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When Does Practice Ignition Make Financial Sense for a Bookkeeper or Tax Agent?

busy bookkeeper using practice ignition

THE ACCOUNTING SPACE is currently dominated by systems that make it easy for small businesses — a builder or tradesperson, virtual assistant, online retail shop — to manage their business’s accounts with the help of their bookkeeper, tax agent or BAS agent and/or accountant.

However, very few systems are dedicated to helping the bookkeeper, tax or BAS agent or accountant manage their clients — that’s the builders and tradespeople, virtual assistants and online shops and retail outlets they provide bookkeeping and tax services to. Until now.

The new way to automate your quoting, defining your scope of bookkeeping/BAS services, having clients agree and pay for your services – all in one streamlined system Continue reading When Does Practice Ignition Make Financial Sense for a Bookkeeper or Tax Agent?

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Why Office Chairs are the Reason You Can’t Keep a Bookkeeper

Bookkeeper with back pain

Consider going remote for your bookkeeping

Bookkeeper with back pain
Are you taking good care of your contract, or casually employed, bookkeeper?

THERE ARE MANY BOOKKEEPERS who do not undergo the rather stringent requirements to become a registered BAS agent. Even without becoming a BAS agent, a bookkeeper can be employed by a business on the payroll, rather than providing bookkeeping services ‘as a business’.

Usually, these bookkeepers will work on a casual basis, once or twice a fortnight, at the business’s premises, which means they’re provided with a desk, computer, and desk chair.

Unfortunately too many business owners don’t make their casual bookkeepers a priority; often relegating them to a desk piled skyhigh with un-filed documents, old or broken technology, ergonomically unsound chairs, and probably a thick layer of dust on nearly every surface.

Think about your bookkeeper’s health

Aside from sending a clear message that your casual bookkeeper’s contribution to your business isn’t valued, it can also play havoc with their health, particularly when it comes to unsteady or broken office chairs.

Over time, sitting incorrectly on an office chair that’s broken or not adjusted correctly can contribute to back problems and muscle pain, because it places large amounts of pressure on your back muscles and the spinal discs. Poor posture and slouching can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the discs, which can damage the spinal structures. It’s also pretty hard to produce your best and most accurate bookkeeping work under these conditions.

Consider hiring remote bookkeepers

If you’ve been guilty of shoving your casual bookkeeper off to a workspace in the corner, with the wonky office chair and desk lined with dust, or even if you do just some of these things, it’s time to think more about how much you value your bookkeeper’s contribution to your business. This leaves you with a couple of options: invest in new office equipment — desks, technology, and ergonomic chairs — which could set you back a few thousand dollars, or hire remote bookkeepers instead.

A remote bookkeeper will cost you less, as they don’t require workspace in your office, so you won’t have to provide the office technology and furniture. And remote bookkeepers only bill you for the time they spend working on your accounts, not the time they spend making cups of tea and chatting around the watercooler.


Want to find a professional, reliable bookkeeper to work for your business, remotely?

a registered BAS agent wanting to join an industry associationNational Bookkeeping is our online directory of bookkeepers and includes data entry clerks, BAS agents, accountants and CFOs. These people are trained and qualified bookkeepers willing to work all over Australia and ready to help you now.

Whether your business uses MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks (or even other specialist software) our members can help from the basics to the complex and advanced.

Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper thinking about starting your own business, register with National Bookkeeping before June 30 so you can claim it as a tax deduction right away; alternatively, to learn more, visit the National Bookkeeping website or continue reading our blog.

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When a Bookkeeper Isn’t Just a Bookkeeper

start your own bookkeeping business registered BAS agent business

Why NOW is the time to become a work-for-yourself bookkeeper

start your own bookkeeping business registered BAS agent business
Bookkeeping is a career that keeps on growing as you grow you and your client’s business.

THERE ARE UMPTEEN REASONS why starting a bookkeeping business is a great low-cost venture for people looking to take a step back from the corporate world, or even for those looking to do quite the opposite by working from home so they have the flexibility they need as parents to young children.

If you’re a subscriber of this blog, then you’ve read posts about National Bookkeeping, the company EzyLearn has partnered with to deliver training courses to people who become National Bookkeeping licensees.

However, I’m going to talk about it again because there are still too many talented people out there who don’t think they have what it takes to go into business for themselves. And I’m here to tell you, you do, and we’ll help you!

Register as a National Bookkeeping licensee before 30 June

As it’s nearing June 30 and the end of this current financial year, it’s a great time to kick-start your own business, by registering to become a National Bookkeeping licensee. Their license fee is a hundred percent tax deductible due to the large component of training courses included in the fee, so if you register before the end of June, it can go towards reducing your taxable income straight away.

The reason I became interested in National Bookkeeping is because I felt it provided just enough structure for new business owners to get their business off the ground, but also the right amount of flexibility for those business owners with the desire to take their business (and incomes) to the next level by providing addition services, such as content marketing, virtual assistant services, or even financial planning.

I think that in order to be successful in business and for your business to have longevity, you need to be open to new opportunities and to be able to constantly update your business model and offerings. Particularly now that we’re in an age of great technological change, staying abreast of changes to the way people work and do business is the key to staying in business, period.

…Now that we’re in an age of great technological change, staying abreast of changes to the way people work and do business is the key to staying in business, period.

New technologies mean new opportunities

There are many business analysts and economists who see the reduction of permanent jobs as a bad thing – and to some extent, they’re probably correct – but I see it as an opportunity. New technologies have made it easier for people to work at home, wherever their home may be – a city, a beachside town, outback Australia – so long as they have access to a reliable Internet connection.

Now, people who have previously been excluded from the job market have an opportunity to earn an income. That’s great news for workers and for the economy, and it’s why the government has spearheaded a move to encourage working from home, or teleworking as it’s officially known, among businesses and their staff.

We continue to need bookkeepers

Bookkeeping is a necessity for all Australian businesses, as it’s a fundamental requirement of Australian tax law to keep accurate business records. Hiring a contract bookkeeper to take care of their business’s bookkeeping allows business owners to go out and find more work and grow their business, rather than having to worry about keeping up with all of their administration and book work.

With continued training your business grows as your client’s business does too

As their business grows, the bookkeeper will become busier too and they may even be asked to provide more services – BAS services, tax services, financial planning and advice, even one-to-one training — the list goes on. The more training you have, the better you’ll able to service this client yourself and the more business you’re business will grow as a result. (Want to read more about what’s required to become a registered BAS agent?)

It’s not uncommon for a bookkeeper to start out providing simple data entry and reconciliation services to business, and then wind up providing full financial advice and planning services, providing, of course, they’re qualified to do so. And these are qualifications you can acquire while already providing services to clients and earning an income.

When you become National Bookkeeping licensee, you’re free to continue your studies so you can eventually progress from a bookkeeper through to a financial planner and adviser, and with clients to help them grow their business, just as you did yours.

National Bookkeeping even provides you the blueprint for doing it by offering the EzyLearn Small Business Management Course, (our EzyStartUp Course) which has been augmented to help bookkeepers develop a business plan specifically for a bookkeeping business.

With National Bookkeeping you’re not just a bookkeeper

ato tax concessions for small business under $25mAs a National Bookkeeping licensee you’ve got the tools and the support to build a successful, sustainable small business that can provide an array of services, beyond those of the typical bookkeeper.

So if you’ve been thinking about starting your own business, register with National Bookkeeping before June 30 so you can claim it as a tax deduction right away; alternatively, to learn more, visit their website or continue reading our blog.


 

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MYOB, Xero, Quickbooks and the Cloud Accounting Ecosystem

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How the cloud accounting ecosystem has paid off big time:

And how Xero has become the preferred accounting software for Aussies and New Zealanders (Part 2 of 2)

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Although Xero is enormously popular in Australia and NZ, Intuit QuickBooks is backed by a company that dwarfs Xero and MYOB and is huge in the US.

FOR YEARS, MYOB was the Australian market leader in accounting software. Small businesses and accountants spent hundreds of dollars to buy its clunky, obtuse software and load it onto their computers so they could mind their own business (hence, the MYOB) or the business of their clients.

In 2008, the tide began to roll the other way, when an upstart — and a Kiwi upstart, no less — entered the Australian market, two years after it was founded. That upstart was Xero, and it revolutionised the industry, with its software- as a -service approach to accounting systems.

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.

For Xero, that carrot has taken the shape of its suite of apps, plug-ins and integrations it’s added to its offering through acquisitions and partnerships — anything that would make Xero a one-stop-shop for small businesses, and help them to extract more value from their customers.

[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?

They wouldn’t.

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.

*** 

lifelong learning platform woman online learning for life

To ensure you have the skills required in an era of cloud accounting ecosystems, code-free accounting and connected practices, we’ve added new modules to our QuickBooks training courses — with training on KeyPal — as part of the QuickBooks Payroll Course. Visit our website for more information or to enrol. We also invite you to read what our students and clients are saying about EzyLearn.


 

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What is Xero HQ?

Now you can do more with Xero

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Xero is adding to its list of features with Xero HQ so it’s no longer just for more basic bookkeeping, but can be used for analysis as well.

XERO HAS LONG POSTIONED ITSELF as the cloud accounting software for small-to-medium businesses. It’s one of the most popular of our online training courses; appealing not only to bookkeepers, but small to medium sized businesses in all industries.

What makes Xero so popular is that it is inexpensive software that’s simple to use and has lots of time-saving features.

In doing so, it’s basically left MYOB to hold the mantle of the accounting software used by accountants and bookkeepers.

Now, however, Xero is looking to close that gap, with the launch of “Xero HQ”; a data and insights platform for bookkeepers and accountants who are part of the Xero Partner Program.

Xero HQ wants to help you grow

To shake MYOB’s stranglehold on the accountant and bookkeeper market, Xero had to do something to differentiate itself and tempt accountants and bookkeepers away from MYOB.

And they’re betting that Xero HQ will be the thing that does it. Xero HQ will provide bookkeepers and accountants with data and insights tools so they can provide “advisory level” services to clients.

Xero’s focus on “advisory level” services is important here, because it reveals a couple of things Xero plans to do with the industry. The first is to continue to automate many of the tasks a bookkeeper would traditionally carry out — the introduction of bank feeds eliminated data entry, for instance — and the second is to up-skill junior bookkeepers, while simultaneously embedding them within the Xero ecosystem — which will fit nicely with their recently launched Xero Lifelong Learning platform.

What exactly is the Xero HQ platform?

If you’re part of the Xero Partner Program already, then access to the Xero HQ platform is free. The Xero HQ platform is essentially a separate workflow that you access online, which provides a number of features not available though your regular Xero software.

These Xero HQ features include the following:

  • Activity feed: When your clients’ GST or activity statements are due, a notification will appear in the activity feed to alert you.
  • Client list: This is essentially like a contact book, where you can store all your clients’ information in one place; even those clients who aren’t on Xero.
  • Explorer: This feature pulls data Xero knows about your clients to help you provide them with better advice, or help you up-skill in areas you know are important to them. For example: it will show you which apps are popular across all your clients, so you can learn how to use them.

Xero HQ app marketplace

The Xero HQ platform also has an app marketplace, which has a focus on apps that will help bookkeepers and accountants with their business. That’s different to the existing Xero app marketplace, which is geared towards small businesses in any industry.

The Xero HQ app marketplace is split up into three tiers, depending on the size of your bookkeeping or accounting practice.

Which Xero HQ app marketplace will suit you?

If you’ve 100 or fewer clients, then you’d be best suited to the “activate” package of apps especially “curated” by the Xero HQ team.

If you have between 100 and 200 clients, then you’re best suited to the “energise” package of apps; practices with 300 or more clients suit the “supercharge” package.

It’s up to you which apps you switch on, but Xero has eliminated the leg work involved in finding apps to suit your business needs.

Some common third party apps, recommended across all three Xero HQ app marketplace tiers include:

  • Futrli: A forecasting and reporting app designed to help control cash flow and accelerate growth. Technically, you can pull all these data out of Xero by running a number of different reports and exporting them into Excel, but this app does all that work for you, and just delivers the insights. Partner pricing starts at $399 per month.
  • Receipt Bank: Extracts relevant information from paper receipts and invoices, imports the data into Xero, categorises it, and stores both the data and receipt safely in the cloud. Your clients just snap a picture of the receipt using the Receipt Bank app on their smartphone or upload from their PC.
  • BOMA: Is a marketing and advertising platform that lets you export data from Xero and use it for your marketing and advertising campaigns. With BOMA you can create and broadcast marketing and advertising messages across five channels (email, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter), including sponsored advertising posts on those platforms. It also provides you with all the imagery, templates and other design needs to create your campaigns. It’s basically a one- stop -shop for digital marketing and advertising. Partner pricing starts at $49 per month.  

Xero HQ is where accounting meets CRM

In essence, the Xero HQ platform is where accounting and customer relationship management meet. Xero provides bookkeepers and accountants with a platform that enables high-level analysis and data management through integrating third-party Xero HQ partner apps.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, Xero HQ serves dual purposes: it encourages bookkeepers to move away from providing basic bookkeeping services to deeper analysis and advisory roles; and they can use the Xero Lifelong Learning platform to up-skill and provide those services.

“Xero HQ serves dual purposes: it encourages bookkeepers to move away from providing basic bookkeeping services to deeper analysis and advisory roles…”


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


 

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How Bookkeepers Can STOP Losing Out to Accountants

Junior level 1 bookkeepers good cheap local bookkeeping services - Natbooks

Or is it just BAS Agents who are losing out?

Good experienced Xero, MYOB Finance Manager and bookkeeper for local bookkeeping - Natbooks LogoTHE BURDEN ON Australian small businesses to stay compliant with the ATO is immense. A lot of that is to do with the Government not distinguishing between a small business with upwards of 20 staff, and a micro business which may have 5 or fewer staff — sometimes even no staff.

All of this compliance — bookkeeping, activity statements, payroll, superannuation, and so on — is costly and time consuming, so most business owners outsource this work to a professional contractor. Before the Government changed the tax laws, it was bookkeepers who small or micro business turned to.

Prior to 2010, a bookkeeper could complete and lodge your BAS and tax returns without needing any formal qualifications — that’s since changed.

Accountants kill two birds with one stone

Even though few small or micro businesses actually need the services a financial accountant provides — financial planning, say — a lot of tax accountants are picking up clients that would have, prior to the law change, gone to a bookkeeper, and it’s usually because they are scared of getting something wrong and then getting slapped on the wrist about it. 

Small businesses (SME’s) want the cheapest and easiest way to stay compliant, and dealing with one person is easier than dealing with multiple people, especially if there are any issues with how one person has worked, and the business owner winds up stuck in the middle.

If a business is large enough, a Finance Manager can be employed to systemise the work and then manage the low cost junior bookkeeper, and the accountant and provide the business owner with the results and reports they need and want. 

[box] In the new bookkeeper induction for new members of National Bookkeeping we take students through the formalities of signing up a new client, defining the type of clients they want and the category of bookkeeper they want to be and we find it helps them get into the systemising mindset.[/box]

 

BAS agents and accountants charge the same

If you’re only hiring an accountant to complete and lodge your activity statements, they’ll only charge you to do that. This rate is similar to what most BAS agents charge, only BAS agents generally charge a lot less for bookkeeping tasks, while in my experience accountants charge BAS service rates for more junior bookkeeping tasks.

If you’re only hiring an accountant to complete and lodge your activity statements, they’ll only charge you to do that. This rate is similar to what most BAS agents charge, only BAS agents generally charge a lot less for bookkeeping tasks, while in my experience accountants charge BAS service rates for more junior bookkeeping tasks.

Junior bookkeepers can win business they’d normally lose to an accountant by becoming a qualified BAS agent, or going to work for an accountant where they’re allowed to perform all of the bookkeeping and BAS work because they’re being “supervised” by an accountant.

Finding the middle ground

The middle ground for people who want to start their own bookkeeping business and become a contract bookkeeper is often to perform bookkeeping tasks that involve more than just data entry, but less than the tasks covered under the tax act as a BAS Service, like credit management. It’s also important to be emotionally intelligent.

This involves data entry and accessing customer information but also communicating with late payers, difficult customers and problem solving for complex sales transactions. This work requires a bit more bookkeeping experience AND life experience and it’s very important to the financial health of the business.

***

To learn more about the kind of accounting professional your business needs, visit the National Bookkeeping website.

You will find a number of professionals — from bookkeepers to BAS agents, to Chief Financial Officers — who can provide the right accounting services for your business at an affordable price.

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Finding Help with Your Bookkeeping

Why you should employ a bookkeeper to help manage the books

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

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

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

Bookkeeper, accountant or tax professional?

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

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

Step One: What Kind of Bookkeeper Do You Need?

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

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

Step Two: Research Local Bookkeepers in Your Area

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

Step Three: Check the TPB Register

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

Step Four: Interview Your Preferred Bookkeepers

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

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

***

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

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


 

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When Do You Need to Register as a BAS Agent?

Making the effort to specialise reaps rewards

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

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

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

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

So when don’t you need to register?

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

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

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

Who needs to register, then?

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

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

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

Why register to be a BAS agent?

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

Example:

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

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

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

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

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

If you don’t register as a BAS agent

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

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

  • Highly skilled in their particular field; or
  • Inexpensive

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

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

How and with whom you need to register

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

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

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

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

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Read more about being a BAS agent

learn xero myob excel online training course videos

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bookkeepers (not registered with the TPB)

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

BAS agents

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

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

Tax agents

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

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

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

Accountants

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

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

How much should I pay a bookkeeper?

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

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


cashflow reports in xero and excel

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


 

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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. Continue reading Are You Making these GST Mistakes in Your Bookkeeping?

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EOFY: Get Your Business Expenses In Order

bookkeepers fixed price quotes

We Show You 2 Steps You Can Take — Right Away!

WE’VE ENTERED QUARTER 4 for the 2016/17 financial year, so we’ve been writing about the things your business should be doing this quarter in preparation for the end of the financial year. In our last post we wrote about writing off stock and inventory. Now we’re looking at business expenses.

Our MYOB BAS Reporting and GST online training course or our Xero GST, Reporting and BAS training course will show take you through the necessary steps in your accounting software. 

Here’s what you can do now to make sure you’re prepared come tax time? Continue reading EOFY: Get Your Business Expenses In Order

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Announcement: Xero Bank Recs and Journal Entries

Bank Recs are a pain in the !@Accounts#$

Bank Statement for Bank Reconciliation Courses in MYOB, Quickbooks and XeroAlthough the daily data entry is a frustration for many business owners and manager, particularly if you are quoting, ordering and invoicing regularly, the bank reconciliation is the most frustrating for bookkeepers, BAS agents and accountants because they need to make sense of EVERY transaction and make sure it is accounted for correctly. Xero bank reconciliations are made easier with bank feeds and today we announce that this course is available as part of our All Xero Courses for 1 Price Offer!

Bank Statements Reveal Much

We base our bank reconciliation course development (for Xero and Quickbooks) on our MYOB Bank Reconciliation Course and I was reviewing the contents of this course a couple weeks ago.

The thought that stuck in my head the most was “Wouldn’t it be great to design my own bank statement! A bank statement that I would like to see for my business each month” but that is a topic for another “business development and goal setting type blog”.

The important thing for bookkeeping students is that this bank statement includes most of the transactions that you’ll come across each month including interest, capital purchases, loans etc that you’ll probably need to check and make sure they’re coded correctly.

Xero and all cloud accounting programs make bank reconciliation easier because they enable you to import bank feeds directly from your bank. This saves a lot of the typing involved in data entry but you still have to get the codes right.

Xero 513 Bank Reconciliation Course

Learn more about what is included in this course at our Xero Bank Reconciliation Course landing page. In this course we introduce a new “character” in our course design – Jerry. Jerry is an ordinary man who decides to go into business because he loves talking to and helping other people but he’s not that tech savvy (or accounting savvy) so he makes a lot of the mistakes that many other business people make when they are starting out for the first time.

If you are an existing student enrolled into our Xero Courses, just contact support and ask them to enrol you into the Xero 513 (Bank Recs) course – there’s not charge for you if you are within the 12 months course access period.

Stay tuned for more updates to our Xero and Quickbooks Training Courses.

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What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Facebook Advertising

Facebook – Great for Local Marketing

using facebook for bookkeeping marketing
Facebook can be extremely useful for marketing to a local audience.

In its decade of existence, Facebook has built up a wealth of data about its users, data that it likes to sell back to those who need it, in the form of targeted advertising. Facebook advertising, though similar in its approach, is very different to Google Ads in what it delivers.

Real estate agents discovered the value of Facebook advertising early, and have used a combination of images and videos to successfully deliver their marketing messages and sale pitches directly to their target market and in order to set their prices. Continue reading What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Facebook Advertising

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BAS Service deadline looming – BAS Audits, self assessment and benchmarks

BAS Service, compliance anxiety and cash-flow

MYOB GST, reporting and BAS training coursesIt’s that crazy time when the end of financial year TAX and quarterly BAS periods combine to cause compliance anxiety for business owners and managers if they don’t have a handle on their bookkeeping processes and accounts. This is often caused by not having the best team available for all the tasks required and I spent some time during the week speaking with Tracey our MYOB, Xero and Quickbooks Trainer from Rockingham in WA about the different levels of bookkeepers and whether they could complete tasks relating to a BAS Service. Here’s some of the information that I thought you’d find useful.

Getting receipts as evidence

The biggest issue that many bookkeepers experience is getting information from business owners, particularly small businesses that are stretched between:

  • the work they need to do every day
  • Keeping and filing the financial records like receipts
  • Getting the financial records to a bookkeeper or accountant

I’ve written in the past about the ways that small businesses file their receipts as well as cloud technology like Shoeboxed (who now seem to prefer selling their services to accountants and bookkeepers and have removed the educational video that demonstrated how the software works!), but Quickbooks Online has a downloadable app that enables business owners to capture a photo of each receipt for each transaction and if business owners utilise this function they can save a lot of money in data entry and evidence of expenses that could be expected as part of a BAS audit by a BAS agent.

BAS Audits, red flags and tricky GST codes

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog that you can hire a cheap bookkeeper to take care of your data entry and only use the services of a more expensive bookkeeper (ie. BAS agent) for purposes of confirmation of expenses and the GST components of these expenses. In this case a simple BAS audit involves witnessing these source documents to confirm that there is no error in calculating the money owed to the ATO. If you’ve had any of the following transactions you’ll probably need to pay close attention to the information in your BAS lodgement and mention them to your bookkeeper:

  • Purchasing a motor vehicle
  • Motor vehicle expenses
  • Real property purchase
  • Any purchase coded as a GST-Free transaction
  • Low value purchases (under $82.50) that are coded as GST free
  • Purchase of second hand trading stock
  • Hire Purchase contracts
  • Local fees and handling charges for imp

Learn more about BAS Audits by BAS Agents and the benchmarking and self assessment that ATO use and recommend

TIP!: Bank feeds can cause more work!

I’ve written a lot about bank feeds in the past and included a blog post about how bank feeds work in MYOB and Xero. Bank feeds can be a real time saver because they automatically bring your bank transaction records into your accounting software, but Tracey mentioned that in MYOB you should bring them in BEFORE you do any reconciliation tasks otherwise you may need to undo any reconciliation work you’ve already done so watch out for that!

Need One-to-One training or a QuickFix on MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks?

We did a lot of one-to-one training when we operated our physical training centres in Sydney and the training was often completed at our training centre (because we had it!). Now I’m thrilled to advise that we’re helping local bookkeepers in your area deliver MYOB and Xero training according to our profession course structures! To learn more visit the National Bookkeeping training page. You’ll also discover that our bookkeepers area also available to fix problems or lack of knowledge with the QuickFix service so check that out.

Coming up..

Here is what we are currently working on and what will soon be published or made available at our LMS.

  • Guide to Credit Management (aspects of a business and your accounting software where you can tighten your credit management processes). We’re creating this guide in conjunction with the local bookkeeper at National Bookkeeping
  • Xero Course training material update (workbooks and videos are being updated and added as we speak so stay tuned for more announcements soon
  • Wholesale training course and partner offer – we’ve beefed up our Enrolment Voucher system to help more business buy cheap courses
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6 Questions You Can Ask to Find the Cheapest Bookkeeper

Questions can ‘weed out’ bookkeepers until you get your perfect fit

Job interview questions to hire a good quality cheap and local bookkeeper with MYOB or Xero experienceI have been reviewing the chat requests we receive via National Bookkeeping and it confirms my own thoughts about bookkeepers and the rates that businesses pay for good bookkeepers. These rates have a lot to do with overheads and qualifications — and often very little to do with experience. Allow me to explain.

Most of the daily transactions (see Daily Transactions Courses for MYOB and Xero) performed by bookkeepers involve data entry and coding. This data entry work is repetitive and once a new bookkeeper or accounts person understands the tasks, (which is often quite quickly) they can be performed over and over again with little variation except for client details and total hours worked (I’m assuming invoicing for services provided).

In the case of invoicing your contract bookkeeper could then provide reports and followup with clients to make sure your debtors management is sorted out.

The hardest thing for some small businesses is understanding how to weed out exactly the bookkeeper they need — and I hope these questions make your job easier. Remember, it’s often the answer that helps you find the right person.

checklist for job interview questions for bookkeepersThe questions you should be asking a prospective bookkeeper:

  1. How long have you been performing bookkeeping work?
  2. What type of bookkeeping tasks can you perform?
  3. Are you familiar with cloud accounting software and, if so, which ones?
  4. When are you available to do bookkeeping work?
  5. Where are you based?
  6. Do you have professional indemnity insurance?

I’m going to further break down these questions and show you the answers you should be looking for. Remember that our goal with this case study is to find the cheapest bookkeeper for daily transactions accounting.

1. Bookkeeping Experience

This was once the most important aspect of a bookkeeper’s resume for employers because it demonstrated that this particular candidate has experience that will benefit the business. If the bookkeeper you’re looking for has plenty of experience, then follow up with Question 3 regarding cloud-based functionality and whether they’ve used the latest versions of MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks.

2. Bookkeeping Tasks

This question is important because if someone is educated enough to complete and lodge your BAS, or even lodge your end of year financials, then they’ll want to be charging for the skills they have. You may as well get your accountant to do your bookkeeping if you are prepared to pay for someone with high skills education and experience. Many bookkeepers have plenty of experience doing accounts receivable and accounts payable and all of the steps in between so if it’s a cheap bookkeeper you want, then weed out the ones who can lodge your BAS for you. Read more about bookkeeping tasks.

3. Cloud Accounting Software

It’s important to know if your bookkeeper is familiar with accounting software that is accessible in the cloud because they may know some of the advanced features that comes with that — like integrations with other cloud-based services for project management, estimating, time billing etc. It may also come in handy because they’ll be able to work at home, or even from remote locations, and be more available at potentially lower cost (less travel time and cost).

4. Work Availability

Many bookkeepers will SAY that they’re available whenever you need them, but in reality they each have their own set of requirements and they may not want to say this right up front for fear of limiting their chances of getting your work. Some bookkeepers are mums (or dads) and they need to fit into school hours, while others are really looking for a full-time or part-time job. Some bookkeepers will be prepared to work at night and on the weekend (others may only work at these times) whilst some bookkeepers will only want to work during business hours.

We all need to manage the work-life balance that comes with leading a fulfilling life, and for some people, this includes working at night. Some bookkeepers want to spend time with their kids during the day and work when they have quiet time. Some bookkeepers work for multiple clients and can only fit you in one half day a week. It’s important to understand where your bookkeeper sits in this area.

5. Bookkeeper Location

This is a pretty big consideration, even in the modern times of cloud-based bookkeeping because your bookkeeper’s location can affect how busy they are or how long it will take them to get into your office to do their work. We’ve had some examples where some of our team members live miles from the nearest town; therefore to have to travel there takes time and considerable cost. If you have faith in remote contractors and are willing to work with a bookkeeper who works from home you may find you’ll get the most ideal bookkeeper and the best price — this is something I managed to do when I closed EzyLearn’s bricks and mortar training centres and instead went totally online!

6. Do you have Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance?

This one is a biggie because if the bookkeeper has PI Insurance they’ll also have the trappings that comes with it like:

  • Professional association membership
  • CPD / CPE point requirements
  • Basic Education Requirements to attain their Registration

If a bookkeeper has PI insurance you’re probably talking to a Registered BAS Agent, as bookkeepers who attain this level of bookkeeping do so because they want to perform one of the most important tasks they can for a business — lodge the BAS. A Registered BAS Agent is governed by the same government authority that governs Tax Accountants — the Tax Practitioners Board (TPD). Indeed, many businesses already have a tax agent or accountant who is responsible for lodging their BAS. Therefore, I’ve found the biggest reason BAS agents are popular is because you know you’ll receive an excellent job on the tricky aspects of GST and Payroll, PAYG, Superannuation etc without paying accounting rates.

request-quote-for-myob and xero bookkeeping servicesI hope these questions help you filter a great bookkeeper from all the enquiries that come for your job ads and remember if you’re interested in finding a cloud-based bookkeeper, feel free to browse the National Bookkeeping Directory or Request a Quote.

 

 

 

 

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Release: New Training Guide for Basic Bookkeeping

The meaning of basic bookkeeping terms

You don’t need to know double entry bookkeeping to complete our online MYOB, Xero and Quickbooks Courses but the more you know the better. We include educational videos about basic bookkeeping terms in our bookkeeping courses and they were created by Jacci a Registered BAS agent, but we’ve also created a separate bookkeeping basics guide that is available to you for free.

Receive payments MYOB payment termsThese are the types of terms I am talking about:

  • General Ledger
  • Chart of Accounts
  • Trial Balance
  • Tax codes like FRE, N-T, GST and CAP
  • How to create proper tax invoices
  • Cash and Accrual accounting
  • Income and Expense accounts
  • Sales & Purchases vs Cashbook
  • Debits/Credits
  • Change in Debit and Credit accounts
  • Credit Control
  • Debtors and Creditors report

When you perform the daily bookkeeping tasks for a business you focus on the tasks at hand like:

  • buying goods on account,
  • paying bills,
  • making sales and generating invoices and then
  • keeping track of the payments and receipts.

When you learn how to do these tasks using accounting software you don’t need to understand all the debits, credits and double entry of accounting because the software takes care of it for you.

invoicing and purchases in MYOBThe most popular of our MYOB courses is the Daily Transactions Course 502 because it takes students through a typical scenario of the accounting transactions of a VoIP telephone system supplier and installer.

This telephone company is very similar to a plumber, electrician, builder and most tradespeople because they combine products and services in their invoices. They’ll also often hold an inventory of items they sell regularly and they need to purchase items specifically for a job they are working on for a client.

If you are looking to take on all the bookkeeping tasks for a small business you’ll need to know all aspects of how to use accounting software but if you are just looking for data entry or an accounts payable and receivable job the Daily Transactions course may be all you need.

Read about the contents of this course here or delve in deeper into the case study examples of the MYOB Daily Transactions Course Workbook.