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Virtual Offices: The Reality of Closing Your Office Doors

You can save on overheads by making your office virtual, but not every business can make it work.
You can save on overheads by making your office virtual, but not every business can make it work.

In the past we’ve talked about the benefits of operating a virtual bookkeeping business by using cloud accounting software like MYOB Account Right Live and storage software like Dropbox. But before you transform your traditional bricks-and-mortar bookkeeping business into a virtual one, it’s important to consider whether virtual is right for you.

A recent article in the Journal of Accountancy discussed the many benefits of making a bricks-and-mortar business a virtual one. Of course saving money on the monthly rent cheque factored quite high on the ‘pros’ list — but when is the right time to go virtual?

Steps to Becoming Virtual

As human beings we’re creatures of habit, so the decision to turn your business into an entirely virtual one shouldn’t be taken lightly, particularly if you have clients who visit your premises regularly. But even once you get your clients onboard, you’ve still got a way to go before you can close your doors for good.

  1. The first step is determining whether your team can work remotely. Self-starters and highly motivated individuals thrive in the virtual environment, whereas, those who need a lot of supervision, direction and even daily interaction with colleagues, generally aren’t suited to working remotely.
  2. Virtual offices do not have the space to store paper and hardcopy files. While your own business may use online storage software like Dropbox, you also need to consider your clients. If they’re not using cloud accounting software and you’re still required to store their client files, a virtual office may not be the way to go yet.
  3. In order to function effectively and efficiently as a virtual business, you must ensure you have the systems in place first. This means making sure your employees have the devices they need to do their job from home and, in turn, that your business has the necessary infrastructure and software to facilitate that as well.

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So before you pack up your goods and chattels and close your office doors for good, make sure you’re business is truly ready to take the plunge. Be sure to read our next post; we discuss what steps you should take in readying your business to go virtual.

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Teleworking – how does it benefit you?

Teleworking, home based business work from home

Teleworking from home

While Australians have had the ability to telework by using laptops, tablet devices, and smartphones, to connect to work for sometime, it’s unusual for employees to do this on a regular basis or even to be employed solely on this basis.

However, research both locally and internationally has shown the great benefits that teleworking can offer employers and employees, and in fact, the country as a whole.

For employers, teleworking assists with the recruitment and retention of staff, particularly young employees and those transitioning to retirement, but it also reduces staff turnover and absenteeism usually triggered by changes to family circumstances.

Teleworking saves money

In other, more tangible senses, teleworking reduces the costs associated with office space, such as energy costs and infrastructure, now that employees can remotely access files and documents using cloud accounting and storage software like DropBox.

But the real benefits for employers are derived from the benefits experienced by their employees.

Being able to work from home has been shown to greatly increase an employee’s work/life balance, which in turn drives job satisfaction and on-the-job productivity.

And by reducing commute times and the mental stress associated with juggling work and family commitments, employees have more time to up-skill by enrolling in distance education or online courses (like one of our MYOB courses), which will be even better with the NBN, which increases the number of highly skilled workers in the labour force.

Teleworking levels the playing field

While employers have access to a larger labour pool and employees likewise have access to a larger pool of employers now that geographical restrictions have been removed, teleworking also increases the instances of people starting a home-based business.

It is these benefits from teleworking, such as the increase in labour participation, the uptake of further education, and the growth in new home-based businesses that is not just great news for Australian employers and employees, but also for the Australian economy.

The scary news about teleworking

The major risk to Australian workers is that the increased pool of workers also includes workers in developing countries like the Philippines and India who are often very well trained and willing to work very hard for much lower pay. Even if we look at the USA we find remote workers who are willing to perform most small business operational tasks for $15 per hour.

There may be a benefit in living in the Australian time zone, speaking good English and writing well, but when it comes to many fields of work like graphic design it has really become a global market place for workers.

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What’s the cheapest cloud accounting software? How does it compare with MYOB AccountRight Live?

We’re augmenting our MYOB Training Courses as you may already be aware and that includes new training courses for cloud based accounting software like Reach Accounting.

Currently, the cheapest Australian cloud-based accounting software is Reach Accounting, provided by Australian domain registration and web hosting company, Net Registry.

Net Registry has been operating in Australia since 1997 and, over the years, has grown from a start-up business to the largest and most trusted provider of domain names and web hosting in the country.

Web hosting, as some of you probably already know, is another cloud-based service, so it seems only natural that Net Registry would eventually move into the cloud accounting space, which they have done with Reach.

While Reach is certainly the cheapest Australian-based cloud accounting software on the market, offering great benefits, such as, multiple user access (so everyone from owner, to staff, to bookkeeper, to accountant can have access at the same time from different offices), unlimited support and no hidden fees, it differs in functionality to MYOB AccountRight Live.

Over the years, MYOB AccountRight, has become a rather sophisticated piece of accounting software; its features include, access via the PC or the cloud, inventory, bill by time and more.

However, if your business model is relatively simple, Reach Accounting could prove a more economical option coming in at around $10 per month cheaper than the basic version of MYOB AccountRight Live, by far Australia’s cheapest cloud-based accounting software.

Although we do not provide training on MYOB AccountRight Live, we are exploring it along with Reach Accounting as part of the Bookkeeping Academy.

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What is Teleworking?

Teleworking from home in Australia - NBN

In a nutshell, teleworking is the ability for employees to work remotely, usually from a home office, rather than travelling to the workplace. And it’s something that Australia, and indeed, the rest of the world has been moving towards for some time.

If you think about it, ever since the widespread adoption of email, the wheels have been in motion for an era where people could opt to work from home rather than commuting to the workplace every day.

For a while, though, it has been a bit of a logistical nightmare. If you’ve ever tried to work remotely before, then chances are, at some point you’ve uttered one or all of these complaints: “This file is too large for me to email”, [quote]I don’t have that software installed on my home PC[/quote]  or “My Internet’s really slow. I might as well just come into the office”.

But when you throw things like broadband Internet, laptops, tablet devices, smart phones and the latest little life-saver, cloud accounting and storage software (like Dropbox) into the mix, working remotely, or teleworking, slowly but surely got easier.

The benefits of teleworking to employees and employers, plus also to the Australian government are huge, which is why the Australian government spearheaded the move to a National Broadband Network (NBN), which, when rollout is complete, will see high-speed Internet cabled into nearly every Australian home (93%).

The NBN will give you the freedom to things like enrol in distance education or complete one of our MYOB courses, work from home, or even start a home-based business without having to worry about poor or unreliable internet coverage.

Teleworking is the future of all Australian workplaces – you can learn about the benefits of teleworking here.

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Are business startups not using MYOB??

cloud accounting and bookkeeping with xero, saasu, and myobI wrote a recent blog about Daniel from Parking Made Easy and his new startup venture and when I dug a little deeper and asked some more questions I discovered that many of the new technological startup companies that he connects with on a day-to-day basis don’t use MYOB and are not considering it.

Daniel is a member of the Fishburners group, a co-working, entrepreneurial non-profit organisation that business startups can join to share ideas, get support and learn new things. Daniel did a survey of some of his fellow startup businesses at Fishburners and discovered some surprising information – not one of them was considering using MYOB bookkeeping software to manage their business financials! We had to ask why?

Several reasons where given, including:

  • Many of the businesses are still very small so they use Microsoft Excel to manage and keep track of their finances (75%)
  • Some of them were considering a cloud-based bookkeeping system because they could access it from anywhere (25%), including
    • Taking advantage of 12 months free use of SAASU, a cloud-based accounting program that is made available to members of the group
    • Another cloud-based bookkeeping system called XERO.

I wrote a blog post about these cloud-based (basically a website that you signup and log in to) online bookkeeping systems in early 2010 and it’s interesting to see how they have progressed over that time.

If you are completing our MYOB training courses don’t fear, the company is still by far the largest provider of bookkeeping and accounting software for small business in Australia so there are lots of jobs being advertised.

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Are Aussie accounting software firms now competing in a global space? Threats to MYOB?

Kashoo Online Bookkeeping Software comparison to MYOB, XEROI was speaking with a business owner this morning and he mentioned that he was going to try a new accounting software SERVICE after a recommendation from his web guy? It made me ask the question: “Is your web or IT guy the source of recommendation about your bookkeeping software or is it your bookkeeper or accountant?”

In my previous blog post where we included a free training video about performing a bank reconciliation using MYOB, I mentioned some other bookkeeping software programs that compete with MYOB but the program that my business owner friend talked about was from a Canadian company called Kashoo…It then dawned on me that of all the bookkeeping programs only one of them is Australian owned anyway, SAASU. MYOB is now owned by US Private Equity, Xero is a New Zealand public company, Freshbooks is US based and Kashoo is a Canadian company.

This adds to the impetus behind local Australian bookkeepers having to compete with international remote workers for bookkeeping work… but more about that another time.

The good news right now is the MYOB is a clear market leader for use in most small businesses and if you are looking to earn a living as an accounting employee or independent contractor the chances are you will need to know how to use MYOB Accounting software. We try to make it easier by providing LIFETIME student access and all five MYOB Training Courses for one low price!

We will be reviewing the online accounting software mentioned in this blog post so make sure you subscribe to receive the reviews as they arrive.

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Is being a work-at-home mum like being on holidays?

cloud based voip telephone systemsOne of the great benefits of being a work at home mum is being able to watch your kids grow up while you take some time out to do work. Since we operated computer software training centres in 1999 many of our students have been either working mums or mums returning to the workface after spending many years in babyland and for many it has been a difficult change.

We’ve always noticed that many mums look to enter the workforce in the bookkeeping field because the work is not time critical yet requires a good skill level that ends up paying well. The great news is that bookkeeping is moving further and further into the cloud so you can now literally do the books from your home.

We’re proud to say that we have a team of work at home mums keeping the engines running at EzyLearn Online. Our MYOB training courses are some of the most popular MYOB courses in Australia and we are able to provide them at their current prices because of the work-from-home mums that are part of our team.

Our business utilizes some state-of-the-art software as a service (SaaS) tools available today and we’re committed to helping all work-at-home mums learn the skills they need to ensure that they can have the work-life balance they are looking for. Our Work-at-home mums use VIRION business grade voip telephone services, HighRiseHQ online CRM, our online learning platform and our online student support system that manages queries from students.

Where you live has never been less important than now. As long as you have a good broadband internet connection and the skills to use cloud based applications you can earn a living while bringing up your children.

To those work at home mums reading this blog post we want you to know that we have some exciting announcements between now and the end of this year about the plethora of online software applications that enable you to earn a living from home while looking after your kids. If you haven’t subscribed yet, feel free to do so and receive updates as they are announced.

Stay tuned for announcements of new courses planned in the coming 6 months…