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How Bad Do You Want It? (Money, That Is!)

invoicing small business
Don’t do all the hard work and not get paid for it: consult our checklist for what you can do to get paid – and faster.

If you’re working as a contractor and using an Australian business number (ABN), rather than a tax file number (TFN), you’re self-employed, and this means you will need to invoice your customers for the products or services you provide in order to get paid.

If you’ve only ever worked as an employee before, you’re probably used to being able to set your clock to payday, but unfortunately this isn’t often the case when you’re a contractor.

Getting paid late — or worse, not at all! — can seriously affect your cash-flow, and in turn, affect the success of your business, which is why we cover things like financial planning in our Small Business Management and Start Up Course.

Continue reading How Bad Do You Want It? (Money, That Is!)

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Is Google Your Sugar Daddy?

google marketing networking
Show Me the Money: A thorough understanding of how to use Google can help you – and your business – earn more.

We’ve been writing about referral marketing a lot lately, and in a recent post about marketing action plans, we talked about why you should include referral marketing and/or networking as a marketing strategy in your marketing plan.

That may seem silly to some people, since networking doesn’t always translate to sales straight away, but we’ve discovered another reason why you should include it in your marketing plan: Google! Continue reading Is Google Your Sugar Daddy?

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Do You Get Other People to Talk You Up?

referral marketing
Using your clients to refer you is a great way to generate new business.

Marketing and referrals are essential components of any successful business. We cover marketing in the Marketing Action Plan and Undertake Marketing Activities of our Small Business Management Course, where we talk about the ways you can market your business to get those first few customers.

Referral marketing is a great way to gain new customers, and involves encouraging your existing client base to promote your business and its services.

Continue reading Do You Get Other People to Talk You Up?

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Do You Really Need to Be Nice in Business?

Being nice in business
It may be difficult at times, but it really does pay to be nice in small business.

In our Small Business Management Course, you learn all about starting and managing a small business. One thing we don’t teach, however, is customer service.

In fact, it’s often said that the golden rule of customer service is that the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.

But what happens with your suppliers, when you’re technically the customer — does this give you free reign to be as demanding as you like? Or does it pay to be nice? Continue reading Do You Really Need to Be Nice in Business?

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Pricing: Are You Being a Con Artist Without Knowing It?

It doesn't pay to sneak around your pricing; stating it up front is a better way to go.
It doesn’t pay to sneak around your pricing; stating it up front is a better way to go.

A short while back we wrote a post about why your final price should include GST, and just recently we talked about how you should structure your prices, so we thought we would add to these and talk about whether you should make your prices freely available on your website.

The internet has changed the way we do many things. It’s changed the way we bank, communicate and work, but if there’s one thing it’s almost entirely revolutionised it’s the way we shop — particularly the way we shop for professional services. Continue reading Pricing: Are You Being a Con Artist Without Knowing It?

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When Should You Work for Free?

It's ok to do work for free, but your clients should be made aware of the extra value you're adding.
It’s ok to do work for free, but your clients should be made aware of the extra value you’re adding.

In our Small Business Management Course there is a module on determining and setting your prices, which includes factoring in things like travel expenses if you’re going to be visiting clients and so forth.

But what about things like, installation costs – should you bill your clients for this or work it into the price or just let it slide?

Some businesses work those sorts of prices into their final cost; others – think Foxtel, for example – charge installation fees; but a surprising number of businesses let it slide. Continue reading When Should You Work for Free?

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Our NEW Originate and Develop Concepts Course

It pays to think ahead about the competition before opening the doors to your business.
It pays to think ahead about the competition before opening the doors to your business.

We’ve just unlocked a new course as part of our Small Business Management Course that’s now available for individual enrolment – originate and develop concepts course.

This course was previously only available as part of our Small Business Management Course, but because it’s such an important first step in starting your own business, we decided to make it available for individual enrolment.

The course focuses on the all-important research phase of starting a business. In order to complete this course, students will need to already have an idea for a business, which they can begin researching.

In the originate and develop concepts course you’ll be looking at things like the geographical area your business will service, whether seasonal factors will impact it, demographics and other socio-economic information that may be necessary.

These are important first steps that many business owners don’t learn until they’ve already opened their doors, at which point realigning their business accordingly is often costly and difficult.

But if you’ve already determined that to start your virtual bookkeeping business, you need compete, say, with two other established bookkeepers who only offer straight bookkeeping services, you can offer BAS services and establish a point of difference between yourself and the competition from the get-go.

Knowing where your business stands in the marketplace will also aid you in marketing and advertising your business, while it’s also necessary to have completed this kind of preliminary research if you intend on securing finance from an investor or a bank.

In the course, you’re also required to isolate your ideal customer, which is imperative to ensure you’re delivering the correct products or services, but again, also helps you market your business directly to that person – because you know exactly, what they do and how to reach them.

So if you’ve been thinking of starting you own business, our Originate and Develop Concepts Course is just the thing for you. Visit our EzyLearn Online website for more information or enrol now.

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Feedback from Students About Our Online Training Courses

We value - and need - your feedback about our online training courses.
We value – and need – your feedback about our online training courses.

Over the years, we’ve provided online training to numerous Australian – and international – students, whether via our flagship MYOB training course or one of our Excel or WordPress courses, or our more recent Small Business Management Course. Over the years these students have provided us with valuable feedback.

The feedback we receive from our students helps us to understand what’s working and what isn’t, which is why it’s invaluable to us that you get in touch and let us know what you think.

It was based on the feedback we received from our students that we decided to develop our Reach Accounting and Xero training courses. It is also based on the feedback we received that we changed the way we issued our certificates so that students received them faster and could use them to find work.

Recent Feedback

Here’s just some of the feedback we’ve received from our students recently:

“I found the workbooks the most helpful for giving practical experience.” — Karen Dimitri, Glengowrie SA 5044

“The best part is that you can do it on your own time and pace.” — Juliana van Wyk, Hilton WA 6163

“Short, easily digestable videos. Can fit in easily with a busy lifestyle.” — Korina Power, North Shore, Auckland 0630

“I could learn at my own pace.” — Jackie Smith, Sheidow Park, SA 5158

“Doing the workbooks and watching the videos at my own pace has helped me a lot in pursing the current workforce requirements.” — Merritt Ray, Loganholme QLD 4129

“I was able to finish the whole course in just a couple of weeks.” — YoonOck Lee, Atwell, WA 6164

“By watching videos on one particular topic and doing a test straight after relating to those videos, you don’t become too overwhelmed with too much information.” — Michelle Bankstown, NSW 2200

“I am happy as I could completely the course at my own pace. It was easy n simple to understand. As a mother I felt the course was very time efficient. Looking forward to putting my knowledge into action.” — Kimberline Francis, St James, WA 6102

“This course is best for me because I can access any time from home, I can replay any video provided when I didn’t understand.” — Mika Humphreys, Innisfail, QLD 4860

“Everything within the course itself was great. I liked the most how easy it was to understand and navigate through.” — Katie Davis, Whyalla, SA 5608

“Being able to actually move around the sample company file to get a feeling of how the software is structured, made me have more confident.” — Joy Khoo, Mudgee, NSW 2850

“The best parts of this course is that we get freedom to learn and complete this course in your own suitable time. There is not so much pressure that you have to complete in certain time limit. I would advise and recommend this course from EzyLearn to international students who want to further their career in bookkeeping and accounting. It was a great privilege to be part of your institute.” — Prabin Gurung, Auburn, NSW 2144

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We’d love to hear from you too. Get in touch via our course evaluation page.

 

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Small Business is about Doing

It's time to roll your sleeves up: our Small Business Management Course gets you working on a real life business idea.
It’s time to roll your sleeves up: our Small Business Management Course gets you working on a real life business idea.

As Australia’s leading provider of online training courses, we deliver all kinds of different training courses – and we’ve recently branched into providing online induction training courses to business. But where EzyLearn’s flagship course, the MYOB training course, teaches practical skills in using one of the most popular accounting software packages, it is a completely different kind of course to our Small Business Management Course – and for good reason.

Thinking as if You Own A Business

Our Small Business Management Course is designed to make you think like a business owner. Where our other software-based courses are designed to systematically guide you through a particular software package, our Small Business Management Course needs to be different.

As a business owner, you’ll be thrown curve balls from many directions – especially when you first start out – and the key to surviving them is being able to think objectively and without bias.

You’ll need to be able to problem-solve and sometimes develop new approaches to existing business practices or activities. Running your own business means having a plan, but not always operating to it.

To complete the course, you need to be able to demonstrate that you possess the required skills to successful operate your own business – by researching, thinking and writing.

A Real Business Idea with Tutor Feedback

The Small Business Management Course is deliberately structured so that as you work your way through the course content, you’re applying the exercises and skills you’re learning to a real-life business idea. Then, once you’ve complete the course, you’ll go live with this business idea.

The course gives students an unusual and unique advantage over other soon-to-be business owners because our students get feedback from a tutor that they can then apply to their business strategies.

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This is what makes our Small Business Management Course so popular – because you’re learning with your real business idea, where other business courses merely have student complete exercises or answer questions in relation to hypothetical business scenarios.

If you would like to learn more about our small business management course, visit our website or enrol here.

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Entrpreneurs Share: Why All Businesses Need an Exit Strategy

Exit strategy
Plan from the outset where you want your business to go.

Perhaps to some it sounds a little pessimistic to talk about having an exit strategy for a business you haven’t yet started, however, an exit strategy is actually a very wise move. We talk all about the things you need to consider when starting a business in our Small Business Management Course, but of equal importance is how you’ll end the business, which is something you need to consider when writing your Business Plan.

How Will You End It All?

Knowing how you’ll exit your business when the time comes will determine a framework for how you’ll set up your business up in the first place. This could involve creating a name for your business, rather than using your own name, so that you can sell your business later without having to relinquish your right to use your own name.

Exit strategies have never been more important than they are today when it’s not uncommon for a start-up to be sold maybe two or three years after its inception. Take Flickr, the image hosting website, as an example of case in point; it was only 18 months old when it was sold to Yahoo! for $30 million in 2005.

Three Key Reasons to Have an Exit Strategy

We spoke to our network of fellow entrepreneurs and business owners recently, and they gave us three reasons every business should have an exit strategy.

1.    It gives you a roadmap: Mark Darling of Sip Water says: “Begin with the end in mind.” Operating a business without an exit strategy is like going on a road trip without taking a map. “How are you going to get there if you don’t know where there is?” The smaller things tend to fall into place much more easily when the bigger things have been decided.

2.    It’s motivating: “When you’re working towards a specific goal, it really helps you to stay motivated on those days when everything seems to be going wrong,” says Vic Cherikoff of Australian Functional Foods. Your exit strategy helps you to put certain problems in perspective.

3.   Get the best sale price: “Knowing when and how you will sell your business can help you think about what you need to do to maximise your business’s value,” explains Robert Crane of CIA OPS. Without an exit strategy, you may find yourself accepting fire sale prices just because you want to exit your business quickly. Having an exit strategy helps you avoid this.

Having an exit strategy is just as important as having a start-up strategy. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow it down to the letter. Like most things in life, often the best-laid plans don’t actually go to plan, but having a framework to work off will help to make your business more successful and ultimately, more profitable in the long run.

You can find out more about writing a business plan in our Small Business Management Course by clicking here.

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Interview with Business Owner: The Benefits of Being “Hands On”

We interview Mark Darling about some of the keys to his hugely successful water business.
We interview Mark Darling about some of the keys to his hugely successful water business.

We recently wrote about the five attributes successful entrepreneurs possess, but one attribute that wasn’t on that list was being hands-on. Our Small Business Management course teaches students all the practical, hands-on skills you need to successfully start and operate a new business, but that hands-on attitude shouldn’t dissipate once your business is up and running.

Why It Pays to Be ‘Hands On’

With that in mind, we recently spoke to Mark Darling, the chief executive officer of Sip Water, a Sydney-based bottled water business, about why business owners should always be hands-on with their businesses. Mark’s history with the bottled water industry has been a long and storied one, but ultimately it’s been about success.

For many years, Mark operated his first bottled water business almost like it was still a small business even though it had grown to become the second largest bottled water company in Australia, behind Neverfail. Even as the large-scale operation that it had become, it was not uncommon for Mark to carry out many of the duties typically not expected of a managing director, like making deliveries to clients.

Eventually Mark’s business caught the attention of another publicly listed company to whom Mark eventually sold it; it was some several years later, that Mark decided to start Sip Water, this time a much smaller operation where Mark still makes water deliveries to his clients to this day.

Why Do What You Can Pay Others to Do?

The reason Mark still makes deliveries: because it makes his business more efficient, and his hands-on approach is something he attributes to the success of all of his businesses. “People often ask me ‘Why don’t you get someone to help you?’” Mark says. “But I always say ‘Well, why would I do that when I don’t need one.’”

Mark says that many business owners often feel they should employ someone to perform work they could really do themselves. “I’m sure it seems unusual for a CEO to make deliveries, but I do it because, this way, I know it’s been done,” Mark explains.

Perhaps this contradicts everything you thought you knew about business, particularly since its often drummed into business owners that in order to prosper they need to delegate; to step away from the smaller things so they can concentrate on the big things.

On this, Mark agrees, but adds: “If I can fit some deliveries into my day without it impacting on the other things I need to do, I will.” The idea is to only hire personnel that are absolutely essential to the running of the business. This keeps your overheads down and your profits up.

Rather than employing an admin person for your business because you feel that as the owner you shouldn’t be doing admin work, ask yourself whether you can conceivably do the admin. If you can, why hire an admin person?

Often people believe that the larger your team, the more professional your business will seem; the more it will seem like a big business. But some big businesses are like icebergs: they appear a certain way on the surface, but it’s what lurks beneath the surface you need to worry about.

In the case of Mark’s original bottled water business, not long after selling it to a well-known, publicly-listed company — or big business — the core company which purchased it went out of business, taking the business Mark had built down with it.

The Moral Is…

The moral of the story, as Mark sees it, is that his attitude towards running his businesses is right: if you’re hands-on with your business and you know what’s happening with it, then you’ll avoid the calamities that often engulf other businesses: closure due to poor management.

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Our Small Business Management Course teaches students everything they need to know about successfully starting and operating a small business, including payroll, financial planning, and the like. To see our full suite of training courses, click here.

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Should Your Final Price Include GST?

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

We are regualarly refreshing the content of our MYOB training course so that you can benefit from all the new information that is always coming in about being a bookkeeper, running your own bookkeeping business or doing the books for someone else’s business.

Pricing Your Services for GST Continue reading Should Your Final Price Include GST?

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Want to be an Entrepreneur? Five Attributes You Must Have!

Being entrepreneurial involves a lot more than enjoying being your own boss; you must also be very strong minded.
Being entrepreneurial involves a lot more than enjoying being your own boss; you must also be very strong minded.

If you’ve just returned to work after the Christmas break and it’s feeling like a bit of a drag, you’re not alone. This January, enrolments in our Small Business Management and MYOB Training Courses have been at an all time high, and we think we know why.

After spending weeks as your own boss, deciding how you would spend your days and with whom — and liking it — you’re feeling like maybe this is the year to start your own business and be your own boss for good, right?

But liking being able to decide how to spend your spare time, and actually making a business work are two different things. An entrepreneur is a certain breed of people and self-employment is not something for everyone.

Mental Strength and Positivity

To start your own business you need more than just a great idea, or a passion for the thing you do — you need to be mentally strong so you can face the various disappointments that sometimes come with self-employment and come out the other side.

If you’re mentally strong, you should possess the majority of these attributes:

1. You don’t waste time with self-pity: entrepreneurs don’t have the time to waste feeling sorry for themselves when something doesn’t work out the way they hoped — they emerge from trying situations with self-awareness and gratitude and soldier on even after a failure. Indeed, I’ve heard one successful entrepreneur say that in order to attain his successes, he probably first failed more than anyone he knows.

2. You don’t give away your power: entrepreneurs avoid spending time with people who make them feel inferior because they understand they’re in control of their actions and know that their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.

3. You’re excited by change: entrepreneurs embrace change — and in some cases, even seek it out. In fact, becoming complacent is probably one of their biggest fears and so they seek out new challenges regularly.

4. You don’t make the same mistakes over and over: a good entrepreneur takes full responsibility for past behaviour and is willing to learn from mistakes. They don’t repeat the same actions, hoping for a different result.

5. You know the world doesn’t owe you anything: So the economy is bad — that doesn’t mean anyone owes you anything, least of all a living. Entrepreneurs know this; they know that their success is entirely dependent on their drive, ambition and motivation to do well in their lives and careers.

If you feel you’re mentally strong enough to succeed in business, but need a little more direction of the nitty gritty of running a small business, our Small Business Management Course takes you through every aspect of managing a small business and introduces you to successful entrepreneurs and business people.

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Is the Death of the Bookkeeper Imminent?

Happy New Year to all our readers! And take comfort in knowing that we think the death of the bookkeeper is FAR from imminent! Read the post to find out.
Happy New Year to all our readers! And take comfort in knowing that we think the death of the bookkeeper is FAR from imminent! Read the post to find out.

All right, so it’s not the most joyful heading we could have gone with on New Year’s Eve, but it’s not actually meant to conjure up doom and gloom! We have  researched and developed new online training courses for Reach Accounting and Xero, which have now been added to our suite of training courses that include the flagship MYOB training course. In the process we’ve spoken to a number of accountants to see what software they’re using, to ensure we’re providing the training courses you need to get a bookkeeping job. This is good news because you can then rely on us to inform you what more you may need to offer clients.

Throughout this process, we’ve come across a number of accountants who are using BankLink, an accounting service we’ve written about previously, which streamlines and automates the data entry portion of managing a client’s account.

The ‘In-House’ Extra Employee

For many accountants the BankLink software, which was acquired by MYOB in June of this year so they could further extend their reach into the accounting space, is being billed as an “extra employee” that never makes mistakes and is comparatively cheaper than the additional in-house bookkeeper or admin person headcount.

The big question for us is: Does this spell the end of the bookkeeper? For instance, think of the way personal computers did away with the need for the office stenographer working in a steno pool? The answer is that this is indeed possible — but this is only if data entry is the sole service you offer. Like most professionals today, the more specialised you are and the more services you can offer, the more likely you are to experience career longevity.

At the end of the day, software is only as good as the person who uses it. If you’re a highly experienced bookkeeper in a particular industry or possess a number of highly sought-after accounting skills, you’ll find BankLink a dream come true in that it eliminates the tedious, time-consuming data entry from your job.

BankLink: Giving You More Time

With more time on your hands, you’ll be able to grow your client-base — a goal for most small businesses and previously only available if you miraculously grew a spare set of hands, or employed a spare set of hands, at least. You may even be able to move your business out of the narrow bookkeeping space into the small business management space.

With the number of new small businesses increasing, the key to their individual survival in a highly competitive marketplace is good management — and who’s more suited to that job than someone with a thorough understanding of account keeping?

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So while BankLink may spell the end of tedious, time-consuming data entry, for the experienced bookkeeper it presents more business and career opportunities — not less. Upskill and enjoy greater career success as a result.

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LinkedIn Profiles: How Useful Are They, Really?

What is the power of a LinkedIn profile?

how useful is a linkedin profile online learning social media training
We scrutinise the power of a LinkedIn online social media profile.

THERE MAY BE SOME debate over whether having a LinkedIn profile actually helps professionals make valuable connections with other professionals, but the same could also be said of traditional networking.

As a writer, I probably should network more, but personally, I don’t find much value in it. In the past I have either fallen prey to someone wanting publicity for their pyramid-scheme-type business or I’ve turned into a borderline stalker myself; harassing someone who perhaps only gave me their business card out of a feeling of social obligation.

Besides, a business card tells you nothing about how competent or capable that person is at their job. For writers and journalists, I’ve always found it pretty easy to validate their claims on Google; for other professionals: not so much. Until LinkedIn, that is.

The Professionalism of LinkedIn

LinkedIn may not connect you with the recruiter of your dream job, but Twitter doesn’t guarantee you’ll become BFFs with Mariah Carey, either. What LinkedIn does, however, is give you an online professional profile.

And it’s the rather perverse nature of today’s digital society that makes an online professional presence invaluable; LinkedIn itself can act as your calling card, demonstrating how others endorse you and your work; it can act as your resume; and it can help you to actively find the right job.

The Power of a LinkedIn Profile

Any time you meet someone, you can pretty much guarantee they’ll Google you. Whether they’re prospective employers you’ve interviewed with, people you’ve met in a professional setting (clients, industry alums) or even colleagues, you can bet at some point or another they have Googled you.

What that Google search turns up can totally change the way they interact with you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve LinkedIn-stalked a fellow writer only to discover their LinkedIn profile is not so impressive, after all. From this point on the entire dynamic of our relationship has changed immediately; suddenly I feel I’ve got the power.

On the other end of the scale, discovering the meek-mannered, unassuming but otherwise seemingly-unimpressive editor I chatted to with extreme ease is actually a former Vanity Fair staffer or contributor to The New Yorker adds another dimension to our relationship — usually, I’m putty in their hands.

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And it’s in this context that, yes, a LinkedIn profile does work. Whether you’re using LinkedIn as a job-hunter or a networker, your LinkedIn profile tells people everything they think they need to know about you.

The old phrase — first impressions are lasting impressions — is out. It’s online impressions that are the lasting impressions.

If you haven’t already, we welcome you to connect with EzyLearn at LinkedIn.


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.