When a training course is not really a training course…
WE REGULARLY PARTAKE in competitive analysis so we can keep giving you top quality online training courses for the best value out there, and in doing so, I found an online offer for not just one, but THREE levels of MYOB — Intro, Intermediate and Payroll OR ALL THREE for $99.
Not mentioning any names; we’re not in the business of naming and shaming and, besides, you can search the deal easily enough online yourself, but it prompted me to put out a reminder that not all courses are created equal.
Not all training courses are the same
I guess it’s obvious to some degree, but many of us are still misled by marketing, and sometimes what’s packaged to the customer as an online training course, is simply a pile of videos (and not even featuring current and up-to-date software versions, either!) all plonked together. You know what, you can get this, and possibly more, directly off You Tube for free!
Using old versions of the accounting software
There are many online courses available for cheap prices, but many of these same courses are not providing training on the latest version of software packages. A quick scan of the fine print shows that this particular $99 MYOB deal is training you on Version 19 of MYOB. This dates back to 2010, which in any one’s language, is very old. Very, very old.
As part of our suite of online MYOB courses, we include access to our old “archived” courses where we use version 19 of MYOB; only for the benefit of those people who still use it and don’t need features like payroll, super and other added features that you’d expect to get after 8 or so years of software development.
What’s retail price anyway?
Another thing to be wary of is “retail price” comparisons. Plenty of these may be legit, but there are others out there who deliberately distort the truth or make a current cheap offer seem far more appealing by comparing their cheap price to a retail price that isn’t really indicative of what’s on offer out there online.
Make sure you’re talking “courses for courses” and that the retail price comparison isn’t looking at prices from half a decade ago or thereabouts. The price of online training courses is a forever shifting thing, so do your research!
Case studies that keep the content based in real-world scenarios and ensure you’re learning things that will be practical in real-life circumstances and situations
Responsive email and phone student support for all queries
Money-back guarantee; if you’re not happy with the course content, or it’s not what you thought it would be, you shouldn’t be stuffed around in the fine print by not getting a full refund, (no matter how small the amount you’ve originally paid).
The training course should feature the training on the software as it is in its current version and this training, or training videos, workbooks, whatever, should be provided in an order that’s been carefully considered, trialled and tested.
People say “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. This isn’t always the case, and sometimes excellent opportunities in life seem, at first, too good to be true. But when it comes to online MYOB courses for $99 or $29 or $69 or whatever the probably-too-good-to-be-true price point is, just make sure you’re getting apples for apples, or courses for courses, or horses for horses, Mr Ed.
You’re an employee of a registered BAS agent, who pays you wages to help them with BAS services
You’re an employee of a business doing its BAS
You do the books for your own business – you prepare the activity statements for your own virtual assistant business
You don’t receive a fee or reward for the BAS services you provide – you’re helping a relative or in-law prepare their activity statements.
You may still need to register, however, even if the client lodges their own activity statements, simply because they relied on your advice or work relating to their BAS.
Who needs to register, then?
In a nutshell, if you provide BAS services that you are paid for – that is, you receive a fee or reward – then you need to register with the TPB.
Even if you’re being paid for your BAS work as part of other types of work (like a freelance office manager whose duties include providing BAS services, along with other duties, like customer service and general administrative tasks), you still need to register.
You’ll also need to register if you’re a contractor, providing BAS services to another registered agent. This applies even if you work at the registered agent’s office or premises and you’re not considered an employee of that agent (for further info, see the ATO’s guide to determining when someone is a contractor and not an employee).
Why register to be a BAS agent?
As we’ve said, there’s the legal requirement to register to be a BAS agent if you’re deriving an income, or some other form of remuneration, for providing BAS services to another business. But there are other reasons why a person with the knowledge and know-how of BAS should register as an agent.
Say you’re someone who doesn’t need to register, but you’d like to pick up extra work as a contract or freelance bookkeeper, being a registered BAS agent makes you more valuable to businesses; not just because you can complete and lodge their activity statements, but because you can also advise them on their BAS.
As noted above, even if you don’t lodge the activity statement because your client does, you may still need to register if they relied on any part of your work or advice. For your services to be clearly delineated from your client’s BAS, you’re only able to provide very basic data entry services.
If you don’t register, it means you can’t:
Work out the codes for GST or FBT collection
Provide reconciliation, because it involves deciding on the tax codes to apply
Manage your client’s payroll
You wouldn’t even be able to set up a client’s accounting software for their business.
When people hire a freelancer or a contractor, they tend to hire someone who can fit one of two criteria; either they’re:
Highly skilled in their particular field; or
If they want someone highly skilled, it’s usually because the project they’ll be working on is very important to them; if they hire someone inexpensive, it’s because the project isn’t particularly important, but does need to be done nevertheless.
You can probably see where we’re heading here. We happen to think bookkeeping is extremely important, because it indisputably has many far and wide ranging implications for all of our businesses.
How and with whom you need to register
First you need to have completed, as a minimum, a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping at a TAFE or another registered training organisation. Then you need to register with the TPB, which requires registrants to meet a certain criterion before they can be accredited as BAS agents.
Although it’s not a requirement, you’ll also need to know how to use some of the most popular accounting packages. At the moment, the three most popular accounting packages with both accountants and most business owners, are QuickBooks, MYOB and Xero, of which we offer online training courses in. All of these packages have pros and cons.
We say it’s not a requirement to know each of the above, because a Cert IV in Bookkeeping trains you in the intricacies of Australian tax law, but doesn’t teach you how to apply that in any accounting software; that’s something you have to learn yourself if you’re going to put your education into practice.
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.
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.
So what are some of the benefits? One; they get their accounting software for free, two; they receive a discount or commission for each new business they sign up to use that particular software.
Does this make certified consultants and advisors biased?
For a business owner, the upside to hiring a bookkeeper endorsed by a software company is that they will be able to work with that software application quickly and efficiently. The potential downside, however, is that the software application may not be especially suited to the business, but has been recommended anyway because the bookkeeper earns a commission for doing so.
A way around this is to do some research first. Compare a few different accounting applications before making contact with a certified consultant or advisor. Once you’ve decided on a particular software, you shouldn’t find yourself in any strife.
Independent bookkeepers bring software skills and more
Most independent bookkeepers are usually proficient in a few of the major accounting applications, like Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks, rather than just one, so they’ll be able to recommend the software that suits you and your business needs the best.
They’re also able to set up your accounting software for you and provide training if necessary, just as a certified consultant or advisor can — only you’ll be in control of your subscription instead of your bookkeeper.
ONLINE RATINGS AND REVIEWS ARE a great way to determine whether a business is trustworthy or whether they products and services they provide will suit your needs. TripAdvisor and Yelp have transformed the hospitality and accommodation industry, for example. And Airbnb is doing similar with short-term rentals.
While recently working on a home renovation in Newcastle, I came across a carpenter who had seven employees working for him. Jimmy the Chippy in Belmont has been in business nine years, has no website or online presence — but his business is booming.
How does he do it?
The old fashioned way! He does exceptional work for his customers and clients, who hire him again and again and refer him to friends, relatives, colleagues and so on. He also made a point of networking with local builders and plumbers in the area, who contact him when they have work to do, and refer him to other builders and plumbers as well.
Use word of mouth
If you’re looking locally, and the online ratings and reviews of the businesses you’re trying to decide between aren’t helping, asking a friend, relative or work colleague if they know any of the businesses.
If no one in your social network knows the business, you can also google an online forum like Whirlpool, where members frequently provide fair and balanced opinions of businesses they’ve dealt with — and if they don’t, they’re usually called out for it.
Testimonials are helpful, too
Real estate agents, accountants and many other businesses — EzyLearn included — use testimonials rather than ratings or reviews (except on Facebook), so you shouldn’t discount these just because they’ve been vetted before going online.
At EzyLearn we provide testimonials from our students, which include their full name and location, and why they chose EzyLearn to study in the first place. We ask each student whether it is ok to publish these beforehand. We also offer a money-back guarantee and free samples of our course content, so students know they can trust they’re making the right choice.
Why Excel is Great for Keeping Track of Your Spending if You’re Self Employed
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.
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.
FOR ANYBODY WHO DECIDES to be self-employed and own their own business, or who is doing so already, the question of how to match the hourly rate of someone working on salary while working in your pyjamas is one that frequently goes unanswered.
But ponder no more.
If you’re well versed in the advanced features of MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks, possess an accounting qualification and can operate your business as an independent contractor, you’re well on your way to earning the big bucks as a bookkeeping consultant.
Specialist skills earn you more money
Currently, bookkeepers with a good understanding of things like time billing, job reporting and forecasting, advanced payroll, end-of-period transactions and journal entries, as well as Australian tax, are highly sought after by other businesses to work as consultants.
Of course, you could also carve out a niche specialty for yourself if you happen to be highly skilled in a particular sector or industry.
MYOB Training Online
Our MYOB courses (offered for one low price and include lifetime access) cover 85% of the MYOB skills the majority of MYOB bookkeepers require to perform most bookkeeping tasks. For everything else, however, it’s a good idea to engage the services of a specialist who can provide a solution to your specific needs.