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Don’t Wing It With Customer Service – Plan It

Great customer service doesn’t just happen.

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

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

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

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

Defying customer expectations

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

Is there too much churn and burn?

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

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

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

Using a ticketing support system

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

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

Good customer service is structured

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

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

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

***

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


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

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Why are there More Expense Tracking Apps for Xero than MYOB?

Less complicated accounting software, like Xero, connects better with mobile apps

accounting-apps-that-link-with-xero-and-quickbooks
The robust nature of MYOB can make it harder to link with mobile apps that track your expenses and cash flow and the like.

WE RECENTLY PUBLISHED A blog examining the different expense tracking apps you can connect with Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks, but during our research it became clear that most expense apps integrate with Xero or QuickBooks, but not MYOB.

That’s not to say there are no expense apps that integrate with MYOB. There are. Receipt Bank is one, Squirrel Street is another, and there are probably a lot more on the MYOB marketplace (or add-ons page). Probably the best expense tracking application we found is ExpenseManager, and it only integrates with MYOB.

MYOB is a robust, yet complicated system

As anyone who’s ever used MYOB can attest, it’s a complicated piece of software to navigate, even if it is a robust one. When Xero came along, it aimed to be both robust and easy-to-use, and for the most part it succeeded (it’s probably not as easy as QuickBooks, but then QuickBooks isn’t quite as robust).

Behind the scenes, there’s also a lot of complicated code driving MYOB that’s not easy to integrate with, unlike QuickBooks and Xero which rely on third-party integrations to deliver payroll and other services, so Xero and QuickBooks can keep the cost of their platforms down.

MYOB is used by accountants and bookkeepers

MYOB doesn’t really go after to same market that Xero and QuickBooks do (small and micro businesses), which is reflected in MYOB’s price. It’s aimed at medium sized businesses, which employ accountants and bookkeepers, and that’s not really the market expense apps like Expensify and Xpenditure are targeting.

Xero is one of our most popular training courses

That’s why Xero has become one of our most popular training courses. It’s robust and once you understand the principles of bookkeeping, fairly easy to use. And it integrates with a tonne of third party applications developed to make the life of the small business owner much easier and more efficient.

Keep an eagle eye on your expenses by using Xero and an expense app, and you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is the most profitable and where it’s not, so you can modify it accordingly.

***

Our Xero training courses will show you have to track expenses in Xero and how to connect third party apps to your Xero account. You can also brush up your MYOB skills or learn how to use MYOB with our MYOB online training course, incorporating 5 courses and 12 months’ access — all for one low cost. Visit our website for more information covering our ONE LOW COST for ALL LEVELS course options.


learn Xero online learning videos cheapest

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

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Cash Flow Forecasting and Reporting Apps for Xero

Do you know how happy your business is?

running cashflow reports in xero and exporting to excel
Cash flow is THE key indicator of your business’ health and happiness so it pays to know the tools that will help you run regular cash flow reports.

AS WE’VE WRITTEN NUMEROUS times before, cash flow is the best indicator of financial health. A cash flow report takes into account the money you have in the bank after you’ve paid all your suppliers, employees, made your loan repayments.

Cash flow represents money in the bank

If, after paying your suppliers, employees, making loan repayments, cash outlays, and so forth, you don’t have any money in the bank (or you can’t make all of your obligations) this is negative cash flow.

Negative cash flow indicates a problem. There’s either a failing in one or more of your processes — your credit management procedures, for instance — or you’re simply spending more money than you’re making.

Cash flow forecasting is critical

You can create a cash flow forecast report in Xero by running a number of cash flow reports and importing them into Excel for analysis. (We’ve written before about how to link a financial forecast created in Excel with your Xero accounting information.) Linking the two in this way is a highly customisable method for seeing what you’re spending your money on, and when. You’ll also be able to track your clients’ payment patterns, so you can put processes in place to speed up the time it takes to get paid.

Forecasting and reporting apps

This Xero-Excel method for creating a cash flow forecast report can be time consuming, however. It also requires a good knowledge of Excel so you can set up formulas that will allow you to forecast 12 months ahead. 

For smaller businesses or sole traders — or even large businesses that just want to glance quickly at their cash flow — a dedicated cash flow app is a good way to track and forecast your business’s cash flow — and in real time. In our last blog we covered some of our favourite expense apps and why we like them.

Float

Float expense tracking app logoAt $79 a month for a basic (or “medium”) plan, Float is on the pricier end of cash flow apps, but its many features — in particular, the ability to create “scenarios” that allow you to determine the outcome of a particular business decision, such as employing two staff members instead of one — make up for it.

Float quickly learns trends in your business and will be able to anticpate upcoming payments, bills, etc. It also integrates with Xero, QuickBooks and even FreeAgent, the free cloud-based accounting app for small businesses.

FUTRLI

Futrli Expense App logoFormerly known as CrunchBoards, this British app, which has expanded into Australia and the U.S., features predictive alerts, KPI dashboards, tax forecasting (so you can accurately estimate your tax bill), trend indicators, forecasts for the next ten years (if you want), scenario planning, and a heap more.

It doesn’t, however, learn from your business, so it can’t predict upcoming payments and bills. FUTRLI will set you back $59 a month, regardless of whether you’re a startup, growing business or established enterprise. It integrates with Xero and QuickBooks.

Spotlight

Spotlight_Reporting-logoA lot simpler than FUTRLI, but with fewer features (although you could argue, it’s a spotlight on the *only* features you need), Spotlight will let you import all your budget data, create scenarios, and create KPIs for your business, making forecast reporting a cinch, but it doesn’t learn from your business.

This means it can’t anticipate upcoming payments from clients or bills coming due, leaving you to create forecasts based on past trends, rather than upcoming ones. Spotlight integrates with Xero.

***

Understanding your business’s cash flow is critical to its ongoing financial health, and to your ability to make sound business decisions. Our Xero training courses will show you how to run financial reports, including cash flow statements that you can use to create forecasts in Excel. Visit our website for more information.


cashflow reports in xero and excel

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

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Financial Reporting with Expensify and Xero

How Expensify can link with Xero

learn xero online training learning videos
Are you deducting everything you could be? Perhaps you need an app to help you.

WE’VE TALKED IN THE past about what a life saver daily reconciliations can be, and why some businesses could benefit from reconciling their account daily, twice weekly, or at least, on a more regular basis than once a month.

The expenses your business incurs form deductions that reduce your taxable income, so making sure you’re recording them accurately — and then storing them securely too — is an important part of your business remaining compliant.

An online software program like Xero will enable you to enter your expenses and transactions; and you can also use an app to automate the process for you, like Expensify.

Expensify for accurate record keeping

The way Expensify works is pretty simple. You connect it to your bank or credit card accounts, and it will import transactions into its app, which you then approve as business expense and it send the data through to your connected accounting software — in this case, Xero.

If all your expenses were electronic, Expensify wouldn’t provide much more value than the bank feeds feature in Xero. But Expensify does more than just that.

It can, with impressive accuracy, import expense data from any hardcopy receipt — even handwritten ones — by taking a picture on your smartphone, sending them to a dedicated email address for upload, or importing them straight from Dropbox or Evernote.

Once a receipt has been uploaded to Expensify, it stores it in the cloud, so you don’t have to keep the physical copy.

Accurate vehicle mileage

The best feature, which anyone who uses their vehicle for business purposes will appreciate, is how it tracks mileage. You have two options: input the distance you travelled by typing it into the app, or using the app’s built-in GPS.

You simply tell Expensify to start tracking your mileage and it will, using its own motion sensors and GPS. This is different (and better) than other apps that work out the distance you travelled using routes in Google Maps after the fact.

Expensify would be better if it automatically detected car motion without having to open the app at the start of your journey, like the QuickBooks Self Employed app does. Of course, that also results in many unnecessary travel trips — taxi, Uber and bus rides, lifts from friends, as well as your own personal trips — showing up in the QuickBooks app.

Create expense reports

Expensify also lets you create expense reports to collate expenses together. This is extremely useful for businesses that want to see expenses associated with their projects, bill their clients for expenses, or for businesses with employees who need to be reimbursed for their expenses.

Rather than manually collating expenses together and matching them to employee trips, work trips, customers or projects, Expensify does it for you, and then imports it straight into Xero as either a bill or invoice.

An expense app like Expensify will help your business reconcile its accounts regularly and more accurately, and will also ensure you’re compliant by storing your receipts securely in the cloud.

***

Our Xero training courses will show you how to track expenses in Xero and how to connect third party apps to your Xero account. We provide training in ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW COST.


learn Xero online learning videos cheapest

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

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Are You Making these GST Mistakes in Your Bookkeeping?

Being Jack of All Trades can land you in hot water with BAS

find a bas agent in your local area
Don’t submit inaccurate financial documents by trying to do everything yourself by way of bookkeeping.

IT’S PERHAPS EASIER TO do your own bookkeeping these days than it used to be; particularly if you’re using a cloud accounting program like MYOBXero or QuickBooks, which are among the easiest, yet robust, accounting applications currently on the market.

But even so, there are many aspects of Australian tax that, while accounting software makes it possible to carry them out yourself (like business activity statements, for example), it’s not a good idea unless you really know what you’re doing. Here are the three GST mistakes nearly every business owner makes in their bookkeeping.

Claiming GST twice

This is most common when a business has vehicles, machinery, plant equipment, etcetera that are either being leased or are under hire purchase. The business owner’s accountant will typically claim the full GST component for in the first quarter that the business purchased the equipment, but confusion generally sets in when it comes to recording regular monthly payments.

Very often the business owner will record it as GST or a capital expense, and because both show up in their BAS reporting sheet, they end up claiming the GST twice.

Recording GST for all expenses

There are many expenses that do attract GST. They include:

  • Motor vehicle registrations
  • Bank charges
  • ASIC fees
  • Paypal transaction fees
  • Interest and director fees / drawings.

Claiming GST credits on purchases from suppliers not registered for GST

Not all business owners are registered for GST, and although they should state somewhere on their invoice that no GST has been charged, oftentimes they’ll leave you to assume that. As a general rule of thumb, if the invoice doesn’t show an amount in the GST column, there’s a good chance the supplier isn’t registered. To make sure, though, visit the ABN Lookup Page and search their ABN.

Accounting software is easier, but Aussie tax remains as complicated as ever

Even though MYOBXero and QuickBooks are among the most user friendly accounting software applications on the market, Australia’s tax laws remain as complicated as they’ve ever been. So while you can do your own data entry (reconciling your bank statements), it’s a good idea to hire a BAS or Tax agent to look after the more complicated aspects of your tax and BAS requirements.

***

Want to learn or brush up your cloud accounting and bookkeeping skills?

At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of online accounting software courses, as well as 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 come with a ONE LOW COST for ALL SKILLS LEVEL option. 


Need help finding a BAS or TAX Agent?

find a local bookkeeper

National Bookkeeping is an online directory of local bookkeepers looking to add to their customers. Visit National Bookkeeping to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud. Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper looking to expand your client list or find contract work, you can register and become part of our network for free


 

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What to Do When You Have More than One Income Stream

Why it’s important to track your income streams

keep-track-of-more-than-one-income-stream-using-excel-myob-xero-learn-online-training-course-videos
It can be easy to lose track of separate income streams; Excel is a great tool for monitoring which work your income is coming from.

IF YOU’RE AN INDEPENDENT contractor, or you’re a full-time employee about to start up a side business, then you need to be able to keep a good track of all your income streams. There are a couple of reasons for this and both of them relate to tax. 

Basically, income is income, regardless of how you earned it, and you’ll pay tax on the total amount. As an employee of another business, you’re likely to be earning money through your tax file number. Each week, your employer will withhold tax commensurate with how much money your employer has paid you. But this doesn’t take into account any other income.

If you’re also earning money from a side business, using an ABN, there’s no one to withhold tax on your behalf, so you need to keep a close eye on your income to ensure you have enough money in the bank to pay your tax bill — which you will get, I’m afraid — after your tax return has been filed.

Two tax returns? Use Excel

Although income is income, you will still have to file two tax returns, one for each income stream. That’s why you need to keep an eye on your accumulative income, and not just the money earned through your business.

There are lots of personal finance and budget apps that help you to track and manage your income, but the easiest, most flexible and most straightforward way to do this is to create an Excel spending or expense sheet, which our Excel training courses will teach you how to do.

Reasons why people have two income streams

It’s not just full time employees who are starting their own side business that have two income streams. Plenty of freelancers and independent contractors earn money through their ABN and TFN.

There are some businesses that prefer to put contractors on the payroll, usually because they’ll be working on a regular basis, onsite, and it’s just easier for the business to employ them as casuals. Often for insurance purposes, but it’s also because the work involved doesn’t conform to the definition the ATO uses for an independent contractor.

Other times, it’s because the contractor or freelancer is working in an entirely different industry on the side — hospitality or retail, for example — to supplement their freelance income, which is how a lot of people get businesses off the ground.

Focus on how to earn money

The main take away from all of this, is that when you’re tracking your income, focus on the ways to earn more income. If you discover that each month, you have a week where your income is lower, there’s an opportunity to fill that gap with another job or other income stream.

***

You can learn how to create and manage your expenses or spending in our Excel training courses, where you’ll be able to create your own spending or expense sheet, and how to perform daily bank reconciliations in MYOB or Xero in our cloud accounting training courses. For more information, visit our website.


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Learn Microsoft Excel from scratch or brush up your Excel skills, at your own pace, with our affordable Excel online training courses — where you get THE LOT (that’s 9 courses in total) for ONE LOW PRICE — everything included! Volume corporate discounts are available.


 

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Marketing for When Your Business Strategy Changes

Where lead generation services are useful

lead generation services
Using a dedicated lead generation service can be more useful than advertising but the quality of the leads may be questionable.

CHANGING YOUR BUSINESS STRATEGY to include additional services will require an additional investment in marketing if you are to make this successful. In terms of simply paying money to advertise your additional services, as you’re probably already aware, advertising doesn’t always yield immediate results. Therefore you might consider spending money on a lead generation service.

We cover how to account for marketing and lead generation costs in our Xero training courses, which includes a new workbook that looks at what to do when your business strategy changes.

Lead generation vs marketing

Lead generation, as the name suggest, is solely focussed on generating a potential customer or client for your business. For instance, there are lots of lead generation services in the building and home maintenance trade — hipages, One Flare, Service Seeking, Quotify, etc — but there are also a growing number for people in creative services, although they’re typically referred to as online marketplaces and include Freelancer.com, Upwork, Fiverr, and so forth.

Advertising and digital marketing (including content marketing), puts your message or business in front of your target audience, but there are more steps in the process before you can capture a lead.

The benefits of lead generation

The main benefit of using a lead generation service is that it delivers active leads almost as soon as you sign up to the service. The quality of the leads tend to differ between services, and the leads also tend to be people who are focussed solely on price, and not so much workmanship. In other words, they’re looking for something done in a particular fashion, for a particular price. No more, no less.

These sorts of jobs are good when you’re getting started or as a way to keep the home fires burning, but it may not be appropriate to rely on them as your sole means of developing clientele.

The benefits of marketing and advertising

If you’re using the correct channels to reach and market or advertise your business to your target market, you’re effectively developing a relationship with those people and educating them about your business.

This means you’ll capture people at all stages of the purchasing funnel — some will be at the pointy end, while others won’t be ready to make a purchasing decision for a while. The benefits of marketing and advertising is that you’re capturing a wide array of people and building brand awareness.

A combination of both works best

If you have the resources, a combination of both marketing (advertising, content marketing) and lead generation works best, though your focus should on marketing and advertising your business to your target market, rather than trying to fit your business into the mold of all the different leads fed to you through a service like hipages or Freelancer.com.

Create a marketing budget

Run a cashflow report in Xero to determine how much cash you’ll have to invest in marketing your business. Our Xero training courses will show you how to run a cashflow report, which you can then export to Excel and use when creating your marketing budget, which should include a schedule, costs, desired outcome — i.e., number of leads, conversions each week, month, quarter — to ensure you’re getting a good return on your investment.

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Our Xero training courses will show you how to run cashflow reports and account for your marketing costs, while our Business Start Up Course will show you how to create a marketing plan. Visit our website for more information.


learn Xero online learning videos cheapest

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses.


 

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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.


 

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Thinking of Starting a Second Business? Introducing Jerry

Case Study: Costs for starting up a second, related business

microsoft excel starting a second business
Contemplating starting a second business, related in some way to your first? Excel can help you forecast start up costs.

A LOT OF BUSINESS OWNERS branch out into related fields when their flagship business becomes successful enough (just look at Jim’s Mowing). However, this can be a bit dicey if the business owner doesn’t properly forecast all the start up costs. Not doing so can not only have an adverse impact on the new venture, but also on the existing business.

In this case study, we’re going to look at the start up costs associated with starting a real estate sales business.

Meet Jerry, our budding entrepreneur

Jerry is a male in his 40’s, currently working as an agent for a local asbestos removal company, earning a commission for helping the company make sales. In this role, he works as an independent contractor, invoicing the asbestos removal company at the end of the month. Because of the work he does, Jerry meets with lots of homeowners (and business owners too) who are renovating their home in preparation to put it on the market for sale or rent out.

Because of the client contact base Jerry is always developing, and knowing that there is no conflict of interest, Jerry decides he’d like to branch and become a real estate salesperson.

Budgeting for a new business from home

Jerry decides to operate his real estate sales business from home, as he plans to operate it as a side business, at least initially. Jerry won’t need to lease office space, but there are the following costs he will need to budget for. The costs he foresees are approximate:

  • Real estate license training course: $2,250
  • Website setup costs: $300 + training (if required)
  • G Suite account: $5/month upwards + training (if required)
  • Mobile phone: $55/month upwards
  • Business cards, flyers, other marketing materials: $99 upwards

Jerry’s ad-hoc operational costs

Although the majority of Jerry’s operational expenses will be reimbursed by the vendor once the property is sold — property marketing, auctioneer costs, etc. — Jerry will need to ensure he has enough capital to cover these operational costs. Property marketing costs are determined based on a percentage of the property’s value, usually 1 percent but sometimes lower. The median price of property in Jerry’s area is $440,000.

Because Jerry is already working as an independent contractor, he doesn’t have to incur any other operational costs (office furniture, internet, information technology, etc.), however his bookkeeper may apportion these costs differently now that Jerry is operating an additional business.

Determining upfront capital required

Jerry already has two homeowners who are thinking of selling their home in the next 12 months. He estimates that based on the value of each property, he will need to spend $5,000 each on property marketing. Therefore, he’ll need at least $13,370 in startup capital to fund his new venture for the next 12 months — although he knows that the initial $20,000 in property marketing will be reimbursed to the business within 6 months.

How Jerry will measure his success

Jerry is located in Newcastle in the Hunter region of New South Wales. Clearance rates in this region hover around 70 percent and properties spend an average of 50 to 70 days on the market, as property is typically sold by private treaty rather than auction. These two metrics will be used to determine Jerry’s success. Price is not a good indicator, as the nature of property sales means Jerry should be valuing property accurately with only a 10 to 15 percent difference in the final sale price.

Jerry should also research other real estate agents selling similar property in his local area to determine how many sales they are writing each calendar year. This can become another benchmark for Jerry’s success, although only a peripheral one, as Jerry is still only operating his real estate business on the side.

***

You can use Excel to work out a budget for the start up costs for your second business, and use accounting software like Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks to forecast whether your existing business will have the capital to fund your new venture.

Our Excel training courses will teach you how to create budgets and forecasts and our cloud accounting training courses will show you how to determine the financial health of your business.


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Successfully promoting your business products and services to clients these days requires a sound knowledge of how to spread the word via social media. Whatever your field, we can teach you the online marketing techniques to stand out from the crowd and build your customer base! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.


 

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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.


 

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

PowerPoint: The Great Untapped Design Tool

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

 

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

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

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

Use PowerPoint for training

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

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

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

Business plans:

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

Marketing or sales collateral:

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

Flow chart / organisational chart:

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

Resumes:

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

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Never Fear, Help is Here…

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

 


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

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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

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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.

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Working Out Job Costs and How to Charge Your Clients

Why You’re Underselling Yourself with Fixed Price Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

Working out the direct costs of each job

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

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

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

Working out the indirect costs of each job

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

Now work out your fixed-price quote or project fees

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

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

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What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Facebook Advertising

Facebook – Great for Local Marketing

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

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

Be Local, Not Global

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

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

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

When Local is Appealing to Global Clients Too

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

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

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

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

 

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

Focusing on Education Rather than Sales

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

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

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

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

How Video and Images Help Attract New Business

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

 

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smiling woman learning how to run her own business
 

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

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

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