So you’ve switched on the job alerts with SEEK and accounting jobs, part-time or contract accounting jobs are coming into your Inbox! Jobs galore! Everyone needs accounts people, right?
IF YOU’RE RECEIVING the job alerts everyday — indeed, you may even have applied for some jobs already — but you’re still not getting called up for interview, then the following questions of doubt may be brewing:
- Why haven’t they picked me?
- Have I been filtered out for some reason?
- Was my cover letter not good enough?
In our educational guide, Bookkeeping Beginner Basics, which you can download from the EzyLearn website for free, you’ll learn how to record journal entries in your accounting software, whether you’re using MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks. Most bookkeeping newbies don’t know what a journal entry is, though, which is what this blog post – the latest in our Bookkeeping Beginner Basics guide companion series – is going to help you to understand.
The journal vs. the general ledger
An accounting journal is the record that keeps accounting transactions in chronological order (i.e., as they occur), while the general ledger is a record that keeps accounting transactions by the account – see our previous post on the chart of accounts [Bookkeeping Beginner Basics: The Chart of Accounts] if you need help understanding what the term ‘account’ means in this context. Before computers, bookkeepers used to log all the financial transactions of a business in paper journals, and then at the end of the month transfer these journal entries into the general ledger, which was divided into various accounts that is now called the chart of accounts, and all the transactions were posted to these accounts using a method called double-entry bookkeeping.
Journal entries using accounting software
Today, however, accounting systems, such as MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks and the like, will automatically record most business transactions into the ledger immediately after the software prepares sales invoices, issues cheques to creditors, or processes receipts from customers, and as such you don’t have to create journal entries for most of your business’s transactions.
That being said, some journal entries still need to be processed, in order to record transfers between bank accounts and to record adjusting entries. You would need to make a journal entry, for example, at the end of each month to record depreciation or to record interest accrued on a bank loan.
If journal entries and general ledgers and the double entry bookkeeping method sound a bit too much, and you think you’d rather stick to the cash-based accounting method instead, prepare yourself for bad news: all businesses, whether they use the cash-based accounting method or the accrual accounting method, use double-entry bookkeeping to keep their books, and all accounting software applications, by default, are set up to adhere to the double-entry method, too. The double-entry bookkeeping method reduces errors and also ensures that your books balance, so as complicated as it may seem, it’s much easier in the long run.
If you still feel a little out of your depth, however, you can hire a reliable bookkeeper to manage your bookkeeping system and deal with all the journal entries and double-entry business for you, instead. Visit the National Bookkeeping website for to find a highly qualified bookkeeper whose experience and skills suit your business needs.
This blog post is part of our Bookkeeping Basics series, which are being published to complement our new educational guide, also titled Bookkeeping Beginner Basics, which you can download for free from the EzyLearn website.
We created a free educational guide, called Introduction to Bookkeeping Beginner Basics, which is available to download from the EzyLearn website, and to complement that guide, we’ve been publishing a series of blog posts, also titled Bookkeeping Basics. We’re now three posts in, and we’re going to be look at the chart of accounts, which is the foundational element of every business’s accounting system. The Bookkeeping Basics guide will take you through how to set up a chart of accounts in your accounting software, whether you’re using Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks, while this blog post is going to explain why it’s important.
What is a chart of accounts?
The chart of accounts (COA) is an organisational tool that lists every account in a business’s account system. In the context of bookkeeping, ‘account’ is used to refer to a unique record for each type of asset, liability, equity, revenue and expense. So a chart of accounts, then, is just a system that organises your finances so that your reports make more sense and you can easily see the financial health of your business.
A well-designed COA helps the business to comply with financial reporting standards, and should be flexible enough so that a business can tailor its chart of accounts to best suit its needs. Within the categories of operating revenues and operating expenses, for instance, the accounts might be further organised by business function or by company divisions. As such, a COA can be as large and as complex as the business itself.
Understanding your ‘accounts’
When you set up your chart of accounts, it will be organised the same way every other company does – your banks accounts come first, then all assets, liabilities, equity, income, and expenses in that order. Here’s what each of those accounts mean:
You accounts receivables are considered an asset, as is your income, but the two are completely different things. Accounts receivables are business claims against the property of a customer that’s occurred following the sale of goods and/or services, and income is what you have collected from the sale of those goods or services. In other words, if you invoice a customer and give them time to pay, then that’s ‘accounts receivable’. When you collect the money and deposit it into your account, it’s ‘income’.
Liabilities are notes owed by the business. If you lease anything or you’re buying anything on credit – this includes suppliers who extend a line of credit to you – then it’s considered a liability.
An equity account would be any equipment the company has paid for, or would receive money for if it is sold. Cars, machinery, and certain office equipment are all considered equity. If you had a loan on a business vehicle, the payments you make would be considered a liability, but the vehicle itself would be equity. Each time you make a payment, the liability goes down, while the amount of the equity account would increase. To keep your balance sheet accurate, you need to track both.
Finally, expenses are just that: the money paid by the business for the operation and production of goods and services that are paid for immediately. This includes things like stationery or fuel for a business vehicle, which are paid for at the point of sale, is an expense, where a telephone bill that allows you 14 days to pay, on the other hand, is a liability.
Why a chart of accounts is important
Whether you’re using an old fashioned pencil and paper, an excel spreadsheet, or more sophisticated accounting software, such as MYOB or Xero, it’s important to know where your money is coming from and where it’s going to. A chart of accounts is the organisational tool that allows you to do that. And it’s important to keep it up-to-date, so that, if for any reason, you want a picture of how your business is performing financially, your reports will be accurate.
This blog post is part of our Bookkeeping Basics series, which are being published to complement our new educational guide, also titled Bookkeeping Basics, which you can download for free from the EzyLearn website.
GONE ARE THE DAYS when a bookkeeper only needed to know their way around MYOB. Since the internet democratised the accounting software market, abundant MYOB rivals have appeared.
But while there are close to a dozen cloud accounting systems on the market, most bookkeepers — thankfully — will only need to know their way around three: Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks. If you’re looking for a course or training resource on these programs we have a combo offer.
EOFY is nearly here — can you manage payroll?
IN OUR FREE, EDUCATIONAL GUIDE, Bookkeeping Basics, we feature a section that briefly discusses payroll, which we thought was worthy of being expanded upon on here. You might also like to go back and revisit our other blog post that complements the guide, Bookkeeping Basics: Cash vs. Accrual Systems, if you haven’t already.
Paying your employees
Before you employ staff, you need to determine how they will be employed. Are you going to use casual or permanent employees? If you’re employing the latter, will they be employed on a full-time or part-time basis? As the business owner and employer, you must also ensure that you’re paying your staff the correct rate of pay, as well as any entitlements — such as, sick leave, annual leave, overtime, etc — that may be owed to them.
This blog post isn’t going to go into the intricacies of how to work out what you should pay your employees, nor will the Bookkeeping Basics guide, as it generally falls outside the scope of the role of a bookkeeper, however, you can use the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) Pay Calculator to work out the following:
- Base pay rates
- Overtime and penalty rates
- Pay rates per hour
- Pay rates per shift
- An employee’s employment status (i.e., full time, part time, casual).
If you employ staff under a modern award or agreement (virtually all Australian businesses do), you have a legal requirement to keep accurate and correct time and wage records, in addition to issuing payslips to all of your staff — failure to issue pay slips incurs harsh penalties if it comes to the attention of the Fair Work Ombudsman. You must also keep your each staff member’s time and wage records for, at least, seven years and make sure they’re stored somewhere that’s always accessible, should they ever need to be inspected.
Although you don’t have to keep all employee records, it’s best practice to keep the following records for seven years, even after the employee has left the business, in case they ever file a complaint with the Ombudsman or the Tax Office ever does an audit:
- Employee resume and application details
- Employee workplace performance records
- Employee trade certificates or registration certificates.
For tax purposes, all employee and contractor records must be kept for five years, but most businesses keep them for seven years, in case an enquiry is made by the FWO.
Deducting tax from an employee’s pay
Under the Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding rules, you are legally obliged to collect tax from employee payments so they can meet their end-of-year tax liabilities. In order to do so, you must first register with the ATO for PAYG withholding, which you can do online, over the phone or through your BAS or tax agent.
You must also provide your employees with a tax file declaration form, which you can also obtain from the ATO, and must be completed by an employee if they want to:
- Claim an entitlement to tax offsets by having a reduced amount withheld from payments made to them
- Advise you of changes to their:
- tax-free threshold
- residency status
- HELP, Trade Support Loan or Financial Supplement debt.
If you have staff that are under 18 years of age
You do not have to withhold amounts from payments to employees under 18 years of age if those amounts are not more than:
- $350 per week
- $700 per fortnight
- $1,517 per month.
Employees with HELP, TSL or Financial Supplement debts
If an employee has indicated they have a HELP, TSL or Financial Supplement debt, you should use the HELP/TSL or Student Financial Supplement Scheme tax table on the ATO website to work out how much extra to withhold for these debts. Add this to the amount withheld shown in the relevant tax table.
Your superannuation obligations
As an employer, you also have an obligation to make super contributions for each of your employees. You must also ensure that you:
- Offer eligible employees a choice of super fund (temporary residents are eligible to choose)
- Pay the minimum amount, called the super guarantee (SG), which is currently 9.5 per cent of ordinary time earnings
- Make your super contributions on the required dates as set by the ATO.
If you don’t pay the super guarantee for your employees, you will have to pay the super guarantee charge, which is not tax deductible.
Which employees are eligible for the SG?
Generally speaking, all employees are eligible if they are paid $450 or more (before tax) in any calendar month. You must pay super for all employees who:
- Are full-time, part-time or casual
- Receive a super pension or annuity while still working — including those who qualify for the transition-to-retirement measure
- Are a temporary resident — when they leave Australia, they can claim the payments you made through a ‘departing Australia superannuation payment’
- Are a company director
- Are a family member working in your business — provided they are eligible for SG
- Are over 70 years of age
- Some contractors, even if they quote an ABN — visit the FWO website for more information.
Final things to consider
Not all bookkeepers offer payroll services, because it can be time consuming and it’s always in flux (new software enters the fray, employees come and go, and each time that occurs, it results in more work). Additionally, the minimum wage is regularly reviewed and increased, which is something that needs to be monitored to ensure your employees continue to be paid correctly. If you decide to hire a bookkeeper to manage your accounting, and you’d also like them to handle your payroll, be sure to clarify how they’ll bill for payroll services and what your obligations are to ensure you’re not paying too much.
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Need help managing your bookkeeping system?
See our bookkeeping directory, National Bookkeeping, for more information on the hundreds of bookkeepers listed who are available to work all around Australia.
Remember, you can download our educational guide, Bookkeeping Basics, for free from the EzyLearn website.
Business owners and job seekers take note!
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.
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!
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…
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.
Help us help you get your business financials set up right
SO WE’RE INTO THE new Australian financial year. With the start of each financial year comes the chance to right last year’s financial habits and avoid repeating them again. You know what they say about people who repeat the same actions over and over again expecting different results …
If you had a crazy end of financial year, try starting off the next 12 months (well, 11 now, can you believe it!) on a positive footing, with these good financial habits.
Check your accounting software is set up correctly
Something that causes businesses and their owners countless headaches at tax time is accounting software that’s been setup incorrectly or not set up completely. Transactions that are coded wrong or bank feeds that are connected to the wrong account — or too few accounts — can leave you in the middle of a bookkeeping nightmare come June 30.
Spend some time sorting this out, or employ a bookkeeper to get you set up correctly. It’s worth that little bit of extra time now to get it right, truly!
Aim for daily reconciliations
Reconciling your business accounts regularly is important for a number of reasons, fostering good habits being chief among them. You may not need to reconcile your accounts each day, but it’s certainly a lot easier to find 10 or 15 minutes two or three times a week, rather than two or three hours once a month. The most often you do your bookkeeper the more unlikely it is that you’ll leave it pile up, eventually requiring costly rescue bookkeeping. You’ll also have a much better picture of your business’s performance with current accounting data.
Monitor cash flow
Positive cash flow is the marker of a healthy business. Negative cash flow is not. There are plenty of seemingly profitable businesses suffering negative cash flow that threatens to put them out of business. Don’t let yours be one of them. Create your own cash flow forecast reports in Excel or use a cash flow forecasting or expense app to determine if you’ll have enough money in the bank to meet your ongoing commitments (which includes paying yourself a living wage to meet your personal commitments).
Our cloud accounting training courses will show you how to set up your accounting software correctly. Learn how to use Xero, Quickbooks or MYOB with our online training courses and be able to invoice customers on time, reconcile your account and run financial reports, including cash flow statements. Visit our website for more information.
Xero for less…
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.
Less complicated accounting software, like Xero, connects better with mobile apps
WE RECENTLY PUBLISHED A blog examining the different expense tracking apps you can connect with Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks, but during our research it became clear that most expense apps integrate with Xero or QuickBooks, but not MYOB.
That’s not to say there are no expense apps that integrate with MYOB. There are. Receipt Bank is one, Squirrel Street is another, and there are probably a lot more on the MYOB marketplace (or add-ons page). Probably the best expense tracking application we found is ExpenseManager, and it only integrates with MYOB.
MYOB is a robust, yet complicated system
As anyone who’s ever used MYOB can attest, it’s a complicated piece of software to navigate, even if it is a robust one. When Xero came along, it aimed to be both robust and easy-to-use, and for the most part it succeeded (it’s probably not as easy as QuickBooks, but then QuickBooks isn’t quite as robust).
Behind the scenes, there’s also a lot of complicated code driving MYOB that’s not easy to integrate with, unlike QuickBooks and Xero which rely on third-party integrations to deliver payroll and other services, so Xero and QuickBooks can keep the cost of their platforms down.
MYOB is used by accountants and bookkeepers
MYOB doesn’t really go after to same market that Xero and QuickBooks do (small and micro businesses), which is reflected in MYOB’s price. It’s aimed at medium sized businesses, which employ accountants and bookkeepers, and that’s not really the market expense apps like Expensify and Xpenditure are targeting.
Xero is one of our most popular training courses
That’s why Xero has become one of our most popular training courses. It’s robust and once you understand the principles of bookkeeping, fairly easy to use. And it integrates with a tonne of third party applications developed to make the life of the small business owner much easier and more efficient.
Keep an eagle eye on your expenses by using Xero and an expense app, and you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is the most profitable and where it’s not, so you can modify it accordingly.
Our Xero training courses will show you have to track expenses in Xero and how to connect third party apps to your Xero account. You can also brush up your MYOB skills or learn how to use MYOB with our MYOB online training course, incorporating 5 courses and 12 months’ access — all for one low cost. Visit our website for more information covering our ONE LOW COST for ALL LEVELS course options.
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.
We Show You The Reports to Generate Now for End of June
THE LAST QUARTER OF the 2016/17 financial year is upon us, so now is the time to organise your reports and records; including Profit and Loss Statements, Accounts Receivable and Payable, PAYG and Super payments. We’ve previously written about writing off stock and inventory and getting your business expenses in order. In this post we’ll take a look at the reports and records you’ll need for EOFY, which you’ll learn how to produce in our MYOB BAS Reporting and GST or Xero GST, Reporting and BAS training courses.
Profit and loss statement
Depending on the structure of your business, you may be legally required to include a P&L statement with your tax return or activity statements. Your tax agent will be able to advise you if your business will be required to file a P&L, which requires all of your bookkeeping to be up-to-date before you can run it.
Even if you don’t have to file one with your activity statements or tax returns, it’s still a good idea to run a P&L for your own sake. A P&L statement identifies whether your business has made a profit or loss and which accounting period these occurred.
Accounts receivable, payable
Find out who owes money to your business and to whom your business owes money. This is obviously part of the credit management process, which any good business will have in place already, but it’s a good idea to keep a steady eye on what’s coming in and what’s going out as EOFY approaches.
The end of each quarter brings a lot of PAYG and superannuation reporting, but EOFY brings a double whammy of activity statements tax returns and PAYG and superannuation compliance. You’ll need to run these reports so your bookkeeper can complete the payroll component of your returns.
If you sell goods, you’ll need to complete a stocktake of your business’s inventory so that any missing stock can be written off, and to ensure you’re starting a clean slate for the new financial year.
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 (Excel, PowerPoint, Word) or social media and WordPress web design).
We Show You 2 Steps You Can Take — Right Away!
WE’VE ENTERED QUARTER 4 for the 2016/17 financial year, so we’ve been writing about the things your business should be doing this quarter in preparation for the end of the financial year. In our last post we wrote about writing off stock and inventory. Now we’re looking at business expenses.
Here’s what you can do now to make sure you’re prepared come tax time? Continue reading EOFY: Get Your Business Expenses In Order
We show you how to write off stock and inventory before the EOFY
IT’S A GOOD TIME TO START looking at any slow-moving or obsolete stock that your business (or your client’s business) may be holding, as we’ve reached the end of Quarter 3 and have now started Quarter 4 for the 2016/17 financial year — which means the end of the financial year is fast approaching.
Writing off stock in MYOB or Xero is known as making an inventory adjustment, and our MYOB BAS Reporting and GST or Xero GST, Reporting and BAS training courses take you through the steps to do this. But first, you need to identify which items aren’t selling. We’ve created this case study to help you understand how.
Understanding your inventory’s performance
Every business needs to understand how their inventory is performing, and how it impacts their business. If the business owner is too busy to stay on top of this, then they should employ a bookkeeper to help.
A good example of why understanding inventory is important to a business is to look at an air conditioning company. This business makes money two ways:
- Selling air conditioning units
- Installing / maintaining air conditioning units
The margin on the sale of an air conditioning unit is not much, a few percent on top of the wholesale price. Where the business makes its money is in the installation or maintenance of the units it sells.
The business purchases three dozen units, of varying brands, models, price points, etcetera. It now needs to know which units are most popular with customers and why; which units aren’t popular with customers and why; whether it’s profitable for the business to continue to stock the unpopular units; or, conversely, whether it’s profitable for the business to continue stocking the popular units.
The business’s bookkeeper regularly runs a number of reports in their accounting software, including profit and loss reports and stock-on-hand reports. These reports are used to identify which units sell quickly, as well as the units that take longer to sell, and the profit margins on each.
The units that sell quickly don’t require a technician to install them. Although they’re responsible for the majority of sales, they don’t generate more revenue for the business. The units that sell slowly, do generate more revenue as they require installation and maintenance, however too many units were ordered and they’ve now been discontinued by the manufacturer. Some units have hardly sold, and, although not discontinued, have been superseded by newer models.
Stock write offs and future orders
Because the bookkeeper regularly runs these reports, s/he has been able to export them into Excel for further analysis. By the end of Q3, the bookkeeper can make suggestions to the business owner about the future of the business.
In particular, the bookkeeper suggests that the units that have been superseded are marked down to clear as much stock as possible, and cease any new orders. Likewise, the discontinued models will be marked down.
Orders for the units that replaced the discontinued models will halve the order volume. Likewise, order volumes for the top selling units will reduced. The profit margin on these units is very low and they result in no additional revenue from installation or maintenance. The profit that would be earned on the additional units is negligible, however by reducing the unit volumes, the business improves its cash flow.
Act NOW for EOFY
If your business sells stock or a combination of stock and services, like the air conditioning business does above, start looking at your inventory now. Markdown any slow-moving stock at the end of Q3, to give your business time to move the remainder of it. If it doesn’t sell, write it off at EOFY.
Our MYOB and Xero training courses have recently been updated to include a workbook on how to write off inventory. Learn more about our MYOB BAS Reporting and GST or Xero GST, Reporting and BAS training courses at our website.
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.
Learn How to Run a P&L Using Xero
A basic, yet vitally important, report for every business owner is a profit and loss (P&L) statement. A profit and loss statement, as the name suggests, shows whether a business is running at a profit or a loss over a given period. We’ve written about why running multi-period P&Ls before in QuickBooks and MYOB is a good idea for businesses with inventory, but single period P&Ls are equally important for all businesses.
If you’re a bookkeeping newbie, a profit and loss statement, which sometimes goes by other names — income statements, earning statements, revenue statements, operating statements, statement of operations, or statement of financial performance — is a basic report you’ll learn to run in our Xero Daily Reconciliations Course. If you’re planning to work as a contract bookkeeper, you should get in the habit of running P&L statements for your clients regularly (if you’re a business owner, ask your bookkeeper to run them).
P&Ls are required by law
Depending on how a business is structured, it may be required by law to complete a P&L. A P&L shows how the revenue of the business is turned into net income by subtracting all expenses from income. They’re also useful for understanding a business’ net income, which helps with the decision making processes. A business will also need a P&L if they’re applying for a small business loan.
The contents of a P&L
Although the process of running a P&L differ between accounting software packages, they usually all contain the same elements, depending only on the business itself. In the first section, the cost of sales is subtracted from the revenue, which highlights gross profit. The business’ operating expenses are then subtracted from the gross profit, which leaves the operating profit. Now, all of the non-operating revenues and expenses must be factored into account, after which the business’ profit or loss will be displayed.
Because P&L statements are often used by a business’ owner to make financial decisions, to inform shareholders of the business’ performance, apply for a business loan, or as proof of income in the sale of a business, it’s important that you understand how to create one correctly. Our Xero Daily Reconciliations Training Course covers P&L statements, and much more. Visit our website to learn more or to enrol.
Did you know that EzyLearn Excel, MYOB and Xero online training courses count towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for bookkeepers and accountants?We’ve been an accredited training provider of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers ever since the organisation started in Australia. Find out how CPD points can be of benefit to you.
FINDING PROSPECTS AND converting them into clients involves selling and most of us hate doing it, but wait…
For those of us in small business, be it as a bookkeeper, real estate agent, sales rep or the like, most of us are selling every day of our lives.
This means we get pretty good at it. We develop techniques that we can replicate and that become part of our daily lives.
The process of selling is really no longer about selling per se; it becomes about a systemised process of:
- sourcing new leads (using content marketing, networking and advertising)
- educating those leads about their services (using websites, social media, white papers, property reports)
- understanding whether the lead would in fact be a good buyer or potential client (using face-to-face meetings, phone conversations and emails)
- closing the sale (via offer and acceptance, funds transfer, receipts and after sales support).
With the growing power of modern cloud-based technologies, more people are taking the plunge to start their own businesses, but people who do so must constantly:
- stand out from their competitors (say, other bookkeepers) to get discovered by people needing help with their books, either remotely or in their home/office
- do an efficient job in managing their schedule and dealing with clients, and
- market their services effectively.
Content Marketing takes the “salesy” out of selling
I’ve written a lot about content marketing lately because content marketing is simply imperative for anybody looking to sell their products and services and source new clients.
The beauty of content marketing is that, as a system to source new leads, you can cover all the steps of the selling process without it seeming like a chore and, best of all, without feeling “salesy”, cheesy or inauthentic. It’s focus is about the potential client — it’s about providing them with relevant information that will benefit them — not ramming a sales pitch down their throat.
Good sales people realise that sales and the very process of selling is not about just “closing” a sale. Rather, it’s about understanding what the customer needs, seeing if your product is a good fit and then offering a solution to a customer’s problem.
How much of sales is Content Marketing?
To this end, content marketing is about 80% of the selling process or 80% of the sales funnel (as corporate sales people like to call it).
This is because content marketing involves information gathering; it involves seeing if your product and YOU are a good fit for your client.
These are the content marketing stages:
- creating relevant and interest website content
- ‘call to action’ that results in email or mobile number capture
- email or SMS marketing
- social media profiles to engage with your prospects
- CRM’s to manage the final parts of the selling process.
When you implement these systems you can sit back and watch it work and then focus on your conversion rate or what industry experts call CRO – Conversion Rate Optimisation.
Do you really want to be an online marketing professional? Let us manage it for you
Most of our students are looking for bookkeeping work, or want to start a bookkeeping service business — that’s why they use our services for MYOB Training Courses, Excel Training Courses, Xero Courses and Small Business Management Training.
Our recently updated bookkeeping directory is matching small business people to bookkeepers for a fair rate (for instance, if you want a level 3 bookkeeper, you pay for a level 3 bookkeeper). The National Bookkeeping directory is aimed at helping people (our students primarily) find bookkeeping work or start a bookkeeping business, but it’s also a great way for small businesses to find bookkeepers located close by, or who have the skills they require but who don’t necessarily need to come into the office and can assist them in the cloud.
To find out how you can be more than just a bookkeeper, and start your own bookkeeping business and promote your valuable bookkeeping services to a wider circle of potential clients via content marketing, read about listing yourself on National Bookkeeping or becoming a licensee.
The Value of Content Marketing in 2017
January, February and March of a new year, which is typically the quietest as people take a while to adjust to the work and school routine, is when a lot of businesses spend time setting goals for the year ahead.
Just as individuals set their own personal new year’s resolutions, many businesses use January and February to set some new year’s resolutions for their business’s marketing activities.
In 2016, there was an unprecedented uptick in the number of Australian businesses using content marketing to help drive their search engine rankings, increase customer engagement, and position themselves as opinion leaders in their industry. If the last 12 months is anything to go by, then, it’s fair to say 2017 will continue the content marketing trend.
Yes, I’ve been talking about content marketing a lot on this blog lately, as it’s a marketing strategy EzyLearn has been using, almost exclusively, for many years now, with much success — you are reading this blog post, after all! EzyLearn and our partners continue to help many businesses establish their brand and build credibility online using content marketing — something we continue to do to great effect for real estate agents, to name but a few. Whether you are an agent, bookkeeper, small business owner, or just have dreams to start working for yourself, why not register your interest in our up and coming content marketing course.
Great Content is Like an Equilateral Triangle – All the Sides are Equal
As popular as content marketing has become in the last few years, many people still don’t quite understand that great content marketing requires you to pay equal emphasis on each component. This includes the word content itself in an ebook or enewsletter for instance, but also the layout and design, the SEO etc. It also needs to be free of typos!
I know, in the past, I’ve probably been guilty of rushing to publish content on our website because I’m so eager to share what we’ve created with you. But for content marketing to be successful in the long term, it needs to be approached holistically. In other words, the copy is equally as important as the design and the layout; the messages need to be consistent and you need to keep communicating with your customers — it can’t be hit and miss. Just as every side in an equilateral triangle must be created equal, so too do you have to consider all components equally when content marketing.
Outsourcing is Okay
As a small business, you probably have at least one person in your team who is either a) design inclined; or b) a good, strong writer. If you’re really lucky, you may have both, but it’s not uncommon for a business to need to outsource part of this work to a professional, usually on a contract or freelance basis.
Take stock of the talent you have in-house already. If you have a competent designer, utilise them and outsource the writing to a professional. It’s unwise to try and do everything yourself. Producing high quality content is a time-consuming process, made even more so if there’s a particular aspect of it — the writing, say — that you’re not proficient at.
I would say that most business owners do most of what I would loosely term ‘designing’, themselves, which in the case of blogging is choosing an image that accurately reflects the message you’re trying to communicate in the main copy.
Think Outside the Stock Box When it Comes to Photos for Your Blogs
There is a certain art to selecting images for your blog. You want to avoid using ones that every other blogger is using, which means ditching your regular Google Images haunt and using a stock library instead. But this is where you need to do your research.
Many free stock libraries serve up the same images that you find in Google Images, which brings you back to square one. They’re also incredibly boring. At this point, next logical option probably seems like paying for a membership to a stock library.
Again, research is required here. Not all stock libraries, even paid ones, are created equally. Well known libraries — iStock Photo, for example — are expensive, while the other, lesser known ones are still boring. So what’s a content marketer to do? Get creative.
Remember, content marketing is about creating original, high quality content that’s relevant both to your customers and to your business. With this in mind, rather than paying for expensive stock photography and images, why don’t you take your own? There’s nothing more original and relevant to you and your customers than your own photography.
Publishing original content on your blog and website, whether it’s in the form of images, copy or videos (or all of the above), the harder it will work at driving your search engine rankings, while, at the same time, the personalised approach will have a longer lasting impression on your readers and customers.
Prioritise Content Marketing in 2017
Bookkeepers especially — take note!
If you’re a bookkeeper looking to start your own bookkeeping business and find yourself clients, or grow you list of clients, and content marketing isn’t already on your agenda for 2017 — it should be.
In terms of having the experience and know-how to content market to people we know what our students need to be successful to this end, after all, most EzyLearn students use our services for MYOB Training Courses, Excel Training Courses, Xero Courses and Small Business Management Training because they’re looking for bookkeeping work or want to start a bookkeeping business. Very early in the piece we started finding out why our students did our courses because it enables us to develop targeted products (and write content about) what they need.
Join our Bookkeeping Directory TODAY
We’ve launched a new bookkeeping directory which is aimed at helping people (our students primarily) find bookkeeping work or start a bookkeeping business, but it’s also a great way for small businesses to find bookkeepers who are close to them. We’re also taking registrations for our content marketing online course.
To find out more about how you can be more than just a bookkeeper, and start a bookkeeping business, including promoting your bookkeeping services to a much wider circle of people and engaging in content marketing, read more about listing yourself on National Bookkeeping.
If you’re interested in content marketing, either for your business or because you’d like to become an independent contractor offering content marketing services to other business, you can learn more by subscribing to our blog.
What To Do So You Don’t Lose Money When Doing Your BAS
If your business is registered for GST, it means you have to file regular activity statements with the ATO, usually each quarter. A lot of business owners export their Business Activity Statement (BAS) data straight from their accounting software, like MYOB or QuickBooks, and quickly prepare their BAS’ that way. But this is an imprecise method, and one that could be costing you money.
Tracey Marino, an experienced bookkeeper based in Rockingham, WA, knows how important it is that businesses of all sizes keep their Business Activity Statements error-free so as not to end up costing business owners money.
An Error-Free BAS in 6 Steps
Here’s six steps you can take for an accurate BAS:
- Check to ensure all bank, credit card, overdraft, loan, and petty cash accounts are reconciled with the original bank statements at the end of every BAS quarter.
- Print your monthly profit and loss (P&L) report for the respective BAS quarter, and check for abnormalities in income or expenditure over the three months. You should also compare this quarter’s P&L report with the P&L report from the previous quarter (in the same financial year), as well as the P&L report from the same quarter in the previous financial year to detect any unexpected transactions.
- Print out the balance sheet as at the end of the BAS quarter. Note the balances for the wage and salary, payroll, payable, super expense and payable, and PAYG and GST accounts, and investigate any abnormalities.
- Generate the general ledger exceptions report to review any abnormal transactions. This report will indicate any differences in the GST codes for the same types of purchases or sales by comparing the current transactions with previous transactions.
- Print your BAS and compare with it with last quarter’s BAS, as well as the BAS from the same quarter of the previous year, and ensure that your GST, PAYG, sales, and purchases are consistent across all three BAS’.
- Lodge and pay your BAS on time to avoid penalties, and remember to record the BAS payment in your accounting software.
Although this may appear to be ‘double handling’, in fact, it eliminates double handling by ensuring that the activity statements you lodge with the ATO are correct and error-free. Typically, the mistakes this method turns up are ones that would be of benefit to the ATO and not to the business owner. So rather than give the ATO more money than you need to, make sure you follow this method for an error-free BAS lodgment.
An Experienced Bookkeeper in WA
Looking for a reliable and accurate bookkeeper to manage your business’ daily or weekly bookkeeping and accounts, either in the cloud (remotely) or in-person?
Tracey Marino is available to service businesses located in Port Kennedy, Warnbro, Baldivis, Secret Harbour, Golden Bay, Safety Bay, Shoalwater, Rockingham and Cooloongup, WA. Tracey is a an expert in MYOB AccountRight, QuickBooks and Microsoft Excel and can prepare and lodge your company’s BAS, set up credit management systems, along with carrying out all manner of day-to-day accounting functions for small to medium businesses. Find out more about Tracey’s experience at her profile page.
Our National Bookkeeping website has recently undergone a significant upgrade so keep a look out for more stories about featured bookkeepers in forthcoming blogs. Join now and we can feature YOU in our articles too.