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What Happens if You Have Backlog of PAYG and Super Payments?

Don’t get lumped with penalties when you don’t need to!

failure to lodge penalties how to manage payroll in Excel online training course
It’s not only frustrating and disheartening, but a waste of business funds to be penalised for lodging your financials too late.

A LOT OF SMALL BUSINESSES have trouble managing their payroll, especially when they only have a few employees and paying to access a payroll system in their accounting package is an unnecessary expense. You’ll learn how to use Excel to manage your PAYG and super contributions in our Intermediate Microsoft Excel Training Courses. However, sometimes you may have a backlog of PAYG and super payments. Let’s take a look at how to manage these.

Rescue bookkeeping

A backlog of PAYG and super payments that date back more than three months is known as rescue bookkeeping, although it can often include other bookkeeping issues, like bank accounts that don’t reconcile with statements.

PAYG payments

For businesses that only withhold up to $25,000 each year, you’re supposed to make PAYG payments and file a withholding report each quarter. You have 28 days from the end of the quarter to do so, after which time, you may incur a Failure To Lodge (FTL) penalty.

Superannuation payments

As with PAYG payments and reporting, you can also incur a FTL penalty for not lodging or paying your employees’ superannuation contributions in time. All businesses, regardless of size, have to make superannuation payments each quarter — the ATO sets out the due dates for each period on their website.

Lodging late PAYG and super payments

The ATO only applies penalties for failure to lodge reports or make payments for each period of 28 days (or part thereof) that a document or payment is overdue. Each period incurs one penalty unit for each document, up to a maximum of five penalty units.

From 2015 onwards, the value of a penalty unit is $180 (previously it was $170) for small businesses, which are defined as entities with an assessable income or GST turnover of no more than $1 million a year.

The maximum penalty a small business will pay is $900 for each document or payment that is overdue. Note too that FTL penalties will also incur a general interest charge (GIC), applied on top of the penalty.

Managing late PAYG and super payments

Use the Ad Hoc Payroll Guide, a new case study that is included in our Intermediate Microsoft Excel Training Courses to determine the rate of PAYG tax to withhold and the required super contribution amounts in Excel. Once you’ve worked out the required amounts (visit the ATO website for tax tables prior to 2017), lodge the necessary PAYG payments and reports to the ATO; pay super contributions using the SuperStream super clearing house.

The ATO will write to you if you are required to pay a penalty — sometimes they are waived for first-time offences, or if the amounts are small.

Our courses now include real-life case studies

learn excel online training course

Our Intermediate Microsoft Excel training courses will also teach you how to create a payroll spreadsheet from scratch to suit your own business, so you can easily work out your PAYG and super obligations. Visit our website for more information on all of our Excel training courses.


learn PowerPoint online training course

Create brilliant presentations and graphics for all kinds of business purposes.

Gone are the days of excruciatingly dull PowerPoint slide presentations. Nowadays PowerPoint is the hidden gem used to generate animations, videos, movies, advertising and graphics. It’s a great ally to the marketer or social media person in your organisation.

This creative program can also be used to conjure up the most beautiful and modern pictorial slides to enhance any presentation or induction. Find out more about our 2016 version PowerPoint courses.


online bookkeeping courses to earn cpd pointsEzyLearn 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.


 

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How to Make a Capital Purchase That Won’t Affect Your Cash Flow

A Chattel Mortgage Can Help Keep Your Business Cashflow Under Control

chattel mortgage learn xero online training course
A chattel mortgage can tide your business over without having to dip into savings.

In our Xero Daily Reconciliations Course, you’ll learn how to set up a chart of accounts, among other things such as running balance sheets and Profit and Loss (P&L) statements. For the most part, daily transaction reconciliation is pretty straightforward, until you get to a capital purchase, which, if it’s over $20,000 or was purchased prior to May 2015, needs to be dealt with differently.

In most cases, when a business purchases major assets, such as a motor vehicles, it’s known as a capital purchase, which is made via a loan. There are two types of loans the business can take out: a hire purchase loan or a chattel mortgage.

Buying assets on hire purchase

This is an agreement between you and the lender to acquire a motor vehicle. During the hire period, the lender legally owns the car and you pay regular instalments to the finance company. For tax purposes you can claim depreciation, running costs and interest paid against your business income. When you pay off the loan in full, legal ownership is then transferred to you.

Buying assets on chattel mortgage

Chattel mortgage is essentially a mortgage over goods to be financed. Chattel mortgage is classed as a cash sale in that the goods automatically become your property on purchase and the finance company takes a mortgage over the chattels.

Just as a hire purchase you can claim depreciation, running costs and interest paid, against your business income. The chattel mortgage allows businesses to claim the full input tax credit from GST incurred expenses immediately (next BAS statement).

Chattel mortgages are more popular

Chattel mortgages became popular when BAS and GST was introduced, because businesses could claim the GST at the time of purchase, whether they ran a cash system or an accrual accounting system. Plus, under a chattel mortgage, the allowable depreciation and interest payment are also tax deductible.

How capital purchases affect cash flow

If a business doesn’t take out a loan to make a capital purchase, it will have to dip into its savings, which can adversely affect cash flow, especially on big ticket items. Taking out a chattel mortgage, however, helps to keep cash flow under control because the business can borrow the funds (and claim the interest back as a tax deduction) without any major impact on cash flow. You will also then be able to factor the repayments into your monthly forecast projection.

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You’ll learn how to record an capital purchase, whether it’s been bought on hire purchase or a chattel mortgage, in our Xero Daily Reconciliations Course. You can find out more or enrol today.

Xero online training course

At EzyLearn we offer many 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 (ExcelPowerPointWord) or social media and WordPress web design


 

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Excel Can Prove that Granny Flats Don’t Always Add Value

Using Excel to Financially Forecast the Viability of Your Investment

financial forecasts excel online training course
Excel is the tool you need for developing a feasibility study so you can assess the viability of any kind of investment.

When you are planning to invest in a project, you naturally have to weigh up the risks. One of the chief ways of doing this is to complete a financial forecast to determine the viability of your investment. One type of investment that has been exceedingly common and popular with the current property boom has been the investment in a granny flat.

Many homeowners and investors who own a property with adequate room and the right conditions, have chosen to build a granny flat on their existing property as a means of earning extra income.

In our Microsoft Excel Intermediate Training Course, we feature a brand new case study, using a granny flat as a way of demonstrating how you determine the viability of an investment.

Granny flats earn income, not add value

Of course, you need to consider whether you’re legally allowed to rent out a granny flat, which in some Australian states — Victoria, South Australia and Queensland — you aren’t. If you’re found renting a granny flat in any of those states, your local council can ask you to remove the granny flat from your property.

You may determine that a granny flat will earn around $12,000 a year in rental income, but it could take up to 10 years to break even on construction costs. Although some of those costs can be deducted as expenses and the dwelling depreciated over time, depending on where the property is located, property values may not increase by that much. This is amplified if you’ve just purchased the property, compared to a person who’s owned their property for 5 or 10 years.

Granny flats can reduce your rental return

Depending on how the granny flat has been constructed, its proximity to the main dwelling, and whether there are any shared or common areas, there’s also the potential to reduce the rental income on the principal dwelling. If the property has been previously tenanted, the shift from single to dual occupancy will reduce the rent of the principal dwelling. This could be offset by the existence of the granny flat, however, it moves the goalposts for your break even date. You may also experience more tenant churn, which will see more of your rental income going to real estate agents in letting fees, and greater wear and tear on the dwellings. You may also experience longer than average vacancy rates.


How to develop a financial forecast that can be used to determine the viability of a granny flat as an investment is covered in our Microsoft Excel Training Course, with its new Investing in a Granny Flat Case Study. Visit our website for more information on our full suite of online training courses. And don’t forget — EzyLearn online training courses can be counted towards your Continuing Professional Development Points

learn excel online training courseAt EzyLearn we are constantly refreshing the content of our online training courses. Where possible, we draw on real-life case studies as examples, to help you learn, and apply your skills, in a relevant way that makes sense. Visit our Micro Courses page to learn more.


 

 

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Linking a Financial Forecast with Xero and Excel

Excel Will Help You Work Out the HOW of Depreciation

learn excel online training courseWe recently updated our advanced Microsoft Excel Training Course content. It now contains a case study, by way of an extra exercise workbook, using a granny flat building project to create a financial forecast.

We chose a granny flat building project for our case study because it’s an investment decision quite a lot of people with or without a business have made. It’s also a capital asset that can be depreciated over time. Therefore it has the potential to affect your taxes in lots of different ways.

Our Excel Training Course, with its granny flat financial-forecast case study, will teach you how to use Excel to create a financial forecast, which you can then replicate for your own investment — whatever that may be.

Your bookkeeper uses Excel to calculate depreciation

When you build a new structure, such as a granny flat, which you intend to rent out or use for businesses purposes — i.e., it’s an investment and not for your own personal use — the building can be depreciated along with some of the fittings and finishes (floorings, curtains, paint, etc). That’s despite the value of the land upon which the granny flat is constructed increasing in value over time.

Once you’ve set up your financial forecasting file in Excel using the correct formulas that will update as the investment progresses, you’ll be able to track all of the future costs, income and depreciation in that spreadsheet.

Input depreciation into Xero

Excel will calculate the depreciation amounts for you, which you should then enter into Xero. We cover how to deal with depreciation in our Xero Bank Reconciliation Course, because lots of businesses own, or will own, a capital asset at some point.

However, this doesn’t tell you how to determine the depreciation amounts, which most business owners have to get their bookkeeper to work out for them. Most bookkeepers work this out in Excel based on the depreciation rates provided by the ATO. However, if you have already created a financial forecast in Excel, you won’t need to get your bookkeeper to do this for you.

Individuals can claim depreciation too

Even if you’re not a business owner, but you’ve still built a granny flat that you intend to rent out, you can claim depreciation in your tax returns. Instead of entering the depreciation into Xero, you’d include it on your annual tax return, so it’s really important that you work this out in Excel first and regularly update it.

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Once you know how to use Excel for financial forecasting, you can use the same formulas and modelling for any financial forecast — be it for a granny flat project, business investment, anything that requires you to make a financial decision. Visit our website for more information on our advanced Microsoft Excel Training Course, with its new granny flats case study.

Do you want to brush up your Xero skills? Or perhaps you use MYOB but want to get a handle on Xero? Check out our suite of Xero training courses — all available for one low price. 


Online bookkeeping accounting training courses for CPD points

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


 

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Which Transactions Affect Balance Sheets?

Avoid Any Nasty Surprises: Balance Sheets Matter!

EzyLearn Xero Balance SheetA business’s balance sheet is a snapshot of its financial position at a particular period of time, which is not to be confused with a profit and loss (P&L) statement. Unlike a P&L, which just shows whether the business is making a profit or loss during a given period, a balance sheet, will eventually, show nearly every activity that has occurred within a business.

However, there are some transactions that will show up immediately. You’ll learn how to run a balance sheet in our Xero Daily Reconciliations Training Course, but we wanted to show you the transactions to look out for and why.

profit and loss statement xero online training course
A balance sheet reveals the nitty gritty of your business’ transactions.

The purchase or sale of assets

When an asset, such as a car, is bought, it will reduce the cash account and increase the fixed-assets account. Both of these accounts are listed in the asset portion of the balance sheet, however, cash is part of the current assets section and fixed assets are part of the long-term assets section.

When an asset is sold, the way the cash is accounted for is a bit more difficult. Here, both the asset’s book value and any accumulated depreciation are removed from the books at the same time that the cash account is increased by the sales price. If the sales price does not equal the book value, the difference is accounted for as a gain or loss on the sale of equipment. This gain or loss is recorded on the P&L statement.

Purchases on credit

When a business purchases supplies or inventory on credit, the business will debit the asset account (supplies or inventory) and credit the accounts-payable account. Almost always, accounts payable are considered to be current liabilities and are shown at the top of the liabilities section of the balance sheet.

Debt and lease arrangements

When a business issues debt or enters into a leasing arrangement, a liability must be recorded in the long-term section of the company’s balance sheet. For example, if a company issues bonds for cash, the company would debit cash and credit bonds payable in the simplest bond-issuance scenarios.

Capital-lease transactions affect the balance sheet in a similar manner. When entering a capital-lease arrangement, the business will debit a fixed-asset account to show that the company has taken economic possession of the leased asset. At the same time, the business will credit a capital-lease obligation account to show the offsetting economic liability.

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For a balance sheet to be correct, you must code each transaction correctly in your accounting software. Our Xero Daily Reconciliations Training Course covers balance sheets, and much, much more. Why not enrol today?

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Online bookkeeping accounting training courses for CPD points

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


 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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Calculating PAYG Obligations Without a Payroll System

Third Quarter is Looming; Are You Up to Date with Payroll?

ad hoc payroll payments ExcelMost businesses using an accounting program like MYOB or Xero will use the included payroll package to manage their employees’ payroll. For businesses with only a few employees, however, the additional payroll function is an unnecessary expense.

In our recently updated Advanced Microsoft Excel training courses, we have included a micro course on ‘Ad Hoc Payroll’, featuring a detailed spreadsheet for calculating PAYG and superannuation obligations. In this instance, our micro course is a detailed spreadsheet based on a case study, so it’s relevant and applicable to real life.

PAYG and the businesses it applies to

Every Australian business with employees who are each paid more than the tax-free threshold has a legal obligation to withhold tax on their employees’ behalf. This is known as the PAYG System (or Pay As You Go), where amounts of tax are withheld from each employee’s wage payments.

Businesses that withhold up to $25,000 each year only need to make payments to the ATO each quarter; businesses withholding amounts greater than $25,001 may have to make payments to the ATO each month or as regularly as each week.

At the time of writing, the tax-free threshold is currently $18,200, which is equivalent to:

  • $350 a week
  • $700 a fortnight
  • $1,517 a month

Superannuation contributions

Again, any business that pays its employees more than $450 each month must also make regular superannuation contributions on their employees’ behalf. We’ve written in the past about the government’s clearing house called SuperStream, which allows you to easily make super contributions — for free.

But first, you need to work out how much super you need to contribute for your employees. The superannuation guarantee is currently 9.5 percent of your employees’ gross wages, which is payable on top of their wages — not deducted out of.

Using tax tables to calculate wages

Each year, the ATO produces a range of tax tables to help you work out how much to withhold from payments you make to your employees. In our Ad Hoc Payroll Micro Course, we’ve already added the most current tax tables to the accompanying payroll spreadsheet, as well as the superannuation guarantee tables.

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We feature a number of real-life case studies, which we have turned into micro courses. You can use the Ad Hoc Payroll Micro Course to determine the rate of PAYG tax to withhold and the required super contribution amounts in Excel, rather than paying to access the payroll functions of MYOB or Xero. Our Intermediate Microsoft Excel training courses will also teach you how to create a payroll spreadsheet from scratch to suit your own business. Visit our website for more information on all of our Excel training courses.

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online bookkeeping courses to earn cpd points

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Use DropBox to Store Your Tax Records Digitally

In a previous post we suggested it’s a good idea to create a digital filing system for your business receipts and tax records. Storing tax records digitally is not just a space saver — it’s also an efficient way to share information with your accountant and bookkeeper, especially if you’re working with a remote bookkeeper, as it’ll speed up the process.

Our Xero Bank Reconciliations and Journal Entries Course will also show you how to record these transactions in Xero.  Continue reading Use DropBox to Store Your Tax Records Digitally

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How and What Kind of Receipts Do You Need to Keep?

Xero course online receipt keeping

Online Receipt Keeping is the Way to Go

A HUGE PART of reconciling your bank account involves coding business expenses or purchases. You then need to keep a record of those expenses in the event you’re ever audited.

Our Xero Bank Reconciliations and Journal Entries Course covers how to code an expense or purchase in Xero, and it’s important to also store your receipts and get them to your bookkeeper if they’re working remotely.

Many people have used Dropbox to capture images of receipts but there are even better ways. Continue reading How and What Kind of Receipts Do You Need to Keep?

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Performing Weekly Reconciliations in Xero

Why it Pays to do Regular Bank Reconciliations

bank reconciliations weekly
Doing regular weekly bank reconciliations will help avoid confusion or errors later on.

In our Xero Bank Reconciliations and Journal Entries Course, you’ll learn how to carry out each step in the reconciliation process, in particular how to set up bank feeds. Bank feeds are an important function that allows transactions on your linked bank account or credit card to automatically show up in Xero, so you (or your bookkeeper) don’t have to spend time entering the details from scratch.

Even though bank feeds can dramatically reduce the amount of time spent coding transactions in your accounting software, if your business has a lot of transactions each month, it’s a good idea to perform weekly — or even twice weekly — reconciliations. You’ll not only further reduce the potential for errors, but it’ll also help to give you a clearer picture of your finances.

Improved cashflow management

Even though internet banking allows you to look at how much money you have in the bank, this is an imprecise way of managing your cashflow. By reconciling your accounts on a weekly basis, you’ll be able to see what money’s gone out of your account, and what’s due to be coming in. If you have staff, this will eliminate a lot of the stress of wondering whether you’ll have enough money in the bank to make payroll, because you’ll know in advance if there’ll be any cash shortfalls.

Improved reporting

With weekly bank reconciliations, you’ll also find that your financial reports are greatly improved. This will enable you to make more correct sales forecasts, and to plan for machinery or equipment upgrades with a greater sense of accuracy. It’ll also help you to identify late paying clients and peak business cycles, so you can better manage your business operations — limit credit to late payers, hire more staff, etc. This type of financial information is the lifeblood of every successful business, so it has to be accurate.

If you’re hiring a bookkeeper to manage this for you, it’s worthwhile discussing whether they will perform this work once a week, or a couple of times each week. If your bookkeeper is contracted to perform a certain number of hours each week, they may decide to perform a few tasks a few times a week, so they’re more available to their other clients during the week. This is a bonus to the business owner, because it improves the accuracy of your reporting even further.

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Weekly bank reconciliations is an important task for all businesses, not just large ones. Our Xero Bank Reconciliations and Journal Entries Course covers how to reconcile a bank account, plus much much more. Alternatively, to take it back a step, you can learn about invoicing, credits and reporting in our Xero Day-to-Day Transactions Course

Or if you want to see why incorporating bank feeds might be useful for your business, read here.

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How Bank Feeds Save Time and Money

Making Light Work out of Bank Reconciliations

Xero bank feeds
Incorporating Xero bank feeds will save you time, money and stress.

Cloud accounting software’s greatest innovation was not putting the software in the cloud; it was introducing bank feeds. You’ll learn how to set up bank feeds in the latest version of Xero in our Xero Bank Reconciliations and Journal Entries course. For now however, we’re going to explain why you should — whether you’re a business owner doing your own bookkeeping or whether you’re a bookkeeper employed to do it for your clients — be using bank feeds.

Bank feeds in brief

A bank feed is an automatically created list of the transactions (spent and received) in your bank account that is imported into your Xero accounting software. For this to occur, you have to give Xero permission to access your account. Some people feel funny about this, but bank feeds have been around for so long now that, just like online shopping, there’s really nothing to worry about. I won’t go into how the technology works, but I will say that no one looks at your account data; you’re just allowing the free flow of information between your bank and Xero.

Direct bank feeds save time (and indirectly, money)

There was a time when you or your bookkeeper had to wait until your bank statement arrived before any transactions could be reconciled in your accounting software, usually at the end of the month. For businesses with a lot of transactions, either in the form of receivables or payables or both, reconciling a month’s worth is a finicky job that’s prone to errors.

With bank feeds, transactions will show up in your accounting software as soon as the payment leaves your account or credit card. If you (or your bookkeeper) get in the habit of reconciling your account on a daily, twice weekly or weekly basis, it makes it easier to accurately code each transaction because you’re only dealing with a few at a time. This results in fewer errors and fewer hours spent fixing them, and that saves money (read: time = money).

The Xero online courses we offer

Xero online training course bank feedsBank feeds are an important aspect of reconciling your (or your client’s) accounts. Our Xero Bank Reconciliations and Journal Entries Course covers setting up bank feeds, plus much much more. Alternatively, to take it back a step, you can learn about invoicing, credits and reporting in our Xero Day-to-Day Transactions Course.

Using an old version of Xero?

You might like to read this prior post we wrote explaining how you can add bank links on an older version of Xero or enrol for our Xero courses here.

 

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Working Out Job Costs and How to Charge Your Clients

Why You’re Underselling Yourself with Fixed Price Quotes

bookkeepers fixed price quotes
There are many reasons why you may lose out when fixed price quoting.

We’ve written a number of blogs on how bookkeepers can work out their fees and what good local bookkeepers generally charge. However, now we examine the nitty gritty of determining your on the job costs so you can clearly see what your hourly rate should be.

When it comes to working out fees, most business owners go: “Well, the average market rate for my profession is X per hour and this job should take around Y hours” and off they go and give their client a quote that, in today’s small business parlance, is frequently referred to as being a fixed-price quote or the project fee.

This would be fine except that you’re essentially working on an hourly rate, without the benefit of being able to charge the client if you run over your allocated timeframe.

Quite simply, this is an inefficient way to set prices for your business. It’s an even more inefficient way to quote clients, because you’re either going to rush through their work in order to make it cost effective for you, or you’re going to increase your prices the next time around. Instead, you should factor job costings — that is, how much it will cost you to complete the job — into your prices. Here’s how:

Working out the direct costs of each job

This seems obvious, but countless new and established business owners overlook the direct costs of their services when setting their prices. Ask yourself how much, in a take home hourly rate, you can reasonably live on — is it $20 an hour? $25? $30? $35, perhaps?

Once you’ve settled on a rate, you then need to add in all the other costs associated with being employed in Australia. Tax is a big one. If you’ve been working for a while, you should have a fairly good idea of how much you will pay in tax based on how much you paid last year. If you’ve just started out, try and base it on an average number of hours you’d like to work per week for the next 12 months. Got that figure? Now go onto the ATO website and work out the rate of tax you’ll pay for each dollar you’ll earn. Add that to your hourly rate.

Do the same for sick leave, annual leave and superannuation, because if you’re going to work for yourself, you should have the same benefits as you would as an employee. Now add those on top of your hourly rate.

Working out the indirect costs of each job

We’re still not done with that hourly rate yet. It’s now time to work out the other costs, like wages office expenses. Think about the services you provide and what they entail. Is there travel involved — to your client’s office, for example — because you should add that in. Allocate both the time to get there and the approximate cost in mileage (note: some invoicing software, like QuickBooks’s self-employed app works out the cost of your business travel based on the ATO’s tax rates to give you an approximate dollar figure for each business trip you make). Also factor in other costs, such as parking, even though it’s a tax deduction, and add those costs to your hourly rate.

Now work out your fixed-price quote or project fees

Your hourly rate will now be significantly higher than the amount you need to live on, and it may even be higher than your competitors, but that’s okay. You’re not working on an hourly rate, remember. You’re creating a fixed-price or project fee, so you can choose to itemise your project fees however you like in the estimate you provide to clients. For example, if your hourly rate is now $50 but your competitors charge $35, take $15 for each hour you’ve allocated to the project and assign it as some other ancillary task. This is precisely how manufacturing businesses set the prices for the products they sell, and it’s no different for businesses, like law firms and advertising agencies, in the service industry.

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Learn how to set the correct prices for your business, plus everything else you need to know about starting and operating a small business in our EzyStartUp Business Course. Visit our website for more information and to view all of our special offers to save money on your next EzyLearn training course.  

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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 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.

 

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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.


 

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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.

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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.