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Finding Help with Your Bookkeeping

Why you should employ a bookkeeper to help manage the books

best way to find a bookkeeper myob xero quickbooks online
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.

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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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What’s your career preference? Bookkeepers vs. Real Estate Agents

Choice of sales vs administration work

Components of choosing a career path include education, experience and skills - MYOB and Excel are important skills for office workThey say that, in life, nothing is certain but death and taxes. If you live in Australia, however, it’s fair to say that nothing is certain but death, taxes and real estate, since selling property seems to be the national pastime (Sky News does broadcast live auctions every Saturday now, thanks to a new partnership with REA Group). Since real estate agents and bookkeepers share a thing or two in common (they both handle the two most important aspects of their clients’ livelihoods), we thought we’d look into compliance for both professions.

Until 2010, when the Tax Agent Services Act was established in 2009, any person with a reasonably good understanding of an accounting software package, like MYOB, could provide bookkeeping and tax services to clients. With the introduction of the Tax Services Act, however, a bookkeeper wishing to provide tax services to their clients was required to register with the Tax Practitioners board (TPB), which has its own criteria that applicants must satisfy in order to register.

Although a bookkeeper who isn’t registered with the TPB can still provide general data entry services to their clients, by law, only a registered BAS or tax agent can lodge activity statements or tax returns on behalf of their clients. We’ve written about how a bookkeeper can become registered with the TPB before on this blog, so we’re not going to cover that here. Instead, we’re going to look at the compliance requirements for real estate agents and bookkeepers, which for the sake of clarity, we’re going to refer to as BAS and tax agents moving forward.

BAS AND TAX AGENTS

COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS

SKILLS

Completion of Certificate IV in Financial Services (Bookkeeping or Accounting) or higher – 12 month course Proficiency in major accounting software packages – MYOB, Xero, Quickbooks, etc
Register as a BAS and/or tax agent with the Tax Practitioners Board Excellent time management skills
Become a member of a professional organisation, like the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (optional) Multi-tasking skills – ability manage multiple clients at once
Satisfy continuing professional education (CPE) requirements, per the TPB. Have excellent customer service skills
Specialist skills in a particular industry – i.e., building and construction (optional)

Now, let’s turn our attention to real estate agents.

Derek Farmer real estate agent smiling portrait in selling your property educational training videoBefore we continue, it’s necessary to mention that there are two different kinds of real estate agents, just as there are bookkeepers. When an agent begins their career, they usually complete a short course (approximately three days) that allows them to work as as an agent’s representative. An agent’s representative works under the guidance of a fully licensed real estate agent, and is allowed to assist on a variety of real estate transactions, but is not, by law, legally allowed to carry out real estate transactions for a client unsupervised.

A licensed real estate agent, on the other hand, has fulfilled a more extensive set of educational requirements, which is necessary if they are to carry out a real estate transaction unsupervised or operate their own agency. In Australia, there is no national piece of legislation governing real estate, as it is, instead, overseen by each state or territory government, which are responsible for licensing real estate agents via the relevant department of fair trading, consumer affairs or protection. Licensing requirements vary state-to-state, albeit only minimally, so for the sake of this blog post, we’re going to refer to the licensing requirements as laid out by the NSW Department of Fair Trading.

LICENSED REAL ESTATE AGENTS

COMPLIANCE

SKILLS

Completion of Certificate IV in Property Services (real estate) -18 month course Proficiency in major software applications – MS Word, Outlook, etc
Obtain real estate license from Dept. Fair Trading Excellent time management skills
Obtain auctioneer’s license from Dept. Fair Trading Multi-tasking skills – ability to manage multiple clients at once
Become member of professional association, like Real Estate Institute of NSW (optional) Skilled negotiator and sales person
Satisfy continuing professional education (CPE) requirements, per Dept. Fair Trading Excellent customer service skills
Specialist knowledge – i.e., local area, commercial/residential/regional real estate, etc
Excellent networking skills
Understanding of marketing and advertising

As the two tables show, BAS and tax agents are just as educated – and must remain to be so, if they hope to stay registered – as real estate agents. This may come as a surprise to many people, given the long held assumption has always been that real estate agents are uneducated, but that’s clearly not the case – nor has it ever been so, unlike BAS and tax agents who only recently had to meet a minimum educational requirement.

Bookkeepers, BAS and tax agents need to do what real estate agents do

Indeed, although the compliance requirements of both professions are similar, there’s quite a disparity in the skill sets of BAS and tax agents when compared with real estate agents. The latter are skilled negotiators with excellent sales skills, who also have a thorough understanding of marketing and advertising, which, along with networking, they use to get new listings. Few BAS and tax agents, however, have much knowledge of marketing and advertising, and most of them confess that they aren’t very good at sales (and really don’t want to do that type of work).

This is okay if they work for a well-known specialist tax franchise, like HR Block, which already has a name for itself and has a marketing department in its head office to oversee the group marketing and advertising needs. But an independent BAS and tax agent working from home, which most of EzyLearn’s students and readers do, don’t have those resources at their disposal. They need to find their own clients and do their own marketing, just like real estate agents do.

OR, someone else can do the marketing for you

Start a bookkeeping business not a franchiseIf you’re a registered BAS or tax agent (or both!), and you’d like to learn more about sales and marketing so you can grow your client list and your business, become a National Bookkeeping licensee. As a National Bookkeeping licensee, you’re provided with all the resources you need to operate your own bookkeeping business, particularly how to market your business to get new clients. Visit the National Bookkeeping website or make contact to discuss for more information.