Is Xero Better than MYOB for Bookkeeping Businesses?

Bookkeeping Incumbent, MYOB Versus Cloud Innovator, Xero

MYOB or Xero online accounting course training videosMYOB HAS LONG BEEN the preferred accounting software of choice for accountants, but a lot of small business owners have now come to prefer Xero. It’s easier to use, and they can access it anywhere — their desktop PC, tablet or smartphone.

Meanwhile, the rise of cloud-based accounting software, which was pioneered by Xero, has made it a lot easier for bookkeepers to base themselves from home. Throw in other technological innovations — cloud storage, bank feeds — and a remote Xero bookkeeper has become the more appealing choice for businesses, too.

Good bookkeepers have a corporate background

Many experienced bookkeepers (around level three upwards) have a corporate background. They’ve typically worked for big accounting firms, and are possibly qualified accountants or BAS and tax agents, familiar with all the available ERP systems on the market.

As much as they know MYOB as the big robust accounting software for medium-sized businesses, a lot of these ex-corporate bookkeepers are also well aware of how Xero benefits small-to-medium businesses: It’s less confusing to use and it’s cloud based; things that make the bookkeeper’s job easier, too. But there’s no guarantee they’ll recommend Xero purely because of that.

Their experience with a range of different ERPs, makes them just as likely to have a subscription to more than one accounting software so they can recommend, with firsthand knowledge, the right accounting software for your business — be it Xero or QuickBooks or, yes, even MYOB.

Bookkeepers can grow their business

National Bookkeeping - How to Earn More MoneyOf course, one reason Xero has become the preferred accounting software, over MYOB or QuickBooks, for a lot of ex-corporate bookkeepers is because of the Xero partner program which enables them to earn ongoing income by recommending Xero to their clients.

Billed as a way for Xero bookkeepers to grow their business, the program lists certified partners in the Xero Advisor directory, which is used by businesses looking for a Xero-certified bookkeeper to manage their accounts. To become a Xero partner, bookkeepers must successfully complete a Xero skills test. When they do, they’re listed on the directory.

The more Xero clients a bookkeeper brings in under the Xero Partner program, the higher their status and the greater their rewards — free Xero memberships, marketing help, and big discounts on subscriptions for their clients.

It’s incredibly appealing for ex-corporates who want the flexibility of self-employment, but want to grow their business with a client-base of substantial mid-sized businesses — and fast. So the more business a bookkeeper can bring Xero, the more business Xero can bring the bookkeeper. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to go.

Universal access with Xero

But Xero Partner or not, far and away Xero’s popularity is really due to its technology — and its commitment to using technology to improve the way businesses stay compliant with the tax office.

That all started with universal access. Businesses that use Xero can invite anyone in their team — their admin assistant, bookkeeper, accountant, their entire sales team — anytime they like, as part of their Xero subscription. Here are a few more reasons:

  • Invoices can go out as soon as a project is finished or a sale is made; likewise for estimates and customer statements.
  • It also means that a business owner can monitor their cash flow in real time, while their bookkeeper is keying transactions and their sales people are sending off invoices.
  • And because the software is in the cloud, these people don’t even need to be in the same building, never mind the same city, state or country! (Xero is the rare low-cost accounting program that supports multi-currency.)

It’s all about the Xero tech

Xero also integrates with more than 500 third-party apps. Some popular integrations include Gmail and Hubspot, the marketing and sales platform. These two integrations alone turn Xero into a complete business management platform and enable it to scale up to the services provided by mid to large sized ERP systems.

Businesses can import data to Hubspot based on customer spend or products and services sold, and send those customers tailored marketing messages. The Gmail integration gives users a complete snapshot of previous conversations with customers — salespeople can see if there are outstanding invoices, or problems with a customer’s account, for example.

Gold standard in bank feeds

Although bank feeds are accurate most of the time, they’re not perfect. MYOB has been know to be particularly temperamental, but Xero has a reliable bank feeds function. Again, that’s a lot to do with Xero’s commitment to tech. 

Setting up bank feeds in any accounting software is as simple as clicking a few buttons, giving a few permissions, and voila! Your bookkeeper has just saved themselves hours each month. Bookkeepers much rather spend as little time as they can keying and coding transactions.

[box type=”info”] This time is better spent doing bigger jobs — lodging activity statements, reporting, payroll — so they’re going to recommend an accounting program with bank feeds.[/box]

Plus, business owners won’t have to wait for their bookkeeper to enter their transaction data each fortnight or month to see how their cash flow is tracking: Bank feeds give business owners a complete picture of their business’s cash flow and financial health because transactions are imported in real-time.

Xero courses provide Bookkeeper CPD points

EzyLearn Online Course CPD points for bookkeepers and marketing professionalsEzyLearn gets lots of enrolments in our Xero training courses and we’re an accredited training provider with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. The ICB requires its bookkeepers to continue developing their skills and knowledge as a bookkeeper in order to retain their membership (this is known as continuing professional development, or CPD).

Many bookkeepers and accountants do EzyLearn’s Xero courses to earn their annual CPD points. EzyLearn offers a number of different training courses as continuing professional development (CPD) for bookkeepers, including our Microsoft Excel, Xero or MYOB training courses.

Our Bookkeeping Academy training courses start at $99 — for Xero or MYOB — and allow you to learn what you want, when you want, entirely at your own pace. Visit the Bookkeeping Academy website for more information or to enrol.


 

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. 


 

Basic Bookkeeping Reports in Xero: Profit and Loss

Learn How to Run a P&L Using Xero

Profit and Loss statement
Profit and loss statements should be run by businesses regularly and are required by law.

A basic, yet vitally important, report for every business owner is a profit and loss (P&L) statement. A profit and loss statement, as the name suggests, shows whether a business is running at a profit or a loss over a given period. We’ve written about why running multi-period P&Ls before in QuickBooks and MYOB is a good idea for businesses with inventory, but single period P&Ls are equally important for all businesses.

If you’re a bookkeeping newbie, a profit and loss statement, which sometimes goes by other names — income statements, earning statements, revenue statements, operating statements, statement of operations, or statement of financial performance — is a basic report you’ll learn to run in our Xero Daily Reconciliations Course. If you’re planning to work as a contract bookkeeper, you should get in the habit of running P&L statements for your clients regularly (if you’re a business owner, ask your bookkeeper to run them).

P&Ls are required by law

Depending on how a business is structured, it may be required by law to complete a P&L. A P&L shows how the revenue of the business is turned into net income by subtracting all expenses from income. They’re also useful for understanding a business’ net income, which helps with the decision making processes. A business will also need a P&L if they’re applying for a small business loan.

The contents of a P&L

profit and loss statements P&LsAlthough the process of running a P&L differ between accounting software packages, they usually all contain the same elements, depending only on the business itself. In the first section, the cost of sales is subtracted from the revenue, which highlights gross profit. The business’ operating expenses are then subtracted from the gross profit, which leaves the operating profit. Now, all of the non-operating revenues and expenses must be factored into account, after which the business’ profit or loss will be displayed.

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Because P&L statements are often used by a business’ owner to make financial decisions, to inform shareholders of the business’ performance, apply for a business loan, or as proof of income in the sale of a business, it’s important that you understand how to create one correctly. Our Xero Daily Reconciliations Training Course covers P&L statements, and much more. Visit our website to learn more or to enrol.

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online bookkeeping courses to earn cpd points

 

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

 

 

 

 

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 Adwords 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.

Be Local, Not Global

Real estate agents specialise in knowing their local area. It’s how they get listings and it’s how they find buyers for those listings. In a former post, when we talked about setting your prices, we suggested getting to know your market and who your customer are. As a contract bookkeeper, you can, in theory, work for any business, based anywhere in the world, but you should still specialise in your local area, the reasons for which are twofold:

  1. Fewer to compete with: This isn’t about being the biggest fish in the smallest pond. It’s about getting clients, and that’s what you want. If you’re based in Sydney, specialise in Sydney. Don’t try and compete with everyone in Australia, if you can just complete with Sydneysiders.
  2. Convenience: The truth is, lots of businesses still like to meet their contractors in person. If you’re happy to fly all over the country to earn your regular bookkeeping rate, then by all means. If you’d rather not, then look for clients that are nearby — in the same state, at least.

When you’re setting up your Facebook advertising campaign, instead of trying to target everyone interested in bookkeeping services in Australia, stick to your state or local area, depending on the size of the market for your services in your local area. Sure, this reduces the pool of potential people seeing your advertisement, but it also reduces the pool of potential competitors.

When Local is Appealing to Global Clients Too

And just a note on getting international clients: Try to land international clients who are looking for an Australian, because you have skills they need — you’re in the same country as their Australian clients, you understand Australian tax, and so forth. Remember also that Australian wages are higher than anywhere else in the world, so international businesses need to be willing to pay that because you provide a service or possess skills they can’t get elsewhere.

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Our EzyStartUp Course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning, plus much more. If you’re starting a bookkeeping business or you already have started on, enrol in our EzyStartUp course to ensure you’re not selling yourself short.

Facebook and social media online training courseAlternatively, learn all about marketing your business online with our Marketing, Advertising and Sales courses.

Our Facebook Marketing Course which not only teaches you how to set up a Facebook Page, but how to use Facebook for business, how to advertise on Facebook; it also features our own real life case study.

 

What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Using Video and Images

Focusing on Education Rather than Sales

how bookkeepers can use videoTHE INTERNET HAS CHANGED the way businesses market their services to prospects, from a simple sales message to an educational one.

Real estate agents caught onto this shift in buyer trends early and started creating online content to cater to these buyers.

Visit the website of any real estate agent and you’ll find lots of images and videos educating potential buyers about their services, previous sales and the local area they represent.

Just like bookkeepers can learn from real estate agents how to set their prices and perfect their sales pitch, a bookkeeper should also take note of how real estate agents are using video and images online to develop and hones their digital marketing messages.

How Video and Images Help Attract New Business

  1. Identify yourself: As a contract bookkeeper, your identity is your brand. Create a website or LinkedIn profile (or both), and include a picture of yourself. If you’re operating a business, don’t hide behind your business name. Include pictures of your team, even if that’s just you at this stage.
  2. Educate with video: Show prospects that you know your stuff, by creating short videos explaining common issues businesses may have using MYOB, QuickBooks, Xero, etc. You may also create video tutorials that explain how you like clients to set up MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks etc.
  3. Capture the local scene: Establish yourself as a local business, by taking photos when you visit a local business (whether it’s a cafe, hardware store, or clothing shop) and put them on social media. Be sure to connect with those businesses on social too, so they can share with their customers. Do the same with your clients. It’s a good way to establish firm connections with the businesses you work with, and to update them on your other business projects.

 

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smiling woman learning how to run her own business
 

Using video and images to build your online presence should be part of your broader marketing strategy.

Our EzyStartUp Course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning, plus much more.

Alternatively, learn all about marketing your business online with our Marketing, Advertising and Sales courses.


 

What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Sales Pitches

Never Fear: A “Sales” Pitch Can Really Just Be a Conversation

bookkeeping sales pitch
You actually don’t need to be ‘salesy’ at all; just find out how your services match another person’s needs.

After you’ve set the correct prices for your bookkeeping services, it’s time to perfect your sales pitch. It’s good to think about the way real estate agents sell a property to prospective buyers: Good sales agents don’t pitch to the buyer at all. Instead, they get to know the buyer and their needs. If that happens to suit the property they’re selling, they tell them so. If it doesn’t they tell them that too. Often, they’ll mention another listing they have that might better suit the buyer.

A successful sales pitch isn’t really a pitch at all. Remember that. It’s a conversation with a prospect to determine if their business needs and your services are a good match. If you set your prices correctly, by valuing your services strategically, then you should have only attracted prospects that fit a particular profile of your ideal customer.

The Three Elements of a Sales Pitch

Think of a sales pitch as possessing three key elements:

  1. Identify problems the prospect needs solved: The first step is to identify their business problems, so you can offer a solution. If a prospect identifies “poor cashflow” as a problem, ask them if they’re invoicing regularly, have set up clear payment terms, have implemented a credit management policy. From here, you should determine what services they’re in need of, and explain those to the prospect.
  2. Provide references: There’s no getting around this, unless you’re willing to work for free on a trial basis, something you should absolutely avoid. Real estate agents refer prospects to vendors they’ve represented previously, so you should do the same. If this is your first client offer to do some small task (daily reconciliations, say) as a one-off service, paid of course. Remember, a plumber or electrician doesn’t offer to work for free — they don’t even provide references. You don’t have to work for free, either. 
  3. Explain your process: Be clear about how you work straightaway. Most misunderstandings between businesses and freelancers or contractors occur because neither party agreed to a particular process in the beginning. If the business has contacted you, then you have the upper hand. Outline the procedure for getting work to you, payment terms, etc. If you contacted them first or responded to a job advertisement, you’ll need to work in with their processes, so be sure the opportunity is right for you before agreeing to it.

Don’t be a Commitment-Phobe in Business

closing the sale bookkeeping

Always remember to end the conversation by asking for a commitment. This is still a sales pitch, after all, so you need to make some business proposition that they agree to. You may propose to provide a small paid-task obligation free, to see how they like working with you, before they sign onto to a long term commitment; you may ask if you can contact them again in the future, if they don’t seem quite ready for your services right now (get their business details, add them to your marketing database).

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Understanding the value of your services and how to pitch them to clients is vital to your business’s success. Our EzyStartUp Course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning, plus much more. If you’re starting a bookkeeping business or you already have started on, enrol in our EzyStartUp Course to ensure you’re not selling yourself short.

What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Setting Prices

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Glean Relevant Info from the Property Industry

how much to charge as a bookkeeper
As a bookkeeper you can learn much from the humble, or not so humble, real estate agent!

As a bookkeeper, or someone thinking about becoming a bookkeeper, you may be surprised how much you can learn from real estate agents. For an example, take the way a real estate agent has to price a property for sale.

The key to selling a property quickly and efficiently, is setting the right price. A real estate agent who sets a price that’s too high for the market, isn’t doing her or his job properly. In such cases, the property will sit around for many weeks, or possibly even months, until the price is eventually reduced to one the market will bear, sometimes to well below market value. Real estate being what it is in this country, agents rarely undervalue their properties. When a buyer tells their friends they got a great deal on their new home, it’s usually due to the property being originally overvalued, rather than undervalued.

Most New Contractors Set their Prices Wrong

When business people, such as first-time or newly contracting bookkeepers, first start freelancing or contracting professional services to other businesses, very few know what their services are actually worth. Therefore they frequently overvalue or undervalue themselves. In the case of the former, they’ll discover pretty quickly that they’re overpriced (they don’t get any clients), but in the case of the latter, it may take a while longer to determine that they’ve undervalued themselves and their services.

The lesson bookkeepers can learn from real estate agents — good ones, at least — is to never do either. Here’s how you should value your booking services, to set the right price, just like a real estate agent would.

Value Your Services Like a Real Estate Agent

Know Your Market:

We cover this in our EzyStartUp Course; and it’s important to note that knowing your market isn’t simply confined to the start-up period. Continue to look at the market throughout the life of your business, because times change and you need to move with them. When we first put our training content online, we were one of the first training companies to do it; now you can do a whole university degree online!

Value Your Services Strategically:

Have you ever seen a real estate agent market a property as being identical to another one, even if it’s right next door? As a bookkeeper, you’re already competing in a crowded space, so always establish a point of difference between you and your nearest competitor(s) — a niche industry, a particular way of doing business. Whatever it is, find it, and capitalise on it.

Don’t Try and Be All Things to All People:

Know where to find your customers. Real estate agents know where their buyers come from and precisely what they’re looking for, then they market directly to them. You should do the same. Think about your local market, your services, and the type of customer who’d be looking for a business like yours. Then market to them and them only. Don’t waste marketing money trying to be all things to everyone.

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Valuing your services correctly, and setting the right prices, is vital to the success of your business. Our EzyStartUp course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning. If you’re starting a bookkeeping business or you already have started on, enrol in our EzyStartUp course to ensure you’re not selling yourself short.

Are You a Bookkeeper Who Needs More Clients? Want My Advice?

FINDING PROSPECTS AND converting them into clients involves selling and most of us hate doing it, but wait…

If you are a bookkeeper, selling online MYOB training courses to your clients could be the perfect complement to your business.
If you are a bookkeeper, selling is as important to you as it is to, say, a real estate agent.

For those of us in small business, be it as a bookkeeper, real estate agent, sales rep or the like, most of us are selling every day of our lives.

This means we get pretty good at it. We develop techniques that we can replicate and that become part of our daily lives.

The process of selling is really no longer about selling per se; it becomes about a systemised process of:

  • sourcing new leads (using content marketing, networking and advertising)
  • educating those leads about their services (using websites, social media, white papers, property reports)
  • understanding whether the lead would in fact be a good buyer or potential client (using face-to-face meetings, phone conversations and emails)
  • closing the sale (via offer and acceptance, funds transfer, receipts and after sales support).

With the growing power of modern cloud-based technologies, more people are taking the plunge to start their own businesses, but people who do so must constantly:

  • stand out from their competitors (say, other bookkeepers) to get discovered by people needing help with their books, either remotely or in their home/office
  • do an efficient job in managing their schedule and dealing with clients, and
  • market their services effectively.

Content Marketing takes the “salesy” out of selling

I’ve written a lot about content marketing lately because content marketing is simply imperative for anybody looking to sell their products and services and source new clients.

The beauty of content marketing is that, as a system to source new leads, you can cover all the steps of the selling process without it seeming like a chore and, best of all, without feeling “salesy”, cheesy or inauthentic. It’s focus is about the potential client — it’s about providing them with relevant information that will benefit them — not ramming a sales pitch down their throat.

Good sales people realise that sales and the very process of selling is not about just “closing” a sale. Rather, it’s about understanding what the customer needs, seeing if your product is a good fit and then offering a solution to a customer’s problem.

content marketing is most of the new sales funnel for real estate agentsHow much of sales is Content Marketing?

To this end, content marketing is about 80% of the selling process or 80% of the sales funnel (as corporate sales people like to call it).

This is because content marketing involves information gathering; it involves seeing if your product and YOU are a good fit for your client.

These are the content marketing stages:

  • creating relevant and interest website content
  • ‘call to action’ that results in email or mobile number capture
  • email or SMS marketing
  • social media profiles to engage with your prospects
  • CRM’s to manage the final parts of the selling process.

When you implement these systems you can sit back and watch it work and then focus on your conversion rate or what industry experts call CRO – Conversion Rate Optimisation.

Do you really want to be an online marketing professional? Let us manage it for you

Start a bookkeeping business not a franchiseMost of our students are looking for bookkeeping work, or want to start a bookkeeping service business — that’s why they use our services for MYOB Training Courses, Excel Training Courses, Xero Courses and Small Business Management Training.

Our recently updated bookkeeping directory is matching small business people to bookkeepers for a fair rate (for instance, if you want a level 3 bookkeeper, you pay for a level 3 bookkeeper). The National Bookkeeping directory is aimed at helping people (our students primarily) find bookkeeping work or start a bookkeeping business, but it’s also a great way for small businesses to find bookkeepers located close by, or who have the skills they require but who don’t necessarily need to come into the office and can assist them in the cloud.

To find out how you can be more than just a bookkeeper, and start your own bookkeeping business and promote your valuable bookkeeping services to a wider circle of potential clients via content marketing, read about listing yourself on National Bookkeeping or becoming a licensee.

 

 

Is Credit Management Just About Getting on the Phone?

It’s Good Business to Set Out Your Credit Management Policy at the Outset

credit-management-bookkeeping-business
Spelling out your credit management procedure at the start with a client helps avoid payment-chasing phone calls later.

CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF ANY BUSINESS is the ability to maintain a healthy cash flow. But doing so requires effective credit management processes.

Unfortunately, too many business owners feel uncomfortable talking about credit and debt management upfront with new clients.

They (falsely) believe it begins if, and when, a customer doesn’t pay a bill. But, in fact, credit management starts much, much earlier than that — long before the two businesses even agree to work with each other, to be precise.  

The 3 Stages of Credit Management

Credit management falls, generally, into 3 broad stages, beginning with how new customers are assessed before you do business with them.

If you extend a line of credit to your customers, payable on a 30-day account, then a credit check is an imperative first step. But even if you don’t offer credit, a credit check should be a routine part of the new customer set-up process.

If you provide services to customers that aren’t paid for in advance or upon receipt, and you allow that customer between 14 and 30 days to pay your invoice, you’ve essentially just extended them a line of credit.

Indeed, it’s recommended that any business, whether they’re a sole trader, freelancer or independent contractor, carry out credit checks on any new, ongoing customer for jobs over the value of $1000.

Stage 1: Assessment

The assessment stage of good credit management involves taking the following steps:

    • Create credit application or work authorisation form
    • Establish terms of trade
    • Obtain a credit check

As long as the credit check doesn’t raise any issues of concern in relation to the business’ previous track record with paying suppliers on time, you can then decide to take them on as a client. From here you move to the next stage of credit management.

Stage 2: Management

This is the most involved stage of the credit management process, as it requires diligence to ensure your processes don’t slip. Some aspects of the management stage may require a phone call to your client to find out why they haven’t paid.

However, for the most part, cloud-accounting software has made it a lot easier to stay on top of your debtors. Ensure your process includes the following:

  • Prompt invoicing (as soon as goods / services have been provided)
  • Establish payment reminders, either by email or text
  • Send regular statements (if customer is on a 30-day credit account)
  • As soon as payment is overdue and in breach of terms of trade
  • Send to debt collection.

If you speak to your client twice about an overdue invoice / account, and they still don’t make payment within an agreed time, refer them to your debt collection agency, however harsh that may seem.

Stage 3: Enforcement

Although debt collection agencies can chase a debt that’s as much as 5 years old, the older the debt, the harder it is to collect payment.

As soon as a client is in breach of your terms of trade, and your other attempts to collect payment have failed, refer the debt to your collection agency.

If debt collection is unsuccessful, you should speak to your accountant or financial advisor about writing the debt off in your next tax return.

Good Credit Management Should Mean Few Phone Calls

credit management chasing payment
Avoid time-wasting and unpleasant phone calls by eliminating the chances of late payment through a professional credit management policy.

So the upshot of all this is a big part of a good credit management process is properly vetting all new customers before you do business with them. If this is the case, you should rarely have to pick up the phone to chase them for payment.

In that sense, credit management is not about getting on the phone. Rather, it’s about implementing a range of procedures for managing your debtors, and it begins before you even do any work for them.

We Can Help You Set Up Your Credit Management and Much More

Is your business yet to set up proper credit management systems?

Having the assistance of a reliable, experienced professional to help you do so may cost a lot less than you think. We have thoroughly-vetted, reliable bookkeepers across Australia, capable of setting up your systems so you can continue to do your bookkeeping yourself, or able to keep managing your daily or weekly bookkeeping and accounts.

In your office or in the Cloud

This can be done remotely or in person, with most of our bookkeepers tertiary qualified and able to assist in basic bookkeeping to more complex accounting tasks. These might include accounts receivable and payable and payroll, or financial strategising.

We also have registered BAS agents in our national directory. See our newly upgraded website, National Bookkeeping for more information.

CPD points are available for our MYOB, Xero and Microsoft Excel courses

Earn CPD points to maintain your certification

Continuing professional development and education for registered and certified bookkeepers and BAS agentsIT’S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR again and many students are asking us if they can use our courses towards their annual CPD point requirements — the answer is yes and you can see how many points at the links below.

When stricter requirements were introduced by the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) for anyone responsible for signing off the financials that are lodged at BAS time, the bookkeeping industry started to go through the type of regulation that has been in place for financial advisers and accountants for many years already — to continuously maintain their education regarding their industry.

How CPD points are calculated

I originally thought there was a universal method of calculating CPD points, but very soon after exploring how our online courses can help students with their CPD, I realised that the world of continuing professional education is varied. The best explanation I could find was actually from a 2008 document relating to the changing requirements for licenced real estate agents. You can get a copy of it from our “Selling Your Property Guide” Page.

That real estate industry document takes you through the method of calculating how to earn 1 CPD point, 2 CPD points or 3 CPD points and it’s centred around the type of training institution you use for your education. Government events or university courses earn the highest points while ordinary courses earn the lower points — there’s also a significant different in the price of these events 🙂

1 hour equals 1 CPD point

The most common method of calculating the amount of CPD points you’ll earn for an education activity is based on the time you spend learning. A 1 hour webinar will earn 1 CPD point while a one day course may earn you 8 CPD points, so we provide estimates of the time to complete our online courses based on how long they use to take in a classroom environment and you can learn about them at our CPD page.

The other interesting thing I learnt was that as long as you can justify that the learning you participated in applies to your industry, you’ll be able to put it on your CPD record form and present it to your industry association to confirm and apply to your CPD register.

 

Continuing professional development CPD record form for accountants and bookkeepers from Chartered Accountants Australia

Tax Practitioners Board makes the rules for bookkeepers

The TPB as they are fondly know as sets the rules and manage their compliance through Recognised Professional Associations. If you go to their association website you’ll find that there are a number of associations you can join to make certain you are compliant with the TPB requirements.

These are some other interesting links you should probably know about if you’ve reached this far in the blog and are still interested!

  1. If you are a professional bookkeeper you are required to know about the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 including the Code of Professional Conduct.
  2. A maximum of 25% of your CPD points can be earned from professional reading and here are their other guidelines on what is acceptable for CPD — they refer to it as CPE (for Education)
  3. This is how the TPB expect you to keep your records for CPE attendance.
  4. TPB’s main landing page for Continuing Professional Education.

What about Accountants?

Chartered Accountants also have their CPD requirements and you’ll want to check their CPE pages out:

Chartered Accountants Australia CPD Requirements

Association of Taxation and Management Accountants

CPA Australia CPD requirements

IPA Institute of Public Accountants CPE requirements

ICB in the UK!

 

CPD Continuing Professional Development and Education applied to bookkeepers and real estate agentsReal estate agents must complete CPD training courses to be compliant

I recently wrote about the similarities between bookkeepers and real estate agents and in doing some research our team came up with the CPD requirements for real estate agents and you can see that, along with a Certificate IV level qualification both professions need to maintain their continual education and keep evidence of it!

CPD Requirements for Real Estate Agents in NSW

Most real estate agents in Australia are sales agents and they must comply with the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act. The regulations for property ownership are different in each state and because sales agents receive deposits in their trust accounts and have a fiduciary responsibility to the people they act as an agent for, they must maintain professional standards just like accountants. Because real estate agents can misappropriate their clients deposits it is important that they maintain a good professional standing and be a person of good character.

Ongoing lifelong education is an important part of that process because it ensures that agents are familiar with the rules and regulations as they change over time but training is important for lots of reasons and one of them is to help real estate agents be better at what they do – even with their digital marketing.

 

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EzyLearn Online Course CPD points for bookkeepers and marketing professionalsWe can help with your Accountant, Bookkeeper & Real Estate Agent CPD Points

EzyLearn has helped Accountants & Bookkeepers learn about accounting software and spreadsheets and even marketing for their own businesses. We’ve also helped Real Estate Agents stay ahead of their competitors with Google, Facebook and other Digital and Social Media Marketing Courses.

Check out the total hours to complete our CPD courses and include that in your records.


 

You Can Still Be a Valuable Bookkeeper Without a Cert IV

Cert IV Bookkeeper
You don’t need a Cert IV to be a valuable bookkeeper for small businesses.

In our last post about getting bookkeeping clients for free, we mentioned how the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (the ICB) only adds bookkeepers to its Practice Directory who are Cert IV-qualified. Having a Cert IV qualification in bookkeeping enables you to apply to the Tax Practitioners Board to become certified to provide BAS services to your clients.

Only Needed for Lodgement of BAS

However, most of the work carried out by a BAS agent is work that can be completed by a bookkeeper without a Cert IV; it’s just that only registered BAS agents can lodge a BAS return for their client.

So while it may be useful for some contract bookkeepers to get their Cert IV qualification so they can lodge their client’s BAS returns among other things, it’s not necessary if you only want to manage the data entry for your clients.

Bookkeepers Needed for Data Entry

In fact, bookkeepers carrying out data entry is one of the core functions required by a lot of small businesses and sole traders because they have become too busy to look after it themselves and because it takes them away from their core work.

An experienced bookkeeper that can look after a business’ books is still an incredibly valuable asset to any business, and as more and more Australians go into business for themselves, the demand for bookkeepers is going to increase.

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So if you’ve completed our LIFETIME access MYOB Training Course with the certificate option, contact us today to arrange to have your profile placed on the MYOB Bookkeeper Directory.

2014: There are Currently More Opportunities THAN EVER for Home-Based Bookkeepers

The numbers don't lie - find out why statistically now is a better time than ever to begin your bookkeeping business.
The numbers don’t lie – find out why statistically now is a better time than ever to begin your bookkeeping business.

With 2013 now come to a close, many of you may be thinking about how you will work in 2014. Now is a better time than ever to start a home-based bookkeeping business! It’s why we offer online MYOB training courses, in addition to Reach and Xero, so you can learn how to use the most popular accounting software in the world. But now, let’s give you three tangible reasons why NOW is one of the best times you could start your own bookkeeping business, working from home:

1. Health and Well-Being Reasons

The reasons for starting a home-based bookkeeping business are many and varied, but some of the first are to do with your own physical and mental health. In a post we published earlier this year, we listed five reasons why you should start a home-based business; we’ve also discussed the benefits to your health that working from home can bring, particularly in reducing your stress. Working from home has never been easier, and it’s a trend that’s fast catching on, particularly in the accounting and bookkeeping industry.

2. Cloud Software and Low Capital Investment — Creating More Opportunities

Cloud-based accounting software is also creating more opportunities for home-based bookkeeping businesses. According to market research firm, IBISWorld, in the five years to 2013, revenue in the bookkeeping and payroll industries has reached $2 billion, with an increasing trend among companies to outsource bookkeeping functions due to the higher level of connectedness — thanks in part to cloud-based accounting software.

But there’s even better news for people looking to start their own home-based bookkeeping business: capital investment is extremely low, and for every dollar spent on capital, the industry spends an average of $26.25 on labour. This is largely due to capital investments being small, and usually only include, computers, access to the internet, accounting software and office furniture.

Due to the industry becoming increasingly fragmented — in 2013, there were some 1,892 registered bookkeeping businesses operating in Australia — there’s a huge demand for bookkeeping services, particularly among SMEs, who usually don’t have any payroll or bookkeeping staff employed full-time.

3. LOTS of Work Available — And Accounting Services Growing

According to ABS data, 96 percent of the businesses operating in Australia are small businesses, of which the largest number operate within the construction industry (16.2 percent), followed professional and scientific services (11.7 percent), and rental, hiring and real estate services (10.5 percent). For bookkeepers that are highly skilled in these industries, there’s no shortage of work. That’s why we also offer a Small Business Management Course, to provide bookkeepers, virtual assistants, or simply anybody who wants to work for themselves, with comprehensive training in what you need to know to run or manage a small business.

But for those bookkeepers hoping to strike up a working relationship with a local accountant, there’s good news on that front, too: the accounting services industry has recorded annual growth of 2.9 percent in the four years since 2009, and annual revenue totaling $16 billion, according to IBISWorld.

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If you’re a bookkeeper and you’ve been thinking about starting a bookkeeping business, you know better than anyone that the numbers don’t lie — the time to start that business is now!

What is BankLink and Why are So Many Accountants Using It?

Your accountant can access your records easily via BankLink.
Your accountant can access your records easily via BankLink.

As we have freshly rolled out our new Reach Accounting course, as well as our new Xero Accounting coursein addition to our existing and ever so popular MYOB training course — we have been speaking to a number of different accountants across Australia to find out how they currently manage their clients’ bookkeeping needs.

What we’ve discovered during this R&D process is that an increasing number of accountants have told us that they use a service called BankLink, so we thought we’d take a closer look at BankLink to see how it works and what it means for the bookkeeper.

BankLink for Bookkeepers

BankLink is an accounting service that delivers bank transaction data from banks and financial institutions and directly to an accountant, which the accountant then uses to code their clients’ transactions.

For any uncoded data, there are number of online tools that allow an accountant to request additional information from their clients; the coded data is then used for GST, end-of-year tax reports, management reports and various other reports required for tax compliance.

In short, BankLink eliminates all of the data entry usually performed by a bookkeeper, and in June of 2013, BankLink was acquired by MYOB to further facilitate accountants as they manage their clients’ books.

For sole traders and very small businesses that have neither a bookkeeper, nor the time to manage the data entry side of their accounts, their accountant can now manage this for them easily and efficiently, without the added cost of employing an external bookkeeper.

One accountant, extolling the virtues of the BankLink software on the MYOB website calls Banklink his “extra employee; one that never makes mistakes, gets lots done and doesn’t cost much.”

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BankLink is being billed as the future of accounting; the inexpensive future of accounting, where people are being replaced by machines and pieces of software.

So what might that mean for the humble bookkeeper? We look at this in our next post.

Get Your Business Noticed for FREE: The Difference Between PR and Marketing

PR is about getting word of your business out there for free, often by providing people with obligation-free information.
PR is about getting word of your business out there for free, often by providing people with obligation-free information.

At EzyLearn, we’re committed to helping students of our MYOB courses gain employment as an 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 also offer students a small business management course, which can be extremely relevant for bookkeepers who want to branch out and operate an existing small business or start one from scratch. One of the topics we cover in our small business management course is marketing for small business and we thought it was worth devoting a blog post to pointing out the difference between the two.

The Difference between Public Relations and Marketing

For some reason, marketing and PR are two activities that are often confused with one another. Perhaps that’s because many companies combine their marketing and PR departments, or maybe it’s because people don’t really understand what PR is.

At its most basic PR is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and it’s public. Marketing, on the other hand, is the business of promoting and selling products or services, which includes market research and advertising.

It’s important to keep these two definitions in mind when undertaking either activity, because if there’s one thing PR is not, it’s selling, which is the ultimate goal of marketing.

That doesn’t mean that PR won’t result in eventual sales, but it shouldn’t be the primary objective of a PR campaign, (although it’s not uncommon for many established PRs to forget this subtle nuance between the two).

If it’s done right, PR is a great way to generate buzz about a new business or product, particularly for small businesses that may not have a huge marketing budget.

Simple Ways You Can Create a Buzz for Your Small Business

For a home-based bookkeeper or virtual assistant just starting out, PR activities to generate interest in your business could include holding an event with other home-based bookkeepers or virtual assistants and inviting local business owners along so you can educate them in the benefits of employing a remote worker.

The goal for an event like this would be to build relationships with your “publics” — people that may come to employ or use your services—but not necessarily to win new business on that particular day.

Alternatively, you could contribute to a few online business publications on what it’s like being a remote worker, or seek opportunities to be quoted in those publications.

Ultimately, that’s the goal of any PR campaign: to gain exposure for yourself or your business by educating and informing first. The selling part comes second, which is where PR differs substantially from marketing, of which the ultimate goal is to promote and sell.

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If you’re a remote worker, why not give your business a PR boost in addition to your regular marketing activities — contact us and tell us your success story. In fact, this very blog is always looking to hear how our students are doing since completing one of our courses, so if you’re now working remotely as a bookkeeper or a virtual assistant, get in touch! It’s great exposure for your business.

 

Friend or Foe? The Bookkeeper-Accountant Relationship

Bookkeepers and accountants can be allies.
Bookkeepers and accountants can be allies.

IF YOU’VE RECENTLY COMPLETED our MYOB course, or perhaps started your own bookkeeping business, or thinking about starting one, the word ‘accountant’ can sometimes make you feel a little nervous. Particularly if it’s hurled at you in a sentence like: “I’m going to check that with my accountant!”

It is unfortunate, but many people aren’t aware of the important function a bookkeeper can play in a business. Bookkeepers are often relegated to being “the accountant’s poor cousin” (not dissimilar to the way nurses are seen in comparison to doctors); while for some people the only bookkeeper they’ve heard of hangs out at the dog track!

Don’t Fear Your Accountant!

But the word ‘accountant’ really doesn’t need to put the fear of God in you. The fact is a bookkeeper provides valuable services that many accountants simply can’t; and nearly all accountants are more than grateful for the work bookkeepers do.

To work as a professional bookkeeper, you must show you are amply qualified in areas of Australian tax, payroll and sometimes, basic accounting. As it happens, there are many qualified accountants that work as bookkeepers — as is the case with bookkeeping firm, Build on Bookkeeping.

Since most business owners will find themselves an accountant first and a bookkeeper second, if you have a good working relationship with all of the accountants you deal with, they will more than likely refer clients on to you.

So if you can work well with your client’s accountants — by getting your EOFY analysis done in time and the relevant reports to them quickly — you may find yourself a personal advocate for your business.

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So don’t live in fear of the accountant — embrace them. Read our tips on keeping the accountant happy come EOFY and you’re well on your way to a prosperous working relationship with the accountants of all of your clients.