The Cloud Accounting Risk

When the downside of cloud accounting becomes apparent

man frustrated when xero goes offline
Many of Xero’s customers were exasperated, to say the least, at Xero going offline, leaving them unable to access their accounts.

IF YOU FOLLOW XERO in the news, then you might already be aware that since the cloud accounting giant’s migrated over to Amazon Web Services (AWS), the technology arm of the e-commerce company, Xero’s servers have gone offline a number of times — twice this March alone.

On March 1, Xero’s 800,000-plus customers were unable to access their online accounts for several hours when an AWS outage left cloud computing services offline around the world.

Two weeks later, Xero had server issues again. This time an upgrade to its database server to improve performance resulted in issues that prevented some Xero users from logging into their account or to experience issues using the service once they did log in.

No options for offline access

Unlike some MYOB products, most cloud accounting programs, like Xero and QuickBooks, don’t allow for users to access their accounts in an offline mode or to download a copy of their own data to store locally on their computer or tablet.

MYOB, for example, allows users to access and work on a local desktop version of their accounts, which they can then sync with the cloud when they’re finished. This means, that even if the MYOB server is down, MYOB users can still work on and access their accounts, and sync later when the server is back online. (Or, conversely, when the user is back online, which handy in case of internet access issues.)

Xero, QuickBooks MYOB and AWS

Amazon Web Services provides either partial or complete cloud hosting to all three of the top cloud accounting programs — Xero, QuickBooks and MYOB — yet only Xero appears to have been significantly impacted by the AWS outage this past March.

While QuickBooks is mostly hosted by parent company, Intuit’s, own servers; some features and functions of the QuickBooks service have been developed on AWS as well, though it’s not totally reliant on the Amazon service and may have been spared from the Amazon outage.

But two key cloud-based MYOB products — MYOB Essentials and MYOB Advanced — have operated on AWS since 2011. Because users can access their MYOB products offline, however, any interruption to their service appears to have been minimal.

For what it’s worth, Amazon Web Services is the largest cloud hosting company in the world. It’s used by Netflix, Spotify and Apple Music, none of which went offline during the AWS outage.

Xero to learn from AWS issues

A Xero spokesman promised a “post-mortem” to learn what happened to cause their service to go offline on March 1, admitting that the company didn’t realise “it was entirely reliant on a United States storage facility operated by AWS until it crashed.”

Although AWS is the largest and, probably, most reliable cloud hosting service in the world, it’s not immune to problems. The challenge, then, for companies, such as Xero, is to learn from and about the potential issues that can arise, and implement measure to mitigate the impact to their customers.

In Xero’s case, a simple offline mode could have prevented much of the ire its outage caused bookkeepers, accountants and small business owners trying to access their service on a time limit.

***

smart woman realising xero most popular accounting software program in australia and nzWant to learn how to use Xero like a pro? 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.  EzyLearn courses are endorsed by industry professionals and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

What are Practitioner-Created (and Endorsed) Training Courses?

Learn from the professionals living and working in your industry

women studying accredited training course online in MYOB Quickbooks Xero

YOU HEAR A LOT about industry association-accredited training courses and internationally accredited training couses; which are typically training that’s delivered by an industry association at a prescribed time, in person, or delivered by a third party provider.

EzyLearn chose to be an Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB)-accredited training provider for six years until this February, when we pivoted to focus on practitioner-created training courses instead.

“Real world” training courses

EzyLearn’s course content has always focussed on real world scenarios, whether that’s in our case studies or in the exercises students are asked to complete. That’s because we want our students to get a thorough grasp of the kind of work they’ll be expected to do during the course of their job.

That’s especially true for students of our MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks training courses, who either are, or will work, as bookkeepers for a number of different clients from different industries. So instead of including generalised case studies and exercises in our course work, we include ones that relate to specific types of businesses and transactions you’ll encounter working as a bookkeeper.

The same is true for our Excel training courses, where you can learn how to use Excel to estimate the return on investment (ROI) on a granny flat, among other real-world exercises.

The “practitioner-created” difference

We’re able to do this because our training courses are created by bookkeeping and accounting professionals, not by software companies.

Software companies and their developers do a great job at creating accounting software to manage a business’s accounting needs. But they don’t always know which different accounting scenarios will apply and when. Bookkeepers who understand Australian tax do, however.

EzyLearn doesn’t teach Australian tax law or procedures, but because our courses are developed by accounting practitioners, they’ll show you where different tax procedures apply.

Industry association courses

Membership with an industry association or associations can be a popular choice for some registered BAS agents and they often provide training to their members as part of their continuing professional development (CPD). This training usually takes the form of in-person seminars, which may discuss legislative changes or feature a product demonstration from a software company; and webinars that discuss similar.

For in-depth software training, most associations — the ICB, for example — refer students to an accredited third-party training organisation. This third-party accredited organisation will have chosen to become accredited with the ICB and pays an annual fee to them in order to have this accreditation and be able to share this fact on their website.

A lot software training organisations are partners with a provider, like Xero or MYOB, and the train students according to how MYOB or Xero recommend them to. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of training, particularly if you’re only in need of a quick refresh or a general software skills.

Software partners vs. bookkeeping practitioners

Most software partners are companies that understand software and cloud computing first, bookkeeping and accounting second. But training companies that offer courses developed by practitioners have set the new benchmark in software training.

EzyLearn has always offered practitioner-created training courses, and now we’re going to work with more practitioners to create more courses, and more content for existing courses.

Over the six years that EzyLearn was an ICB-accredited training organisation, we found that it wasn’t our industry association accreditation that brought students to our courses, it was the content, grounded in real-world scenarios, that did.

Practitioners create high watermark

Instead of learning how to create a pivot table in Excel, or other data sources you can use to create a pivot table, containing any old data and for any old reason, our practitioner create — and endorsed — Excel training courses give you a real-world example exercise to work from, so you understand when and why you will need to use a pivot table.

That’s important because Excel, as anyone who’s used it at an advanced level will know, is a complex maze of tables and graphs and formulas. So when it comes to Excel skills, you either use them or lose them. By grounding our Excel training content in real-world examples, it makes it just that much easier to hold on to what you’ve learnt until you do get to use them.

(If you do happen to lose them, students enrolled in our lifetime access courses can always go back and refresh their skills whenever they want.) By the way, we’ve written previously about the mighty Excel pivot table.

Continuing professional development courses

If you’re a bookkeeper or BAS agent used to working with one software — MYOB, say — you can update your skills with our Xero or QuickBooks training courses, which can be counted towards your continuing professional development (CPD) hours.

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Find out more about the online training courses we provide and those helping to create, endorse and who are benefiting from our courses.

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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.

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!


 

 

MYOB, Xero, Quickbooks and the Cloud Accounting Ecosystem

How the cloud accounting ecosystem has paid off big time:

And how Xero has become the preferred accounting software for Aussies and New Zealanders (Part 2 of 2)

learn intuit quickbooks payroll online training course videos
Although Xero is enormously popular in Australia and NZ, Intuit QuickBooks is backed by a company that dwarfs Xero and MYOB and is huge in the US.

FOR YEARS, MYOB was the Australian market leader in accounting software. Small businesses and accountants spent hundreds of dollars to buy its clunky, obtuse software and load it onto their computers so they could mind their own business (hence, the MYOB) or the business of their clients.

In 2008, the tide began to roll the other way, when an upstart — and a Kiwi upstart, no less — entered the Australian market, two years after it was founded. That upstart was Xero, and it revolutionised the industry, with its software- as a -service approach to accounting systems.

Fast forward a decade, and Xero is now the preferred accounting software in Australia and New Zealand, with 692,000 subscribers compared with MYOB’s 585,000 paid users. (Overall, Xero claims 1.2 million subscribers worldwide.) In the 2016/17 financial year, Xero’s revenue increased 43 percent year-on-year to $295.4 million NZD ($271.7 million AUD); during the same period, MYOB’s revenue increased 13 percent to $370.4 million AUD.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice Xero has more paid subscribers than MYOB, but its revenue is about $100 million AUD behind. That’s largely due to differences in the price of both products.

So you can’t tell which one of Xero or MYOB is the true market leader — yet.

How Xero is growing their subscriber base

Basically, they’ve reached an impasse. There’s not much opportunity left in Australia and New Zealand (there are other players, like Intuit’s QuickBooks and Zoho competing the same space, too) to grow your subscriber base — unless you’ve a carrot to dangle under their noses that’ll lure them away from your competitor.

For Xero, that carrot has taken the shape of its suite of apps, plug-ins and integrations it’s added to its offering through acquisitions and partnerships — anything that would make Xero a one-stop-shop for small businesses, and help them to extract more value from their customers.

[Xero has lured people away from competitors via their] suite of apps, plug-ins and integrations [they’ve] added to their offering through acquisitions and partnerships — anything that would make Xero a one-stop-shop for small businesses…

Meanwhile, MYOB’s strategy for market share

To its credit, MYOB has pursued a similar strategy, acquiring payment firm PayCorp last year, which followed the launch of the company’s PayDirect Mobile and PayDirect Online payments service in 2014 and 2016 respectively, as part of MYOB’s push into payment processing technology.

MYOB also acquired Reckon’s accounting practice software last November for $180 million AUD. The company said the acquisition was part of MYOB’s strategy to see accountants become business advisors, rather than tax and compliance experts.

MYOB chief executive Tim Reed sees automation as being critical to the company’s ongoing success, as it pursues a “connected practice strategy,” which brings transaction processing, compliance and business advisory together and sees accountants become more like business coaches.

“They will be like personal trainers in the gym, but for business,” he said. “This is starting today. Accountants are already working down this process and what I’m seeing is the pace of change start to increase.”

And unlike Xero, which is simultaneously pursuing overseas markets (the U.K., North America, Southeast Asia), MYOB is content to stay focussed on its home market — Australia and New Zealand. (It’s also pushing deeper into big businesses with its enterprise software Greentree, acquired in 2016.)

Accountants and the cloud accounting ecosystem

With Xero pursuing code-free accounting, MYOB pushing into “connected practices,” and Intuit beefing up its own ecosystem of apps and integrations to simplify the bookkeeping and accounting process for small businesses, where does that leave accountants and bookkeepers?

Better off, actually.

Bookkeeping is a necessary step in the overall accounting process. But it’s the most time intensive one. There’s reconciling bank accounts, entering receipts, coding transactions, invoices, and so on. Small business owners don’t — or won’t — do it, so they outsource it to a bookkeeper or accountant, who has a preferred or in-house bookkeeper.

Despite being a time intensive task, it’s lower skilled work — like untangling a jumble of coat hangers; almost anyone can do it. And so it commands a lower rate of pay than other tasks, like financial forecasting, business planning and filing activity statements.

Automating elements of the accounting process, in particular the coding of transactions, eliminates inefficiencies and time wastage. Bookkeepers and accountants can charge their clients the same hourly rates, but they’ll spend much less time doing it.

More apps, more services

And with access to more apps — like a payroll plug-in — they can begin offering more services.

Just as QuickBooks, MYOB and Xero have become more valuable to their customers, by positioning themselves as a one-stop-shop for small business, accountants and bookkeepers can do the same.

Why would a business need to engage a data entry bookkeeper, a tax or BAS agent, and a payroll company when they can hire just one individual to manage all of these tasks efficiently in one cloud accounting program?

They wouldn’t.

Food for thought: Why would a business need to engage a data entry bookkeeper, a tax or BAS agent, and a payroll company when they can hire just one individual to manage all of these tasks efficiently in one cloud accounting program?

And just as MYOB boss Tim Reed stated: Accountants and bookkeepers have already cottoned onto this.

But it means bookkeepers and accountants need to become more skilled at what they do; they need to possess a greater understanding of a wider array of softwares and systems in order to remain competitive.

And even though Intuit, MYOB and Xero have all acquired or partnered with companies that offer payroll platforms, there are still plenty of third parties businesses can choose to connect to their accounting system — that’s democratised accounting for you — so you need to watch the market, and keep your skills up-to-date.

Where to from here?

The cloud accounting space is certainly in flux. There’ll be more acquisitions, more technologies, and definitely more automation. There’ll also be more global companies, as more businesses export their goods and services overseas — and more fintech companies pursuing growth outside Australia.

KeyPay is one such company. It’s based in Wollongong in NSW, and last December announced it would expand its services to the U.K. — a pre-release was slated for January this year, with a full launch due in April.

According to CRN, the company grew 53 percent last year (though it didn’t specify what or how that “growth” was calculated; as a private company, it doesn’t disclose financials or its share of customers). And KeyPay’s co-founder Richard McLean said the company decided to enter the U.K. market because 60 percent of businesses there outsource their payroll to a third party company.

The company intends to rollout its automated payroll system in the U.K. first, with an Australian launch due later in year, and also plans to expand to New Zealand and Southeast Asia.

*** 

lifelong learning platform woman online learning for life

To ensure you have the skills required in an era of cloud accounting ecosystems, code-free accounting and connected practices, we’ve added new modules to our QuickBooks training courses — with training on KeyPal — as part of the QuickBooks Payroll Course. Visit our website for more information or to enrol. We also invite you to read what our students and clients are saying about EzyLearn.


 

MYOB Essentials Accounting, Credit Management & Payroll Courses included for FREE

myob-essentials online training course live logoYOU COULD CALL IT a New Years Resolution that we’ve managed to tick off already! Early January 2018 I promised that EzyLearn would include the MYOB Essentials Courses in with our traditional MYOB AccountRight Courses and that offer is NOW available — see our Specials Page for the details.

We currently have 2 MYOB Essentials Courses available together FOR FREE (MYOB Essentials Accounting, Daily Transactions AND MYOB Essentials Payroll Course) when you enrol in our MYOB AccountRight Courses — or available separately via the Bookkeeping Academy enrolment form.

MYOB Essentials seems to tick the boxes for most small businesses

Our MYOB Essentials course seems to cater to small business for the following reasons:

  • It enables businesses to keep track of quotes and convert them to sales invoices
  • It includes bank feeds for faster, more accurate and less stressful end of month/quarter reporting
  • You can work out the allocation of GST paid and received for quicker BAS reports
  • Included is Payroll to manage the sometimes complex compliance requirements faced by small businesses

And here’s an excerpt from the MYOB Essentials website:

Features of MYOB Essentials cloud accounting software in our income, expenses, GST, & Payroll Online Course

 

MYOB Essentials has a well-placed price

MYOB also seem to have the pricing at just the right level to not hurt the wallet of small business owners. Xero is now powering ahead with constant features updates (and that puts regular pressure on us to continually create Xero Course updates — which we LOVE doing!) to justify a higher price as they hurtle along on their journey of being a quasi-ERP system using integrated apps in their marketplace.

MYOB Essentials Pricing as of February 2018 - online training courses
Pricing as of 24 February 2018

QuickBooks Online, on the other hand, use an ongoing cheap price special offer to attract new users and use an Australian-based payroll services provided to provide very sophisticated advanced payroll features while keeping the total price low.

We’ve just completed the production side of our QuickBooks Online Advanced Payroll Course so subscribe to get notified of when this training course material is ready to view.

QuickBooks Online Pricing as of February 2018 - online training courses
Pricing as of 24 February 2018

 

Current MYOB training course students receive MYOB Essentials Courses FREE

When I first took EzyLearn online in 2006 it was a huge change in my life and I’ve always been grateful to every student who has chosen EzyLearn to do online training. I’m always looking for ways to help them learn more, do more and achieve better results in their career, business and life goals.

***

My commitment to continuing to keep MYOB Essentials courses available FREE for current MYOB Accountright Course students has never wavered. The other recent commitment is that we’ve made is the Workface Career Academy and the Selling Academy programs available to ALL EzyLearn students via our new LIFELONG Learning Hub.


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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). 


 

How to Tell You’re Setting Your Prices Too Low

How to set prices in business

how to set prices in business
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by pricing too low and only winning jobs that you make very little on!

AS ALL SMALL BUSINESS owners know, setting the right prices is a difficult task. And a lot of newbie business owners think that being cheap is the better than meeting the market, but that’s not always the case.

Take, for example, a tradesperson I met recently. This tradesman is a painter and he’d been in business for a while before he realised his prices were set too low, and despite all the business he was getting as a result, it was actually costing him money. (We cover more detailed, real-life case studies like this in our micro courses.) 

He shared with me the tell-tale signs that your prices are too low.

Lots of small, one-off jobs

Small jobs are important because they keep the home fires burning, so to speak. But you need a good balance of small jobs and bigger projects, with the small jobs being completed around or in the middle of the larger ones.

If you’re only getting lots of small, one-off jobs that you spend more time to travelling to than it takes to complete the work, this is a good indication that your prices are too low. For jobs like these, either charge for travel time or a call-out fee.

For small jobs … charge for travel time or a call-out fee.

You’re too busy to plan ahead

If you find that, in order to make ends meat, you need to keep yourself so busy that you don’t have time to plan your working week, then your prices are too low. You should be able to plan out your weeks so customers know when to expect you, and so you can be as productive and efficient as possible — if you have two jobs in the same area, for instance, planning ahead will allow you to go to those jobs on the same day.

Use a tool like Google Calendar from G Suite to organise your days, and keep in touch with customers along the way so they know to expect you.

You can’t afford to pay for help

Setting your prices lower than your competitors may be one way to win jobs, but the downside is that you’re constrained to completing the work entirely yourself. The tradesman, a painter, whom I was speaking with, told me about a time he couldn’t afford to find another painter to help prepare walls or pitch in with the painting because his prices were too low.

If you’re not able to pass jobs onto other businesses in your industry — subcontracting — and still clip the ticket, or you’re not able to afford to use a portion of the money you’d earn to hire someone to complete part of the job, you’re charging too little.

You’re too busy to invoice promptly

Just as it’s important to plan your work weeks in advance, it’s equally important that you invoice customers for the work you’ve completed in a timely manner. If you find that you often don’t have the time to invoice customers until a week or a month has passed, there’s a deficiency in your business processes. Use accounting software like Xero so you can invoice on the go.

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We cover setting prices the market — and your business — will bear in our EzyStartup Course. Visit our website for more information and to enrol.


Check out our Spring Specials!

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We have a host of online training course specials for the spring season — take a look!


 

What Does Lifetime Access Mean for Xero and Excel Courses?

Receive updated course content — for life!

learning how to use excel and xero with online training
We are one of the only online learning centres offering access to course updates for the rest of your working life with our Lifetime Access option.

ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS about Excel is that it has so many applications. It can be used to create financial budgets and forecasts, monitor stock levels in a retail shop, roster staff, and also determine how much money an investor can borrow to buy a property.

A lot of the time, however, people enrol in an Excel online training course or Xero online training course because they need to refresh a specific set of skills for their job, which means they don’t have the time to focus on other areas that don’t have an immediate relevance for their work.

Upskill at your own pace

With our Lifetime Access courses for Excel and Xero and many other online cloud accounting and business options, students can continue learning in their own way and at their own pace, either as part of continuing professional development or for their own personal interest — our course content includes real-world case studies, like building a granny flat, to give context to the functions of Excel.

Keep up-to-date across all software versions

The other benefit of our Lifetime Access for Excel online training courses and Xero online training courses is that it means you can quickly brush up on where functions have been moved to when new versions of Xero and Excel are released.

We update our course content every time a new version of software is released, and with Lifetime Access, you’ll be able to access all of this new content, along with previous versions of course — so you can keep learning on the most current versions of Excel and Xero.

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Stop wasting time, and start learning for less. Visit our website for more information about Microsoft Excel training courses and our Xero training courses, and to enrol.


Don’t miss out on our terrific Spring specials

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We are constantly refreshing the content of our online training courses so that you can benefit from all the new information that is always coming in about being in business, or running your own business as a bookkeeper or looking for bookkeeping work.

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 Do You Need to Register as a BAS Agent?

Making the effort to specialise reaps rewards

becoming a registered BAS agent
Without BAS agent registration you may be limiting your options for employment as a bookkeeper.

BECOMING A REGISTERED BAS agent means you are permitted to lodge a client’s business activity statements (BAS) on their behalf, each month or quarter, or as determined by the ATO.

BAS agents are really bookkeepers; but they’re ones who have done some extra training and applied to the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB) for a BAS agent’s accreditation.

Not every bookkeeper has to register as a BAS agent, but those who do typically earn more as a registered BAS agent than a straightforward, no-frills bookkeeper does. That’s largely due to the way cloud-based software, like Xero and Quickbooks, has made it a lot easier for businesses to manage their own bookkeeping. But even just speaking generally, bookkeepers who have specialised skills always tend to earn more.

So when don’t you need to register?

You don’t need to register as a BAS agent if:

  • 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.

Example:

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.

becoming a registered bas agentIf 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.

If you don’t register as a BAS agent

A bookkeeper that’s only able to provide very basic data entry services – which isn’t even a huge component of the bookkeeping job now that most accounting packages have the bank feeds feature – isn’t very valuable to a business, simply because they don’t add any value to their client’s 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
  • Inexpensive

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.

To read more about becoming a bookkeeper, and in particular how to start a bookkeeping business, continue reading or subscribe to our blog. Alternatively, to learn how to use MYOB or Xero, you can enrol in one of our many training courses online.

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Read more about being a BAS agent

learn xero myob excel online training course videos

Starting your own bookkeeping business can provide a lucrative and flexible career option. As a BAS agent you can lodge Taxable Payments Annual Reports (TPARs) which are used in the construction industry. Also, don’t fear that you should automatically choose to affiliate with one accounting software application over another — oftentimes having a qualified BAS agent is far more valuable to a business than a certified consultant or advisor.  


 

What Do Bookkeepers and Builders Have in Common?

How to see if your bookkeeper is competitive

learn xero online training course videos shopping around for bookkeeping quote
Shopping around for bookkeeping quotes in order to ascertain exactly what tasks your bookkeeper will do is perfectly reasonable – and a great way to develop your PSA.

FINDING THE RIGHT BOOKKEEPER for your business isn’t always easy, especially when there are different types of bookkeepers who each provide different services. That’s in addition to all the different certified consultants and advisors around. We’ve found that one of the best ways to ensure you’re hiring the right bookkeeper is to simply ask them for a quote.

Getting a bookkeeping quote

When it comes to getting a quote you can compare a bookkeeper to a builder. Just as you would get a quote from at least a couple of builders before hiring one of them to work for you, it’s a good idea to get a couple of different quotes from different bookkeepers. This helps you compare apples with apples.

But more than this: a bookkeeping quote should detail precisely what tasks the bookkeeper will carry out, the frequency at which they’ll be done, and any other hidden costs you may be up for, such as the cost to migrate your data from one accounting application to another.

Your professional services agreement

Getting a quote will also help form your professional services agreement. Simply obtain the required number of quotes and decide which bookkeeper you’ll hire for your business; then make sure that quote is turned into a professional services agreement (PSA).

A PSA is the written contract between you and your bookkeeper, outlining the tasks they’ll carry out and when, any other fees and charges, when you’ll pay them and how, plus any additional obligations on their part and yours. A professional services agreement is a safeguard for both you and the bookkeeper. It’s also another way to help ensure the bookkeeper will be the right fit for your business.

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Need to brush up on MYOB or Xero?

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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. 


 

Should Your Bookkeeper Earn a Commission Off Your Software Subscription?

Is your bookkeeper’s bias disadvantaging you?

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Although a bookkeeper who is certified by a major accounting software company can be a good thing, you need to make sure their accounting package is best for your business.

SOME BOOKKEEPERS HAVE BEEN endorsed by software companies and are known as certified consultants or advisors. At EzyLearn we provide online training in Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks and we know that some people who hire bookkeepers aren’t aware of the benefits these certified consultants and advisors receive.

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.

Research first

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.

If, however, you contact a bookkeeper without doing your own research first, there are some things to be wary of, such as whose name the subscription will be in — failing to do so could prove to be a costly mistake.

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.

To ensure your independent bookkeeper is just as qualified as a certified consultant or advisor, ask to check their references. By law, a bookkeeper can’t perform BAS or tax services unless they’re registered with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB) so you can check with them to ensure they are. If you’re worried about their software skills, ask if they’ve taken any short courses in a particular accounting application.

We want to help you get the best from your bookkeeper. Check out our recently upgraded National Bookkeeping directory which features bookkeepers from all over Australia. Or perhaps you’re after software training in MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks? We feature online training in these, and many other business-related courses: see our website for more


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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. 


 

Ratings, Reviews, Testimonials, Recommendations

Why you can’t beat old-fashioned word of mouth

social media ratings reviews online word of mouth referrals
Online ratings and reviews have a role to play in buying decisions, but sometimes you just can’t go past traditional word of mouth to find good workers.

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.

But as we’ve previously discussed, online ratings and reviews can be easily faked and sometimes biased or devoid of useful information

Looking for a local? Ask around!

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.

And don’t be put off if a business has received the odd bad review. Look at why they’ve received the review and what the business has done or said to address the bad review. Some businesses with a less than perfect record may be more trustworthy than those with reviews and ratings moderated by the businesses themselves.

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.

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At EzyLearn, we’re committed to helping students of our online training courses, be it in in Xero, MYOB, Excelsocial media or other courses, gain employment as bookkeepers, generally better their businesses, or even start their own bookkeeping business. To this end, we provide you with a Lifetime Access option to our cloud accounting training courses.


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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. 


 

Buying Real Estate For Your Business

The pros of buying a business property

xero reports to buy or sell business industrial unit business investment
Buying a premises for your business need not be cost prohibitive and you may enjoy good equity growth.

IN OUR NEW CASH FLOW reporting, Budgets and ROI course for Xero, we delve into the purchase of real estate for your business, which you may use as office space or as a warehouse or as a storage facility and workshop, depending on your line of work.

Why some businesses don’t like buying

Lots of businesses avoid buying premises for their businesses, because you’ll need to have a large capital injection right off the bat, and you may also incur land tax obligations, building insurance, and also be liable for maintenance and repairs.

Renting gives businesses, especially new ones, flexibility, as you’re only locked into a short term lease — not a multi decade mortgage. And if you decide to move or find new premises before your lease term is up, you can often minimise the costs by subletting the premises.

Buying as an investment strategy

However, buying your premises is a good investment strategy, as you’ll be able to access the equity and capital growth in the premises as property prices rise.

You’re also afforded greater freedoms and stability when you own your business’s premises — in particular, protections from rising rents — than you would have if you rented your premises. If you outgrow the space, you can always access the equity and may be able to buy adjacent premises, or rent out your existing ones while you upgrade, providing another valuable income stream.

Running the right reports to help you decide

Of course you can use a cloud accounting program like Xero to run reports that will help you decide whether to buy or rent your business premises and how such a decision will impact your cash flow. There will naturally be capital gains tax considerations and associated deductions. Our Xero training courses go through how to run these kinds of reports to ascertain the financial health of your business.

Low cost pathways to ownership

Industrial units are a good pathway into ownership for your business. If you don’t need to be right in the heart of the city or major town centre, you can often purchase an industrial unit for under $100,000.

In Newcastle in the Hunter region of New South Wales, you can purchase an industrial unit called a Cubbyhole, which can be used as a workshop, storage unit or office space for tradespeople, small and online businesses. These come with amenities such as toilets and showers, car parking (including visitors’ and disabled) and CCTV security, among other things and are worth checking out if you want to buy and only need a smaller business space. 

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In our Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI course for Xero, you’ll learn how to deal with the purchase of business premises just like a Cubbyhole in Xero. Visit our website for more information on our variety of online training courses or enrol today!


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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. 


 

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.


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


 

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.


 

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. 


 

Recording BAS Refunds is a Cinch in Xero

Understanding BAS refunds

accounting for BAS refunds with Xero_comp
No need to be puzzled: Our online Xero courses can walk you through how to account for a business loss or BAS refund from the ATO.

IF YOUR BUSINESS RECORDS a loss for a quarter, you may be entitled to a BAS refund from the ATO. In a new workbook in our Xero training courses, we look at what happens when a business changes strategy and when this change results in a loss. 

Businesses that record a loss sometimes receive a BAS refund from the ATO. You may have the full amount returned to you, or part of the amount.

Are you receiving a full BAS refund?

When you lodge your BAS paperwork, you either owe money (a tax debt) or the ATO owes you money (a refund). Sometimes you mightn’t receive a refund or the refund may be less than you thought.

This could happen if the refund is offset against a tax debt you already owe, or perhaps the refund is being retained by the ATO until you provide further information — which could be as simple as providing the correct bank account details. The ATO provides information about both of these scenarios on their website. Regardless of whether the whole amount, or part of the amount is returned, you’ll need to account for this in Xero.

Create a ‘receive money transaction’

If you do receive a BAS refund, you’ll need to record this money (that isn’t due to a sale) by creating a ‘receive money transaction’ in Xero. Our Xero training courses show you how to do this.

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Our online Xero training courses show you how changing your business strategy could result in your business making a loss — and how you can account for this. Our Xero courses also walk you through how to lodge and record BAS refunds. For more information, visit our website or go direct to the courses.


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.


 

Self Managing Your Superannuation in Excel

Skipping super can be a thing of the past

super payments xero online training learning course videos
We feel your pain! Often businesses lack the cash flow to make super payments, but you always have to pay them in the end…

WHEN YOU’RE SELF EMPLOYED you are responsible for managing your taxes and your superannuation — the latter of which many business owners let go by the wayside. It’s almost always because they don’t have the cash reserves to contribute to their super fund regularly enough.

Just as you would create a budget to make a business investment or asset purchase, you can use Xero and Excel to determine how much super you should contribute on your behalf, and then make the payments.

Run a cashflow report

You’ll learn how to run a cashflow report in our Xero training courses. This report will show you the periods when cashflow is liquid and when it isn’t. Run a cashflow report for a couple of different periods, and export them into Excel. This will give you a better idea of trends and cycles in your business.

You can also use a cashflow report to determine your income before taxes, expenses, and so forth. Superannuation is determined based on gross earnings — or revenue — so you should use this figure to work out your super contributions. This is especially important before end of financial year!

Determine super contributions

At time of writing, the superannuation guarantee is 9.5 percent of your gross revenue, before taxes, expenses, etc. If you set your prices correctly, you should have already factored this 9.5 percent into your prices or hourly rate. If you haven’t, you ought to consider revising what you charge customers and clients.

If you were an employee of a business, your employer would be required to make super contributions on your behalf, at least each quarter. Because you’re self-employed and self-managing your super contributions, you can make them as frequently or infrequently as you like, so long as you’re contributing the correct amounts. (Speak to your accountant or financial advisor, however, if you’re salary sacrificing above the minimum amount — this may affect your tax.)

Make super contributions

Once you’ve determined how much you should contribute to your super fund each quarter, refer back to your cashflow report and to the periods where your cashflow is especially liquid. Are you able to make your contributions each quarter easily, and without compromising your business’s liquidity? Would it be easier to make smaller, more regular contributions?

The decision is yours.

Use Xero to make your super contributions. Xero is connected to a superannuation clearing house, and if you’ve been using to Xero to pay yourself a wage, it’s the easiest way to do so. If you’re not using your accounting software to pay yourself a wage, you can make the payment directly out of your bank account, however, you’ll need to track this in Xero for taxation purposes.

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Our Xero training courses will show you how run cashflow reports and make wage and super payments, while our Excel training courses will also teach you how to create business budgets and forecasts. Visit our website for more information.


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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).