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The Internet has spawned several cloud accounting software program all over the world including:

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When a Bookkeeper Isn’t Just a Bookkeeper

start your own bookkeeping business registered BAS agent business

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

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

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

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

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

Register as a National Bookkeeping licensee before 30 June

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

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

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

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

New technologies mean new opportunities

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

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

We continue to need bookkeepers

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

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

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

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

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

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

With National Bookkeeping you’re not just a bookkeeper

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

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


 

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Is Xero Really All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

How does Xero stack up in the cloud accounting game?

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Xero CEO, Rod Drury

WHEN XERO FIRST ENTERED the accounting space, it gave MYOB a real run for its money — something Xero continues to do to this very day.

When Xero first entered the market, it was with a bang. You see, even though  Xero and MYOB share many of the same features, Xero was cheaper and easier to use than MYOB, but perhaps even more so, it was also cloud-based. Being cloud-based meant you didn’t have to buy and install pricey software that would be out-of-date within 12 months. A huge advantage.

Since then, however, a number of cloud-based accounting applications have entered the market — QuickBooks Online (now distributed by their US-based parent company Intuit), Reckon One, Saasu, Zoho, and so on.

As business owners have more choice than ever before, it’s got a lot of people wondering about whether the two market leaders (Xero and MYOB) are really all they’re cracked up to be, Xero in particular.

Missing a dropdown menu

Even though Xero was hailed as a breath of fresh air when it first entered the market, it is still a little more complicated to use when compared with other cloud accounting apps, like QuickBooks and Reckon One. For instance, the purchase orders feature is still hidden behind bills, when it could easily be access via a dropdown menu. But it’s not a major quibble.

Xero’s contact profile misses a beat

Although Xero allows you to assign customer numbers for your suppliers or customers in the contact profile, it doesn’t have the functionality to record customer numbers assigned by supplier or customer.

If you’re trying to get in touch with Telstra, for example, with whom you’ll have been assigned a customer or account number, you’ll have to dig around for the paper bill to find that customer or account number.

It’s easy to file bills, though

This feature is available in QuickBooks, and it’s also available in MYOB, but as is often the case with MYOB, it requires more steps to do what you can in Xero in just a few clicks. Rather than keep paper bills on hand, Xero allows you to attach them to you transactions, so you never have to go hunting around for a bill again (very useful given the contact profile issue mentioned above).

In MYOB, you must upload your bills to your in-tray, and then link them to your transactions. This is annoying, because it requires you to leave the transaction window and open the in-tray one.

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Remember that when you select a cloud accounting package for your business, do not choose solely based on price. Make a list of the needs of your business and the functions you’ll require, and then select the accounting package that suits your needs the most. Ask your bookkeeper and other business friends for their recommendations as well.


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Is a Certified Advisor or Certified Consultant Better Than a BAS Agent?

Finding the best bookkeeper for your business

find a good bookkeeper xero myob quickbooks learn online training course videos
A bookkeeper who’s certified in a particular accounting software may not mean that much for your business. Better to have someone who is simply a good bookkeeper. Period.

IT’S NOT ALWAYS EASY to find a bookkeeper who suits your business’s needs. This can be further complicated by the fact that a lot of business owners don’t know too much about bookkeeping.

Now that virtual bookkeepers have become more common, lots of business owners have started selecting bookkeepers based on their affiliation with an accounting application. Such bookkeepers are often called a Certified Advisor (Xero), Pro Advisor (QuickBooks) or Certified Consultant (MYOB). But are they really the best bookkeeper for your business?

What are Certified Advisors, Consultants and Pro Advisors?

In a nutshell, a certified advisor, consultant or pro advisor is just an individual who has been endorsed by a software company because they’ve demonstrated a high level of knowledge and skill with a particular accounting product.

Hiring a bookkeeper who’s been endorsed by MYOB, say, means you shouldn’t have to worry about whether your bookkeeper has set up your accounting package correctly, or whether they’re using the correct codes. What it doesn’t guarantee, however, is that each consultant or advisor is a highly experienced BAS or tax agent, as the certification relates to their software knowledge only.

Find a highly qualified BAS or tax agent instead

Sure, a bookkeeper who’s experienced in your accounting package is important. It’ll help keep your bookkeeping bill down because they’re able to perform certain functions quickly, while your accountant shouldn’t need to fix any errors, either. But that’s only providing that they’re as knowledgeable in Australian tax as they are MYOB or Xero or QuickBooks.

Unfortunately, however, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. So instead of focussing on a bookkeeper’s software experience, it’s more beneficial to ensure they’re qualified BAS and tax agents, with either a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping or higher.

If you don’t get a bad reference from their current and former clients, then there’s a pretty good chance they’re proficient in the major accounting packages, and if they’re not, most bookkeepers will tell you upfront.

Get the accounting package that’s best for your business, not your bookkeeper

There are lots of reasons a bookkeeper would choose to become certified with a software company, the biggest being that they get their accounting software for free and receive a commission for each new client they sign up to use the accounting package they’ve been certified with.

However, when you hire an independent bookkeeper who’s well-versed in a few different accounting packages, you’re more likely to get better advice about which accounting package is best suited to you and your business’s needs, rather than the accounting package that will generate income for your bookkeeper.

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Are you looking to brush up your skills in cloud-accounting packages like XERO, MYOB or Quickbooks? We provide a range of online training courses in all of these packages at ONE LOW COST for ALL SKILLS LEVELS. Find out more.


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We feature our own online directory of local bookkeepers looking to add to their customers. Visit National Bookkeeping to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud. Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper looking to expand your client list or find contract work, you can register and become part of our network for free


 

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Is the ATO Getting into the Cloud Accounting Game?

The ATO is helping you keep track of deductions and expenses

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The ATO’s recently launched app isn’t helping you invoice just yet, but it is good for keeping track of your business deductions.

ALL BUSINESSES CAN TAP into useful cash flow forecasting apps, whether they use Xero, Quickbooks or MYOB. There are also a host of basic expense and budgeting apps that sole traders and contractors can use for similar purposes.

The difference between the two boils down to price and functions: The more functions you need, the higher the price tag. Businesses that require high-level reporting and forecasting tools, such as a “scenarios” function that lets you determine the impact different business decisions would have on your cash flow, before you actually make them, would need to stump up, at a minimum, between $50 and $80 a month for this functionality.  

Free expense and budgeting apps would suit most contractors and sole traders who don’t require complex forecasting and reporting tools, but who do need to see when money is coming in and when it’s going out, and whether there are deficiencies.

The ATO’s tax and superannuation app

ato app my deductions learn xero online training course
Image: Courtesy of ATO website

Looking into the best expense and budgeting apps for small business, we came across the Australian Tax Office’s app, simply called ATO. It works on Windows phones, as well as iOs and Android devices, and it’s updated regularly by the ATO, so you know this isn’t just a passing fling.

Our post on cash flow reporting and forecasting for contractors and sole traders went through the app’s functions, including what we thought were some standout features:

  • Recording expenses and deductions
  • Tracking mileage
  • Inputting income
  • Tax calculators
  • Business performance calculator
  • Lodging income tax returns.

If these features sound familiar, that’s because they’re all the features you’ll find in a basic cloud accounting program, with the notable exception of invoicing. Electronic invoicing is not something the ATO is particularly concerned with because it’s not a requirement. Invoicing, of course, is a requirement, but how you do it — in person, by snail mail, email, etc — isn’t.

Cloud accounting still best and easiest

If the ATO app introduced a simple way to invoice customers, we’d say it was definitely muscling in on QuickBooks and Xero’s territory, since both programs appeal to the small business owner, QuickBooks in particular.

In absence of that, the ATO app is a great tool for contractors and small business owners to use to keep track of their expenses and deductions, and especially to calculate their tax rates (so as to properly keep money aside for tax, rather than being hit with a tax bill you have to pay off). For contractors with a very simply business model, it’s even useful for lodging your tax return.

But otherwise, cloud accounting applications are still the best and easiest way for businesses to run an efficient, compliant business. At the end of the day, for many small business owners, they’re not drawn to Xero or QuickBooks because they want to stay compliant, it’s because they want to be able to easily invoice customers and track their income — compliance is just an added bonus.

Our online Xero training courses meet all skills levels for ONE LOW COST. We will show you how to record deductions, invoice customers, run financial reports, and lodge activity statements and tax returns. Visit our website for more information about our range of online accounting, media and general business courses.


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Need to brush up on Excel? You receive access to ALL OF OUR COURSES, including ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW PRICE. You can even start your Excel journey with our FREE Beginners’ Excel Course Workbook. Read more about our beginners’, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow! And all of our Excel courses can be counted towards CPD points.


 

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Cash Flow Forecasting for Sole Traders and Contractors

Great expense apps if you’re self employed

expense apps for self employed people
Are you busy and self-employed but can’t afford the higher price tag of some expense tracking apps? Don’t worry, there are cheaper options available.

AS WE’VE WRITTEN PREVIOUSLY, cash flow is one of the most accurate instruments for predicting your business’s financial health. It’s more accurate than profit and loss statements, which don’t take into account any cash outlays, and so don’t show a true picture of your business’s finances.

We have also checked out some of the latest cash flow forecasting apps that integrate with Xero and other accounting packages. These can be excellent tools for businesses that employ staff or are expanding rapidly, but there are still many business owners that don’t fit into that category, and although keeping an eye on their cash flow and forecasting trends remains critical to their financial health, they can’t justify the high price tag of an app like Spotlight or Float.

Expense and budgeting apps

What’s a cash flow app, if not a program that tracks your expenses and income and then tells you how much money you have left in the bank? That’s what FUTRLI and Spotlight, the apps we reviewed recently would do, and then also let you do other things, like create scenarios to determine the particular outcome of a business decision.

But there are other expense apps that sole traders and contractors can use for cash flow forecasting:

Pocketbook

Pocketbook, the Australian personal finances app recently acquired by ASX-listed ZipMoney, is free to use, although a recent deal with 1300HomeLoans means it may analyse your spending data to make commercial suggestions around your personal finances. (For the record, I have been testing it for months and hasn’t been subject to any such suggestions.)

Pocketbook lets you connect your bank account to the app so it can import your income and transaction data. Once you get some initial housekeeping — categorising your expenses and income — out of the way, you can then set up a safety spend limit based on Pocketbook’s analysis of your spending vs. income.

Pocketbook also learns from your transaction history, meaning it can predict upcoming income and bills. It’s very nifty for contractors or freelancers who have more than one income source that doesn’t always run through your accounting software — if you’re working on your TFN and ABN, for instance.

TrackMySpend

TrackMySpend expense apps for Xero online training courseThis free app, by ASIC MoneySmart, lets you connect your bank account to the app, categorise your expenses, nominate a spending limit, and create expense reminders that can be sent to as text messages ahead of their due date.

Like Pocketbook (but without the commercial overtones), TrackMySpend will also learn from previous trends in your income and expense data to predict future income and expenses. Best of all, TrackMySpend can be exported as an Excel file or connected to your accounting software. The iOS app is a bit out of date, though, so it won’t work on more recent Apple devices.

ATO

ato_mobile_app for Xero online training course videosIf you didn’t know it already, the Australian Tax Office has its own mobile app. It allows you to access the ATO’s online services, lodge and track your tax return (yes, right from your mobile phone), work out key tax dates and access tools and calculators.

Its most handy functions: being able to enter your expenses (including a photo of receipts and bills), track mileage, and record your income. It’s not automated, but it does propagate that info directly into your tax return, so you don’t have to do it later. It also accurately calculates your tax liabilities.

The ATO app’s best function, however, is its “business performance calculator”, which, using the data you input, will give you an indication of your business’s ability to pay its debts, as well as a comparison of its performance based on the ATO’s “small business benchmarks” data. Over time, it’ll also show whether your business has improved or declined since you last used the tool.

Understanding your business’s cash flow is critical to its ongoing financial health, and to your ability to make sound business decisions. Use one of these tools in conjunction with your accounting software to ensure your business is running on all cylinders.

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Our Xero training courses, which provide training in EVERY LEVEL for ONE LOW COST, will show you how to run financial reports, including cash flow statements that you can use to create forecasts in Excel. Visit our website for more information about our online training courses.


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Why are there More Expense Tracking Apps for Xero than MYOB?

Less complicated accounting software, like Xero, connects better with mobile apps

accounting-apps-that-link-with-xero-and-quickbooks
The robust nature of MYOB can make it harder to link with mobile apps that track your expenses and cash flow and the like.

WE RECENTLY PUBLISHED A blog examining the different expense tracking apps you can connect with Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks, but during our research it became clear that most expense apps integrate with Xero or QuickBooks, but not MYOB.

That’s not to say there are no expense apps that integrate with MYOB. There are. Receipt Bank is one, Squirrel Street is another, and there are probably a lot more on the MYOB marketplace (or add-ons page). Probably the best expense tracking application we found is ExpenseManager, and it only integrates with MYOB.

MYOB is a robust, yet complicated system

As anyone who’s ever used MYOB can attest, it’s a complicated piece of software to navigate, even if it is a robust one. When Xero came along, it aimed to be both robust and easy-to-use, and for the most part it succeeded (it’s probably not as easy as QuickBooks, but then QuickBooks isn’t quite as robust).

Behind the scenes, there’s also a lot of complicated code driving MYOB that’s not easy to integrate with, unlike QuickBooks and Xero which rely on third-party integrations to deliver payroll and other services, so Xero and QuickBooks can keep the cost of their platforms down.

MYOB is used by accountants and bookkeepers

MYOB doesn’t really go after to same market that Xero and QuickBooks do (small and micro businesses), which is reflected in MYOB’s price. It’s aimed at medium sized businesses, which employ accountants and bookkeepers, and that’s not really the market expense apps like Expensify and Xpenditure are targeting.

Xero is one of our most popular training courses

That’s why Xero has become one of our most popular training courses. It’s robust and once you understand the principles of bookkeeping, fairly easy to use. And it integrates with a tonne of third party applications developed to make the life of the small business owner much easier and more efficient.

Keep an eagle eye on your expenses by using Xero and an expense app, and you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is the most profitable and where it’s not, so you can modify it accordingly.

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Our Xero training courses will show you have to track expenses in Xero and how to connect third party apps to your Xero account. You can also brush up your MYOB skills or learn how to use MYOB with our MYOB online training course, incorporating 5 courses and 12 months’ access — all for one low cost. Visit our website for more information covering our ONE LOW COST for ALL LEVELS course options.


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


 

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Top 3 Expense Applications for Xero, QuickBooks and MYOB

Get your financial software working harder

best-apps-for-myob-xero-quickbooks
There are a number of apps which link with Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks to help you closely and seamlessly track ALL your business expenses.

WE PREVIOUSLY WROTE ABOUT using Expensify and Xero to do the grunt work of your account reconciliations. We’ve also touched on how Expensify works for retail shops, online shops and hospitality businesses.

This time we’re looking at other expense applications that not only integrate with Xero, but other platforms like MYOB and QuickBooks, too. (For the record, every transaction Expensify does with Xero, it also does with QuickBooks; and also for the record, we not only provide online training in Xero [all levels for one low cost] but MYOB and Quickbooks too.)

Xpenditure (QuickBooks, Xero, Fresh Books)

It’s a little more expensive than Expensify, but you also get a little more bang for your buck. From around $4 a month, you can scan 200 receipts per month, plus all of Xpenditure’s core features, such as expense rules, real time reporting, accounting integration, and mileage tracking. Speaking of which, Xpenditure tracks your mileage using Google Maps, which as discussed previously, isn’t the the most accurate way to do it.

However, it does calculate the estimated cost of each trip using the current “mileage rate” — or kilometre rate for Australians — set by the Tax Office. It’s mobile app, however, only has an average 1 star rating in the Australian Apple App Store, while it’s currently rates at 3.5 stars in the Google Play store, so it appears it’s best served on an Android platform.

Abacus (Xero, QuickBooks)

At $9 a month for up to 50 users, it’s on the pricier side for small businesses. And although Abacus lets you give your accountant or tax agent free access to your Expensify account, it doesn’t really make up for the higher price tag (we happen to think the point of an expense app is that you only need to give your accountant or tax agent access to your accounting software).

Yes, it includes all the standard features, such as receipt scanning, real time reporting, multi-level approval workflows, and automatic approvals — plus, an EzyLearn favourite: automatic direct deposits for reimbursing employees once an expense is approved — but features like mileage tracking are absent. It’s rated 4 stars on the Google Play app store, but unrated in the Apple App Store.

Squirrel Street (Xero, QuickBooks, MYOB)

Formerly known as Shoeboxed (they explain name change on their website), Squirrel Street is a rather expensive way to track your expenses and store your receipts. Plans start at $26.95 a month for 50 receipt uploads and 2-5 day turnaround, which explains the steep price: This is a software application that relies on manual labour, rather than machine learning, to import expense data. As a consequence, there’s no other features of note — no real time reporting, no expense reports, no automatic approvals.

There is also a “forever free” five document per month DIY plan available. Of course, they are an Australian owned and operated business, but it’s still not the best service for your dollar. It’s rated 4 stars on the Apple App Store and 4.5 stars on Google Play.

By keeping an eagle eye on your expenses using an expense app that integrates with your cloud accounting software, you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is most profitable and where it’s not so you can modify it accordingly.

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Our online courses in Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks will show you how to track expenses and connect third party apps to your account. Read more about cloud accounting.


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Creating and managing databases is included as part of our Advanced Microsoft Excel training courses — and you receive access to ALL OF OUR COURSES, including ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW PRICE. You can even start your Excel journey with our FREE Beginners’ Excel Course Workbook. Read more about our beginners’, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow!


 

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Expensify, Xero and Your Retail Shop

Record retail inventory quickly

using-expensify-and-xero-for-a-retail-shop-outlet
Keeping track of expenses just got a whole lot easier.

IN A PREVIOUS POST we discussed how Expensify, an app which you can link to your Xero accounting software, can help businesses like yours’ keep track of expenses easily, accurately, and securely.

And while it’s a great expense app for professional services businesses or tradespeople, Expensify is also great for retail and online shops or hospitality businesses.

Input data and send to Xero

Shops and hospitality businesses require inventory or stock — and lots of it. But it results in an accounting and bookkeeping nightmare at the end of the month when it needs to be entered into Xero and then recorded against sales. Of course, we suggest business’ try to reconcile their transactions more regularly than just at the end of every month.

Take a photo of bills and invoices from suppliers and upload them to Expensify, which will input all of the data and then send it through to Xero.

Create expense reports

Online and offline retailers don’t have to worry about this too much unless they also produce their own products, but for cafes and restaurants that host functions or cater for events, separating the expenses directly related to those functions and events is an important way to track their profitability.

Automatic approvals cut bookkeeping time

By turning on the automatic approvals feature and setting expense rules, you can cut your bookkeeping time by having recurring or trivial expenses automatically approved and sent to Xero, so you can spend more time on the complicated ones that require closer inspection.

By keeping an eagle eye on your expenses using Xero and Expensify you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is most profitable and where it’s not so you can modify it accordingly.

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Our Xero training courses will show you have to track expenses in Xero and how to connect third party apps to your Xero account. We offer ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW PRICE. Find out more.


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Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.


 

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Financial Reporting with Expensify and Xero

How Expensify can link with Xero

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Are you deducting everything you could be? Perhaps you need an app to help you.

WE’VE TALKED IN THE past about what a life saver daily reconciliations can be, and why some businesses could benefit from reconciling their account daily, twice weekly, or at least, on a more regular basis than once a month.

The expenses your business incurs form deductions that reduce your taxable income, so making sure you’re recording them accurately — and then storing them securely too — is an important part of your business remaining compliant.

An online software program like Xero will enable you to enter your expenses and transactions; and you can also use an app to automate the process for you, like Expensify.

Expensify for accurate record keeping

The way Expensify works is pretty simple. You connect it to your bank or credit card accounts, and it will import transactions into its app, which you then approve as business expense and it send the data through to your connected accounting software — in this case, Xero.

If all your expenses were electronic, Expensify wouldn’t provide much more value than the bank feeds feature in Xero. But Expensify does more than just that.

It can, with impressive accuracy, import expense data from any hardcopy receipt — even handwritten ones — by taking a picture on your smartphone, sending them to a dedicated email address for upload, or importing them straight from Dropbox or Evernote.

Once a receipt has been uploaded to Expensify, it stores it in the cloud, so you don’t have to keep the physical copy.

Accurate vehicle mileage

The best feature, which anyone who uses their vehicle for business purposes will appreciate, is how it tracks mileage. You have two options: input the distance you travelled by typing it into the app, or using the app’s built-in GPS.

You simply tell Expensify to start tracking your mileage and it will, using its own motion sensors and GPS. This is different (and better) than other apps that work out the distance you travelled using routes in Google Maps after the fact.

Expensify would be better if it automatically detected car motion without having to open the app at the start of your journey, like the QuickBooks Self Employed app does. Of course, that also results in many unnecessary travel trips — taxi, Uber and bus rides, lifts from friends, as well as your own personal trips — showing up in the QuickBooks app.

Create expense reports

Expensify also lets you create expense reports to collate expenses together. This is extremely useful for businesses that want to see expenses associated with their projects, bill their clients for expenses, or for businesses with employees who need to be reimbursed for their expenses.

Rather than manually collating expenses together and matching them to employee trips, work trips, customers or projects, Expensify does it for you, and then imports it straight into Xero as either a bill or invoice.

An expense app like Expensify will help your business reconcile its accounts regularly and more accurately, and will also ensure you’re compliant by storing your receipts securely in the cloud.

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Our Xero training courses will show you how to track expenses in Xero and how to connect third party apps to your Xero account. We provide training in ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW COST.


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


 

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EXCEL: Other Data Sources You Can Use to Create a Pivot Table

The latest versions of Excel are jam-packed with new features!

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How are your Excel skills? Brushing up or learning how to use Microsoft Excel as a business tool could see you brimming from ear to ear too.

WE’RE ALWAYS UPDATING OUR Excel training courses, and as we do so, we’re reminded of just how useful Excel continues to be for small business owners — particularly the latest versions of Excel which include a boatload of new features that make it easy to create and manage relational databases, which you can also use as the data source for a pivot table.

But supposing, for whatever reason, you don’t want to use an Excel database as your pivot table’s data source? Well, there are some other options to create a pivot table without manually entering the information into Excel first. Here are a few more data sources that you can use to create a pivot table in Excel.

Office data connection files

The office data connection (ODC) file extension was created by Microsoft and contains properties to connect to and retrieve data from an external data source. It contains a connection string, data queries, authentication information and other settings. Microsoft recommends that you retrieve external data for your pivot tables and reports using ODC files.

External relational databases

If, for instance, you’re using another relational database program, like Microsoft Access or Filemaker Pro, you can also import data directly from these programs into your pivot table, rather than manually entering the data into an Excel worksheet. In the case of connecting data from an MS Access database, you can do this quite simply by selecting Access from the ‘data source’ dialog box. For all other external databases, you would select the ‘from other sources’ dialog box and follow the steps in the data connection wizard.

Using another pivot table

Each time that you create a new pivot table, Excel stores a copy of the data for the report in memory, and saves this storage area as part of the workbook file. To use one pivot table as the source for another, both must be in the same workbook. If the source pivot table is in a different workbook, copy the source to the workbook location where you want the new one to appear. Keep in mind that when you refresh the data in the new pivot table, Excel also updates the data in the source pivot table, and vice versa. When you group or un-group items, or create calculated fields or calculated items in one, both are affected.

Create a database in Excel first

The easiest and most efficient way to create a pivot table is to create a database in Excel first. Here, you can update and manage as much information about your business — including customer data and financial data — and then use that as a data source for a pivot table.

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Creating databases and pivot tables are part of our advanced Microsoft Excel training course, but you can start your Excel journey with our FREE beginners’ Excel course. Read more about our beginners, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow!


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


 

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Are You Making these GST Mistakes in Your Bookkeeping?

Being Jack of All Trades can land you in hot water with BAS

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Don’t submit inaccurate financial documents by trying to do everything yourself by way of bookkeeping.

IT’S PERHAPS EASIER TO do your own bookkeeping these days than it used to be; particularly if you’re using a cloud accounting program like MYOBXero or QuickBooks, which are among the easiest, yet robust, accounting applications currently on the market.

But even so, there are many aspects of Australian tax that, while accounting software makes it possible to carry them out yourself (like business activity statements, for example), it’s not a good idea unless you really know what you’re doing. Here are the three GST mistakes nearly every business owner makes in their bookkeeping.

Claiming GST twice

This is most common when a business has vehicles, machinery, plant equipment, etcetera that are either being leased or are under hire purchase. The business owner’s accountant will typically claim the full GST component for in the first quarter that the business purchased the equipment, but confusion generally sets in when it comes to recording regular monthly payments.

Very often the business owner will record it as GST or a capital expense, and because both show up in their BAS reporting sheet, they end up claiming the GST twice.

Recording GST for all expenses

There are many expenses that do attract GST. They include:

  • Motor vehicle registrations
  • Bank charges
  • ASIC fees
  • Paypal transaction fees
  • Interest and director fees / drawings.

Claiming GST credits on purchases from suppliers not registered for GST

Not all business owners are registered for GST, and although they should state somewhere on their invoice that no GST has been charged, oftentimes they’ll leave you to assume that. As a general rule of thumb, if the invoice doesn’t show an amount in the GST column, there’s a good chance the supplier isn’t registered. To make sure, though, visit the ABN Lookup Page and search their ABN.

Accounting software is easier, but Aussie tax remains as complicated as ever

Even though MYOBXero and QuickBooks are among the most user friendly accounting software applications on the market, Australia’s tax laws remain as complicated as they’ve ever been. So while you can do your own data entry (reconciling your bank statements), it’s a good idea to hire a BAS or Tax agent to look after the more complicated aspects of your tax and BAS requirements.

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Want to learn or brush up your cloud accounting and bookkeeping skills?

At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of online accounting software courses, as well as 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). Many of our courses come with a ONE LOW COST for ALL SKILLS LEVEL option. 


Need help finding a BAS or TAX Agent?

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National Bookkeeping is an online directory of local bookkeepers looking to add to their customers. Visit National Bookkeeping to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud. Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper looking to expand your client list or find contract work, you can register and become part of our network for free


 

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Explaining Why Excel’s Pivot Tables are So Mighty!

No amount of data is too big for Excel’s pivot tables

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Go You Excel Pivot Table! Excel’s signature function, the pivot table, is still as useful for making sense of large amounts of data as it ever was.

WE’VE RECENTLY BEEN UPDATING the content for our Excel training courses and were reminded of just how useful Excel is for small businesses. In Excel, you can easily create and manage client databases and then export part or all of that data into a Word document, your accounting software, an email marketing service, or use it in other Excel documents, such as a pivot table.

A pivot table is Excel’s signature, and most powerful, feature — Microsoft trademarked the words ‘pivot’ and ‘table’ in their compound form PivotTable back in the 1990s. So if you intend to use Excel in any meaningful way for your business, knowing how to create and work with pivot tables is an essential skill, one which we cover in our newly-updated, advanced Excel online training courses.

What are pivot tables used for?

A pivot table is a way to quickly summarise and analyse large amounts of data, and the pivot tables you can create in Excel are especially designed for:

  • Subtotalling and aggregating numeric data
  • Summarising data by categories and subcategories
  • Creating custom calculations and formulas
  • Expanding and collapsing levels of data
  • Drilling down on details from summary data
  • Filtering, sorting, grouping and conditionally sorting data
  • Presenting concise, attractive, and annotated reports
  • Moving rows to columns and vice versa (‘pivoting’) to see different summaries of source data.

Pivot table data sources

There are a few ways that you can create a pivot table, though the most common way is to use an existing Excel worksheet — a database, for example — as a data source. Here are a few ways to create a pivot table in Excel:

  • Excel tables: Excel tables are already in list format and are good candidates for pivot table source data. When you refresh the pivot table report, new and updated data from the Excel table is automatically included in the refresh operation.
  • Using a dynamic named range: To make a pivot table easier to update, you can create a dynamic named range, and use that name as the pivot table’s data source. If the named range expands to include more data, refreshing the pivot table will include the new data.

Create a database in Excel first

The most efficient way to create a pivot table is to create a database in Excel first. Here, you can update and manage as much information about your business — including customer data and financial data — and then use that as a data source for a pivot table.

***

Creating databases and pivot tables are part of our advanced Microsoft Excel training course, but you can start your Excel journey with our FREE Beginners’ Excel Course. Read more about our Beginners’, Intermediate and Advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow! We cover ALL levels for ONE LOW COST.

And with EOFY looming, be sure to take advantage of our specials!


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At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of cloud-based online accounting software courses, to business start up and management courses, to marketing and sales courses, or update and further your skills in a range of Microsoft Office programs (ExcelPowerPointWord) or social media and WordPress web design). 


 

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What to Do When You Have More than One Income Stream

Why it’s important to track your income streams

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It can be easy to lose track of separate income streams; Excel is a great tool for monitoring which work your income is coming from.

IF YOU’RE AN INDEPENDENT contractor, or you’re a full-time employee about to start up a side business, then you need to be able to keep a good track of all your income streams. There are a couple of reasons for this and both of them relate to tax. 

Basically, income is income, regardless of how you earned it, and you’ll pay tax on the total amount. As an employee of another business, you’re likely to be earning money through your tax file number. Each week, your employer will withhold tax commensurate with how much money your employer has paid you. But this doesn’t take into account any other income.

If you’re also earning money from a side business, using an ABN, there’s no one to withhold tax on your behalf, so you need to keep a close eye on your income to ensure you have enough money in the bank to pay your tax bill — which you will get, I’m afraid — after your tax return has been filed.

Two tax returns? Use Excel

Although income is income, you will still have to file two tax returns, one for each income stream. That’s why you need to keep an eye on your accumulative income, and not just the money earned through your business.

There are lots of personal finance and budget apps that help you to track and manage your income, but the easiest, most flexible and most straightforward way to do this is to create an Excel spending or expense sheet, which our Excel training courses will teach you how to do.

Reasons why people have two income streams

It’s not just full time employees who are starting their own side business that have two income streams. Plenty of freelancers and independent contractors earn money through their ABN and TFN.

There are some businesses that prefer to put contractors on the payroll, usually because they’ll be working on a regular basis, onsite, and it’s just easier for the business to employ them as casuals. Often for insurance purposes, but it’s also because the work involved doesn’t conform to the definition the ATO uses for an independent contractor.

Other times, it’s because the contractor or freelancer is working in an entirely different industry on the side — hospitality or retail, for example — to supplement their freelance income, which is how a lot of people get businesses off the ground.

Focus on how to earn money

The main take away from all of this, is that when you’re tracking your income, focus on the ways to earn more income. If you discover that each month, you have a week where your income is lower, there’s an opportunity to fill that gap with another job or other income stream.

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You can learn how to create and manage your expenses or spending in our Excel training courses, where you’ll be able to create your own spending or expense sheet, and how to perform daily bank reconciliations in MYOB or Xero in our cloud accounting training courses. For more information, visit our website.


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Learn Microsoft Excel from scratch or brush up your Excel skills, at your own pace, with our affordable Excel online training courses — where you get THE LOT (that’s 9 courses in total) for ONE LOW PRICE — everything included! Volume corporate discounts are available.


 

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Marketing for When Your Business Strategy Changes

Where lead generation services are useful

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Using a dedicated lead generation service can be more useful than advertising but the quality of the leads may be questionable.

CHANGING YOUR BUSINESS STRATEGY to include additional services will require an additional investment in marketing if you are to make this successful. In terms of simply paying money to advertise your additional services, as you’re probably already aware, advertising doesn’t always yield immediate results. Therefore you might consider spending money on a lead generation service.

We cover how to account for marketing and lead generation costs in our Xero training courses, which includes a new workbook that looks at what to do when your business strategy changes.

Lead generation vs marketing

Lead generation, as the name suggest, is solely focussed on generating a potential customer or client for your business. For instance, there are lots of lead generation services in the building and home maintenance trade — hipages, One Flare, Service Seeking, Quotify, etc — but there are also a growing number for people in creative services, although they’re typically referred to as online marketplaces and include Freelancer.com, Upwork, Fiverr, and so forth.

Advertising and digital marketing (including content marketing), puts your message or business in front of your target audience, but there are more steps in the process before you can capture a lead.

The benefits of lead generation

The main benefit of using a lead generation service is that it delivers active leads almost as soon as you sign up to the service. The quality of the leads tend to differ between services, and the leads also tend to be people who are focussed solely on price, and not so much workmanship. In other words, they’re looking for something done in a particular fashion, for a particular price. No more, no less.

These sorts of jobs are good when you’re getting started or as a way to keep the home fires burning, but it may not be appropriate to rely on them as your sole means of developing clientele.

The benefits of marketing and advertising

If you’re using the correct channels to reach and market or advertise your business to your target market, you’re effectively developing a relationship with those people and educating them about your business.

This means you’ll capture people at all stages of the purchasing funnel — some will be at the pointy end, while others won’t be ready to make a purchasing decision for a while. The benefits of marketing and advertising is that you’re capturing a wide array of people and building brand awareness.

A combination of both works best

If you have the resources, a combination of both marketing (advertising, content marketing) and lead generation works best, though your focus should on marketing and advertising your business to your target market, rather than trying to fit your business into the mold of all the different leads fed to you through a service like hipages or Freelancer.com.

Create a marketing budget

Run a cashflow report in Xero to determine how much cash you’ll have to invest in marketing your business. Our Xero training courses will show you how to run a cashflow report, which you can then export to Excel and use when creating your marketing budget, which should include a schedule, costs, desired outcome — i.e., number of leads, conversions each week, month, quarter — to ensure you’re getting a good return on your investment.

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Our Xero training courses will show you how to run cashflow reports and account for your marketing costs, while our Business Start Up Course will show you how to create a marketing plan. Visit our website for more information.


learn Xero online learning videos cheapest

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.