During the global financial crisis and in the years that immediately followed it, a funny thing happened to the job market: it birthed a freelancer economy, of which a third of Australians in the workforce are a part, and many of these freelancing individuals are also working at (an)other job/s.
What’s Your Bookkeeper Preference?
Recently, I wrote that a lot of bookkeepers are losing out to accountants because business owners prefer the cheapest and easiest way to stay compliant. Rather than employing a bookkeeper AND an accountant to lodge their tax returns and activity statements, many business owners choose to hire an accountant only so they can deal with just one person but are they really getting value for money? When it comes to finding a good bookkeeper at this skill level business owners have the choice of hiring:
- Registered BAS Agents,
- Their accountant’s internal bookkeeper,
- An external, independent finance manager
Many good bookkeepers these days have trained as qualified BAS agents, which allows them to complete and lodge activity statements for their clients and other BAS services. The skill sets of a BAS agent and an accountant performing BAS tasks are the same, so they usually charge the same, but does your accountant really do your BAS or basic bookkeeping work?
Accountants perform higher level duties, such as financial planning, and their fees for this service are inline with what some experienced finance managers charge but when it comes to basic bookkeeping tasks they often hire a junior bookkeeper and charge them out at a lower rate but this rate is often much higher than if you hired this type of bookkeeper directory – so what are you paying for?
Pay for what you need, not what you don’t
Think about your business needs. Most micro and sole trader businesses will rarely need the expertise of an accountant. But hiring one means that you’ll need to stay on top of your bookkeeping (reconciling your account, etc) because accountants won’t perform these tasks — they may outsource it, which can be costly because your accountant will be managing the bookkeeper and adding a margin to their rate as a management cost.
These businesses should instead hire a BAS agent, who can also perform bookkeeping work as well as lodge activity statements and in this situation they could just use a tax agent like ITP or H&R Block. Depending on the amount of work to be completed you could directly hire a junior or Level 2 bookkeeper and have that person perform a lot more of the bookkeeping function and office administration work and with cloud-based software like Xero & QuickBooks and Office productivity tools like Google G Suite the work can be done remotely.
If you want someone to manage all of your finances — keep track of inventory, credit management, etc — and also provide financial reporting and planning services, a finance manager is the way to go as this person can also provide guidance to your office admin and junior bookkeeping staff.
Who does an EzyLearn course?
Lots of EzyLearn students complete an MYOB, Excel or Xero course because these software programs are demanded by employers, but we also receive enrolments from lots of bookkeepers and accountants who want to learn the cloud-based accounting software programs as well as up-skill in MS Office and Digital & Social Media Marketing. If you are a bookkeeper or accountant and need CPD courses check out our Bookkeeping Academy.
Start a bookkeeping business and work from home
Every business needs a good person with numbers and many small businesses and startups are focused on what they do best – and it’s rarely accounting. Learn about the bookkeeping business startup options..
I’d like your opinion!
I was reviewing some of the content we’ve created this year and I was actually astounded at the number of blogs we’d written that mention content marketing. Even so, when I mention content marketing to many business people, they’re still not really sure what I’m talking about. So I asked Angela in our office to put something together — just for fun. Better still, I recorded an audio commentary to go with it; I hope you find it of use.
All the content marketing talk
Want a recap of all the times I’ve written about content marketing? I did a whole lot of posts about real estate agents and how important content marketing is for them. Here are some of the blog headlines in our content marketing category:
- Free tips for real estate agents who want to use video in their social media with WordPress websites
Maybe I’m a bit more passionate about content marketing than I even realised (which is saying something!) Watch the video below and let me know your thoughts.
Video presentation with annotations and a call to action
Want to know more?
If you’re interest in learning about the contents of our Content Marketing, Facebook and Social Media course which is currently being uploaded to our LMS read about it here and follow the links to pre register for alerts. When we release it we’d have a great offer for early students. 🙂
Thought you may like to know that we are going to reveal everything we did for Derek Farmer’s real estate site for property sales in Cammeray – even Facebook advertising and re-targeting to stay front of mind with his client database.
Credit Management is an Extra Job
I’ve always believed that as soon as you offer credit you’ve got yourself another business – a credit management business. When we first created our MYOB Daily Transactions course we designed it to take students through the cashflow process of where money goes when it first leaves your bank account and these are the main steps:
- Money in the bank (cash asset)
- Buy stock (inventory asset)
- Products sold on account (accounts receivable asset – Trade Debtors)
- Customer pays their account (cash asset)
The interesting part of this business process to me is the marketing (choosing the products, pricing, marketing message and advertising) and the credit management to get the money back. Each of these stages and their tasks carry a certain amount of risk but the credit risk part is actually something you can manage to try to eliminate altogether, but it takes work and a system.
Well the good news is that we’ve created a Credit Management Training Guide that goes through the different parts of your business where you can put measures in place to reduce this risk significantly – even if you are in the trades or building industry.
Credit Management is a Job for Contractors
Many tasks in businesses these days is actually contracted out to independent contractors because of the flexibility and credit management is a great example because it can be performed a day a week (for smaller businesses) and it can even be performed by a remote contractor (virtual assistant) working from their own home office. See Credit Management Services at Natbooks!
Since we’ve started working with local bookkeepers at National Bookkeeping we’ve realised that credit management and daily transactions type work is by far the most common form of task performed by a bookkeeper. The rate of pay for bookkeepers performing this work is generally lower, but it’s a great option for people like working mums or dads who want to fit their work into their children’s school schedules as well as corporate accountants who want to make a start on their own bookkeeping business in their local area.
The corporate accountants or accounts managers we speak with often start performing this work in their new bookkeeping business but as their business grows they fill this position with a contractor of their own. Pre Qualify to join National Bookkeeping
Paypal and Quickbooks
Last year I wrote about the joint venture between Quickbooks (Intuit) and Paypal and how they want to help businesses get paid faster. They commissioned a study last year found that Australian small businesses are owed a collective $26 million in unpaid invoices. That’s roughly $13,200 owed to each business at any given time, for which business owners will spend an average of 12 days chasing them each year.
It’s a lot of time and effort to earn that kind of money particularly if you’ve actually already earned it by supplying your products and services!
Check out our Credit Management information page and watch out for the announcement when we include it as a student inclusion for ALL students. We created this guide to help businesses use their accounting software to better manage the credit risk in their business. We’ve included information for builders and contractors about the Security of Payments Act.
CRM = Customer Relationship Management
THE PURPOSE OF HAVING a CRM is so that when you call one of your clients or prospects, you know everything about them and can start a conversation based on what they’re looking for — their needs.
This might seem a little strange when you think about it because you could be out of date with your info (say you’ve entered old information on this particular client) but, casting this quibble aside, CRM’s are generally a terrific way to provide excellent customer service, on a consistent basis, and this is often the competitive edge that will you need to stay in business. (I’ve written a little comparison of real estate agent CRM’s but I wanted to add a couple other ones to the mix for good measure.)
Accounting Software and CRMs
The fact that the software enabled business to keep contact details and search for past orders was a good reason to call the software a CRM.
However, times have moved on and even with powerful and well known CRM brands like Salesforce, there seems to be dozens of CRM providers to choose from, with prices ranging from $15 per month/ per seat to over $150! In fact if you head over to MYOB’s Add-On Centre you’ll find plenty of CRM’s that now integrate with their software.
We are now entering the integration phase of software development – which cloud-based services integrate with other services you’re using – and we wrote an article at the beginning of the year about a home appliances technician who uses accounting software integrations on his tablet to run an efficient and profitable little business.
Real Estate Agent CRM’s
One thing that has become apparent to our team lately (we’re working on social media marketing for real estate agents) is the difference in mindset between bookkeepers and real estate agents and if you think about it for a second it makes sense.
Bookkeepers are usually people who just want to get themselves into their work and sort out the financial and accounting details whereas real estate agents want to find big shiny things to sell and earn a commission based income.
It’s the classic back office versus front office personality style, the salesy and bold vs the unassuming and detailed office admin person.
The thing that real estate agents are looking for in a CRM are:
- Quick and Easy contact detail collection (do it once and get all the data) – ideally at open homes
- Automated categorisation of contact (Who’s keen and what are they looking for) – often defined by the type of property they enquire about
- Constant messages pinging prospects with their brand (like weekly emails about their open homes this weekend)
- Great reporting to see what works (so they can repeat it) – like how many emails sent, calls, open homes etc
The relationship with a real estate agent is often brief and very intense because property owners (vendors) will be speaking sometimes every day with their sales agent to see how the selling process is going. With property marketing campaigns in the capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne only lasting a couple weeks in some instances there is a massive amount of information to be collected yet the reporting needs to be simple.
My Preference for CRMs is Simple
Although I’ve had some exposure to Salesforce when I originally spoke to that company (many years ago and much has probably changed) they only offered yearly plans (but showed them as a low monthly fee) and the upfront cost was too high so I didn’t go down that path.
Instead I found some great nimble tech startups (at the time, now they’re quite a bit bigger) who offered software that did all the basics very well and offered normal cloud-based pricing ie. low monthly fees: Zoho CRM and HighRiseHQ
I found that these two programs did many useful things. They:
- enabled me to integrate with our form collections (no need for double entry)
- gave me the ability to very easily make comments every time I spoke with them
- integrated with my email marketing software
- enabled me to use tags to categorise and find contacts
- offered a low monthly cost!
The Dark Horse in Real Estate CRM’s is CreataCRM
I had the pleasure of meeting Reece, the managing director of CreataCRM, at Cebit 2016 and was amazed I’d never heard of this company before.
When I took a look at their software I was blown away – here is an Australian based software developer who has worked with some of the top performing McGrath real estate agents to build a complete and thorough cloud-based CRM with all the integrations you could ask for, including:
- MYOB AccountRight (live and even the old v19)
- VoIP telephony
- Email broadcasting
- Workflow Automation
The most amazing part about their software is that it costs just $11 per user per month! Now that is a lot of software and a VERY low price. I’m thrilled to be able to share this information with you because here is a company with a great product that focus more on their product development and software features and less on making themselves look big and flashy.
If you have had any experiences with CRM’s I’d love to hear from you and add further depth to our conversation and study into CRM’s.
At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of cloud-based online accounting software courses, to business start up and management courses, to marketing and sales courses, or update and further your skills in a range of Microsoft Office programs (Excel, PowerPoint, Word) or social media and WordPress web design).
Men vs Women
There is a fairly significant gender imbalance when you look at the people holding executive positions in the corporate world. Sure, there are the Gail Kellys and Marissa Mayers, but men in managerial positions in the workplace still outnumber women two-to-one. Many people would contend that this is something to do with sexism, but sexism, gender inequality – whatever you want to call it – only tells part of the story. In order to understand why there are so few women in executive leadership positions in corporate Australia – and why more women are becoming small business entrepreneurs, instead – it helps to start from the very beginning.
When women enter the workforce, their participation rates are typically the same as they are for men, hovering at around 75 percent; in some industries, particularly clerical and administrative ones, women far outweigh men in the workplace. But despite this, and despite women being better educated (just 30 percent of men hold a bachelor degree, while 42 percent of women do), men continue to progress in their careers, moving from entry level and administrative roles through to managerial ones, while women don’t.
In fact, the decline in the number of women holding managerial positions (34 percent), compared with men (66 percent) is significant. Looking at those numbers alone, it’s easy to write this off as sexism, as men being promoted over women, but the truth is that the decline in women in managerial positions is commensurate with the overall decline in women in the workforce, period.
So where have all the women gone?
Well, at the risk of coming off as a bit 1950s, they’ve left work to raise their children. The reason they haven’t returned to their careers, though, is not for want of trying. It’s because being a working mum is a logistical and, as a result, professional, nightmare. To start, there’s the distinct lack of affordable, high quality childcare, which has reached such a crisis point that the Federal Government, on the recommendation of the Productivity Commission, is trialing a nanny subsidy scheme, which would allow families to receive a government subsidy for the cost of hiring an (approved) nanny to care for their children.
That scheme, which commences in January 2016, will involve 4,000 nannies and up to 10,000 children and, if it passes the pilot stage, is estimated to help the 165,000 Australian parents who can’t work or can’t work enough due to problems accessing childcare. But all the childcare in the world won’t make up for a generally inhospitable workplace culture for working mothers.
Even though almost all Australian businesses are supposed to offer flexible working arrangements for parents, none of them actually have to practice it. As long as an organisation doesn’t blatantly discriminate against their working-parent employees, they’re well within their rights to tell mums requesting flexible working arrangements (such as, starting and finishing later, working one day from home, etc) that their request has been refused due to one of the following reasonable business grounds:
- The requested arrangements are too costly
- Other employees’ working arrangements can’t be changed to accommodate the request
- It’s impractical to change other employees’ working arrangements or hire new employees to accommodate the request
- The request would result in a significant loss of productivity or have a significant negative impact on customer service.
Women are more entrepreneurial than men
This is not to say that gender inequality doesn’t figure in the underrepresentation of women in the workplace, because it does; certainly with respect to wage inequality. Although, to be fair, it’s not always men that create inhospitable working environments for women with kids. There’s often a lot of girl-on-girl crime going on here, especially when it comes to mums requesting for flexibility that isn’t also extended to women without kids.
Nevertheless, in the stuffy, old corporate world, usually controlled by men, biology means women nearly always start off on the backfoot. But it doesn’t have to continue to be the case, especially not today. With a society that’s never been more interconnected, thanks to changing technologies and greater access to high-speed internet, women have a greater opportunity to use their skills and talents to launch their own businesses, and to operate them from home.
Mia Freedman is probably Australia’s best example of female entrepreneurship. She’s the publisher of the Mamamia Women’s Network, this country’s fastest growing and most popular network of women’s websites. Freedman launched the company’s flagship website, Mamamia, in 2008 as a personal blog she updated from her kitchen bench – and sometimes her couch – after she left a career in women’s magazines; today, with iVillage and theglow.com.au, Mamamia now reaches 5 million unique readers each month.
But Freedman isn’t the only mumpreneur. There are scores and scores of women launching their own businesses. In the last five years, the rate of women starting businesses increased 7 percent, compared to 1.9 percent for men. In NSW alone, women make up one third of the state’s 650,000 small businesses, according to data from the NSW Department of Trade and Investment. And with the Government’s $20k immediate tax write-off for asset purchases, there really has never been a better time to start your own home-based business.
Are you the next mumpreneur?
EzyLearn has a long, proud history of helping mums to reenter the workforce, and we’d like to continue that tradition by helping more mums to start their own home-based businesses. Whether you’d like to use your talent and expertise to start your own bookkeeping business or work as a freelance blogger, writing posts – just like this one – for other businesses, we can help.
We’ve recently created two new courses – one on content marketing and another on blogging for business – in addition to our other suite of training courses that includes our small business StartUp course as well as our flagship MYOB training courses, which can each provide you with the skills you need to start and operate your own home-based business as a remote or contract worker. We’ve also started the StartUp Academy with a number of business opportunities available to help self-motivated people to start their own businesses, across an array of industries and professions.
At EzyLearn, we’re committed to helping students of our MYOB courses gain employment as a MYOB bookkeeper or even start their own bookkeeping business; it’s why we provide you with lifetime access to our MYOB training courses as part of our commitment to continuing professional development.
We recently wrote posts about the service, Banklink, (generally used far and wide except by the Bank of Queensland) and since then we’ve heard back from a couple of our readers, who told us about some of the problems they’ve experienced trying to use BankLink with their bank account.
Banklink and Credit Card Issues
We spoke to one reader, Anton Prinsloo, who owns and operates CSTAY Budget Holiday Accommodation at Magnetic Island, off the Townsville Coast. Anton uses the Bank of Queensland for his business banking, and as part of his business strategy uses his credit card for all of his business purchases.
Anton has found that while the BankLink service “beautifully reconciles my everyday business account, BankLink doesn’t work with my credit card.” Anton later discovered that the reason BankLink doesn’t work with his credit card is because in 2007 the Bank of Queensland transferred its credit card service to Citibank.
According to BOQ Managing director, David Liddy, the decision to transfer BOQ’s credit card service to Citibank was “part of Bank of Queensland’s ongoing strategy to provide its customers with the best in access and customer service, while providing the full range of finance products.”
“Bank of Queensland customers will continue to have the advantages of a BOQ card, but with greater support, better product range, and more extensive national and international systems,” Liddy said of the deal in 2007.
However, as Anton found out, the Citibank-provided BOQ credit card doesn’t offer the same advantages as a BOQ card would have, as it can’t be used with BankLink because it’s a service provided by Citibank.
“I contacted Citibank to see if I could get BankLink from them, but because they don’t hold the account they’re not able to offer this service to me,” Anton told us, adding, “I get the feeling they have no intention to even try to resolve this issue, either.”
For Anton and, we imagine, many other business owners who bank with BOQ, this adds upwards of three hours to his reconciliation process using what he calls “half technology”.
Issues with the NAB
But BOQ isn’t alone. The National Australia Bank requires businesses to have a debit card account that’s separate to their business account, requiring the business owner to make time-consuming journal entries in MYOB each time they transfer money from their business account to the account attached to their debit card.
For business owners, selecting the right bank account for your business is a decision you should make wisely. Make sure you think about how you intend to use your account and do your research before settling on any particular bank. Be extra certain to find out if your bank offers the Bank Link service and how it will work with your account, so you can save yourself the hassle of journal entries and manual reconciliation.
Thanks again to Anton who shared his story with us. If your have a story you’d like to share with us, please let us know in the comments or get in touch.