How to Reduce Your Fail Rate in Business by 50%

What You Can Do this Christmas

business start up online training course christmas holidays2
There’s lots to do in preparation for starting a business and the summer holidays is a good time for the ground work.

DID YOU KNOW research shows that by taking just one short course on small business management, the chance a business will fail is reduced by as much as 50 percent.

This is because business mismanagement is the primary reason businesses fail; the other most common reason is because owner/s fail to implement appropriate credit management processes. In both cases, this failure has come about because the owners, directors, partners or managers lacked the appropriate management skills to make it a success.

Learn the basics in business

The Christmas holidays is a perfect time for taking the steps needed to start your small business. While everyone else has gone on holidays, you’ll be ready to take on your first client or customer by the time business really starts kicking off again at the end of January.

business start up online training course christmas holidaysSo let’s get to it: there’s work to be done. And this work generally requires some rudimentary knowledge of Australian tax law, copyright law, trademarks and patents.

You should also have knowledge of particular software applications, and digital marketing.

Other key areas of business you need to know

The key areas business owners should understand before starting a business include:

Ordinarily, to become skilled in each of those areas, a person would have to take, at least, five different training courses. But few people are ever likely to do this. Instead, they’d be more likely to cherry pick the areas they’re least familiar with, and fly blind with the others. Needless to say, that’s where people run into problems.

Take Advantage of our Christmas Savings!

We don’t want you to wing it or fly blind — our goal is to help small businesses succeed which is what we’ve been doing for nearly 20 years.

We cover what you need to set up a small business in our EzyStartUp Business Course, priced at just $297. This course covers each of the key areas mentioned above that a small business owner needs to be familiar with, in addition to the following:

  • Originating and developing concepts
  • Establishing legal and risk management
  • Product packaging
  • Marketing your business

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When you enrol you will also receive FREE ACCESS to a bunch of our other online training courses, including Xero Set Up and Beginners’ Excel and Word.

Our Last Dasher Sale is also on now with special Christmas discounts on our online training courses in social media, and cloud accounting software (MYOB, Xero) and Excel, Word and WordPress.


Don’t Wait — Become the Head Honcho Today

Use your time off from work this summer to begin working on your new small business. All of our training courses are delivered online, and can be completed at your own pace, so you can complete them while you’re actually on holidays, or relaxing at home or at a cafe.

And since one of the best ways to start a new business is by operating it as a side project to your other job, if you get all the start up stuff out of the way while you’re on holidays, it’ll be ready to go by the time you back to work.

Learn more about the EzyStartUp Business Course at our website or view all of our special offers to save on your next EzyLearn training course.

start your own business online training course videosAnd as a gift to you, remember our Bookkeeping Basics Guide is yours’ for free!


 

Don’t Wing It With Customer Service – Plan It

Great customer service doesn’t just happen.

learn online training videos about small business customer service
If you’re unsure about what makes up the kind of customer service people rave about, then perhaps you should look into our EzyStartUp Course.

HOW TO PROVIDE REALLY exceptional customer service is just one of the modules covered in our EzyStartUp Course which teaches you all about how to start up your own business.

We handpicked this inclusion as our experience is that, time and time again, good, nay excellent customer service goes a long way to ensuring a business has longevity.

We’ve mentioned in a previous post the issues inherent with Zoho’s customer service, which wasn’t bad as much as it was hampered by geographical differences and the strength of Aussie customers dealing with Aussie customer service workers and telephone operators.

Defying customer expectations

For many, good customer service is something many of us have come not to expect. Most of the time when you go into shops to buy something, you come prepared – you’ve already researched the kind of TV you want online and why, and you know the sales girl will never tell you if your butt looks big in those jeans.

Is there too much churn and burn?

Is churn and burn a problem with the quality of customer service? Certainly in many chain or department stores now, where there’s a huge turnover of staff, many employers seem to have given up on trying to teach their staff the art of customer service.

And the ambivalence toward customer service has slowly crept into other areas of business, as companies downsize, move online, or shift jobs offshore.

As a business owner, I have always prided myself on providing the very best customer service possible. When I moved EzyLearn online, one of my major concerns was how would I manage the customer service side of the business, now that my customer service resources had shrunk?

Using a ticketing support system

That’s when I decided to use the Zen Desk ticketing support system to manage all of my online customer enquiries. Zen Desk does this in a way that’s professional for my customers and also easy for me and my team to use.

Incidentally, Zoho also offers a similar support ticketing service and, like most of the Zoho products, the most basic offering is free to use forever. But even if your business decides to use a ticketing support system like Zen Desk or Zoho, remember: It’s only as good as the customer service processes you implement for your business.

Good customer service is structured

Fantastic customer service — the kind that makes people tell their friends and keep coming back to you for their purchases — doesn’t just happen. This is why we cover customer service in our EzyStartUp Course. Most people don’t realise that, like everything else in business, you have to plan to deliver good customer service. And as the business changes, your strategy can adapt and change too.

This might take the shape of a policy which outlines things such as ensuring phone calls aren’t answered before the third ring (so as to not startle or fluster callers), replying to emails within a few working hours (even if it’s just to say you’re looking into the issue), or following up on sales enquiries with a phone call (which increases conversion rates).

Definitely use tools like Zen Desk to help you fine tune your customer service policies, but remember that good customer service starts with you. Develop your customer service strategy (our EzyStartUp Course can help you) and commit to it.

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Planning how you’ll provide great customer service — that’s what’ll give you the edge over other businesses. Good customer service is so rare these days that when people find it, they flock to it. So find your flock, and if you need help, take our EzyStartUp Course.


learn online training Xero courses videos 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. 


 

Cash Flow Reporting in Xero

Show me the money!

learn cashflow reporting in xero online training course videos
Creating a cash flow report in Xero will tell you more about the financial state of your business than profit and loss statements.

IN OUR BRAND NEW Cash Flow, Budgets and ROI Xero Training Course, you’ll learn how to generate a cash flow report for your business.

Cash flow reports show the money going in and out of the business, so they’re better indicators of a business’s overall financial health than a Profit and Loss statement (P&L).

A cash flow report enables you to make forecasts and budgets for your business based on previous trends — recurring expenses, average time to get paid, seasonal quiet periods, and so forth.

The 3 cash flow categories

Cash flow reports are typically broken up into three categories:

  1. Operating activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from revenue-generating activities
  2. Investing activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from the acquisition and sale of long-term assets
  3. Financing activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from borrowings and changes in equity.

Items in a cash flow report

In our Cash Flow, Budgets and ROI Xero Training Course, you’ll learn how to generate a cash flow report in Xero. That report will show every transaction that’s run in and out of your business, divided among one of the three categories.

In the operating activities category, you’ll typically find things like costs associated with any training courses or seminars, advertising and marketing expenses, income or commissions from your business, subscriptions to any magazines or periodicals, etc.

Under the investing activities category, you’ll find the cost of purchasing office or warehouse space and the capitalised borrowing cost, for example.

The financing activities category will show the loan you’ve taken out to purchase your business’s office or warehouse space.

You’ll learn how to generate and work with cash flow reports in our new Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI Training Course. ENROL now or read more about the benefits of cash flow reporting to your business. Are you a sole trader or contractor needing to record your ongoing expenses? We cover that too!


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. Or learn more about our entire suite of online software training packages and social media training packages.


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!


learn to use excel online training course videos cheap best

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.


 

Should You Start a Business That You LOVE or a Business YOU CAN DO?

Pairing knowledge with a gap in the market

how to find the right career path
I love watching TV. And I have an opinion on many things. Doesn’t mean I can monetise the pairing of these two. Or can I? Did somebody say Gogglebox? 

CONFUCIOUS ONCE SAID: “FIND a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. That’s good advice, although it’s not always practical.

After all, I love watching television, but it’s probably impractical to try and monetise that to start a business — not impossible; but it is impractical.

A better measure of finding something you can turn into a business idea, and then a business, is to find something you’re good at, that also addresses a gap in the market. In other words, put your existing skills and work experience to use in a new, different way.

When skills meet reality: The Open Agent example

For some people, this does mean starting a business doing something they happen to love. Photographers, writers, even golf or tennis pros are using their existing skills that they do love, but often not how they might have first imagined. Photographing weddings instead of high fashion; content writing instead of novel writing; teaching golf or tennis instead of competing professionally.

Other people may not necessarily love their sales skills or aptitude for data analysis, but these are skills that can be put to use in a business that they do love. Take the real estate comparison service, Open Agent, for example. It was started by two former McKinsey and Company business analysts, using a WordPress website they built in a single afternoon.

Three years later, it had raised $20 million in funding, and the business had doubled in size for every 12 months it had been operating. The co-founders, despite having no real estate or technology experience, put their experience working at a management consulting firm to good use, as well as their connections to the business world to get their venture off the ground.

Finding VIABLE gaps in the marketplace

Earlier in this post, I said you should find something — a skill — you’re good at and channel that into a business idea that addresses a gap in the market. But this doesn’t automatically mean your idea is viable. It just means it has the potential to be. To determine if your idea is viable, and to what extent you can expect it to start generating revenue, you should carry out some market research and competitive analysis.

Find out what sorts of businesses like yours already exist and how they operate. What’s their target market, and what are the main issues business owners or the industry as a whole are facing?

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Find out what sorts of businesses like yours already exist and how they operate. What’s their target market, and what are the main issues business owners or the industry as a whole are facing?

If you’re not sure how to go about this, we cover it, as well as business planning and sales and marketing in our Business EzyStartUp Course. To find out more, visit our website.


Xero online training course

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).

Many of our courses can also be used towards CPD points. Find out more.


 

Hiring Someone New? Why You Need to Personally Check their References

Why It Pays to Call the Switchboard When Doing a Reference Check

reference checking
How do you really know the mobile numbers provided for references truly belong to who they say they are?

I recently had a conversation with a colleague who said she’d never once been asked to produce a copy of her university degree or her transcripts, despite stating on her resume that she’d graduated with a high distinction average.

Gee, I thought, not once? Not a single recruiter or employer had ever requested a copy of her degree? I found this fact astonishing, particularly since more professions require, by law, certain qualifications — as BAS agents are, for example. So how people know my friend wasn’t fibbing in her credentials? Fact is, they didn’t.

Check, even if you use a recruiter

I wrote a blog some time ago about recruiting on LinkedIn and why it’s so important to check references for yourself. People often underestimate the importance of checking a person’s credentials, so long as they get a reference from their last employer. Often, though, most people only provide a mobile number for their references, so whether you’re speaking to the candidate’s former employer, a co-worker, or their mum is sometimes anyone’s guess.

I was reminded of how important reference-checking is again, when I was reading a couple of articles on Longreads, and I found myself utterly fascinated by two of the biggest cases of journalistic fraud ever committed (though I admit to having never heard of them before the weekend, despite one occurring more than 30 years ago).

Sometimes people don’t just lie on their resume

In the first instance, a journalist named Janet Cooke fabricated a story for The Washington Post about an 8-year-old heroin addict. She won a Pulitzer Prize for it in 1981, and then had to give it back when it came out that there was no such 8-year-old. In the second case, Jayson Blair, a journalist for The New York Times, was found to have fabricated or plagiarised 36 out of 73 stories written over a 6-month period, in what turned out to be the biggest scandal in the newspaper’s hundred-plus year history.

What I found most intriguing, though, was that neither Cooke nor Blair had been properly vetted before their employers hired them. In fact, it was Cooke’s falsified resume that was ultimately her undoing when, after receiving the highest honour in the field of writing, a former employer noticed something was amiss with her Pulitzer biography — her education and professional achievements had been grossly overstated. (Rather ironically it was Bob Woodward, of Woodward and Bernstein — the journalists who uncovered the Watergate Scandal — who signed off on hiring Cooke.)

The same would prove true for Blair, who, it turned out, never graduated from university, and had a murky work history with the Times’ sister publication, The Boston Globe, where his superiors had been less than impressed with his less-than-high standard of work.

(Of course, the equally interesting case of Australian author, Helen Demidenko, who won the Miles Franklin Award in the early 1990s, only to later be dubbed by the Sydney Morning Herald as a ‘literary hoax’ also springs to mind.)

Benders-of-truth almost always get caught

Plenty of people lie or embellish on their resumes, and while a good majority of them go unnoticed, others are caught out — sometimes very publicly, and often only after the organisation has been very publicly embarrassed, as in the case of Cooke and Blair.

My advice, then, is to always check the references of new hires meticulously. Rather than calling the mobile numbers or direct lines of the candidate’s references, call the main switchboard and ask to speak to that person’s manager or superior.

And always ensure to ask for a copy of any credentials, like university degrees. If you’re employing someone where, by law, they’re required to hold a certain qualification — as is the case for BAS agents, for instance — it’s imperative you can verify the person’s credentials.

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Xero online training course

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). 


 

FREE Digital Business Course

Learn How to Run a Business Online

starting-a-new-cafe-or-retail-business
It doesn’t matter whether you have a specifically online business, or a gift shop, clothing store, cafe or other bricks and mortar business, as a business owner, we can help you understand the digital economy.

In a post I published about starting your own business in January 2017, I said that all small business owners should have an understanding of traditional and digital marketing. You’ll be surprised how many don’t!

All businesses have a digital aspect to them these days so it’s vital that business owners and managers know how to manage the digital aspects of their business. This starts by understanding some of the terms used and how websites, domain names, hosting and the Google search engine works.

It doesn’t matter whether you intend to start a fully digital business (i.e. a home based bookkeeping business or online shop for example) or if you will start a more traditional bricks and mortar business (a cafe, retail clothing or gift shop, or some other business with office or retail space), you need to understand how to use the internet to develop new leads, engage with your existing customer base, and build your presence online.

Register for Our FREE Digital Business Foundations Course

I created a free Digital Business Foundations Course to help new and existing business owners understand how to digitise their business. You can register for our free Digital Business Foundations Course (scroll about half way down the page) to begin receiving the free course content. Some of the things you’ll learn include:

  • Insights into websites
  • Domain names
  • Web hosting
  • How Google Search works
  • How businesses use Content blogs for SEO
  • What SEO really is, plus much more.

Each of the principles discussed in the free Digital Business Course were applied to EzyLearn, when it transitioned from a bricks and mortar training centre business to an online only training business, and have been used by 123ezy, which provides content marketing for real estate agents, content writers and bookkeepers across Australia.

Case Study: Baby Massage Business

baby-massage-helps-new-parents-bond-with-their-newborn-child-wordpress-training-courseI wrote about Sonia Mitterdorfer and her baby massage business in August this year. For most of her working life, Sonia had been a registered nurse. After raising her family she wanted to return to the workforce in some sort of meaningful capacity and heard about baby massage. Her first introduction was a seminar (incidentally, run by a middle aged bloke holding weekend retreats helping new parents understand and bond with their babies!)

Sonia had her website created by a registered BAS agent who wanted to have add another feather to her bookkeeping bow (and wanted to do more “creative” work). Sonia’s website has been pivotal as a means for her to demonstrate her credibility and explain about the nature of her work.

There’s Much More to Domain Names

So many business people think (wrongly) that a domain name is simply the cost of a website, but that’s just the name — you need to:

  • point it (DNS) to a web host
  • set up your email at the web host (I prefer to outsource that to Google Apps — now called Google G Suite)
  • install website design software like WordPress
  • create the pages and menus
  • insert images (source them and edit them)
  • write some words (that Google thinks are relevant).

Don’t worry if you feel a little bamboozled — we cover all of this in our WordPress course!

Add an Online Dimension to Your Business

The majority of people, when they’re looking for a product, service, restaurant, cafe, real estate agent, bookkeeper, virtual assistant — online training course, even — will search online. Even if you think your business is already doing well, if it’s not optimised to deliver online leads, then it could be doing much better.

Reach your business’s full potential, register for our free digital business course to start a digital business or transition into one today.

Start Your Business NOW for the New Year!

The Christmas Holidays is a Terrific Time to Start a New Business

start-your-own-small-business-this-christmasIF YOU’VE DECIDED THAT 2017 will be the year you start your new business, don’t wait until January to begin your journey to becoming the head honcho.

Right now is the best time of the year to begin — because while everyone else (businesses included) has gone on on holidays, you’ll be ready to take on your first client or customer by the time January 2017 rolls around.

Before a business can commencing trading, there’s a lot of work to be done. This takes time and requires some rudimentary knowledge of Australian tax law, copyright law, trademarks and patents. You should also have knowledge of particular software applications, and digital marketing.

One of the most common reasons a business fails is because it was mismanaged; the other most common reason is because the business failed to implement appropriate credit management processes. In both cases, businesses fail because the owners, directors, partners or managers lacked the appropriate management skills to make it a success.

Don’t Become a Small Business Statistic

Research has shown that by taking just one short course on small business management, the chance a business will fail is reduced by as much as 50 percent. The key areas businesses owners should understand before starting a business include:

  • Business planning
  • Digital and traditional marketing
  • Intellectual property and general law
  • Researching the market
  • Cloud-accounting software
  • Working with content management systems.

Ordinarily, to become skilled in each of those areas, a person would have to take, at least, five different training courses. But few people are ever likely to do this. Instead, they’d be more likely to cherry pick the areas they’re least familiar with, and fly blind with the others.

Take Advantage of Our HUGE Xmas Discount

start-your-own-business-in-january-2017We don’t want you to wing it or fly blind — our goal is to help small businesses succeed which is what we’ve been doing for near on 20 years. As a special offer, we’ve reduced the price of our EzyStartUp Business Course to $297 (down from $697). It covers each of the key areas mentioned above that a small business owner needs to be familiar with, in addition to the following:

  • Originating and developing concepts
  • Establish legal and risk management
  • Product packaging

Plus, you’ll have access to ALL of our software training courses for 12 months at a big discount, which includes Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint training.

Don’t Wait Till January — Become the Head Honcho Today

Use your time off from work this summer to begin working on your new small business. All of our training courses are delivered online, and can be completed at your own pace, so you can complete them while you’re actually on holidays, or relaxing at home or at a cafe. And since one of the best ways to start a new business is by operating it as a side project to your other job, if you get all the startup stuff out of the way while you’re on holidays, it’ll be ready to go by the time you back to work.

Learn more about the EzyStartUp Business Course at our website or view all of our special offers to save on your next EzyLearn training course.


 

The High Cost of Cheap

How to tell whether your prices are too cheap

cheap can be bad for business clients and your health small business startup training course will help with your breakevenDETERMINING YOUR PRICES, and whether you’re selling yourself too cheap, is a critical element in the success of your business, and in your own success as well.

Our EzyStartUp Course covers setting prices in some detail as there are many factors you need to consider and include in your prices to ensure you’re not just competitive — but that you’re also drawing a living wage.

There’s a theory that low prices attract more clients and that, in doing so, you’ll be able to earn more than if you had higher prices and only a few customers. This model does work, but it’s usually only in relation to big supermarkets or chain department stores. Take, for example, Woolies and Coles each trying to outdo each other with the cheapest bread and milk — and more recently, Bunnings and Masters who’ve gone head-to-head over the price of hardware items like paint.

But smaller retailers have rarely been able to compete with big ones, and it’s largely the reason why there are fewer independently owned retail shops now than there were 30 or 40 years ago. And gradually this mentality has started to seep into other areas of business, including the area of professional services.

Reasons why setting your prices cheap doesn’t work

Even though cheap prices will generally bring you more clients, there’s good reasons why having a lot of clients paying you very little is bad for business. Here’s a couple:

1. Lots of clients paying very little means you’ll work like crazy

If you’re going to outdo your competitors with low rates, then you’ll need to employ staff or find other contractors willing to subcontract the work from you for even lower prices, otherwise you’ll find yourself working like a crazy person in order to make ends meet.

I know there’s that old saying which goes something like, “If you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” but I also know that living in a capitalist society means having to pay for stuff, and unfortunately, very few banks accept bags of love as a mortgage repayment.

It doesn’t matter how much you love what you do, you need to ensure you’re remunerated fairly for it. You may choose to set your prices lower to get those first few clients but you need to adjust them later as you become more established.

You may choose to set your prices lower to get those first few clients but you need to adjust them later as you become more established.

2. Cheap Seems “Cheap”

Everyone loves a bargain, but there’s a difference between something that is well priced and something that is plain cheap. If your prices are drastically cheaper than your nearest competitor – and that includes other small businesses and sole traders – and you can’t justify why (“I don’t have the same overheads because I work from home”), then people are going to wonder why.

Cheap rates reek of one of three things:

  • you’re inexperienced
  • you’re not very good at your job
  • or your work is substandard, either because of one of the aforementioned reasons or because you simply don’t have the time/care/both.

None of those things are appealing to businesses looking to hire a contractor, and more often than not, most businesses will go with the slightly more expensive option.

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There are many things to consider when setting your prices, which is why we include it as a subject in our EzyStartUp Course. However, as a general rule of thumb, researching other businesses in your industry will help you to understand how much you can expect to earn, and should serve as a good starting off point for your business.


Check out our Spring Specials!

learning how to use excel and xero with online training

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


 

Becoming a National Bookkeeping Bookkeeper

Starting a Business as a Bookkeeper is about Business Knowledge, Skills and Support

start a bookkeeping business
It can be daunting knowing where to get your first clients when you start your own business.

It’s not easy starting out as a bookkeeper running your own business. We think our partnership with National Bookkeeping is going to help you get underway.

If you’ve subscribed to our blog and followed our recent posts, then you probably know that EzyLearn has partnered with National Bookkeeping.

National Bookkeeping can now administer training courses to their new licensees, along with a range of other perks and benefits to help you launch your own bookkeeping business.

Becoming a National Bookkeeping Licensee

To begin with, as a National Bookkeeping licensee, you receive access to all of the EzyLearn training courses, including any new courses we develop in the future.

This means that in addition to our MYOB training courses and our small business management course and our WordPress training courses, you will also have access our new content marketing course along with any other course we develop in the future.

All the training you need under one roof

We made a commitment to give National Bookkeeping licensees access to our full suite of training courses because we’re big believers in continuing your professional development by constantly updating your skill set, whether it’s by learning how to use new software or getting training in new areas of study – like content marketing.

So straight off the bat, by becoming a National Bookkeeping licensee, you’re getting access to thousands of dollars worth of training courses as part of the license fee. The way we – and National Bookkeeping – see it is that the better skilled you are, the more chance your business will have at succeeding, which is a goal for both EzyLearn and National Bookkeeping as much as it is for you.

What do you get as a National Bookkeeping Licensee?

You also get the infrastructure you need to get your bookkeeping business off the ground included in the license fee. This includes:

VoIP business phone number: You can give out a landline telephone number (rather than just a mobile number) and configure it so you can use special in-dial marketing numbers to see where your calls are coming from, which is very useful to tracking your marketing activities. You can learn more about VoIP at the Virion website, who are also working with National Bookkeeping.

Business templates: Whenever you commence work with a new client, you should always have some kind of agreement in place to protect both yourself and your client. For an independent contractor – which is how National Bookkeeping licensees will operate their businesses – the most common kind of agreement you’ll use is the professional services agreement. But we’ll also give you access to other kinds of business document, such as intellectual property agreements, that can be easily modified, should you need them.

Bookkeeping business plan: In addition to the small business management course, which takes you through the process of creating your own business plan, National Bookkeeping will also provide you with an easy-to-modify business plan, developed especially for home-based bookkeepers, which you can tweak to suit your business needs.

Sales training and business coach: Even if you’ve worked in sales in a previous occupation, every new business owner can use sales training and that’s largely because as a business owner the sales process is different to when you’re working as a sales person for a large company. When you’re just starting out, the goal is to get clients – so is working for free or cutting your rates is a good way to establish yourself? The National Bookkeeping sales trainer will take you through the many common scenarios new business owners face in relation to getting clients, as well as ways to build your business through word-of-mouth referrals. You’ll also have access to your own business coach to help you keep on track to grow your client base and build a successful business.

Marketing materials: National Bookkeeping will also supply you with your own business cards, brochures, and marketing and sales collateral that you can distribute throughout your business networks and to potential customers.

What you need to do now?

Aside from registering your interest with National Bookkeeping there are a few things you will need to do in order to become a home-based bookkeeper.

Get a Cert IV in Accounting or Bookkeeping: Although you don’t have to get a Certificate IV in Accounting or Bookkeeping, we highly recommend it. Without a Cert IV, you cannot provide BAS or GST services, which are a major component of the tax process. By being able to provide these services, you make yourself infinitely more valuable to your clients, as well as accountants with whom you’ll be encouraged to network and make contact with. You can get a Cert IV in Accounting or Bookkeeping from most RTOs or TAFE.

Obtain an ABN: Every business must have an Australian Business Number, which must be quoted on your invoices. If you don’t have an ABN your clients are legally required to withhold 49 percent of your payment and send it directly to the ATO, who’ll hold it until you file a tax return for which you’ll be required to get an ABN. Thus, it’s better to get one before you commence trading.

Get in the zone: The decision to start and operate a new business is not one that should be taken lightly, so it’s a good idea to get mentally prepared beforehand. Read up on what it’s like to be a home-based office worker, get on Meetup.com and do some networking with other business owners who can share their tips, advice and wisdom on the new business journey with you; and just generally ready yourself (organise your home-office space, for instance) for diving in and taking the self-employed plunge.

But first…

If you would like to learn more about the National Bookkeeping licensee program, visit the National Bookkeeping website, read their FAQs page or get in contact with their team to discuss the opportunities available in more detail.

Otherwise, if you have all the information you need and you’re ready to get started, register now at the National Bookkeeping website and begin your bookkeeping journey today!

How do you manage your online content marketing?

What’s all this about content marketing?

Content marketing and automatic marketing response marketing can help real estate agents standout and build credibility for property vendorsWe’re busy developing a new content marketing course because as a form of online marketing, content marketing is finally starting to come into its own. Content marketing has actually been around for many years – it’s been known as custom publishing, branded content, branded journalism, and custom media – but as it became more popular, marketers began referring to it as content marketing to make it easier to for their clients to understand.

Content marketing is basically the process of creating valuable, informative content – blog posts, email newsletters, ebooks, etc – and sharing it online to help attract and retain customers. But because it requires a lot of content to be produced and regularly, many small businesses are outsourcing their content marketing needs.

Your content marketing needs to have a purpose

To make the most out your content marketing, you need to have goals and a strategy in place to achieve them so you’re not just wasting your time. This is the same as traditional marketing activities, which we cover in our Small Business Management Course. You also need to be able monitor how each piece of content is going at achieving those goals.

If you’re also hiring a content writer or strategist to help you with your content marketing, you also need a way to easily collaborate. Now, if only there was a way to monitor and analyse your content marketing AND schedule and set content marketing tasks for those people you’re working with…

A tool for schedule and managing content marketing

Well, as we’ve recently discovered, there is! It’s a cloud-based content marketing and editorial calendar called CoSchedule and it allows you to schedule and create content marketing tasks, assign those tasks to your team, create and publish blog posts, share links to content via social media, and monitor the success of your content and the social media platform all within the CoSchedule app.

It’s a very powerful, very useful tool for small businesses that work with a number of remote workers who are based around the country, as it allows complete collaboration with your team and also integrates seamlessly with WordPress. It also helps you to optimise your blog titles and your social media sharing to help drive your web traffic.

By providing you with detail stats – and also integrating with most web analytics software, including Google Analytics – you can see what content performs well and what doesn’t, so you can improve you content in the future.

You need to know your readers to succeed

Because content marketing is about creating engaging and interesting content, whether it’s blog posts or ebooks or something else, it’s vital that you know what content your customers like and what the don’t, so you can ensure you’re always keeping them engaged.

In a post I wrote about content marketing not so long ago, I mentioned how important it is to know and understand your reader, because that’s what’ll help you to engage and interest them with your content. If you have highly engaged people consuming your content, they’re more like to share it with their friends, family and other people in their social networks.

This helps to spread the word about your business, which will bring you more customers and make you more money. But better than that, it’ll also help you to see new opportunities and areas into which you can expand your business.

Content marketing can help expand your business too

We used the feedback we received from our content marketing activities when we decided to develop the Xero training courses and the currently in-development content marketing course; it also guided us in our decision to partner with National Bookkeeping who are taking on licensees and helping them to start their own bookkeeping business.

Yes, we got all that from content marketing! Because through our content marketing, we got to know you, our readers, and what you were interested in and that allowed us to look for the types of courses and business opportunities that would interest you. You can do the same for your business too.

Learn about content marketing from the experts

If you’d like to learn about content marketing, our new content marketing course is currently in development. We’re working with an Australian journalist, a successful small business owner, and a digital marketing specialist to create a relevant, easy-to-follow course that’ll guide you through the process step-by-step. In the meantime, you can subscribe to our blog to continue reading our posts, where we’ll keep you updated on how it’s progressing.

If you’re looking for the opportunity to start your own home-based bookkeeping business, we recommend you get in touch with National Bookkeeping, who is taking on licensees. We’ve made all of our courses available to them, which will include our content marketing course when it becomes available so their licensees can learn all about starting and operating their own bookkeeping business.

What about content marketing for real estate agents

We’ve recently become aware of the need for real estate agents to build their own personal profile and credibility online. Property vendors who want to sell their property are (like the rest of us) increasing looking online for selling agents who have good experience and great reputation to sell their properties at the highest possible price and as quickly as possible. Watch this space as we learn more.

More People Are Working From Home Than Ever Before

Local Government Councils Encourage Home Businesses and Working from Home

Australian Bureau of Statistics office door reveal the majority of micro businesses use the Internet to let their staff work from homeIF YOU’RE THINKING about whether to start your own home-based business, consider this fact I stumbled across recently: More than a third of all Australian micro businesses – that is, a business with four or fewer employees – use the Internet to allow their staff to work from home, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

[quote]That’s an 8% increase in 2 years[/quote]

This represents an 8 percent increase in the number of people working from home in the space of just two years, and you can bet that figure keeps rising. You can also bet that a good majority of those people working from home were not employees, but independent contractors.

The business opportunities are there if you’re up for the challenge!

There are a great number of business opportunities for people to work as independent contractors, and many Aussies are readily taking up the challenge to contract their services out to other businesses, from bookkeepers to web designers to virtual assistants.

We recently published a guide on how to become an independent contractor — a free download from the StartUp Academy website. If you’ve been thinking of becoming an independent contractor, I encourage you to download and read it, because the demand for independent contractors is incredibly high.

I’m not saying that the demand will peter off, but I do think it’s a good idea to establish yourself now, while the practice is still gaining momentum, rather than waiting to board the train at the next station – because it might be hard to find a space in which you’ll fit then.

Your time is now

If you have a business idea you’ve been toying around with for some time, but just need the soft skills to get it off the ground, our Small Business Management Course can help you.

Alternatively, you might be interested in some already existing business opportunities, in which case the StartUp Academy can provide you with the training, guidance and support you need to make the transition from salaried employee to independent contractor.

For more information on working with the StartUp Academy, visit their website. Or if you’d like more information on our Small Business Management Course, visit our website or enrol here.

NSW State Government Building Codes, Local Council Planning Zones and the ATO

There are concessions and exemptions as well as of course deductions (costs that you incur that can reduce your taxable income) that all point to ways that our local, state and federal governments are doing their best to help grow the knowledge economy of home based workers. Most people though who decide to start a business from home are just thrilled at the personal development journey, learning how to become independent and have a better quality of life.


Get the free guide to becoming an independent contractor

FREE Guide on Becoming an Independent Contractor

The Contractor versus the Employee

Receive the free guide on starting a business from home as a remote contractorIn a recent post, I talked about EzyLearn’s latest venture, the StartUp Academy, which helps people start their own home-based businesses as independent contractors. The StartUp Academy is something I’ve been working on for sometime after I noticed a compressing of regular salaried jobs – sometimes it was the consolidation of two jobs into one but most often, entire jobs were being outsourced to consultants and contractors.

New technologies, new opportunities

There are many business analysts and economists who see the reduction of permanent jobs as a bad thing – and to some extent, they’re probably correct – but I saw it as an opportunity. New technologies have made it easier for people to work at home, wherever their home may be – a city, a beachside town, outback Australia – so long as they have access to a reliable Internet connection.

Now, people who have previously been excluded from the job market have an opportunity to earn an income. That’s great news for workers and for the economy, and it’s why the government has spearheaded a move to encourage working from home, or teleworking as it’s officially known, among businesses and their staff.

EzyLearn’s a Telework Partner

I joined the Telework Partner Program with the Australian Government a few years back and even presented a seminar at the Reinvent Your Career Expo, because I really see contracting as the future for many professions. I launched the StartUp Academy, because I wanted to help people make the transition from salaried employee to independent contractor and even more importantly remote contractor.

Build credibility, reputation and trust

This brings me to the reason you clicked on this blog post in the first place: that free guide on becoming an independent contractor. Before you can start providing services to clients as an independent contractor, you need to set yourself up. As an independent contractor, you can operate your own business as a sole-trader (or a partnership, company or trust) and as a sole-trader, you have certain responsibilities you didn’t as an employee – you have to determine your own charge out rates, manage your own superannuation, make provisions for your annual and sick leave, and so forth.

Tips, hints and advice from REAL contractors

I spoke to a number of independent contractors, consultants and freelancers to find out exactly what they wish they had known about starting out as a contractor before they started out. Based on their comments, observations and advice I put this guide together for you, which you can download from the StartUp Academy website, absolutely FREE.

I hope you find it useful, and if you’re reading it over the summer and weighing up your options for the new year, you might want to consider one of the business opportunities available at the StartUp Academy for 2015.

How much should a local bookkeeper charge?

What is a local bookkeeper worth?

I recently wrote a blog post about whether bookkeepers could also provide marketing services to their clients, which I also touched on in another recent post about starting a bookkeeping business and the need to be diverse in the services you offer as an independent contractor. While brainstorming with Ray from the Startup Academy about the services bookkeeper charge and the rates they can earn we discovered that there is a huge variety of services that a bookkeeper can offer and as a result their rates differ.

What does it take to be a registered BAS agentWith cloud-accounting software like Xero and MYOB using automatic bank feeds (also SAASU in their new announcement with Westpac), a lot of the data entry work involved in bookkeeping is reduced because bank statement entries can be automatically matched to transactions in the accounting software. What was once a time-consuming and sometimes complicated process has now become much simpler, and many business owners can manage the data entry themselves. What a business owner can’t do, however, is file their quarterly business activity statements (BAS) because a registered BAS agent must complete those.

Some local bookkeepers may have very low rates

It’s not uncommon for a local bookkeeper these days to charge between $16 and $20 an hour if they only provide data entry services and can complete the work from their home office. Registered BAS agents can charge a lot more than that because they have to go through rigorous training – which includes a certain number of hours supervised by an accountant – before they can be accredited to provide BAS services.

But what about bookkeepers who have a background more diverse than just accounting or finance? There are many bookkeepers who have held vastly different professions in vastly different industries before they started their own bookkeeping business.

Most new bookkeepers have diverse working histories

Since we started offering our MYOB training courses, we’ve found that many of our students initially wanted to know how to use MYOB so they could look after the accounts for their family business and then later decided to work full-time as a contract bookkeeper for a number of clients.

Most of these new bookkeepers previously had careers in sales or marketing prior to starting a bookkeeping business. By combining these skill sets, these simple bookkeeping businesses could offer turnkey business solutions to other small businesses, such as complete operations management services.

Turning modest hourly rates into sustainable wages

The price you charge for goods or services should always include GST.
The price you charge for goods or services should always include GST.

In doing so, what would have been a modest hourly rate as a bookkeeper, can be transformed into a sustainable wage that will support a whole family. For people of a career change, creating a full service business is the best way to make you more valuable to clients.

That’s why, when we partnered with National Bookkeeping, we said we’d offer our accounting and office productivity training courses as part of the licensee agreement because the more diverse and better skilled a business owner can be, the better chance they’ll have at succeeding in their business.

Possessing the skills you need to understand what’s involved in managing a small business is not only useful to your clients, it’s also useful to you; you’re also running a small business, after all.

Leverage your previous work experience in your new venture

Don’t estimate the value of your previous work experience. A background in marketing, for instance, means you understand consumer behaviours, your know how to package products or services so they’ll sell, and you have a strategic mind. These are invaluable skills to bring to any business, so leverage them.

Package your skills, whatever they may be, and develop a truly unique business offering that will help other businesses become more profitable, as well as your own. A full-service Small Business Operations and Management business, for instance, could easily charge their clients upwards of $65 an hour for one of their consultants (you) to manage the bookkeeping and other business operations for a client.

The demand is high for bookkeepers

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to use MYOB or Xero. Just take one of our MYOB or Xero courses, which teach you the fundamentals involved in managing a business’s books and then use your bookkeeping services as a way to get your foot in the door with clients.

As I mentioned in my post on starting a bookkeeping business every business has to file a tax return so it’s vital that they keep their bookkeeping up-to-date. Most businesses won’t think they need someone to manage the operations of their business, but they will concede they need a bookkeeper. It’s bookkeeping that will deliver the leads you need because it’s such a highly sought-after service.

Even though a local bookkeeper may only charge modest rates for their data entry services, a more far more experienced, diversified bookkeeping business – or full service operations management business – would earn significantly more for their services.

If you’re thinking of starting a bookkeeping business, you should consider becoming a licensee with National Bookkeeping, where you’ll receive access to EzyLearn’s Word. Excel, MYOB and Xero training courses, as well as any future ones. Alternatively, to learn more about starting a bookkeeping business or about working as a local bookkeeper, continue reading our blog.

Bookkeeping work and pay rates

By the way, if you want to take a look at the indicative pricing for certain types of bookkeeping/accounting tasks, read the Natbooks page about bookkeeping rates.

Why Start a Bookkeeping Business?

Australia needs bookkeepers!

start a bookkeeping business
It can be daunting knowing where to get your first clients when you start your own business.

EVERY BUSINESS HAS A LEGAL requirement to file an annual tax return, and for some businesses, a quarterly or monthly business activity statement (BAS).

Accurate record keeping and data entry is a crucial component of filing both, and with the increasing number of start-ups and new small businesses in Australia, the demand for a good, reliable bookkeeper has been growing steadily.

People start their own businesses for a variety of reasons, but usually it’s because they need flexibility and want to do work that is rewarding.

For some people, starting their own business is the next natural step in their career – perhaps they’ve worked for many years as hairdresser in someone else’s salon; or worked for someone else as a chef or photographer or builder, and going out on their own just makes good career sense.

Bookkeeping: the low-risk, high reward business option

However, for many, the career path isn’t so clear, or they always may have seen themselves shackled to a job working for someone else. To them, starting a business always seemed like something that hinged on a really great idea or new invention, and in absence of either, it has remained out of their grasp.

But it’s not. Becoming a bookkeeper is an accessible, low-risk new business option for any self-motivated person with good computer skills. You don’t even have to love being a number cruncher to be a good bookkeeper, because most bookkeepers don’t do much number crunching these days anyway.

The multi-talented bookkeeper

With the rise of cloud-accounting software like Xero and MYOB Account Right Live, for which we offer online training courses in both platforms, most bookkeepers set up the bank feeds option for their clients, which automatically matches transactions in their bank account with the transactions in their accounting software. This eliminates much of the grunt work associated with the data entry aspect of bookkeeping, freeing the bookkeeper up to do other things for their clients (like BAS) or even pick up some extra clients.

Increasingly, though, and this is largely due to the number of new bookkeepers who don’t come from a finance or accounting background, many bookkeepers are diversifying in the services they offer by performing other functions within their clients’ businesses. This demand for multi-talented bookkeepers brings me back to what I was saying earlier in this post about the growing number of new small businesses.

With great demand, comes great opportunity

As more people start new businesses, which only looks set to increase over the next couple of years thanks to the many tax breaks included in this year’s federal budget, these businesses require more than a good, reliable bookkeeper; they also need web developers, content marketers, virtual assistants, operational managers, and the like.

Hiring several different contractors to manage each aspect of their business is not only costly – it’s also time consuming. Most business owners would rather hire just one or two contractors who have a broad base of skills – a bookkeeper with administration and operational experience or a content marketer with web design experience, for example.

Develop valuable business skills

A bookkeeper with business administration skills, which can be obtained by enrolling in our Small Business Management Course, is a valuable asset to any business — and it doesn’t mean you have to become a Jack (or Jill) of all trades.

EzyLearn is passionate about helping people start their own bookkeeping businesses, and to this end, we have worked to help develop National Bookkeeping, an Australia-wide network of Australian bookkeepers and registered BAS agents, which helps to match small businesses with a bookkeeping professional that meets their business needs. National Bookkeeping is now looking to expand its network by licensing its business to people who would like to start a bookkeeping business.

Becoming a National Bookkeeping Licensee

Ever since we started delivering our MYOB training courses online, and watched as other tools like Dropbox and WordPress and the many Google apps made it easier and easier for people work entirely from their home office, we’ve wanted to help people to start their own home-based bookkeeping business.

Finally that dream of ours has been realised with our partnership with National Bookkeeping. As part of the National Bookkeeping partnership, we’re offering our Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, MYOB and Xero Training Courses to National Bookkeeping licensees.

The reason for this is that we believe that continued learning and professional development is crucial for every business owner, especially if they want to stay ahead of trends and new developments in their industry and if you’re interested in becoming an independent contractor running a bookkeeping business from home then these software programs are essential.

Stay ahead of industry trends

Keeping up with industry developments is something we do as a matter of priority at EzyLearn because we want to be able to provide training courses that are relevant to the latest trends, which is why we’re busy working with some of the top digital marketers and strategists to develop our Content Marketing course.

When you become a National Bookkeeping licensee, you’ll have access to this Content Marketing training course as part of the small business marketing course which is available as an optional extra. This will help you market your services more effectively.

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lifelong learning platform woman online learning for lifeIf you would like to learn more about National Bookkeeping or becoming a licensee, visit the National Bookkeeping website or register your interest online. For more information on starting a bookkeeping business, continue reading our blog, which we constantly update with news and advice on starting a business.

Don’t Spend Tony Abbott’s Money Yet

Expense It Rather Than Depreciate It

Utility Vehicle for small business tax write off concessionsThe other week, we wrote a couple of blog posts, discussing the recent $5.5b worth of breaks [tax deductions for cars for small business] the government was throwing to Australian small businesses in the form of an immediate $20k tax write off for an unlimited number of asset purchases.

Tax breaks make it easier for people to start their own home-based businesses because the costs of setup are deducted from their total income and you only need to pay tax on the resulting net profit. As an example, a graduate of one of our MYOB training courses could deduct an unlimited number of asset purchases of computers, office furniture or company vehicles that they incur in the setting up of their home-based business, as long as they were each under $20k.

This is twenty times the amount small businesses were previously allowed to claim as an immediate tax deduction. Up until the budget announcement, any asset purchases, such as computers or cars or office furniture, costing more than $1000 were pooled together and depreciated over time. Here’s some information about how asset purchases and depreciation normally works (how to handle this in MYOB is included in our MYOB training courses)

Immediate tax deductions for purchases under $20k

Announced in the recent federal budget, small businesses with an annual turnover of under $2m will able to claim any asset purchase made between budget announcement night last week and June 30 2017 as an immediate tax deduction. But that doesn’t mean small businesses should go on a spending spree because, while the budget may have been very generous to small businesses, there were unpopular cuts to paid parental leave, along with changes to childcare subsidies.

The scariest thing about promises made by politicians is that they are announced to demonstrate how much a political party care, but the announcement is often just the first step in the ensuing process that any decision needs to go through before it becomes law.

What if the budget doesn’t pass through the senate?

This could be problematic if the budget fails to pass through the senate. Though it looks likely that Labor will support the small business tax breaks, they’re unlikely to support some of the other unpopular reforms, which makes banking on the tax breaks a bit dicey.

There’s every chance the terms of the tax breaks could be revised or that it possibly won’t even pass at all; there’s also a chance of a double dissolution, which has been lingering over Prime Minster Abbott’s head ever since last year’s disaster of a budget.

With such uncertainty around whether the budget will pass through the senate, it would be unwise for small businesses to make asset purchases above or beyond what they could reasonably have afforded before the tax breaks.

Don’t let the tax breaks influence your spending

Don’t go out and buy three top-of-the-range computers if you only need one. In fact, if you weren’t planning on spending many thousands of dollars on an asset purchase for your business (or new business), it’s still wise to shop smart and, if necessary, be frugal.

If you’re thinking of starting your own small or home-based business, we offer a number of online training courses to help you get your business idea off the ground, including a Small Business Management Course and training courses in MYOB. For more information, visit our website or continue reading our blog.