Announcement: Excel Course Spreadsheet Says Yes to Granny Flat Investment – Now Included

MAKING THE DECISION whether to take the risk and invest in anything is hard. However, when you put the information in an Excel spreadsheet, it soon becomes very clear whether it’s worth doing.

Once you decide it’s worth going ahead, you can use Microsoft Excel to create a Gantt Chart of the project to make sure it happens right as planned.

The EzyLearn COMPLETE Excel Beginners’ to Advanced Online Excel training courses include sample exercises files which will show you specifically and exactly how much you can borrow to invest in property (including a granny flat). Also included is a Gantt chart to help you with project management. Continue reading Announcement: Excel Course Spreadsheet Says Yes to Granny Flat Investment – Now Included

Should You Buy Commercial Property Outright or Get a Mortgage?

The power of using Excel and Xero combined

Excel and Xero combined importing_comp
Our courses cover how to import from Excel into Xero and visa versa, for purposes such as working out depreciation on a business premises.

THERE ARE MANY UPSIDES to buying a commercial property for your business and if you’re able to buy an industrial unit like a Cubbyhole, it can also be a lot cheaper than renting premises.

Buying outright

If you’re in the financial position to buy your business premises outright, it may seem like a no-brainer to do this instead of getting a mortgage. However, there are some things you need to consider:

  • You’ll lose liquidity on the assets in your property, which means you won’t be able to tap into any equity in the property, unless you take out an equity loan against the property.
  • You’re tying all your cash to one asset class, which may limit your ability to make other investments and prevent your business from expanding. This could run counter to your reasons for making the property purchase in the first place.

Getting a mortgage

When you get a mortgage, you have the benefit of being able to access equity in the property, which will enable to invest elsewhere. Of course, there are still factors to keep in mind:

  • You’re spreading the payments over many years, which ties you to paying down that asset for the foreseeable future.
  • You’re paying interest, which although it’s a tax deduction, will significantly inflate the price of the property.

Work out the best way in Excel

Using the data from your Xero accounting software package, Microsoft Excel can help you determine whether your business will be financially better off buying its premises outright or getting a mortgage.

You can also create a financial forecast in Excel. Using Excel, you can calculate the depreciation amounts, which can then be entered into Xero. We cover how to deal with aspects like depreciation in our Xero Bank Reconciliation Course, because many businesses own, or will own, a capital asset at some point.

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Check out our new Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI Course for Xero which shows you how to deal with an asset purchase like a business premises in Xero. Remember, you get access to ALL our Xero courses for ONE LOW COST. Visit our website for more information on our suite of online training courses or enrol today!


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Importing from Xero to Excel and back again is included as part of our Advanced Microsoft Excel training courses — and you receive access to ALL OF OUR COURSES, including ALL skill 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!


 

Importing Bank Statements into Xero

Making bookkeeping easier, faster and more accurate

importing bank statements into Xero online learning course training videos
You’d be surprised how many business owners don’t even know how to import their bank statements into their accounting software. Are you one of them?

WE HAVE CREATED A brand new Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI Course for Xero and one of the things you’ll learn is how to import your bank statements into Xero.

The sales spiels of many of the notable online accounting software packages like QuickBooks, Wave Accounting, Outright, Kashoo, LessAccounting, Clearbooks and even Xero, claim that this feature will save you time and effort as it imports your bank transactions. The truth is, this is not foolproof and won’t work 100 percent of the time (even if it’s just a matter of not being able to get your software and your bank to “connect” just as your mobile phone connection inexplicably doesn’t work sometimes).

Therefore, always double check your bank transaction data has been imported accurately. This said, importing your bank statement into Xero (or whatever accounting software you use) is a really important step in the bookkeeping process that a lot of business owners forget or don’t know how to do. And the technology is only going to get better!

Using the correct format

To import your bank statement into Xero, you must ensure it’s in the correct format. Xero can only work with a CSV file of your bank statement. Depending on your bank, you might be able to download your bank statement as a CSV file from your internet banking, or you will have to create one from scratch.

Creating one from scratch isn’t too difficult. If your bank doesn’t give you the option of downloading a bank statement as a CSV file, you can create one yourself in Microsoft Excel.

You can download an Excel template from Xero. It includes the recommended fields and is already set up as a CSV file, so all you need to do is add in your data.

Set transaction rules

Once you’ve created and uploaded your bank statement to Xero, you’ll need to set up transaction rules for recurring expenses. You’ll learn how to do this in our Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI Xero Course.

Setting rules for recurring transactions helps speed up the reconciliation process, which depending on the type of business you operate and how often you reconcile your account, can be the most time-consuming part of the process.

Importing your bank statement and creating rules for transactions that occur each week, month fortnight, year, etc, greatly speeds up this process.

No CSV? Use bank feeds

If your business has lots of expenses every week, and your bank doesn’t let you download your bank statement in a CSV format, you may find that manually creating one in Excel each month is too time consuming.

Set up bank feeds instead. Bank feeds is the process of linking all of your business accounts, whether they’re credit cards or bank accounts, to your accounting software, so that each time you make an electronic purchase, it’s automatically imported into your accounting software.

This will allow you to reconcile your account each fortnight, week or more frequently, if you desire, than once a month when your bank statement comes in.

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Bank feeds save your business time and money. Find out more about setting up automatic bank feeds in Xero and importing bank statements into Xero. You can also read more about our new Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI Course for Xero, visit our website or enrol today!


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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. NOW is the time to learn to use Excel, one of the most-used software applications in the world.


 

3 Things You MUST Do in Excel!

Business owners and job seekers take note!

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Excel isn’t just for budding bookkeepers; it’s a great tool for all business owners to know.

MICROSOFT EXCEL IS THE most widely used spreadsheet application in modern computing. That said, it’s also one of the more difficult programs of the Microsoft Office Suite to learn, which is why we recently updated the content of our Excel training courses.

A lot of people do our Excel training courses to help them “skill up” to find a job, find a position better suited to them, or develop their career path. However, Excel is a fantastic tool for small business owners as well.

But whether you use Excel to create a pivot table or a database, there are a few things you should do each time you open an Excel document. Here we present you with three:

1. Vertical align: always centre

Always align the text in the cells of your Excel spreadsheet to the centre, or the top in certain circumstances. But never, ever align it to the bottom. It’s hard on the eyes and, when you’re looking at lots and lots of data in lots and lots of cells, it becomes difficult to know which row, column, etc, you’re looking in. Centre alignment, always.

2. Build error-checking into formulas

There should never be an instance where one of your workbooks is showing a #DIV/0, #N/A, #REF, #NAME?, #NUM!, or #NULL! error. This is especially true if you’re sharing these workbooks with your business partners or accountant or whomever.

Seeing an error in a financial report may cause the reader to doubt the accuracy of the entire workbook, so ensure your workbooks remain error free by using the simple IFERROR() error-checking function in Excel.

3. Print preview your work

Again, if you intend to share workbooks with other people, you should always ensure that your Excel workbooks can be printed nicely and easily, even if you don’t intend to ever print the document yourself. This is easy enough to do via File > Print Preview and adjusting the print margins before sharing (or printing) the document.

However, judging by the number of times I’ve printed an Excel document only to collect 87 sheets of paper off my printer to read the contents one 4×4 table, the function is seldom used by anyone else but me!

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For more Excel formatting tips and tricks, download our FREE Beginners’ Guide to Excel, or enrol in our intermediate or advanced online Excel training courses to learn how to create databases, pivot tables, charts, graphs, and much more…

Read more about our beginners, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow!


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At EzyLearn, we’re committed to helping students of our MYOB, Xero and Quickbooks courses gain employment as a bookkeeper or even start their own bookkeeping business; it’s why we provide you with lifetime access to our online cloud-accounting training courses as part of our commitment to continuing professional development


 

Is the ATO Getting into the Cloud Accounting Game?

The ATO is helping you keep track of deductions and expenses

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

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

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

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

The ATO’s tax and superannuation app

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

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

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

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

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

Cloud accounting still best and easiest

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

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

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

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


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


 

Cash Flow Forecasting for Sole Traders and Contractors

Great expense apps if you’re self employed

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

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

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

Expense and budgeting apps

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

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

Pocketbook

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

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

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

TrackMySpend

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

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

ATO

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

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

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

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

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


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


 

 

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Cash Flow Forecasting and Reporting Apps for Xero

Do you know how happy your business is?

running cashflow reports in xero and exporting to excel
Cash flow is THE key indicator of your business’ health and happiness so it pays to know the tools that will help you run regular cash flow reports.

AS WE’VE WRITTEN NUMEROUS times before, cash flow is the best indicator of financial health. A cash flow report takes into account the money you have in the bank after you’ve paid all your suppliers, employees, made your loan repayments.

Cash flow represents money in the bank

If, after paying your suppliers, employees, making loan repayments, cash outlays, and so forth, you don’t have any money in the bank (or you can’t make all of your obligations) this is negative cash flow.

Negative cash flow indicates a problem. There’s either a failing in one or more of your processes — your credit management procedures, for instance — or you’re simply spending more money than you’re making.

Cash flow forecasting is critical

You can create a cash flow forecast report in Xero by running a number of cash flow reports and importing them into Excel for analysis. (We’ve written before about how to link a financial forecast created in Excel with your Xero accounting information.) Linking the two in this way is a highly customisable method for seeing what you’re spending your money on, and when. You’ll also be able to track your clients’ payment patterns, so you can put processes in place to speed up the time it takes to get paid.

Forecasting and reporting apps

This Xero-Excel method for creating a cash flow forecast report can be time consuming, however. It also requires a good knowledge of Excel so you can set up formulas that will allow you to forecast 12 months ahead. 

For smaller businesses or sole traders — or even large businesses that just want to glance quickly at their cash flow — a dedicated cash flow app is a good way to track and forecast your business’s cash flow — and in real time. In our last blog we covered some of our favourite expense apps and why we like them.

Float

Float expense tracking app logoAt $79 a month for a basic (or “medium”) plan, Float is on the pricier end of cash flow apps, but its many features — in particular, the ability to create “scenarios” that allow you to determine the outcome of a particular business decision, such as employing two staff members instead of one — make up for it.

Float quickly learns trends in your business and will be able to anticpate upcoming payments, bills, etc. It also integrates with Xero, QuickBooks and even FreeAgent, the free cloud-based accounting app for small businesses.

FUTRLI

Futrli Expense App logoFormerly known as CrunchBoards, this British app, which has expanded into Australia and the U.S., features predictive alerts, KPI dashboards, tax forecasting (so you can accurately estimate your tax bill), trend indicators, forecasts for the next ten years (if you want), scenario planning, and a heap more.

It doesn’t, however, learn from your business, so it can’t predict upcoming payments and bills. FUTRLI will set you back $59 a month, regardless of whether you’re a startup, growing business or established enterprise. It integrates with Xero and QuickBooks.

Spotlight

Spotlight_Reporting-logoA lot simpler than FUTRLI, but with fewer features (although you could argue, it’s a spotlight on the *only* features you need), Spotlight will let you import all your budget data, create scenarios, and create KPIs for your business, making forecast reporting a cinch, but it doesn’t learn from your business.

This means it can’t anticipate upcoming payments from clients or bills coming due, leaving you to create forecasts based on past trends, rather than upcoming ones. Spotlight integrates with Xero.

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Understanding your business’s cash flow is critical to its ongoing financial health, and to your ability to make sound business decisions. Our Xero training courses will show you how to run financial reports, including cash flow statements that you can use to create forecasts in Excel. Visit our website for more information.


cashflow reports in xero and excel

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

Office data connection files

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

External relational databases

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

Using another pivot table

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

Create a database in Excel first

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

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


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


 

Are You Making these GST Mistakes in Your Bookkeeping?

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

find a bas agent in your local area
Don’t submit inaccurate financial documents by trying to do everything yourself by way of bookkeeping.

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

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

Claiming GST twice

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

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

Recording GST for all expenses

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

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

Claiming GST credits on purchases from suppliers not registered for GST

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

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

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

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

At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of online accounting software courses, as well as business start up and management courses, to marketing and sales courses — or update and further your skills in a range of Microsoft Office programs (ExcelPowerPointWord) or social media and WordPress web design). Many of our courses come with a ONE LOW COST for ALL SKILLS LEVEL option. 


Need help finding a BAS or TAX Agent?

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


 

Explaining Why Excel’s Pivot Tables are So Mighty!

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

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

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

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

What are pivot tables used for?

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

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

Pivot table data sources

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

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

Create a database in Excel first

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

***

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

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


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


 

What to Do When You Have More than One Income Stream

Why it’s important to track your income streams

keep-track-of-more-than-one-income-stream-using-excel-myob-xero-learn-online-training-course-videos
It can be easy to lose track of separate income streams; Excel is a great tool for monitoring which work your income is coming from.

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

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

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

Two tax returns? Use Excel

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

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

Reasons why people have two income streams

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

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

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

Focus on how to earn money

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

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


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Keeping Tabs on those ‘Little’ Monthly Expenses

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

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

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

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

Not all your expenses are 100% business ones

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

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

Monitor frivolous spending

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

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

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

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

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

Create as many categories as you need

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

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

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

Back to those business expenses

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

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

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You can learn how to create and manage your expenses or spending in our Excel training courses, where you’ll be able to create your own spending or expense sheet. Visit our website for more information.


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Thinking of Starting a Second Business? Introducing Jerry

Case Study: Costs for starting up a second, related business

microsoft excel starting a second business
Contemplating starting a second business, related in some way to your first? Excel can help you forecast start up costs.

A LOT OF BUSINESS OWNERS branch out into related fields when their flagship business becomes successful enough (just look at Jim’s Mowing). However, this can be a bit dicey if the business owner doesn’t properly forecast all the start up costs. Not doing so can not only have an adverse impact on the new venture, but also on the existing business.

In this case study, we’re going to look at the start up costs associated with starting a real estate sales business.

Meet Jerry, our budding entrepreneur

Jerry is a male in his 40’s, currently working as an agent for a local asbestos removal company, earning a commission for helping the company make sales. In this role, he works as an independent contractor, invoicing the asbestos removal company at the end of the month. Because of the work he does, Jerry meets with lots of homeowners (and business owners too) who are renovating their home in preparation to put it on the market for sale or rent out.

Because of the client contact base Jerry is always developing, and knowing that there is no conflict of interest, Jerry decides he’d like to branch and become a real estate salesperson.

Budgeting for a new business from home

Jerry decides to operate his real estate sales business from home, as he plans to operate it as a side business, at least initially. Jerry won’t need to lease office space, but there are the following costs he will need to budget for. The costs he foresees are approximate:

  • Real estate license training course: $2,250
  • Website setup costs: $300 + training (if required)
  • G Suite account: $5/month upwards + training (if required)
  • Mobile phone: $55/month upwards
  • Business cards, flyers, other marketing materials: $99 upwards

Jerry’s ad-hoc operational costs

Although the majority of Jerry’s operational expenses will be reimbursed by the vendor once the property is sold — property marketing, auctioneer costs, etc. — Jerry will need to ensure he has enough capital to cover these operational costs. Property marketing costs are determined based on a percentage of the property’s value, usually 1 percent but sometimes lower. The median price of property in Jerry’s area is $440,000.

Because Jerry is already working as an independent contractor, he doesn’t have to incur any other operational costs (office furniture, internet, information technology, etc.), however his bookkeeper may apportion these costs differently now that Jerry is operating an additional business.

Determining upfront capital required

Jerry already has two homeowners who are thinking of selling their home in the next 12 months. He estimates that based on the value of each property, he will need to spend $5,000 each on property marketing. Therefore, he’ll need at least $13,370 in startup capital to fund his new venture for the next 12 months — although he knows that the initial $20,000 in property marketing will be reimbursed to the business within 6 months.

How Jerry will measure his success

Jerry is located in Newcastle in the Hunter region of New South Wales. Clearance rates in this region hover around 70 percent and properties spend an average of 50 to 70 days on the market, as property is typically sold by private treaty rather than auction. These two metrics will be used to determine Jerry’s success. Price is not a good indicator, as the nature of property sales means Jerry should be valuing property accurately with only a 10 to 15 percent difference in the final sale price.

Jerry should also research other real estate agents selling similar property in his local area to determine how many sales they are writing each calendar year. This can become another benchmark for Jerry’s success, although only a peripheral one, as Jerry is still only operating his real estate business on the side.

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You can use Excel to work out a budget for the start up costs for your second business, and use accounting software like Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks to forecast whether your existing business will have the capital to fund your new venture.

Our Excel training courses will teach you how to create budgets and forecasts and our cloud accounting training courses will show you how to determine the financial health of your business.


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Should You Take Out a Loan to Avoid Delaying Payroll Payments?

Repayments on a business loan may be less than super and PAYG combined

Small business loan to finance PAYG and super
It’s not uncommon for small businesses to take out a business loan to meet their super and PAYG obligations – but this should never be a knee-jerk reaction to lean times.

IN A PREVIOUS POST we talked about taking out a business loan to cover payroll if you anticipate that you won’t have enough funds to do so otherwise.

Naturally, it’s always better to use your business’ own funds to meet your obligations, whether it’s paying staff or suppliers. This said, getting a business loan to cover payroll can be a good idea for small and growing businesses in certain circumstances. We look at these now.

Loan repayments are usually small

Depending on how many employees work for you, the repayments on a business loan are typically smaller than all of your payroll obligations — this includes superannuation and PAYG — combined. If you get a loan to fund 12 months of your business, payable over a 24 or 26 month period, the repayments will be far easier to manage each month.

Interest is usually a tax deduction

Businesses are able to claim the interest from any business loan as a tax deduction, so even if the annual percentage rate (APR) adds a few additional thousands of dollars to your capital amount over the period it takes to pay the loan back, the interest will still go towards reducing your taxable income.

This is a more favourable option to delaying payment to your employees (illegal) and delaying payment of PAYG and superannuation withholdings, which could incur a Failure To Lodge (FTL) penalty, plus a general interest charge (GIC). Note: Fines and penalties cannot be claimed as a tax deduction and are therefore dead money.

Do your sums first

taking out a small business loanDon’t forget that, while a business loan to cover payroll for 12 months will be easy to repay initially, your business’s profits will need to improve substantially over the next year so that you can continue to meet your loan repayments AND your payroll obligations for that year.

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You can easily work this out using Microsoft Excel. Our Intermediate Microsoft Excel training courses show you how to determine if you can afford to take out a mortgage, but because all of our fields remain “unlocked”, you can easily modify them to suit a business loan scenario. Visit our website for more information on all of our Excel training courses.


 

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Our online training courses feature real-life case studies to make our learning more relevant and true to life.

Turn Your Wage Payments into a Business Loan

Only Managing Payroll on an Ad Hoc Basis? We Show You How

managing ad hoc payroll
If you know that you can’t quite make payroll, a short-term business loan may see you through and avoid penalties.

WE’VE RECENTLY UPDATED THE course content in our Intermediate Microsoft Excel training courses to include a workbook and spreadsheet (that you can use in your own business) showing you how to manage ad hoc payroll using Microsoft Excel. This will enable you to calculate your PAYG and superannuation obligations in Excel.

Using Excel to work out your PAYG and super obligations is a great way for small businesses, with a small number of employees, to save money. It saves you having to purchase this extra module in MYOB or Xero, for instance, when you may rarely use it. Saving money for small business is crucial as often it’s these same small businesses that have trouble making payroll payments each week, fortnight or month — and then wind up incurring further fees from the ATO when they’re late with their reporting and payments. It’s a vicious cycle.

When you can’t make payroll

If you’re finding it a stretch to make payroll payments, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Lots of business owners have trouble making payroll. But there are things you can do about it. We find that it frequently comes down to poor credit management processes or perhaps a downward trend in a business’ cycle that’s been missed due to poor or inefficient accounting processes. All of these can be rectified.

If the reason your business can’t make payroll is due to one or more shortcomings in your business’ operations, remedy the problems now. Similarly, if credit management is the issue, and late-paying clients are partially to blame, then tighten up or implement a credit management process. If it’s the result of bookkeeping that’s not up-to-date, find a bookkeeper to manage this for you.

How you can make payroll when cash is tight

Get financing. There are lots of ways to do this, but a common method, particularly if you need access to funds quickly, is to get a short-term business loan. Many short-term business loans don’t require businesses to have a great credit score, and will offer funding of as little as $5,000 right up to $500,000.

You’d have between 3 and 36 months to pay back the loan, but you need to be aware — the annual percentage rates (APR) are usually high. Most lenders require the business to have been active for a minimum of 9 months, and have revenue of more than $75,000 per annum. However, if paid off quickly, these can be an alternative to incurring penalties — it will obviously depend on your business’ individual circumstances.

Keep on top of bookkeeping

If you stay on top of your bookkeeping, you’ll either reduce the likelihood that you won’t make payroll, or as a worst case scenario, be able to foresee the periods when you won’t be able to, and be able to arrange finance in time to cover it.

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Use the Ad Hoc Payroll Guide included in our Intermediate Microsoft Excel training courses to determine the rate of PAYG tax to withhold — and the required super contribution amounts in Excel. Visit our website for more information on our entire suite of Excel training courses.


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