Expensify, Xero and Your Retail Shop

Record retail inventory quickly

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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.


 

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. 


 

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.

***

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. 


 

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


 

Explaining Why Excel’s Pivot Tables are So Mighty!

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

using microsoft excel pivot tables
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.

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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! 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). 


 

Using Excel for Client Databases

Excel does great CRM

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Managing large amounts of client and business data is not only possible, but also something you can learn fast and with ease with the help of our comprehensive range of online Excel training courses – covering all skills levels.

MICROSOFT EXCEL IS THE most widely-used spreadsheet application in modern computing. It’s ubiquity means most people use Excel on a regular basis, despite never having had any formal training in its many, many, MANY functions.

While updating the content for our Excel training courses recently, we were reminded of just how powerful Excel remains, and in particular, how useful it is for small businesses.

With its 2013 release, Excel got a serious update, which made it the perfect application to create and manage client and customer databases. Although there are many CRMs available on a subscription that provide the same functions of a database created in Excel, just in a more visually appealing format, they often lack reporting and analysis functions, requiring you to export your data in a Excel sheet anyway.

Flat file databases

Excel’s original ‘flat file’ database still remains the easiest and most basic database to set up and manage, and depending on your business and how you’ll use your database, a flat file database may be all you’ll ever need. If set up correctly, a flat file database will allow you to easily import your customer data into Word, your accounting software, an email marketing service, and so forth.

Relational databases

A relational database is a database that’s structured to recognise relations among the information stored in them. Microsoft offers a relational database program, called Access, which is available with Microsoft Office Professional or higher, or can be purchased separately.

Alternatively, you can create your own relational database in Microsoft Excel, providing you have the 2013 version or newer. When Excel got its update in 2013, it became easier to link charts and cells and to perform searches — all essential features if you’re working with large amounts of business data.

Correct Excel set up is crucial

Once Excel has been set up, it’s as easy as it is powerful to use. Of course, the key is to set it up correctly, so you can avoid errors or having to re-enter large amounts of data to make the format suit another third party software application.

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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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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 and our courses count towards CPD Points.


 

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.


 

A Close-Up Look at a Listed Company and How it’s Performing

We show you what financial data really reveals

how to read financial reports
There’s more to profit and loss than meets the eye: Sometimes a company’s losses outweigh its revenue, but it doesn’t mean that company is in a bad position.

AS A BUSINESS OWNER you’ll need to run regular financial reports (never more so than at the end of financial year) to ensure your business is in good shape. Understanding what each element of a financial report means is critical to your business’s financial health.

You’ll learn to run and interpret financial reports in our Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks training courses, but we’re just going to look at a couple of areas of most importance.

Close up: BuyMyPlace’s financial results

BuyMyPlace is an ASX-listed service that allows property owners to sell their properties without a real estate agent. Because it’s a publicly-listed company, they have to make all of their financials public too.

As such, we got hold of their most recent financial results for the first half of financial year 16/17.

It’s not the most detailed financial report, probably because the company itself is still in its early stages — there’s actually a good argument against early stage ventures listing on the stock exchange, but that’s fodder for another post.

Revenue vs. losses for the period

The good news for BuyMyPlace is that its revenue increased 129 percent on the prior comparative period (PCP) to $1 million for H1 FY16/17, up from $133,518 in H1 FY15/16.

That’s an impressive leap in revenues in just 12 months, however, the BuyMyPlace financial results also reveal that the business made an even greater loss of $1.7 million, an increase of 1205 percent on the PCP.

A closer look at the report shows that, while the losses increased more than a thousand percent, it was due to an increased investment in marketing and advertising — principally on TV spots which totalled $517,723 compared with $98,578 the year prior.

This resulted in an 80 percent increase in the number of listings on the site (that is, the number of people using BuyMyPlace to sell their home), while order value increased 27 percent (people who were choosing more expensive packages).

BuyMyPlace is in good health

Although this business recorded losses that outweighed its revenue, BuyMyPlace is still in good financial health.

The report also shows that it has over $4 million in cash and cash equivalents, and only a little over $600,000 in liabilities. Although the liabilities have increased, it’s not due to taking on any additional debt — indeed, BuyMyPlace has paid down all of its loans — but was instead due to a 786 percent increase in staff salaries and, as a consequence, an increase in staff provisions and benefits — i.e., sick and annual leave.

Strategy for future growth

Not many homeowners actually want to sell their properties themselves — one estimate puts it at around 7 percent of the total number of homeowners. However, most people do want greater clarity around how the process works (including fees and commissions) — even if they still want assistance selling their homes.

Perhaps realising this, or perhaps in response to increased competition in the fixed-fee real estate services (see: Purplebricks, Settl, etc), BuyMyPlace also launched its own full service package, giving homeowners access to a real estate agent to sell their home for a fixed fee.

This will enable BuyMyPlace to capture a greater volume of homeowners, who are looking for a low cost alternative to sell their homes, but who don’t want to do it entirely themselves.

The other strategy for growth: increasing listing depth revenues.

At some point, BuyMyPlace will stop growing its market share. Or, in other words, the market of people looking for a low-cost option to sell their home will be tapped out.

But as a business, and as a publicly listed one, BuyMyPlace will need to keep growing its revenue, not merely keep it steady. It’ll need to do as other real estate services, such as REA Group and Domain have done, and increase listing revenue depths, by selling more expensive packages to customers.  

BuyMyPlace will need to find additional value it can sell to customers, without necessarily increasing its own expenses to do so — or putting up its prices, which a business can usually only do once it’s cornered about 65 percent of the market, and BuyMyPlace is a long way off that yet.

***

That’s a lesson for every business owner out there. And it’s something we cover in our online Business StartUp Course.

You’ll learn how to run and understand the financial reports for your business in our Xero and MYOB training courses. You can also learn about strategies for business growth in our Business StartUp Course. Or 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.


 

Keeping Tabs on those ‘Little’ Monthly Expenses

Why Excel is Great for Keeping Track of Your Spending if You’re Self Employed

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That take away coffee that you buy each morning should be added to your business expenses sheet; even if not claimable it shows where your money is going.

WHETHER YOU’RE ABOUT TO start your own bookkeeping business, or whether you work as an independent contractor (even if you’ve been doing this for a while), it’s really important to know how much you’re spending each month.

Your Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks accounting software will help you with some of this, but the very best way is to create an expense or spending sheet in Excel — which we teach you how to do in our Excel training courses — as this gives you a far more detailed look at your expenses and spending.

Not all your expenses are 100% business ones

Sometimes you can’t claim 100 percent of your expenses as business ones — the costs of running your car, home internet, rent, utilities, etc — but you should nevertheless keep track of your spending on these items because it will affect your cash flow.

That’s why keeping an Excel spending or expense sheet is a good idea for contractors and home-based business owners. You don’t want to enter your home internet into your accounting software as a business expense, if only 30 percent of it is used for business purposes, but you still need to keep track of it, so you can manage your cashflow.

Monitor frivolous spending

One of the things we love about using Excel to track your expenses and spending is that every little expenditure is right there, in plain view.

This isn’t the case with Xero or MYOB or other accounting software. Your expenses are hidden away, and you have to run a report to get a good breakdown on where your money is going.

Not so with Excel,. If you buy a coffee every morning, it’s right there, in a category you can label as “coffee”.

Now, we’re not saying that coffee is frivolous. Far from it. Many of us need coffee just to function (!) but there are lots of small things we spend money on every day, week, month that add up. When you’re self-employed you need to keep an eye on these “little” things.

Sometimes, you’ll find that you’re spending lots of money each month on subscription services that you’re not even using. Eliminating $15 a month here and there makes a big difference.

Create as many categories as you need

That’s the other great thing about using Excel to track your spending: You can create all the expense categories you like.

Of course, not everyone wants to track each and every expense right down to their last bag of jelly beans — that actually would be a little ridiculous — and for most the most part, you can lump your groceries into a category for discretionary spending, but there are some things you might want to separate out — movie tickets, money spent on lunches and dinners, and so forth.

These things tend to add up, and if you want to keep an eye on them, separating them out is the easiest way to do that.

Back to those business expenses

Each fortnight or month or however regularly you complete your bookkeeping, you can easily add in those business expenses into your accounting software — or your bookkeeper can.

Remember, if you spend $60 a month on internet, but only 30 percent of its use is for business purposes, you should only add $18 a month as a business expense in your accounting software. In your Excel expense or spending sheet, however, you’ll put the full $60 in, as you need to have the money in the bank to cover this expense each month.

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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. Visit our website for more information.


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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. 


 

Marketing for When Your Business Strategy Changes

Where lead generation services are useful

lead generation services
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.


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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.


 

When Your Business Strategy Changes

There are websites that make it easy to change your business name

changes in business strategy xero cheap online learning course
Having a plan rather than changing your business strategy in an ad hoc fashion, ensures greater success of your business going forward.

PLENTY OF BUSINESS OWNERS change their business strategy, but what makes this successful? We say, above all, planning and a willingness to change the ordinary operations of your business. In a new workbook contained in our Xero training courses, we take you through the steps you would take in Xero to affect a change in business strategy.

In this blog post, we’re going to look more generally at some of the things you might need to do if you were making a change to your business strategy — even before you would start making these changes in your accounting software.

Business name change

A change of business strategy and direction may warrant a business name change. As a basic example, a builder who begins offering plumbing, electrical, and handyman services should change their business name from John’s Building Services, for example, to John’s Building and Home Maintenance Services.

If considering a business name change, visit the ASIC website. There you’ll be able to register a new business name and make sure one you’re thinking of doesn’t already exist. ASIC doesn’t allow you to update or change your business name, but provided you’re operating your business under the same structure — i.e., sole trader — there’s no limit to the number of business names you can register and assign to your ABN.

In April this year, the business.gov website launched a new Business Registration Service, which although still in Beta, allows you to easily and quickly apply for a business name, ABN, company, and tax registrations for free. At the moment it’s only available for new businesses — whether they’re sole traders, partnerships, companies or joint ventures — but it’ll soon be rolled out to existing businesses, trusts, and superannuation funds.

Registering for GST

Many contractors don’t register for GST because they do a combination of contract work on their ABN and TFN. Provided their business doesn’t generate $75,000 per year or more, they won’t have to register for GST, even if they do earn more than that by also working as a contractor on their TFN.

If the change in business strategy means your business is going to generate substantially more than $75,000 per year, or even if your suspect it may get close to it, you should register your business for GST.

You can register for GST via the ATO’s Business Portal. Registering for GST does mean your business will need to lodge regular business activity statements. This is additional compliance that can yield fines for late or inaccurate lodgements.

If you’d like to try and defer registering for GST for as long as possible, run a profit and loss statement in Xero and compare your current revenue with the estimated additional revenue your new business strategy will generate.

If there’s good, safe margin between your projected income and the $75,000 GST threshold, you can hold off.

You can learn what you need to implement the financial side of your changed business strategy, plus how to run profit and loss statements, complete and lodge business activity statements and much more in our Xero training courses. For more information, visit our website.


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At EzyLearn you can choose from a range of XERO online courses, depending on your skill level — or you can access ALL courses for ONE LOW PRICE. All our 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. 


 

Why Your Business Needs a Bookkeeping Procedures Manual

Documenting procedures helps keep your bookkeeping up to speed

bookkeeping procedures manual rescue bookkeeping work
Rescue bookkeeping is not ideal – it’s often expensive and shows you’re not in control. A bookkeeping procedures manual will outline what bookkeeping needs to be done, when.

IN A PREVIOUS POST we talked about how to tell when you need rescue bookkeeping, which is basically when a business is behind on its bookkeeping by three months or more and the deadline is looming to lodge their activity statements.

Rescue bookkeeping work costs more than having your bookkeeping taken care of regularly, because it’s often messy and there are no procedures in place to manage the bookkeeping efficiently.

What’s a bookkeeping procedures manual?

bookkeeping procedures manualA bookkeeping procedures manual clearly identifies the regular tasks and activities your bookkeeper needs to take each week, fortnight, month or quarter to ensure your bookkeeping is kept up-to-date. This not only gives you the peace of mind that your bookkeeper is staying on top of your books, but it also helps you to understand what’s going on with your business.

If you require regular P&L statements or balance sheets, having a procedures manual to clearly outline how frequently they’ll be created helps you to stay on top of your business’ financials.

A typical procedures manual will include:

  • Simple steps that are easy-to-understand and succinct
  • Tasks are written up in a step-by-step style, so they can be followed logically
  • References, links or examples are included to help readers understand
  • Contain a number of formats — written steps, flow charts or checklists.

Rather than leaving your bookkeeping to the last minute, so you’re always operating your business in dark, organise to have bookkeeper create a procedures manual to regularly take care of your business’s bookkeeping.

We Can Help You Find a Good Local Bookkeeper

find a local bookkeeper

We have bookkeepers, BAS agents and accountants located across Australia, available to help businesses in need of rescue bookkeeping workVisit our online bookkeeping directory, 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

Go to National Bookkeeping for more information, to see our rates or to request a quote.


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.


 

EOFY: Organise Your Reports and Records

We Show You The Reports to Generate Now for End of June

profit and loss statements P&Ls
Now’s time to take stock of the reports that need to be generated to keep you GST and tax compliant.

THE LAST QUARTER OF the 2016/17 financial year is upon us, so now is the time to organise your reports and records; including Profit and Loss Statements, Accounts Receivable and Payable, PAYG and Super payments. We’ve previously written about writing off stock and inventory and getting your business expenses in order. In this post we’ll take a look at the reports and records you’ll need for EOFY, which you’ll learn how to produce in our MYOB BAS Reporting and GST or Xero GST, Reporting and BAS training courses.

Profit and loss statement

Depending on the structure of your business, you may be legally required to include a P&L statement with your tax return or activity statements. Your tax agent will be able to advise you if your business will be required to file a P&L, which  requires all of your bookkeeping to be up-to-date before you can run it.

Even if you don’t have to file one with your activity statements or tax returns, it’s still a good idea to run a P&L for your own sake. A P&L statement identifies whether your business has made a profit or loss and which accounting period these occurred.

Accounts receivable, payable

Find out who owes money to your business and to whom your business owes money. This is obviously part of the credit management process, which any good business will have in place already, but it’s a good idea to keep a steady eye on what’s coming in and what’s going out as EOFY approaches.

PAYG, superannuation

The end of each quarter brings a lot of PAYG and superannuation reporting, but EOFY brings a double whammy of activity statements tax returns and PAYG and superannuation compliance. You’ll need to run these reports so your bookkeeper can complete the payroll component of your returns.

Inventory stocktake

If you sell goods, you’ll need to complete a stocktake of your business’s inventory so that any missing stock can be written off, and to ensure you’re starting a clean slate for the new financial year.

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Learn how to run the reports you’ll need for EOFY with our MYOB BAS Reporting and GST online training course or our Xero GST, Reporting and BAS training course.


Xero online training course

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). 


 

End of Financial Year: Writing Off Stock

We show you how to write off stock and inventory before the EOFY

how to write off stock before eofy in xero myob
Do you know how to make inventory adjustments? Our Xero and MYOB BAS and GST Reporting courses can show you how.

IT’S A GOOD TIME TO START  looking at any slow-moving or obsolete stock that your business (or your client’s business) may be holding, as we’ve reached the end of Quarter 3 and have now started Quarter 4 for the 2016/17 financial year — which means the end of the financial year is fast approaching.

Writing off stock in MYOB or Xero is known as making an inventory adjustment, and our MYOB BAS Reporting and GST or Xero GST, Reporting and BAS training courses take you through the steps to do this. But first, you need to identify which items aren’t selling. We’ve created this case study to help you understand how.

Understanding your inventory’s performance

Every business needs to understand how their inventory is performing, and how it impacts their business. If the business owner is too busy to stay on top of this, then they should employ a bookkeeper to help.

A good example of why understanding inventory is important to a business is to look at an air conditioning company. This business makes money two ways:

  1. Selling air conditioning units
  2. Installing / maintaining air conditioning units

The margin on the sale of an air conditioning unit is not much, a few percent on top of the wholesale price. Where the business makes its money is in the installation or maintenance of the units it sells.

The business purchases three dozen units, of varying brands, models, price points, etcetera. It now needs to know which units are most popular with customers and why; which units aren’t popular with customers and why; whether it’s profitable for the business to continue to stock the unpopular units; or, conversely, whether it’s profitable for the business to continue stocking the popular units.

Inventory reporting

The business’s bookkeeper regularly runs a number of reports in their accounting software, including profit and loss reports and stock-on-hand reports. These reports are used to identify which units sell quickly, as well as the units that take longer to sell, and the profit margins on each.

The units that sell quickly don’t require a technician to install them. Although they’re responsible for the majority of sales, they don’t generate more revenue for the business. The units that sell slowly, do generate more revenue as they require installation and maintenance, however too many units were ordered and they’ve now been discontinued by the manufacturer. Some units have hardly sold, and, although not discontinued, have been superseded by newer models.

Stock write offs and future orders

Because the bookkeeper regularly runs these reports, s/he has been able to export them into Excel for further analysis. By the end of Q3, the bookkeeper can make suggestions to the business owner about the future of the business.

In particular, the bookkeeper suggests that the units that have been superseded are marked down to clear as much stock as possible, and cease any new orders. Likewise, the discontinued models will be marked down.

Orders for the units that replaced the discontinued models will halve the order volume. Likewise, order volumes for the top selling units will reduced. The profit margin on these units is very low and they result in no additional revenue from installation or maintenance. The profit that would be earned on the additional units is negligible, however by reducing the unit volumes, the business improves its cash flow.

Act NOW for EOFY

If your business sells stock or a combination of stock and services, like the air conditioning business does above, start looking at your inventory now. Markdown any slow-moving stock at the end of Q3, to give your business time to move the remainder of it. If it doesn’t sell, write it off at EOFY.

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Our MYOB and Xero training courses have recently been updated to include a workbook on how to write off inventory. Learn more about our MYOB BAS Reporting and GST or Xero GST, Reporting and BAS training courses at our website.


find a local bookkeeper

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


 

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

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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.


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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.