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.

 

 

The New Year’s Approaching: Think About New Content Marketing for Your Business

The Value of Content Marketing in 2017

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Finding it hard to get started in content marketing? Register for our upcoming course.

January, February and March of a new year, which is typically the quietest as people take a while to adjust to the work and school routine, is when a lot of businesses spend time setting goals for the year ahead.

Just as individuals set their own personal new year’s resolutions, many businesses use January and February to set some new year’s resolutions for their business’s marketing activities.

In 2016, there was an unprecedented uptick in the number of Australian businesses using content marketing to help drive their search engine rankings, increase customer engagement, and position themselves as opinion leaders in their industry. If the last 12 months is anything to go by, then, it’s fair to say 2017 will continue the content marketing trend.

Yes, I’ve been talking about content marketing a lot on this blog lately, as it’s a marketing strategy EzyLearn has been using, almost exclusively, for many years now, with much success — you are reading this blog post, after all! EzyLearn and our partners continue to help many businesses establish their brand and build credibility online using content marketing — something we continue to do to great effect for real estate agents, to name but a few. Whether you are an agent, bookkeeper, small business owner, or just have dreams to start working for yourself, why not register your interest in our up and coming content marketing course.

Great Content is Like an Equilateral Triangle – All the Sides are Equal

As popular as content marketing has become in the last few years, many people still don’t quite understand that great content marketing requires you to pay equal emphasis on each component. This includes the word content itself in an ebook or enewsletter for instance, but also the layout and design, the SEO etc. It also needs to be free of typos!

I know, in the past, I’ve probably been guilty of rushing to publish content on our website because I’m so eager to share what we’ve created with you. But for content marketing to be successful in the long term, it needs to be approached holistically. In other words, the copy is equally as important as the design and the layout; the messages need to be consistent and you need to keep communicating with your customers — it can’t be hit and miss. Just as every side in an equilateral triangle must be created equal, so too do you have to consider all components equally when content marketing.

Outsourcing is Okay

As a small business, you probably have at least one person in your team who is either a) design inclined; or b) a good, strong writer. If you’re really lucky, you may have both, but it’s not uncommon for a business to need to outsource part of this work to a professional, usually on a contract or freelance basis.

Take stock of the talent you have in-house already. If you have a competent designer, utilise them and outsource the writing to a professional. It’s unwise to try and do everything yourself. Producing high quality content is a time-consuming process, made even more so if there’s a particular aspect of it — the writing, say — that you’re not proficient at.

I would say that most business owners do most of what I would loosely term ‘designing’, themselves, which in the case of blogging is choosing an image that accurately reflects the message you’re trying to communicate in the main copy.

Think Outside the Stock Box When it Comes to Photos for Your Blogs

content-marketing-photos
Litter your blog posts with photos you have taken yourself – these are far more personal and usually more interesting than expensive, routine image libraries.

There is a certain art to selecting images for your blog. You want to avoid using ones that every other blogger is using, which means ditching your regular Google Images haunt and using a stock library instead. But this is where you need to do your research.

Many free stock libraries serve up the same images that you find in Google Images, which brings you back to square one. They’re also incredibly boring. At this point, next logical option probably seems like paying for a membership to a stock library.

Again, research is required here. Not all stock libraries, even paid ones, are created equally. Well known libraries — iStock Photo, for example — are expensive, while the other, lesser known ones are still boring. So what’s a content marketer to do? Get creative.

Remember, content marketing is about creating original, high quality content that’s relevant both to your customers and to your business. With this in mind, rather than paying for expensive stock photography and images, why don’t you take your own? There’s nothing more original and relevant to you and your customers than your own photography.

Publishing original content on your blog and website, whether it’s in the form of images, copy or videos (or all of the above), the harder it will work at driving your search engine rankings, while, at the same time, the personalised approach will have a longer lasting impression on your readers and customers.

Prioritise Content Marketing in 2017

Bookkeepers especially — take note!

Start a bookkeeping business not a franchiseIf you’re a bookkeeper looking to start your own bookkeeping business and find yourself clients, or grow you list of clients, and content marketing isn’t already on your agenda for 2017 —  it should be.

In terms of having the experience and know-how to content market to people we know what our students need to be successful to this end, after all, most EzyLearn students use our services for MYOB Training Courses, Excel Training Courses, Xero Courses and Small Business Management Training because they’re looking for bookkeeping work or want to start a bookkeeping business. Very early in the piece we started finding out why our students did our courses because it enables us to develop targeted products (and write content about) what they need.

Join our Bookkeeping Directory TODAY

We’ve launched a new bookkeeping directory which is aimed at helping people (our students primarily) find bookkeeping work or start a bookkeeping business, but it’s also a great way for small businesses to find bookkeepers who are close to them. We’re also taking registrations for our content marketing online course.

To find out more about how you can be more than just a bookkeeper, and start a bookkeeping business, including promoting your bookkeeping services to a much wider circle of people and engaging in content marketing, read more about listing yourself on National Bookkeeping.

If you’re interested in content marketing, either for your business or because you’d like to become an independent contractor offering content marketing services to other business, you can learn more by subscribing to our blog.

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.


 

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.

New Year, New You, New Business Startup?

Now is the time to explore new startup opportunities

Dreaming about setting up a new business startup
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As the end of 2015 approaches, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and frivolity of summer, by enjoying the few weeks of the holidays in the sun with friends and family. But it’s also a really great time to think about your career plans for the new year.

If you follow this blog regularly, then you may already be aware that EzyLearn has launched a new service called the StartUp Academy. The goal of the StartUp Academy is to help people launch and operate their own home-based businesses, supported by our network of successful business owners and entrepreneurs.

Opportunities are aplenty

By partnering with a number of other businesses, the StartUp Academy has a number of business opportunities available, spanning a variety of industries and occupations that include, Remote IT Services and Telephone Systems, Bookkeeping, and Website Creation and Online Marketing.

If you come onboard with the StartUp Academy, you’ll receive full training in the field of your choice, as well as small business management training to ensure you’re fully prepared to operate and manage your own home-based business.

Under each of the opportunities offered by the StartUp Academy, you’ll operate your business as an independent contractor (we’ll show you how to set up as a independent contractor, too), from your own home office and claim the costs of having your home office, Internet etc.

We know starting is hard, but we want to make it easier

We launched the StartUp Academy because we know that for most people, the biggest barrier to starting a business is that there’s no support. You have to go it alone, and that’s scary. Many of the small business owners we’ve spoken to confirmed this. They told us that they wouldn’t have made it if they hadn’t had someone to support and give them guidance.

So that’s what the StartUp Academy aims to do: support and give you guidance as you start your own home-based business. You don’t have to feel afraid or alone, because we want you to succeed in your endeavours, as much as you do.

Have a think about what your plans will be next year, and if you think 2016 is the year you should start your own business, browse some of the current business opportunities and get in contact with the team at the StartUp Academy.

The NBN will make it easier to move out of the city and start a business

Regional Australia Is Available To Work For Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth

Is the NBN available in your suburb - national broadband networkA lot has been said in recent weeks about the cost of housing in Australia’s capital cities, but in particular, Sydney, which has the highest median housing prices in the country; a figure that, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, has increased by 30 percent since 2012 and is continuing to rise, seemingly unabated. As a result, people – and I mean all people; couples, families, singles – are moving out of the city to regional areas, where housing prices are lower.

The ability for young people to move out of the city where jobs have always been, and into regional areas where there are fewer employment opportunities has been greatly aided by the ability to work remotely from home, often referred to as a:

  • Virtual Assistant
  • Remote Worker
  • Remote Contractor
  • Internet Worker, or
  • TeleWorker.

I’ve written about the NBN before and how it has the potential to completely change the way people work, and it’s never been a more vital initiative in this country, which is largely crippled by ineffective public transport and rising property prices – not to mention the shrinking number of full time jobs.

The current problem with Internet services in Australia

If you’re a city dweller, which until recently, I was, then you probably take for granted the plethora of options you have when it comes to finding a high-speed Internet service provider. ADSL2++ is available in nearly every suburb of Australia’s capital cities and there’s a very long list of retailers to choose from, each offering competitive bundled deals on home broadband, mobile, landline, and even cable TV and on-demand Internet streaming services, like Netflix and Stan.

In regional areas, your options are somewhat limited and there’s often a waiting list for standard ADSL Internet, due to a lack of ports in the local exchange. If you’re wondering if you just read that right, you did. There is a waiting list for ADSL Internet, which people stay on until someone else moves out of the area and a port becomes available. No, it’s not just tiny, outback towns. There’s even a waiting list in major regional centres like, Wollongong and Newcastle; areas where many people from Sydney are flocking to escape the high cost of property.

I’ve even heard of similar problems occurring in new housing developments in Sydney, notably Wentworth Point near Homebush Bay, which is fewer than 20 kilometres from the CBD. The reason? Telstra either hasn’t upgraded its infrastructure to cope with increased population numbers or, possibly, weren’t consulted during the construction of new developments in outlier suburbs. (If you’ve ever wondered why so many new home developments boast ‘access to high-speed internet’, well that’s why.)

But the NBN will fix that, hopefully

NBN Rollout across Australia will help teleworking, virtual assistants and those running a business from home

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Australia’s peak communications consumer organisation, has said that the issue stems from Telstra’s ownership of Australia’s telephone exchanges, which occurred when it was privatised in the late 1990s and the exchanges weren’t sold off. The result meant that, while there were more telecos to choose from, Telstra still had the monopoly on the exchanges.

There is some good news for people living in regional areas, though, and it’s the NBN. This year the Telecommunications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced that there are over a million premises that are able to access the NBN, with broadband blackspot areas (regions where no or limited ADSL Internet is available) the major priority. And that brings me back to what I was originally saying about people moving out of cities to regional areas and working remotely from home.

Want to check when it’s available in your area, check your NBN status here..

The NBN makes it easy to start a business in regional Oz

With the help of the NBN, it’s now possible for people to start a business from their home in regional Australia, and still provide services to businesses in the city. This should help to relieve housing stress in major cities as it becomes unnecessary to stay in the city if you can work easily from your home elsewhere; it also gives a much-needed boost to regional economies.

But it’s mostly good for people. For people living in regional communities, they can easily start home-based businesses without being confined their local community for clientele. A bookkeeper in Northern NSW, for instance, can provide remote bookkeeping services to clients in major business centres, such as Newcastle, Gosford and Sydney, in addition to businesses in their immediate locality. Truthfully, they can offer services to businesses anywhere in Australia, because regular travel is not a requirement for their business to function properly.

National Bookkeeping Opportunity

National Bookkeeping is a great opportunity, particularly if you’re like one of the many people living in one of Australia’s regional communities – or thinking of moving to one, but wondering about where you’ll find employment. National Bookkeeping has a number of bookkeeping licensee opportunities available for people who’d like to start and operate their own business, within a structured, proven business model.

Don’t forget that you can claim the full license fee as a tax deduction in your annual tax return. For more information, visit the National Bookkeeping website or you read more on our blog.

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.

You’ve Already Got a Business Coach – YOU!

being your own boss
Every time you set goals and generally act like a boss, you’re serving much the same function as a business coach.

Ever since EzyLearn’s early days, when we still had our training centres in Sydney, I’ve always gained a real buzz out of helping our students start their own businesses. I still do, which is why I recently presented a seminar at the Reinvent Your Career Expo and why EzyLearn has partnered with the StartUp Academy.

The StartUp Academy is a start-up incubator for entrepreneurs who want to work in industries currently experiencing rapid growth — like the work health and safety industry, for example — but who also want to have balance in their home and work life; to be their own bosses.

EzyLearn has chosen to partner with the StartUp Academy because I love the idea of giving entrepreneurs the support they need — not just to start their business — but to continue to support and coach those entrepreneurs, even once their business is established.

Training and Coaching

In many ways, I see this as an extension of what we’re already doing at EzyLearn, but with the focus on business coaching. I’ve never really considered myself a coach, even though I am in the training business and love helping small businesses, whether in bookkeeping, website design, administration, or any other field, to become more profitable and successful. The more I think about what coaching is, though, the more I realise many people are already business coaches.

Just this week, I sat down with one of my employees and we nutted out a plan for the week, which included some goals we wanted to achieve and strategies for achieving them. This is coaching. Being a boss and setting goals for your business, yourself and your staff (if you have any) — and then holding yourself accountable by ensuring you achieve them —  is business coaching.

Bosses are Business Coaches

A fundamental part of being a successful business owner is planning and setting goals, which is something I’ve talked about on this blog before and which we cover in the Small Business Management course. If you can set goals for your business and work out strategies to achieve them — and then ensure you achieve them — you’re not just your own boss, you’re also your own business coach.

Perhaps the hardest and scariest part, though, is the start-up phase. Not every business owner hits the ground running. In fact, most entrepreneurs don’t. The StartUp Academy knows that most entrepreneurs, when they have to go it alone, make mistakes, which is why they provide all the training and support entrepreneurs need to avoid most of the mistakes new business owners make.

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If you’re reading this blog, it’s because you’re interested in the idea of being your own boss, and you’re not one to shy away from setting goals and being responsible for achieving them. So if you’re looking for a low-risk business opportunity, I recommend having a look at the opportunities currently being offered by the StartUp Academy, and perhaps one day we’ll get to work together.

— Steve Slisar: CEO, EzyLearn

Affiliate Marketing: Partner with Us to Start Your Own Business NOW

start your own business
You can build your own business by promoting ours’ through becoming an affiliate partner with EzyLearn.

Start a Computer Training Business

Do you want to start your own business? Perhaps a home-based business? At EzyLearn, we’re passionate about helping people follow their dreams and start their own businesses. At the moment, we’ve got a host of opportunities available to people who would like to partner with EzyLearn and start their own home-based business with a focus on Bookkeeping.

Start Your Own Bookkeeping or Digital Business

We’ve already helped a number of our students go on to start their own home-based bookkeeping businesses, virtual assistant businesses and even MYOB training businesses using our EzyLearn training vouchers.

Start a bookkeeping business not a franchiseAnd we’re also helping our students start their own digital marketing business by becoming an EzyLearn affiliate marketer and joining National Bookkeeping. Not only can you earn a commission by selling our online MYOB training courses, but you can earn a good hourly rate by helping them through the training material or using MYOB in their own business.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn a commission by recommending a product or service to people within your social networks. Amazon was an early adopter of affiliate marketing programs, which was later championed by Google and its Google Adsense platform.

As an affiliate of EzyLearn, you earn a commission for promoting our training courses through your website and social networking platforms. Ideally, an EzyLearn affiliate will have already completed one of our training courses, such as the MYOB training course, which you can then honestly recommend to your contacts.

We’ll give you a unique URL so you can track when someone clicks on a link to a training course you’ve promoted and track your commissions.

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If you’re looking for a way to branch out and start your own business, bookkeeping is a great start and when you join National Bookkeeping you can choose to also become an EzyLearn affiliate and start earning commissions by promoting our MYOB courses. To learn more about National Bookkeeping and starting a home based business providing bookkeeping services, training and support visit our MYOB Training course affiliate.

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Want to Earn a Thousand Bucks for Giving a Referral?

referral marketing
We’ve come across a great new referral marketing website that will pay you a grand for referring a colleague.

We’ve published numerous posts about referral marketing, which is an invaluable and cost effective way of marketing your business. In particular, we talked about LinkedIn. This is something that I, Steve Slisar, CEO of EzyLearn, am a big believer in — and so is small business marketing guru, Michael Griffiths. (You can learn more about using LinkedIn for referral marketing by attending one of Michael’s Sydney workshops.)

Peerbrief – One Grand up for Grabs

Recently I came across another great tool independent contractors can use to find work, and it’s based on referral marketing. It’s a new crowdsourcing recruitment and candidate referral website called Peerbrief, which was founded by Rob Fanshawe, a recruitment expert with 15 years industry experience, and who previously founded and directed 33 Talent in Sydney.

Peerbrief offers two services. The first is free for referrers – that is independent contractors, consultants, remote workers, and so on – to join and you’ll receive job alerts matched to your professional experience from potential employers. If, however, you know someone who is better matched to that job, you can refer the job to them – if they’re hired, the employer pays you $1,000 for your trouble.

The other service offered by Peerbrief is a subscription-based software service, which allows companies to set up closed referrals so their employees can refer candidates for jobs.

Referring the People in Your Sphere of Influence

If you’ve ever worked in a large company before, then you’re probably aware of the incentives they give employees for referring friends or colleagues for positions going vacant. Peerbrief works off same principal, and rewards people for referring their contacts for work.

At the moment, Peerbrief is working with three industries – tech, media, and marketing and advertising – so if you have previous experience in any of these industries, I recommend you (and your colleagues) join today and get referring!

All of that being said, I would caution not to put your eggs all in one basket. As these types of services gain more popularity, the work tends to become harder to come by as employers have a greater pick of potential hires. This is why I still recommend LinkedIn and face-to-face networking events as a way to grow and develop your business.

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As always, I think it’s best if you have a number of marketing strategies on the go at once, as often, it takes a while for them to gain traction. If you have many plates spinning at once, so to speak, you’re less likely to find yourself in the midst a dry spell. If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively market your business, there are two marketing modules in our Small Business Management Course. Visit our website to enrol or learn more today.

 

Thanks For Loving Us

MYOB online training courses
We are thrilled that our customers appreciate our attention to good, old-fashioned customer service.

In a recent post we talked about how you can use referral marketing and LinkedIn to market your business to grow your customer base. But once you get those new customers, the most important thing is making certain you keep them. Great customer service is the key to ensuring you always have a happy customer. Providing consistently good customer service and being courteous to people in the way you communicate with them, be they suppliers or contractors, as well as customers, is also highly beneficial to your business in other ways.

Priding Ourselves on Customer Satisfaction

And speaking of happy customers, we’ve decided to blow our own trumpet a little and share with you that we have a 97% customer satisfaction rating! We use the a powerful customer support system called ZenDesk, which manages the thousands of EzyLearn students who complete our MYOB training courses, Small Business Management, Excel and other courses.

The Same as Face to Face

When we moved our training courses online, we decided early on that we wanted our online business to provide our students and customers with the same customer service experience that they would receive from a physical training centre. So we also provide our students with phone and email support, in addition to the Zendesk ticketing support system.

We think our customer service is part of what has made EzyLearn the successful business it is today, and we’re glad you think so too! Customer service is such an important aspect of any business, which is why we cover customer service in our Small Business Management Course.

Repeat Custom

If you think about some of the most successful small businesses, it’s usually their good service that has their customers returning time and again. This is important to remember considering small businesses usually don’t have the buying power that a big business does which means their prices are usually a littler higher. But if the service is good, customers will forgo what little savings they can get elsewhere.

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So if you’re in the process of starting a new business, it’s important that you make customer service a major focus, and then continue to work at it and find new ways to improve the service you give your customers, because it really does pay off — trust us!

Is QuickBooks Taking on MYOB?

With the arrival of cloud-accounting software came the opportunity for old foes and new players to enter the accounting space, once dominated by MYOB. We offer training courses in MYOB, because it’s still the most widely used software package by accountants, but we’ve also recently expanded our cloud-accounting courses to also include Reach Accounting and Xero; two new players to enter the accounting fray.

The QuickBooks  Resurgence

For many years, the most common question accountants were asked by their clients was: “Should I use QuickBooks or MYOB?” QuickBooks, which at the time was distributed by a company called Reckon (now distributing their own cloud accounting software called Reckon One), was probably the easier model, but MYOB had eaten their market share and prevailed as the preferred accounting package for accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses alike.

Now, however, QuickBooks is being distributed in Australia by its parent company, the software giant Intuit, and it’s also gone online. Like Xero, QuickBooks is an entirely cloud-based accounting package, complete with mobile and tablet apps. Where QuickBooks differs from MYOB, however, is that it doesn’t allow you to update your accounting software offline and then sync it later (but nor does Xero, for the record).

Targeting Small Businesses

Where QuickBooks once positioned itself as the nearest rival of MYOB, this time around, QuickBooks is aiming for a different segment of the market – the small business owners who don’t want to spend a bundle (pun, of course, intended) on their accounting program. In this way, they have put themselves in direct competition with Xero.

We added Xero to our suite of training programs a little while back, because we recognised that Xero’s easy-to-use interface and intuitive features made it MYOB’s biggest competitor, particularly when MYOB, at the time, seemed to be lagging behind when it came to developing their software for the cloud.

With QuickBooks now looking for the customers that aren’t quite ready for Xero – and certainly aren’t ready for MYOB – QuickBooks is a very real competitor for both MYOB and Xero. Indeed, a study commissioned by Intuit, found that 8 out of 10 Australian small businesses found QuickBooks easy to use, compared to 5 out of 10 for Xero.

QuickBooks

More tellingly, however, the same study also found that 79 percent of Australian small businesses surveyed found that it’s easier to finish tasks in QuickBooks online, compared to just 49 percent for Xero.

It also seems QuickBooks has learned some lessons from its previous failings, this time offering a QuickBooks Online Accountant package, which was specifically developed for accounting professionals.

What’s in Store for MYOB?

But what does this mean for MYOB? Well, if QuickBooks succeeds in becoming a real, lasting competitor for Xero, together QuickBooks and Xero may just push MYOB out of the running as Australia’s preferred cloud-accounting packages. (Think: Apple and Samsung vs. Nokia.)

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Only time will tell, although with QuickBooks’ competitive pricing structure (starting at just $15 a month for the basic package), it looks promising.

So You Think You Can Be an Entrepreneur?

entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs are strong-minded individuals – but we’ve found there are at least 5 other qualities they tend to possess that leads to their business success.

In running our Small Business Management Course and MYOB Training Courses, one of most common reasons we find that people want to start their own businesses is to be their own boss. This is a perfectly understandable sentiment — but it’s not necessarily conducive to making a small business work.

Entrepreneurs are known to be people who manage starting up and/or bringing to fruition their own businesses and ventures, but entrepreneurs are a certain breed and as many find out the hard way, self-employment is not for everyone.

The Qualities of Entrepreneurs

Mental Fortitude

Even just having a brilliant idea and passion isn’t quite enough — although they’re two fantastic qualities to get you off to a flying start. To start your own business 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.

We have found in our experience that mental fortitude seems to go hand in glove with 5 other qualities possessed by successful entrepreneurs:

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.

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So do you feel you have what’s needed to take the plunge and start running your own, or someone else’s, small business? Perhaps you believe you have the mental strength to succeed in your own venture but could do with some more direction by others who have proved they have what it takes to launch and maintain successful businesses of their own?

Then take a look at our Small Business Management Course — it takes you through every aspect of managing a small business and introduces you to successful entrepreneurs and like-minded business people: invaluable resources for seeing to it that you can truly succeed in your own small business. What are you waiting for!

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.

Designing Your Invoice

When you’re first starting out, getting paid is usually the only thing you can think about, which is why it’s important to remember that the sooner you submit that invoice, the sooner you’ll get paid! But first, how the heck do you design an invoice, anyway?

There was once a time, when contractors and the self-employed had only two options: toil away, creating an invoice in Word or Excel; or buy a rather expensive piece of accounting software, like MYOB. If you’re so inclined, you can still do both of these things — and depending on the scale of your business and your business needs, MYOB could be a sensible purchase — but, behind the door marked ‘internet’, there’s also option number three: use a cloud-based invoicing program.

Introducing Cloud-Based Zoho and Xero

One such cloud-based invoicing program is Zoho Invoice, which we’ve written about previously, and who also offer a range of other small business solutions. There’s also Reach Accounting, which we offer an online training course in, as well as Xero and an infinite number of other online accounting software packages.

Each accounting package makes creating and submitting an invoice, quick and simple. But does that necessarily guarantee you’ll be paid on time? Well, that really depends on the client. However, there are a couple of things you can do to speed up the process and ensure you’re paid on time.

Speeding Up the Time to Payment

Discuss your terms: When you first start working with a new client, discuss your terms with them upfront. We’ve found that a verbal conversation with a customer tends to stay in front-of-mind more than a line in an email or on an invoice.

Make sure you’ve got the right contact: Often the person who commissions or hires you isn’t the person who pays the bills – this is usually the responsibility of accounts payable, so make sure that the person you’re sending invoices to is the person who’ll eventually pay you — you’d be surprised how much time this saves!

Include payment details: This is an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many invoices are sent out into the universe without details of how to actually pay them. Make sure you include your bank details, or if you’re going to use PayPal, make sure that you set up your payment gateways properly.

Use email: If you usually hand someone a hardcopy invoice, or you still fax or mail your invoices, stop now! This is dated and there’s the risk your invoice will get lost — and that means, no money for you (and also no dinner or hot showers, either!). Most accounting programs, if not, all of them, have the functionality to email your invoices to multiple contacts once you’ve created them. This is extra handy, if, as in the situation above, you have two contacts at the company you’re working with.

Offer incentives: We don’t recommend all businesses do this — and certainly not the cash-strapped freelancer or virtual assistant — but if your business has a high turn-over of invoices, and you’ve reached a place where you can feasibly offer customers who pay before the due date a discount off their next bill (or whatever alternative  you can come up with), do it. It never ceases to amaze just what someone will go through just for a little free loot.

Clean, clear and concise: The cleaner the design of your invoice, the clearer your terms are (i.e. in bold, large font and with a moving GIF, if necessary) and concise your invoices are, the quicker you’ll be paid. If your clients don’t know when to pay you or what they’re paying you for (hint: make sure you make your products and services clearly identified and easily trackable in the item/description section of your invoice) and they have to query these things with you, this is another hold-up in the payment process.

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There are plenty of horror stories from sole-traders, contractors and freelancers who haven’t been paid by clients. To avoid being one of them, it’s important to get your invoices right. If you’ve never invoiced someone before, it’s a good idea to have someone else look over your invoice before you submit it to your client.