Xero, MYOB, ERPs and Supply Chain Tools

ERPs, or Enterprise Reporting Planning systems, are divided into three categories or tiers. Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks and other cloud accounting software used by small businesses, sit at the low end of the scale; they’re tier three ERPs.

Xero is using it’s 3rd party app integrations and its API to climb up the ERP food chain and some good bookkeepers are being dragged up along with it. Continue reading Xero, MYOB, ERPs and Supply Chain Tools

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.


 

There’s So Much Cool Stuff You Can Do With PowerPoint

PowerPoint: The Great Visual Aid to What You’re Saying

PowerPoint online training course
Save densely-worded slides for university lecture rooms: keep PowerPoint slides concise and use your presentation as a way of illustrating or highlighting what you’re saying.

Many people don’t realise what an excellent design tool PowerPoint is. It can be used for a lot more than just creating slideshows and presentations and is a great marketing and design tool for all kinds of business functions.

Generally speaking, when using PowerPoint, you should feature only one idea to a slide. A PowerPoint presentation is not an essay. It shouldn’t be filled with verbose text (unless perhaps you’re in a university lecture). In fact, as you will learn in our updated PowerPoint Training Course, sometimes a PowerPoint slide shouldn’t contain any text at all, or at least, very little.

PowerPoint presentations that are going to be used as a visual aid should do just that: visually aid the audience through your presentation. It shouldn’t contain your speaking points and you shouldn’t recite from it verbatim. Ideally, you should treat it as a source of further information (or illustration) for the oral portion of the presentation.

Illustrate your points

Use shapes to illustrate information, rather than bullet points.

Okay, in a perfect world, there’d only be one idea per slide, but PowerPoint presentations are tedious enough to create, without having to use a new slide every time something we wanted to articulate contained a subtopic or, more likely, a few subtopics.

But rather than using tried and trusted (*zzzz*) bullet points, try to illustrate the points and use a small amount of text to give more detail. For example, if you’re presenting your company’s latest financial results, rather than writing out how much revenue each department generated, include a pie chart or graph to illustrate this for you.

Shape your points

If there isn’t any way to easily illustrate your points, use shapes and textboxes instead. This breaks up the monotony of a slide filled with bullet points and makes the information you’re presenting easier to digest.

It’ll make it easier for your audience to take notes, without missing any of the spoken part of your presentation. It’s also easier on the eyes, since it breaks up all the white space on your slide.

If you must use bullet points…

Sometimes there’s no escaping it, we get it. Even though we’re not fond of bullet points in PowerPoint presentations, they’re sometimes unavoidable. So don’t worry, we still teach you how to use them in our PowerPoint Training Course. We even use them ourselves.

If you must use bullet points, dress them up with shapes and backgrounds.

If you must use bullet points in your presentation, try to use them in an interesting way. Put them inside a shape, change the background of your slide, or do both!

The key to a PowerPoint presentation that really pops is knowing how to use every function PowerPoint has to offer. That way, you’ll never have to settle on bullets when there’s a more creative option available.

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 Course.


PowerPoint — Use it for Facebook and other social media

Powerpoint Online Training for Facebook and social media
Not sure how to create videos and movies on social media? PowerPoint does all of this – you can then upload them to social media, such as Facebook and YouTube.

Did you know you can use PowerPoint with social media? We already know you can create modern, eye-catching and memorable presentations and slideshows with PowerPoint but you can also make movies and videos, animations and advertising graphics. These can then be published on an array of social media, including Facebook and YouTube.

Check out our Facebook Online Training Course and other social media course packages.


 

Use DropBox to Store Your Tax Records Digitally

In a previous post we suggested it’s a good idea to create a digital filing system for your business receipts and tax records. Storing tax records digitally is not just a space saver — it’s also an efficient way to share information with your accountant and bookkeeper, especially if you’re working with a remote bookkeeper, as it’ll speed up the process.

Our Xero Bank Reconciliations and Journal Entries Course will also show you how to record these transactions in Xero.  Continue reading Use DropBox to Store Your Tax Records Digitally

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.

Will The Ideas Boom be NBN-Paced?

We need fast NBN to deliver our innovation!

Thinkink about starting your own business and want to learn from small business mentors and other entreprenuersFollowing his $1 billion innovation announcement in December, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull received quite a grilling on the ABC program 7.30, hosted by Leigh Sales, who brought up one of the most widely criticised initiatives of the Abbott-Turnbull Coalition government: the NBN.

Although the government’s innovation statement was generally met with praise, especially for its $200 million commitment to funding the CSIRO (which, under the previous Abbott-led government, had its funding cut by $111 million), as well as a number of other measures that will make it easier for scientific research to be commercialised and encourage more children to learn coding and other computer sciences at school, there was criticism that no mention was made of the NBN.

If you’re looking for innovation ideas I recently recorded some interviews of my own with owners of various different business types from retail, video rental, white goods, business broker and internet technology about how they started their businesses, how they continually come up with new ideas and how they turn those ideas into products and services and build a business around them.

These entrepreneurs are part of the academic board for the Australian Small Business Centre and you can learn about these people here. In these videos interviews I ask many questions from startup and concept ideas to planning, marketing, sales, operations and financial aspects of their businesses.

Innovation, teleworking, remote contractors, technology needs good Internet speeds

There’s nary a business today, never mind the kind of “innovative” ones the PM is hoping to encourage in the future, that can get by without high speed internet, yet Australia’s current broadband internet speeds are some of the slowest in the developed world; the NBN could even be as slow as 25Mbps, which the US Federal Communications Commission recently said was absolute slowest speed an internet connection could be if it was still to be classified as broadband.

But that’s probably not the reason the prime minister made no mention of the NBN. Earlier this year, we published an in-depth look at the NBN after it was scaled back when the Coalition government took power in 2013, which drew a line between Australia’s, generally, underwhelming internet speeds and the government’s shelved teleworking initiative, which had been developed by the Gillard Labor government to get more people, particularly people in remote or regional communities, working from their homes using the NBN.

Then in November, documents that were leaked to Fairfax newspapers showed that the NBN may have to replace the Optus cable network it purchased for $800 million – which Labor had previously proposed decommissioning due to its state of disrepair, in favour of FTTP technology – which Malcolm Turnbull championed as a “landmark agreement” that would allow NBN Co to take ownership of the existing cable networks to use for the NBN rollout, without any additional cost to the taxpayer.

Post mining boom can Australia afford to invest in innovation?

Instead, it’s estimated that the cost of replacing the Optus cable network will blowout to around $375 million, as it’s not fit for purpose. Worse still, there will be some hundreds of thousands of premises left without access to the NBN until 2019 – and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, there are plenty of regions, even ones in major cities, that are currently unable to connect to any high speed broadband service until the NBN is rolled out.

About a week later, more documents were leaked, this time to the Australian newspaper, that showed that the NBN also expects to spend $26,115 per node to fix Telstra’s copper lines to ensure that the service quality promised by the Coalition is achieved; this figure is ten times the amount originally estimated by the Coalition in 2013.

When questioned about the cost blow outs by Leigh Sales on 7.30, Malcolm Turnbull said it simply wasn’t true, but, well, the numbers don’t really lie. So if you were wondering why there was no inclusion or provision for the NBN in the government’s newly announced innovation plan, well that’s probably because it’s proven to be a bit more than the government can chew.

NBN or not you can still do an EzyLearn online MYOB and Excel course

The upshot, of course, is that we could end up with an entirely new cable network that’s capable of better than 25Mbps broadband speeds, albeit at a much later date and greater cost than originally promised by the Coalition. For now, though, it’s business as usual for the NBN, which announced in December that more than 500,000 premises in regional and rural Australia will now have access to the NBN with wholesale speeds of up to 50Mbps for downloads and 20Mbps for uploads.

When we started offering our online MYOB training courses in 2008 we offered a money back guarantee for several reasons and one of them was if a students internet access wasn’t fast enough they would have a tough time watching the videos. Although the rest of the training course resources (training workbooks and course exercise files) could easily be downloaded the videos would go through that buffering process of partly downloading and then playing, pausing, buffering etc. Luckily, there has been innovation in the US that enables training course creators like EzyLearn to upload their videos in HD format yet have them delivered in a format most suitable for the students broadband speed – still it’s always better to have super fast broadband so keep on working at it NBNco!

To see if you live in one of the areas where the NBN has been rolled out, visit the NBN Co website. Otherwise, if you’d like to be kept up-to-date with the latest news and developments on the NBN, subscribe to our blog.

More People Are Working From Home Than Ever Before

Local Government Councils Encourage Home Businesses and Working from Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your time is now

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

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

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

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

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


Get the free guide to becoming an independent contractor

Has the Australian Government shelved its Teleworking initiative for good?

How Teleworking Began in Australia

teleworking
Our Team are teleworking independent contractors and they can help you do the same

In 2011, the then-Gillard Government introduced a teleworking initiative, established to encourage private sector employers to allow their employees to regularly work from home. The teleworking initiative was soon followed by Gillard’s own commitment in 2012 to have 12 percent of all Australian public servants teleworking by 2020. But the initiative also served another purpose: to promote the use of the national broadband network (NBN).  

That was then. By 2013, the Gillard Government had been ousted, and the NBN has been through many different incarnations since it was first announced – it’s still moving forward, albeit as a significantly scaled back offering to what was originally proposed. Also ousted in 2013 was the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), which oversaw the Government’s Teleworking initiative.

In place of the DBCDE, the Government formed the Department of Communications. It’s primary functions are the same as the DBCDE’s, with one exception: there’s no teleworking initiative, which has ostensibly gone the way of the clog (remember those?). For whatever reason, it now appears that the Federal Government isn’t very interested in encouraging Australian businesses to have their staff telework or to utilise teleworkers, who may be scattered across Australia.

Employed Teleworkers not Independent Contractors?

Could it be that the telework initiative stepped on the toes of various of state and territory level telework initiatives that involved funding, what the NSW Government has dubbed, Smart Work Hubs? Smart Work Hubs, like the one at Wyong on the NSW Central Coast, are essentially co-working spaces established to encourage employers to allow their staff to telework – from one of the government-funded smart hubs, of course.

This is an interesting move, but it relies on people who are already employed and already commuting to a major city centre or business district to utilise the smart hubs, which come at a cost to either the employee or their employer. The locations of the existing five pilot smart hubs in NSW are already located in major areas – Western City and the Central Coast; all areas with easy access to high speed internet services.

For more smarts to be rolled out in other regional areas – Newcastle is rumoured to be next – the existing ones need to prove they’re worth the investment, and that relies on numbers. A significant number of teleworkers, the emphasis here being on teleworkers and not the self-employed, need to be using the smart work hubs regularly enough for the NSW Government to rollout the next phase of smart work hubs.

But as I hinted before, this relies on people who already have access to high-speed internet services at their home and who are still within commuting distance to their place of work, to be willing to pay to telework regularly. Maybe the reason the Federal Government really scrapped its teleworking initiative had nothing to do with the NSW Government’s smart work hubs at all. Maybe it had more to do with it’s new-look NBN.

What the scaled back NBN really looks like

When the NBN was originally proposed, the original plan was to deploy high-speed-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband for most Australians, but that was soon ditched by the Abbott Government for being too expensive. The new-look NBN now consists of a mixed network that prioritises fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology, which means that fibre optic cables are run to each internet node and the rest of the connection is completed through Telstra’s ageing copper wire network.

Under this NBN, the speed of your internet will vary on how far you live from the node. The further away you live, the slower it will be. But it’s okay, the Government has promised that the slowest NBN speeds could ever get to is 25 Megabits per second (Mbps), the same speed the US Federal Communications Commission defined as the absolute bare minimum to be able to call an internet connection broadband.

The other issue, of course, remains the copper wire network, which the Government now has to buy back off Telstra for $11bn (after the Howard Government sold it to Telstra a decade ago) when it discovered there was a lack of infrastructure in most regional areas of Australia that prevented many households from even connecting to the exchange, never mind the port – as well as some households in major cities.

So what now for teleworkers?

If you’re a teleworker and you live near a NSW Government smart work hub, use it. Certain hubs offer discounts to the NSW Government’s definition of a teleworker – someone who usually commutes to their workplace – while the self-employed can still reap the benefit of working from a smart hub, which are located near or offer child minding facilities, cafes, parking, and gyms.

If you were counting on the NBN to make it easier to work remotely or start your own business, don’t give up on it yet. The Government knows that the key to remaining competitive in the global marketplace is to have access to high-speed telecommunications networks, so the NBN is still, and will continue to be, a major priority.

If you’d like to start your own home-based business, but don’t know where to go for advice and support now that the Government has, seemingly, abandoned it’s teleworking initiative, visit the WorkFace website. WorkFace is an EzyLearn business partner made up of a network of teleworking professionals who have helped many EzyLearn graduates start their own home-based virtual assistant businesses.

Blogging is a Teleworking Task

The article you’re reading is part of the EzyLearn blog and this work can be done from anywhere in the world so it’s a popular outsourced task. If you want to explore blogging for your business or want to learn how it works so you can offer it as a service then discover our Blogging for Business Online Training Course.

 

Live on the NSW Central Coast? The State Government wants you to be teleworking

NSW State Government Incentives for Teleworking

Nexus Smart Hub at Wyong to help people telework or be virtual assistantsThe State Government wants the NSW Central Coast to become the next Silicon Valley by encouraging commuters and freelancers to work from one of their two Smart Work Hubs located at Wyong and Gosford. The Smart Work Hubs are part of the State Government’s $1.5 million pilot program of co-working spaces, which are also part of the Government’s greater push to get more people teleworking.

I wrote a post recently [The NBN makes it easier to run a business from home] on how the NBN is making it easier for people to move out of the city and relocate to regional parts of Australia and still conduct a business from home that provides valuable services to businesses in our major cities. The NBN is just one aspect of the Government’s push to get more people teleworking, and their new Smart Work Hubs Pilot Program is another initiative that will encourage trade and investment in regional areas.

Teleworking Commuter hubs in five regions across NSW

The program is also operating in Western Sydney, with spaces located in Penrith, Rouse Hill and Oran Park, three areas that were identified as having a large volume of residents commuting to the Sydney CBD. The two spaces on the Central Coast are unique, however, because they’re the first co-working spaces of their kind in the region.

Co-working spaces have been around for some time in Sydney, originating in inner city suburbs like Chippendale and Ultimo, and spread quickly across the city as more people started businesses and began working remotely from home. Co-working spaces give home-based workers an alternative space to work from, as well as an opportunity to meet and collaborate with other like-minded individuals.

But while those inner city co-working spaces were established to encourage collaboration between creatives and start-ups, the NSW Government’s Smart Work Hubs Pilot Program has a slightly different focus, targeting commuters instead.

Member for Gosford Chris Holstein said that Gosford and Wyong been selected for the Smart Work Hubs Pilot Program due to the high volume of residents who commute to both Sydney and Newcastle for work.

“Around 40,000 residents commute outside the Central Coast region each day for work and this can have significant impact on their work/life balance,” Mr Holstein said.

“By establishing Smart Work Hubs in locations with large commuter populations, we can take advantage of the benefits of using technology to support smart working practices.

“New technology and high speed broadband are changing the way people work and NSW has much to gain by taking a leading position in this emerging landscape.”

State of the art facilities, with a 12-month government subsidy

If you’re a teleworker – that is, an employee of a business and not self-employed – then you’re eligible for a daily $20 workstation subsidy from the Government to be used at the Wyong Nexus Hub, which reduces the daily workstation rate down to just $15 and is available for the first twelve months of operation.

Although the Smart Work Hubs are aimed at commuters, freelancers, home-based workers, and small business owners are also encouraged to make use of the spaces, which have been guaranteed state government funding for twelve months. Although the self-employed aren’t eligible for a government subsidy, the day rate for booking a workstation at the Wyong hub has also been reduced to $15 for a limited time; the Gosford hub isn’t currently eligible a government subsidy.

Over the course of the twelve-month trial period, the hubs at each five locations are being monitored to determine their viability in other regions across NSW, and, if successful, the Government hopes to trial sites at other locations throughout NSW, including Newcastle and the Illawarra.

The Smart Work Hubs in both Gosford and Wyong are both been fitted out with high-speed broadband Internet, photocopiers and printers, video conferencing facilities, private offices, meeting rooms, a kitchen, and use a swipe card system to ensure security; the space at Wyong also has an onsite gym and childminding facilities for Hub customers, as well as a café and easy parking.

Why start a business at a Smart Work Hub?

Work hubs and co-working spaces are not only a cheaper alternative to renting an office, but with all the facilities they offer – gyms, childminding, etc – they’re also more convenient for home-based workers with kids. Many people who complete our training courses intend to start a business from home so they can spend more time with their kids, making a co-working space or work hub perfect for mums or dads who need time away from the kids while they get some work done.

Better than that, though, work hubs also have the added benefit of providing a space where you can network or collaborate with other small business owners. A work hub provides home-based workers with an environment not dissimilar to a regular workplace, but it’s one that’s more conducive to working productively – i.e., there’s less time spent complaining about the boss!

If you’ve been thinking of starting a home-based business, I don’t think the climate has ever been more start-up friendly than it is at the moment. Aside from the State Government’s Smart Work Hub Pilot Program, new small business owners can also take advantage of the Federal Government’s small business tax breaks, in addition to the NBN’s continued rollout of high-speed fibre optic Internet in regional areas across Australia.

If you’re looking for a low-risk new business opportunity, our partner National Bookkeeping has a number of licensee opportunities for people interested in starting a bookkeeping business. You can visit the National Bookkeeping website for more information or to register. Alternatively, read more about EzyLearn’s partnership with National Bookkeeping on our blog.

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.

Get Paid Faster Using Your Mobile Phone!

get paid faster using your mobile phone
You can use your mobile phone to get paid – great for tradespeople as well.

No doubt about it, one of the biggest hurdles you face as a small business owner is managing your cash flow. A big part of this is ensuring your clients and customers pay your invoices on time. Setting up email alerts to remind customers when your invoices are due is a great way to ensure you’re never – or at least, rarely – paid late, which we’ve written about on this blog and even cover in our MYOB training courses.

Invoice From the Road

Most account programs like MYOB AccountRight Live offer this facility, as does Reach Accounting, Xero, and so on. They also have their own app, allowing you to create and send invoices right from your smartphone, so you can invoice customers right away, even when you’re not at your computer.

MYOB’s PayDirect service, for which an app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play, goes one step further. By purchasing a credit card reader from MYOB, you can accept credit card payments from your phone, just by pairing the reader with your smart phone or tablet device using Bluetooth.

Again, this is a fantastic function for tradies, who either have to wait for their clients to transfer the funds to their account or enter into a contract with a bank so they can offer mobile eftpos facilities. Now, for just the cost of the reader, small business owners can offer this facility to their clients, and it’s also linked with their MYOB account.

Even More Options for Small Businesses

MYOB’s new PayDirect facility competes not only with the big banks, but it’s also competing with PayPal, which offers a similar service called PayPal Here. There’s very little difference between the two services. The main, fairly negligible, difference is in pricing structure and additional functionality, so deciding between each service comes down to what fits your business best – do you integrate your PayPal facilities with a PayPal Here account, or do you integrate your MYOB accounting software with an MYOB PayDirect account?

Ultimately, though, they’re both great facilities that enable to small business owner – whether you’re a tradesman, a small retail shop, an online retailer who has a market stall, or even an independent contractor who’d like to have the ability to take credit card payments – to get paid faster.

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The quicker you’re paid, the better it is for your cash flow. Maintaining good cash flow is vital to the success of your business; it allows you to pay your suppliers on time, and keep on top of your other outgoings. Maintain good cash flow, by ensuring you make it as easy as possible for your customers to pay you. Offering a number of different payment facilities is one way of doing that.

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!

Getting the Accreditation You Need for MYOB and Bookkeeping

MYOB bookkeeper
You don’t need to be a BAS agent to be a successful and profitable bookkeeper.

The reason many of our students complete our MYOB training courses is because they’re looking for a new job, and so we’re often asked if our MYOB training courses are accredited and whether they come with a certificate. The answer to this question is a little more complicated than it may seem, and here’s why:

Bookkeeper vs. BAS Agent

When we first started our training centres in 1999, you could learn how to use MYOB and then go out and work as a bookkeeper, providing all sorts of services to clients such as data entry and BAS – then, this type of work wasn’t regulated.

In 2010, the Australian Tax Laws were changed, so that bookkeepers now had to be accredited BAS agents, which required a minimum certification of a Cert IV in Bookkeeping, and registration with a professional organisation, such as the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers or the Tax Practitioners Board.

Nationally Recognised

Training courses, like a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping, are nationally recognised certifications that are provided by a registered training organisation (RTO), where the coursework is tailored to meet the national training framework. This ensures that the training material delivered to students is as consistent as possible, to ensure each student, graduates with identical skills, regardless of the institution they studied with.

What’s important here is that an RTO delivering a Cert IV in Bookkeeping is training students in the intricacies of bookkeeping and tax law, rather than teaching students how to use the software, like MYOB.

Accredited by ICB

There are plenty of RTOs who will train you in the ways of Australian tax law, bookkeeping fundamentals, and the like, but very few who can give you specialised, in-depth training in MYOB that you can complete at your own pace.

If you’re going to be a bookkeeper, understanding your clients’ accounting software is a huge part of the job, and that’s why we decided to continue to provide software training in MYOB, and other accounting packages that have since arrived on the market, such as Reach Accounting and Xero.

Because we believe in staying up-to-date with every aspect of the bookkeeping industry, we’re also accredited with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers.

EDITED: In 2018 EzyLearn management made a decision that it is better to spend money on course content creation and student support than remain an annual membership with ICB. Read more.

You Can Still Be a Bookkeeper

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a bookkeeper if you don’t have a Cert IV in Bookkeeping — because you can! It simply means you can provide the valuable data entry services to clients as an MYOB bookkeeper, without performing any BAS services.

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If you’re thinking of becoming a home-based bookkeeper, it’s vital you understand MYOB and all of its functions, so find out more our MYOB training courses — or our other cloud-accounting courses by visiting our website.