and Motivate Your Staff

Take an online course to build will AND skill

online training for staff morale
It’s a real buzz when you learn something new: a great way to up-skill your staff members and keep people interested at work is to provide them with online training course material.

OUR MYOB TRAINING COURSE is basically an induction into the role of a bookkeeper, in that it provides students with an overview of the duties typically carried out by a bookkeeper. Most of our students take our MYOB training course because they both want, and need, to know how to use the software in order to find work as a bookkeeper.

In the world of business training and coaching, this is called the Will versus Skill Matrix. Employees who have both the will to succeed and the skill to succeed are highly desirable in the workplace.

Transparency, will and skill

Employees who have only one of those attributes, however, are less desirable. Helping staff maintain both the will and the skill to succeed in their jobs has a lot to do with how transparent you are as an organisation.

We’ve mentioned transparency in business before, notably in relation to induction training programs. Induction training programs are a highly efficient way to communicate easily and efficiently with your staff, while also testing their will and skill to succeed at their jobs.

While most induction training programs are used to merely address the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act, or to induct contractors and consultants to a business’ premises, induction training programs can also be used to further your employees’ professional development.

Help your staff upskill with a Word or Excel course

Furthering your employees’ professional development can be done by providing your staff with online training courses that are relevant and useful to their jobs, such as a Word or Excel training course. You’ll be surprised how many tasks can be done with these software applications — and therefore how empowering this knowledge becomes!

boosting staff morale with online training courseOnline delivery of this content allows your staff to complete the course at their own pace, in an informal environment — at home or at their desk at work, rather than in a dedicated training centre on a dedicated day — and it also allows you to monitor their progress.

Being able to see how your employees are getting on with the training courses can illuminate areas where your staff could benefit from further training; it can also highlight those staff member who possess the will and the skill to succeed.

Those staff members who are have both the will and the skill to succeed in their jobs also happen to be highly engaged, and as we mentioned in a previous post, more productive.

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If you’re looking for ways to keep your staff highly engaged with your business, we can help you tailor and deliver highly engaging induction training courses to your staff. Visit our website for more information, or contact us today for a quote.


learn xero online training course videosAt EzyLearn you can choose from a range of XERO online courses, depending on your skill level — or you can access ALL courses for ONE LOW PRICE. All our 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. 


 

 

How to Create a Cash Flow Forecast in Xero (and Excel)

Why cash flow is a better indicator than profit

cashflow and profit reports in xero and excel
Don’t overestimate how much money you’ll have to spend on a new business venture; better to forecast using cash flow as an indicator.

WE RECENTLY PROVIDED DETAILS of a case study highlighting the experiences of a business owner named Jerry. Jerry decides to start a real estate business on the side, after operating a business already that has synergies, for instance, in terms of clientele. 

We mentioned that Jerry should use his accounting software to determine whether his he’ll have the start-up capital required to fund his new venture for the next 12 months. The best way to do this is to create a cash flow forecast, and we’re going to show you how.

Cash flow is a better indicator of available funds

If you’re wondering why you wouldn’t create a profit forecast, it’s pretty simple. Cash flow represents money in the bank, after you’ve paid all your suppliers and staff and loan repayments and so forth, while profit just shows how much the business earned but doesn’t take into account any cash outlays. 

Profit just shows how much the business earned but doesn’t take into account any cash outlays.

It’s important to understand that it’s not uncommon for businesses to be profitable; however due to cash outlays, these same businesses may not actually have enough money in the bank to fund investment, or in this case, a new venture.

Generating a cash flow report in Xero

Follow these steps in Xero to generate a cash flow report for your business:

  1. Go to Reports, then click All Reports.
  2. Under Financial, select Cash Summary.
  3. Enter the following report settings:
    • Date — The latest finalised month
    • Period — 1 month
    • Compare With —  Previous 11 Periods
    • Select the Include GST and Show YTD filters
  4. Click Update to generate the report in Xero
  5. At the bottom of the report, click Export and select Excel to download the report in Microsoft Excel format.

Set up formulas to forecast 12 months ahead

In Excel, you’ll need to create formulas that will show you the average cashflow of your business across the previous 12 month period, so you can then forecast ahead for the next 12 months.

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Creating and working with formulas is something we teach you in our Microsoft Excel training courses. We also feature a suite of highly popular Xero online training courses, or if you want more information on creating profit and loss statements in Xero, read here.

If you don’t use Xero and you’re using MYOB or QuickBooks, our MYOB and QuickBooks training courses will also show you how to run cashflow reports, among many others.


Online bookkeeping accounting training courses for CPD points

EzyLearn Excel, MYOB and Xero online training courses count towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for bookkeepers and accountants. We’ve been an accredited training provider of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers ever since the organisation started in Australia. Find out how CPD points can be of benefit to you.