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!


 

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.


 

Bet You Didn’t Know the Many Wonders of PowerPoint!

PowerPoint: The Great Untapped Design Tool

learn PowerPoint online training course
Wow – this PowerPoint presentation really is AMAAAZING!!

 

You know what PowerPoint is. It was installed on your computer when you bought Microsoft Office. You hate it. But have you thought that the reason you hate it is because a) you’ve never learned how to use it properly, and b) you associate it with boring corporate meetings and seminars?

If you answered YES to one or both of those questions, read on. If you answered NO, still read on!

We recently updated our PowerPoint training courses to include new content and new exercise books — so you can never say that you don’t like PowerPoint because you don’t know how to use it!

Use PowerPoint for training

In our PowerPoint Training Course, we take you through how to create your own PowerPoint presentation, and we show you some of the different ways you can use PowerPoint, aside from as a sales presentation or visual aid during a speech, seminar, meeting or conference.

EzyLearn uses PowerPoint all the time. We use it to do deliver many of our training courses, in particular our WHS Online Induction Course. That’s one of the other things you can do with PowerPoint: create induction training for new staff, contractors or visitors.

But there are plenty more. Here are just a few other uses:

Business plans:

If, for whatever reason (there are many), you find you need to write a business plan, then PowerPoint is a much easier way to do it. You can plan, write, edit, and print your business plan all from the one document. If you discover you need to reorder any of the sections, you can easily move the slides around, rather than trying to cut and paste vast portions of text. Hot tip: don’t include more than one idea or section on a slide.

Marketing or sales collateral:

You can create virtually all of your marketing or sales collateral in PowerPoint, from price lists to product / services information to instruction manuals to flyers — even online advertising or FaceBook ads. Anything you can possibly think of can be created in PowerPoint. No, not Photoshop — PowerPoint!

Flow chart / organisational chart:

Organisational charts are an excellent way to give new recruits a lay of the hierarchical land (and help them better understand their new position). PowerPoint makes creating them easy — there’s a special function that lets you select a design and style you like, and then modify as needed. You can also use this function to create flow chart for large projects you’re working on.

Resumes:

If you’re still sending employers your CV in a Word Document, stop. It’s boring and visually unstimulating. There’s also a good chance the formatting gets stuffed around when someone opens it in and older or newer version of Word. Create a visually attractive resume in PowerPoint, making generous use of text boxes, images, and the shape drawing tools. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a graphic designer or a bookkeeper. Your resume should stand out. So make it (in PowerPoint).

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Never Fear, Help is Here…

Learn Powerpoint online training course
PowerPoint can be an invaluable addition to your business skills – as well as for online ads, presentations, an eye-catching, modern resume – the list goes on.

 


Brush up on your PowerPoint skills, or learn how you can use PowerPoint to create your own online induction training courses, with our PowerPoint training courses.

Performing Weekly Reconciliations in Xero

Why it Pays to do Regular Bank Reconciliations

bank reconciliations weekly
Doing regular weekly bank reconciliations will help avoid confusion or errors later on.

In our Xero Bank Reconciliations and Journal Entries Course, you’ll learn how to carry out each step in the reconciliation process, in particular how to set up bank feeds. Bank feeds are an important function that allows transactions on your linked bank account or credit card to automatically show up in Xero, so you (or your bookkeeper) don’t have to spend time entering the details from scratch.

Even though bank feeds can dramatically reduce the amount of time spent coding transactions in your accounting software, if your business has a lot of transactions each month, it’s a good idea to perform weekly — or even twice weekly — reconciliations. You’ll not only further reduce the potential for errors, but it’ll also help to give you a clearer picture of your finances.

Improved cashflow management

Even though internet banking allows you to look at how much money you have in the bank, this is an imprecise way of managing your cashflow. By reconciling your accounts on a weekly basis, you’ll be able to see what money’s gone out of your account, and what’s due to be coming in. If you have staff, this will eliminate a lot of the stress of wondering whether you’ll have enough money in the bank to make payroll, because you’ll know in advance if there’ll be any cash shortfalls.

Improved reporting

With weekly bank reconciliations, you’ll also find that your financial reports are greatly improved. This will enable you to make more correct sales forecasts, and to plan for machinery or equipment upgrades with a greater sense of accuracy. It’ll also help you to identify late paying clients and peak business cycles, so you can better manage your business operations — limit credit to late payers, hire more staff, etc. This type of financial information is the lifeblood of every successful business, so it has to be accurate.

If you’re hiring a bookkeeper to manage this for you, it’s worthwhile discussing whether they will perform this work once a week, or a couple of times each week. If your bookkeeper is contracted to perform a certain number of hours each week, they may decide to perform a few tasks a few times a week, so they’re more available to their other clients during the week. This is a bonus to the business owner, because it improves the accuracy of your reporting even further.

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Weekly bank reconciliations is an important task for all businesses, not just large ones. Our Xero Bank Reconciliations and Journal Entries Course covers how to reconcile a bank account, plus much much more. Alternatively, to take it back a step, you can learn about invoicing, credits and reporting in our Xero Day-to-Day Transactions Course

Or if you want to see why incorporating bank feeds might be useful for your business, read here.

Working Out Job Costs and How to Charge Your Clients

Why You’re Underselling Yourself with Fixed Price Quotes

bookkeepers fixed price quotes
There are many reasons why you may lose out when fixed price quoting.

We’ve written a number of blogs on how bookkeepers can work out their fees and what good local bookkeepers generally charge. However, now we examine the nitty gritty of determining your on the job costs so you can clearly see what your hourly rate should be.

When it comes to working out fees, most business owners go: “Well, the average market rate for my profession is X per hour and this job should take around Y hours” and off they go and give their client a quote that, in today’s small business parlance, is frequently referred to as being a fixed-price quote or the project fee.

This would be fine except that you’re essentially working on an hourly rate, without the benefit of being able to charge the client if you run over your allocated timeframe.

Quite simply, this is an inefficient way to set prices for your business. It’s an even more inefficient way to quote clients, because you’re either going to rush through their work in order to make it cost effective for you, or you’re going to increase your prices the next time around. Instead, you should factor job costings — that is, how much it will cost you to complete the job — into your prices. Here’s how:

Working out the direct costs of each job

This seems obvious, but countless new and established business owners overlook the direct costs of their services when setting their prices. Ask yourself how much, in a take home hourly rate, you can reasonably live on — is it $20 an hour? $25? $30? $35, perhaps?

Once you’ve settled on a rate, you then need to add in all the other costs associated with being employed in Australia. Tax is a big one. If you’ve been working for a while, you should have a fairly good idea of how much you will pay in tax based on how much you paid last year. If you’ve just started out, try and base it on an average number of hours you’d like to work per week for the next 12 months. Got that figure? Now go onto the ATO website and work out the rate of tax you’ll pay for each dollar you’ll earn. Add that to your hourly rate.

Do the same for sick leave, annual leave and superannuation, because if you’re going to work for yourself, you should have the same benefits as you would as an employee. Now add those on top of your hourly rate.

Working out the indirect costs of each job

We’re still not done with that hourly rate yet. It’s now time to work out the other costs, like wages office expenses. Think about the services you provide and what they entail. Is there travel involved — to your client’s office, for example — because you should add that in. Allocate both the time to get there and the approximate cost in mileage (note: some invoicing software, like QuickBooks’s self-employed app works out the cost of your business travel based on the ATO’s tax rates to give you an approximate dollar figure for each business trip you make). Also factor in other costs, such as parking, even though it’s a tax deduction, and add those costs to your hourly rate.

Now work out your fixed-price quote or project fees

Your hourly rate will now be significantly higher than the amount you need to live on, and it may even be higher than your competitors, but that’s okay. You’re not working on an hourly rate, remember. You’re creating a fixed-price or project fee, so you can choose to itemise your project fees however you like in the estimate you provide to clients. For example, if your hourly rate is now $50 but your competitors charge $35, take $15 for each hour you’ve allocated to the project and assign it as some other ancillary task. This is precisely how manufacturing businesses set the prices for the products they sell, and it’s no different for businesses, like law firms and advertising agencies, in the service industry.

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Learn how to set the correct prices for your business, plus everything else you need to know about starting and operating a small business in our EzyStartUp Business Course. Visit our website for more information and to view all of our special offers to save money on your next EzyLearn training course.  

What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Facebook Advertising

Facebook – Great for Local Marketing

using facebook for bookkeeping marketing
Facebook can be extremely useful for marketing to a local audience.

In its decade of existence, Facebook has built up a wealth of data about its users, data that it likes to sell back to those who need it, in the form of targeted advertising. Facebook advertising, though similar in its approach, is very different to Google Adwords in what it delivers. Real estate agents discovered the value of Facebook advertising early, and have used a combination of images and videos to successfully deliver their marketing messages and sale pitches directly to their target market and in order to set their prices.

Be Local, Not Global

Real estate agents specialise in knowing their local area. It’s how they get listings and it’s how they find buyers for those listings. In a former post, when we talked about setting your prices, we suggested getting to know your market and who your customer are. As a contract bookkeeper, you can, in theory, work for any business, based anywhere in the world, but you should still specialise in your local area, the reasons for which are twofold:

  1. Fewer to compete with: This isn’t about being the biggest fish in the smallest pond. It’s about getting clients, and that’s what you want. If you’re based in Sydney, specialise in Sydney. Don’t try and compete with everyone in Australia, if you can just complete with Sydneysiders.
  2. Convenience: The truth is, lots of businesses still like to meet their contractors in person. If you’re happy to fly all over the country to earn your regular bookkeeping rate, then by all means. If you’d rather not, then look for clients that are nearby — in the same state, at least.

When you’re setting up your Facebook advertising campaign, instead of trying to target everyone interested in bookkeeping services in Australia, stick to your state or local area, depending on the size of the market for your services in your local area. Sure, this reduces the pool of potential people seeing your advertisement, but it also reduces the pool of potential competitors.

When Local is Appealing to Global Clients Too

And just a note on getting international clients: Try to land international clients who are looking for an Australian, because you have skills they need — you’re in the same country as their Australian clients, you understand Australian tax, and so forth. Remember also that Australian wages are higher than anywhere else in the world, so international businesses need to be willing to pay that because you provide a service or possess skills they can’t get elsewhere.

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Our EzyStartUp Course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning, plus much more. If you’re starting a bookkeeping business or you already have started on, enrol in our EzyStartUp course to ensure you’re not selling yourself short.

Facebook and social media online training courseAlternatively, learn all about marketing your business online with our Marketing, Advertising and Sales courses.

Our Facebook Marketing Course which not only teaches you how to set up a Facebook Page, but how to use Facebook for business, how to advertise on Facebook; it also features our own real life case study.

 

What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Using Video and Images

Focusing on Education Rather than Sales

how bookkeepers can use videoTHE INTERNET HAS CHANGED the way businesses market their services to prospects, from a simple sales message to an educational one.

Real estate agents caught onto this shift in buyer trends early and started creating online content to cater to these buyers.

Visit the website of any real estate agent and you’ll find lots of images and videos educating potential buyers about their services, previous sales and the local area they represent.

Just like bookkeepers can learn from real estate agents how to set their prices and perfect their sales pitch, a bookkeeper should also take note of how real estate agents are using video and images online to develop and hones their digital marketing messages.

How Video and Images Help Attract New Business

  1. Identify yourself: As a contract bookkeeper, your identity is your brand. Create a website or LinkedIn profile (or both), and include a picture of yourself. If you’re operating a business, don’t hide behind your business name. Include pictures of your team, even if that’s just you at this stage.
  2. Educate with video: Show prospects that you know your stuff, by creating short videos explaining common issues businesses may have using MYOB, QuickBooks, Xero, etc. You may also create video tutorials that explain how you like clients to set up MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks etc.
  3. Capture the local scene: Establish yourself as a local business, by taking photos when you visit a local business (whether it’s a cafe, hardware store, or clothing shop) and put them on social media. Be sure to connect with those businesses on social too, so they can share with their customers. Do the same with your clients. It’s a good way to establish firm connections with the businesses you work with, and to update them on your other business projects.

 

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smiling woman learning how to run her own business
 

Using video and images to build your online presence should be part of your broader marketing strategy.

Our EzyStartUp Course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning, plus much more.

Alternatively, learn all about marketing your business online with our Marketing, Advertising and Sales courses.


 

What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Sales Pitches

Never Fear: A “Sales” Pitch Can Really Just Be a Conversation

bookkeeping sales pitch
You actually don’t need to be ‘salesy’ at all; just find out how your services match another person’s needs.

After you’ve set the correct prices for your bookkeeping services, it’s time to perfect your sales pitch. It’s good to think about the way real estate agents sell a property to prospective buyers: Good sales agents don’t pitch to the buyer at all. Instead, they get to know the buyer and their needs. If that happens to suit the property they’re selling, they tell them so. If it doesn’t they tell them that too. Often, they’ll mention another listing they have that might better suit the buyer.

A successful sales pitch isn’t really a pitch at all. Remember that. It’s a conversation with a prospect to determine if their business needs and your services are a good match. If you set your prices correctly, by valuing your services strategically, then you should have only attracted prospects that fit a particular profile of your ideal customer.

The Three Elements of a Sales Pitch

Think of a sales pitch as possessing three key elements:

  1. Identify problems the prospect needs solved: The first step is to identify their business problems, so you can offer a solution. If a prospect identifies “poor cashflow” as a problem, ask them if they’re invoicing regularly, have set up clear payment terms, have implemented a credit management policy. From here, you should determine what services they’re in need of, and explain those to the prospect.
  2. Provide references: There’s no getting around this, unless you’re willing to work for free on a trial basis, something you should absolutely avoid. Real estate agents refer prospects to vendors they’ve represented previously, so you should do the same. If this is your first client offer to do some small task (daily reconciliations, say) as a one-off service, paid of course. Remember, a plumber or electrician doesn’t offer to work for free — they don’t even provide references. You don’t have to work for free, either. 
  3. Explain your process: Be clear about how you work straightaway. Most misunderstandings between businesses and freelancers or contractors occur because neither party agreed to a particular process in the beginning. If the business has contacted you, then you have the upper hand. Outline the procedure for getting work to you, payment terms, etc. If you contacted them first or responded to a job advertisement, you’ll need to work in with their processes, so be sure the opportunity is right for you before agreeing to it.

Don’t be a Commitment-Phobe in Business

closing the sale bookkeeping

Always remember to end the conversation by asking for a commitment. This is still a sales pitch, after all, so you need to make some business proposition that they agree to. You may propose to provide a small paid-task obligation free, to see how they like working with you, before they sign onto to a long term commitment; you may ask if you can contact them again in the future, if they don’t seem quite ready for your services right now (get their business details, add them to your marketing database).

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Understanding the value of your services and how to pitch them to clients is vital to your business’s success. Our EzyStartUp Course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning, plus much more. If you’re starting a bookkeeping business or you already have started on, enrol in our EzyStartUp Course to ensure you’re not selling yourself short.

MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks: Which Suits Your Business Best?

Which is the Pick of the Bunch?

xero myob or quickbooks which is best
It’s a competitive accounting software market place out there … which is the pick of the bunch for you?

IN A PREVIOUS POST, we highlighted some of the biggest differences between QuickBooks and MYOB

However Xero is also a serious competitor to MYOB (and QuickBooks to a lesser degree).

So let’s take a look at the different capabilities of each accounting application and the kinds of businesses they best suit.

Continue reading MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks: Which Suits Your Business Best?

Are You a Bookkeeper Who Needs More Clients? Want My Advice?

FINDING PROSPECTS AND converting them into clients involves selling and most of us hate doing it, but wait…

If you are a bookkeeper, selling online MYOB training courses to your clients could be the perfect complement to your business.
If you are a bookkeeper, selling is as important to you as it is to, say, a real estate agent.

For those of us in small business, be it as a bookkeeper, real estate agent, sales rep or the like, most of us are selling every day of our lives.

This means we get pretty good at it. We develop techniques that we can replicate and that become part of our daily lives.

The process of selling is really no longer about selling per se; it becomes about a systemised process of:

  • sourcing new leads (using content marketing, networking and advertising)
  • educating those leads about their services (using websites, social media, white papers, property reports)
  • understanding whether the lead would in fact be a good buyer or potential client (using face-to-face meetings, phone conversations and emails)
  • closing the sale (via offer and acceptance, funds transfer, receipts and after sales support).

With the growing power of modern cloud-based technologies, more people are taking the plunge to start their own businesses, but people who do so must constantly:

  • stand out from their competitors (say, other bookkeepers) to get discovered by people needing help with their books, either remotely or in their home/office
  • do an efficient job in managing their schedule and dealing with clients, and
  • market their services effectively.

Content Marketing takes the “salesy” out of selling

I’ve written a lot about content marketing lately because content marketing is simply imperative for anybody looking to sell their products and services and source new clients.

The beauty of content marketing is that, as a system to source new leads, you can cover all the steps of the selling process without it seeming like a chore and, best of all, without feeling “salesy”, cheesy or inauthentic. It’s focus is about the potential client — it’s about providing them with relevant information that will benefit them — not ramming a sales pitch down their throat.

Good sales people realise that sales and the very process of selling is not about just “closing” a sale. Rather, it’s about understanding what the customer needs, seeing if your product is a good fit and then offering a solution to a customer’s problem.

content marketing is most of the new sales funnel for real estate agentsHow much of sales is Content Marketing?

To this end, content marketing is about 80% of the selling process or 80% of the sales funnel (as corporate sales people like to call it).

This is because content marketing involves information gathering; it involves seeing if your product and YOU are a good fit for your client.

These are the content marketing stages:

  • creating relevant and interest website content
  • ‘call to action’ that results in email or mobile number capture
  • email or SMS marketing
  • social media profiles to engage with your prospects
  • CRM’s to manage the final parts of the selling process.

When you implement these systems you can sit back and watch it work and then focus on your conversion rate or what industry experts call CRO – Conversion Rate Optimisation.

Do you really want to be an online marketing professional? Let us manage it for you

Start a bookkeeping business not a franchiseMost of our students are looking for bookkeeping work, or want to start a bookkeeping service business — that’s why they use our services for MYOB Training Courses, Excel Training Courses, Xero Courses and Small Business Management Training.

Our recently updated bookkeeping directory is matching small business people to bookkeepers for a fair rate (for instance, if you want a level 3 bookkeeper, you pay for a level 3 bookkeeper). The National Bookkeeping directory is aimed at helping people (our students primarily) find bookkeeping work or start a bookkeeping business, but it’s also a great way for small businesses to find bookkeepers located close by, or who have the skills they require but who don’t necessarily need to come into the office and can assist them in the cloud.

To find out how you can be more than just a bookkeeper, and start your own bookkeeping business and promote your valuable bookkeeping services to a wider circle of potential clients via content marketing, read about listing yourself on National Bookkeeping or becoming a licensee.

 

 

Why Partnerships Can Be Risky Business

An Understanding of Business Partnerships is Essential

business-partnerships-training-course-online
Structuring your business as a partnership doesn’t have to be risky business if you arm yourself with the right information first.

As we mentioned in our previous post about doing the necessary actions to start your new business now, rather than in January, there are lots of tasks to carry out before your business will be ready to commence trading. The first, most important thing you should do, is register for an ABN.

There are lots of services available that, for a fee, will register your business name, company structure, domain name, email hosting, and even register your business for GST and PAYG. But do you really need to use these services? Well, it depends. 

You might if:

1. You need your ABN or business name registered NOW

A few years ago, we wrote about a service called e-companies, which provides all the registration services mentioned above using its direct portal to ASIC and the ATO. As a result, many company registrations are completed within five minutes, while ABN registrations are completed in fifteen minutes, providing aren’t flagged for further checks by the ATO.

2. Your business structure is complicated

The most straightforward business structure to set up and manage is a sole trader, but they’re not suitable for every business, particularly where more than one person will be running the business or where income from the business will be distributed to family members or other beneficiaries.

In such circumstances, you may need to structure your business as a trust or partnership. If you already know how trusts and partnerships work, you may choose to use a service to register your business structure, so you don’t miss any important steps along the way. Otherwise, you may need to engage a solicitor to structure your business.

Or — 3. Learn about partnerships and do it yourself

If you’re structuring your business as a partnership, a partnership agreement is crucial to your business’s success. It’s particularly necessary for businesses that intend to use PayPal, as PayPal will withhold your income until you provide a copy of your partnership agreement. Services that register business structures do not provide any guidance on how to draw up a partnership agreement, and so many businesses go without one, which can be disastrous if a partner ever wishes to leave the business or the business is later sold.

We created our Partnership Agreement Course because a partnership is the most risky business structure. The Partnership Agreement Course, which now costs just $48 (down from $97) provides you with a template, explanatory notes, and all the standard clauses, including exit clauses for when the partnership needs to be dissolved. Once you’ve drawn up your partnership agreement, you’ll also be able to access lower tax rates with the ATO.

Read more about what’s included in our Partnership Agreement Course or enrol today, and you start the course by 5pm tomorrow.

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 3 Tell-Tale Signs Your Bookkeeper Isn’t Paying Attention

Are You Getting the Best from Your Bookkeeper?

find-a-good-bookkeeper
You don’t need to be a whizz at bookkeeping to recognise when your bookkeeper isn’t prioritising your business.

MANY BUSINESS OWNERS LACK an in-depth knowledge of the bookkeeping process so they hire a bookkeeper to manage it for them.

But this can also make it hard to know whether the bookkeeper they’ve hired is paying close attention to their business’ books or not.

Ricky is a tertiary qualified bookkeepers from Blacktown in NSW, and he reveals there are three tell-tale signs your bookkeeper isn’t paying attention.

1. They’re always behind with your books

This is pretty common among a lot of bookkeepers, and it’s usually because they’re not motivated to do a good job. A good way to nip this in the bud, is to communicate key dates or timeframes with your bookkeeper.

If you need bills entered every Wednesday and a profit and loss statement on the fifth of each month, say so. That way you’ll know whether snoozing on the job or not.

2. You accountant’s bill is still high

If the bill from your accountant is still as high as it was when you didn’t have anyone managing your bookkeeping, it’s a good sign that your bookkeeper’s work isn’t up to standard. If your accounts are unorganised and unbalanced, it means your accountant will have to go through and review the information before they can do their job. That’s double handling, and you need to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible.

3. They don’t understand cash vs accrual

finding-the-best-bookkeeper
Is your bookkeeper puzzled? A good bookkeeper knows what they don’t know. If they’re unsure about cash accounting, they should let you know this.

Because many bookkeepers today, particularly contract and remote bookkeepers, got their start after cloud-accounting software became popular, lots of them don’t understand the difference between cash and accrual accounting systems simply because software like Xero and QuickBooks defaults to an accrual system.

Cash and accrual systems each have their own merits, depending on the size and complexity of the business. So it’s important that your bookkeeper knows the difference between and understand the benefits of each.

 

Does Your Business Need a GREAT Bookkeeper?

Tertiary-Qualified, Thoroughly-Vetted Bookkeeper Available in Sydney’s West

Like GPs, there’s usually a bookkeeper on every corner, but how do you find someone who you really trust and who genuinely has the best interests of your business at heart? Some business owners are unsure where to start when looking for a bookkeeper they can trust and rely on.

It’s also extremely concerning how many Australian small businesses suffer — to the point of insolvency — as a result of inadequate cash flow. A large portion of cash flow problems stem from credit and debt management and the systems business’ put in place to do this. This is something that can be handled by a competent and experienced bookkeeper. But it’s also about business owners understanding the need to make this a priority.

In finding the right bookkeeper, word of mouth can be helpful, but some people are reluctant to even do this for fear of losing a cherished and valuable resource. A great deal of trust is also placed in giving such sensitive financial information to bookkeepers and some people don’t like their bookkeeper doing work for other people they know.

If you’re looking for a reliable, thoroughly-vetted bookkeeper, capable of managing your daily/weekly bookkeeping and accounts, either remotely or in person, our National Bookkeeping directory features dozens of tertiary qualified bookkeepers available to assist you.

If you are located in Sydney’s western suburbs, Ricky from Blacktown, NSW, is a qualified bookkeeper with tertiary qualifications; he is also a registered BAS agent. Ricky has a great deal of experience in the day-to-day accounting functions of a small business, from invoicing, accounts receivable and payable, to payroll, financial analysis and reporting. Visit his profile page and request a quote for bookkeeping services.


find a local bookkeeper

Our National Bookkeeping website has recently undergone a significant upgrade so keep a look out for more stories about featured bookkeepers in forthcoming blogs. Join now and we can feature YOU in our articles too.

 

Is Credit Management Just About Getting on the Phone?

It’s Good Business to Set Out Your Credit Management Policy at the Outset

credit-management-bookkeeping-business
Spelling out your credit management procedure at the start with a client helps avoid payment-chasing phone calls later.

CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF ANY BUSINESS is the ability to maintain a healthy cash flow. But doing so requires effective credit management processes.

Unfortunately, too many business owners feel uncomfortable talking about credit and debt management upfront with new clients.

They (falsely) believe it begins if, and when, a customer doesn’t pay a bill. But, in fact, credit management starts much, much earlier than that — long before the two businesses even agree to work with each other, to be precise.  

The 3 Stages of Credit Management

Credit management falls, generally, into 3 broad stages, beginning with how new customers are assessed before you do business with them.

If you extend a line of credit to your customers, payable on a 30-day account, then a credit check is an imperative first step. But even if you don’t offer credit, a credit check should be a routine part of the new customer set-up process.

If you provide services to customers that aren’t paid for in advance or upon receipt, and you allow that customer between 14 and 30 days to pay your invoice, you’ve essentially just extended them a line of credit.

Indeed, it’s recommended that any business, whether they’re a sole trader, freelancer or independent contractor, carry out credit checks on any new, ongoing customer for jobs over the value of $1000.

Stage 1: Assessment

The assessment stage of good credit management involves taking the following steps:

    • Create credit application or work authorisation form
    • Establish terms of trade
    • Obtain a credit check

As long as the credit check doesn’t raise any issues of concern in relation to the business’ previous track record with paying suppliers on time, you can then decide to take them on as a client. From here you move to the next stage of credit management.

Stage 2: Management

This is the most involved stage of the credit management process, as it requires diligence to ensure your processes don’t slip. Some aspects of the management stage may require a phone call to your client to find out why they haven’t paid.

However, for the most part, cloud-accounting software has made it a lot easier to stay on top of your debtors. Ensure your process includes the following:

  • Prompt invoicing (as soon as goods / services have been provided)
  • Establish payment reminders, either by email or text
  • Send regular statements (if customer is on a 30-day credit account)
  • As soon as payment is overdue and in breach of terms of trade
  • Send to debt collection.

If you speak to your client twice about an overdue invoice / account, and they still don’t make payment within an agreed time, refer them to your debt collection agency, however harsh that may seem.

Stage 3: Enforcement

Although debt collection agencies can chase a debt that’s as much as 5 years old, the older the debt, the harder it is to collect payment.

As soon as a client is in breach of your terms of trade, and your other attempts to collect payment have failed, refer the debt to your collection agency.

If debt collection is unsuccessful, you should speak to your accountant or financial advisor about writing the debt off in your next tax return.

Good Credit Management Should Mean Few Phone Calls

credit management chasing payment
Avoid time-wasting and unpleasant phone calls by eliminating the chances of late payment through a professional credit management policy.

So the upshot of all this is a big part of a good credit management process is properly vetting all new customers before you do business with them. If this is the case, you should rarely have to pick up the phone to chase them for payment.

In that sense, credit management is not about getting on the phone. Rather, it’s about implementing a range of procedures for managing your debtors, and it begins before you even do any work for them.

We Can Help You Set Up Your Credit Management and Much More

Is your business yet to set up proper credit management systems?

Having the assistance of a reliable, experienced professional to help you do so may cost a lot less than you think. We have thoroughly-vetted, reliable bookkeepers across Australia, capable of setting up your systems so you can continue to do your bookkeeping yourself, or able to keep managing your daily or weekly bookkeeping and accounts.

In your office or in the Cloud

This can be done remotely or in person, with most of our bookkeepers tertiary qualified and able to assist in basic bookkeeping to more complex accounting tasks. These might include accounts receivable and payable and payroll, or financial strategising.

We also have registered BAS agents in our national directory. See our newly upgraded website, National Bookkeeping for more information.

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!