Posted on

What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Sales Pitches

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

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

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

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

The Three Elements of a Sales Pitch

Think of a sales pitch as possessing three key elements:

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

Don’t be a Commitment-Phobe in Business

closing the sale bookkeeping

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

***

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

Posted on 3 Comments

What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Setting Prices

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Glean Relevant Info from the Property Industry

how much to charge as a bookkeeper
As a bookkeeper you can learn much from the humble, or not so humble, real estate agent!

As a bookkeeper, or someone thinking about becoming a bookkeeper, you may be surprised how much you can learn from real estate agents. For an example, take the way a real estate agent has to price a property for sale.

The key to selling a property quickly and efficiently, is setting the right price. A real estate agent who sets a price that’s too high for the market, isn’t doing her or his job properly. In such cases, the property will sit around for many weeks, or possibly even months, until the price is eventually reduced to one the market will bear, sometimes to well below market value. Real estate being what it is in this country, agents rarely undervalue their properties. When a buyer tells their friends they got a great deal on their new home, it’s usually due to the property being originally overvalued, rather than undervalued.

Most New Contractors Set their Prices Wrong

When business people, such as first-time or newly contracting bookkeepers, first start freelancing or contracting professional services to other businesses, very few know what their services are actually worth. Therefore they frequently overvalue or undervalue themselves. In the case of the former, they’ll discover pretty quickly that they’re overpriced (they don’t get any clients), but in the case of the latter, it may take a while longer to determine that they’ve undervalued themselves and their services.

The lesson bookkeepers can learn from real estate agents — good ones, at least — is to never do either. Here’s how you should value your booking services, to set the right price, just like a real estate agent would.

Value Your Services Like a Real Estate Agent

Know Your Market:

We cover this in our EzyStartUp Course; and it’s important to note that knowing your market isn’t simply confined to the start-up period. Continue to look at the market throughout the life of your business, because times change and you need to move with them. When we first put our training content online, we were one of the first training companies to do it; now you can do a whole university degree online!

Value Your Services Strategically:

Have you ever seen a real estate agent market a property as being identical to another one, even if it’s right next door? As a bookkeeper, you’re already competing in a crowded space, so always establish a point of difference between you and your nearest competitor(s) — a niche industry, a particular way of doing business. Whatever it is, find it, and capitalise on it.

Don’t Try and Be All Things to All People:

Know where to find your customers. Real estate agents know where their buyers come from and precisely what they’re looking for, then they market directly to them. You should do the same. Think about your local market, your services, and the type of customer who’d be looking for a business like yours. Then market to them and them only. Don’t waste marketing money trying to be all things to everyone.

***

Valuing your services correctly, and setting the right prices, is vital to the success of your business. Our EzyStartUp course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning. 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.

Posted on 1 Comment

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

Which is the Pick of the Bunch?

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 2 Comments

Is QuickBooks Better than MYOB for a Small Business?

How Does QuickBooks Really Stack Up Against MYOB?

compare QuickBooks and MYOB
QuickBooks is a much simpler accounting package to use than its rival, MYOB.

WE RECENTLY INTRODUCED our QuickBooks Online Daily Transactions Course because we can see that QuickBooks is fast becoming a serious and respected rival to the more established accounting software packages.

We recently wrote about how QuickBooks uses the SuperStream-compliant service KeyPay to deliver payroll services because QuickBooks itself isn’t actually SuperStream compliant. Currently, the payroll feature in QuickBooks is free for all Small Business plans, as the company further positions itself as the low-cost accounting software option for Aussie small businesses.

Continue reading Is QuickBooks Better than MYOB for a Small Business?

Posted on 2 Comments

QuickBooks Isn’t SuperStream Compliant, But It Doesn’t Matter!

How QuickBooks Palms Off Payroll

quickbooks superstream compliant
Quickbooks is gaining traction in the Australian marketplace.

I’m a fan of QuickBooks as the functionality is excellent and the cost of the software is still low. I’m really pleased to announce that you can now enrol in our QuickBooks Online Daily Transactions Course — but does QuickBooks fulfil Australian legal obligations to be SuperStream compliant?

The background is that from July 1 this year, all Australian businesses with fewer than 20 employees were required, by law, to be SuperStream compliant. SuperStream is a government initiative to improve the efficiency of Australia’s superannuation system, namely by making superannuation a totally electronic process.

Most cloud-accounting packages that have been developed for the Australian market (such as major applications, like MYOB, Xero, Reckon and so forth, but not smaller apps like Zoho or QuickBooks, which can be used in Australia but don’t interface well with Australian tax procedures) are now all SuperStream compliant, with one exception: QuickBooks.

KeyPay: The Payroll Partner of QuickBooks

Earlier this year, a student contacted us to say that QuickBooks wasn’t listed as being SuperStream compliant on the ATO website. We thought that was strange, because we’d previously spoken to Margaret Carey of Business Eez, who’d confirmed that QuickBooks, along with all the other major cloud-accounting apps, was SuperStream compliant.

So just what’s going on?

As it turned out, QuickBooks itself isn’t listed as being SuperStream compliant because it doesn’t, technically, provide any payroll services. It’s partner, KeyPay, does. KeyPay is owned by an entity called Webscale, and Webscale is SuperStream compliant. It uses ClickSuper as their superannuation clearing house. In other words, although QuickBooks itself isn’t SuperStream compliant, it doesn’t matter because they’re partnered with a payroll company that is SuperStream compliant.

You Can Be SuperStream Compliant for Free

If you’re not using a cloud accounting application that’s SuperStream compliant because you’re using Freshbooks or Zoho, for example, or because you’re not using any account software at all (although, in this case, you need to stop being silly and implement an electronic procedure for managing your accounts now), there are still other, free options to ensure you’re SuperStream compliant.

The ATO’s Small Business Superannuation Clearing House is free for businesses with fewer than 20 employees and an aggregated annual revenue of under $2 million. You can register your business details with the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House and use it to make super contributions to your employees.

Alternatively, the superannuation fund, AustralianSuper, has its own clearing house, which is free to use for its members (i.e. as a registered employer using AustralianSuper as your default super fund). AustralianSuper’s clearing house, called QuickSuper, allows members to make electronic super payments regardless of the number of employees or whether the employee belongs to another super fund.

Need a Good Local Bookkeeper to Help Manage Your Financials?

National Bookkeeping Online DirectoryWhether you are a bookkeeper keen to expand your client base or perhaps work remotely, or whether you’re a business person needing some vital bookkeeping advice and assistance, check out our newly updated, online National Bookkeeping Directory. Our goal? To match experienced and highly qualified local bookkeepers to local businesses around Australia.

But of course, with cloud accounting technologies, you are not limited to only working locally. Plenty of our bookkeepers and accountants work remotely for clients located all over the country.

*****

Want to know still more about SuperStream? You can read lots more about SuperStream on our blog.

 

Posted on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content Marketing takes the “salesy” out of selling

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are the content marketing stages:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Posted on 1 Comment

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

The Value of Content Marketing

the-value-of-online-content-marketing
Finding it hard to get started in content marketing? Register for our upcoming course.

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

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

Business Blogs vs Paid Advertising

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

Yes, I’ve been talking about content marketing a lot on this blog lately, as it’s a marketing strategy EzyLearn has been using, almost exclusively, for many years now, with much success — you are reading this blog post, after all!

EzyLearn and our partners continue to help many businesses establish their brand and build credibility online using content marketing — something we continue to do to great effect for real estate agents, to name but a few. Whether you are an agent, bookkeeper, small business owner, or just have dreams to start working for yourself, why not register your interest in our up and coming content marketing course.

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

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

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

Just as every side in an equilateral triangle must be created equal, so too do you have to consider all components equally when content marketing.

Outsourcing is Okay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Your Own Digital Marketing Images With Your Smartphone

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

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

Prioritise Content Marketing in 2017

Bookkeepers especially — take note!

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

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

Join our Bookkeeping Directory TODAY

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

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

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

Posted on

You Need To Be a Job Hopper To Do Well In Your Career

When it Comes to Your Career, Hopping Around is OK

job-hopping-to-success
Those who hop may be the most successful, career speaking.

For many years, young people, particularly Generation Y, were cautioned about changing their jobs too often — or being a “job hopper”. It would give the impression they were flaky or disloyal or unable to commit, they were told. You want to find a job where you can stay there for at least 10 years, where you can grow and progress through the company. That was the advice handed out just a decade ago, perhaps even more recently than that.

But the tide is now rolling the other way. People of all generations and work experience are now being advised to change their jobs, not just every decade, but every 3 years, or 5 at a minimum. Do that and, rather than being seen as a liability, you’ll be seen as an asset. 

What Job Hopping Gives You

All those different jobs, at different companies and in different industries, cultivates skills and attitude that’s highly sought after by a range of employers. Changing jobs shows you’re willing to adapt, able to move with the times, and that you possess many different skills that you wouldn’t had you been left to inevitably go stale in the same old job for a decade or more.

However, besides acquiring a new skill, there are other benefits to changing jobs regularly. People who change jobs will typically earn up to 50 percent more than if they stayed in one job. That’s because the economy isn’t what it used to be, and the days of being rewarded with a fat pay rise each year are pretty well over. And even if your company still regularly gives their staff a pay rise, it’s unusually anything more than between 3 and 5 percent — but 50 percent? Keep dreaming.

Job Hopper or Continuing Professional Development?

If you’re a person who can change jobs frequently, it indicates that you’re probably a quick learner. You’re the kind of person who can pick up on new systems, processes, procedures, and even workplace cultures, and that makes you incredibly valuable for prospective employers. In many ways, this job hopping could be considered a new skill itself, an informal type of continuing professional development. Sound like you or someone you know?

Continuing professional development has become exceedingly important to many employers in the last decade because of how quickly new technologies have been introduced into the workplace, as well as the changes to many industries themselves. In the bookkeeping profession, for example, there have been numerous software changes, as well as changes to  industry regulations that now require all tax agents to register with the Tax Practitioners Board (TCB) and hold a minimum Certificate IV in Bookkeeping from TAFE to provide tax-related services; bookkeepers are also required to engage in continuing professional education in order to renew their registration with the TPB.

Just as it’s important for employees to show they’ve got the latest training in software that’s been introduced into their industry, it’s equally important to show that you possess other skills that usually aren’t taught in a classroom (or on an online content management system!) — such as, being receptive to change, quick thinking, personable, and being engaged by your work. That last one, the one about engagement, is super important, because it’s now believed that the learning curve tends to flatten after 3 years.

Flattening Out in Your Job

job-hopping-changing-jobs-regularly-a-good-thingIn other words, after you’ve worked somewhere for 3 or more years, you stop learning things, stop picking up new skills, and, usually, stop being engaged at work. You’re now just going through the motions because your job has become second nature to you. These are not sought after qualities in an employee; worse still, after 3 years, the skills you learned early on in the piece are probably close to being outdated, if they aren’t already, anyway.

Plan for the Next Three Years of Your Career

Think about where you’d like to be three new iPhones from now (one that’s waterproof, hopefully), and plan your career accordingly. Think about whether you’ll need to update your education in the future, too. Don’t forget that, with new technologies and new processes for using that technology in the workplace, you’ll need the skills to match if you’re going to be able to compete in the job market.

‘Think about where you’d like to be three new iPhones from now… and plan your career accordingly.’

In fact, the majority of students who take our online MYOB and Xero training courses, do so because they’d like to improve their skill sets to help them get work, or so that they can begin working for themselves as independent contractors, and they’d like to be able to offer bookkeeping services to businesses, regardless of the accounting software they use.

If you’re looking to improve you current skill set or you’d simply like to learn a new one, visit our website for a full list of our training courses and details on how to enrol. If you enrol in any of our MYOB, Excel, Word or WordPress training courses, you’ll receive Lifetime Membership to our course materials. This means you can stay up-to-date with each new version of software that’s released for no additional cost!

Posted on

Why Partnerships Can Be Risky Business

An Understanding of Business Partnerships is Essential

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

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

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

You might if:

1. You need your ABN or business name registered NOW

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

2. Your business structure is complicated

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

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

Or — 3. Learn about partnerships and do it yourself

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

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

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

Posted on 1 Comment

FREE Digital Business Course

Learn How to Run a Business Online

starting-a-new-cafe-or-retail-business
It doesn’t matter whether you have a specifically online business, or a gift shop, clothing store, cafe or other bricks and mortar business, as a business owner, we can help you understand the digital economy.

In a post I published about starting your own business in January 2017, I said that all small business owners should have an understanding of traditional and digital marketing. You’ll be surprised how many don’t!

All businesses have a digital aspect to them these days so it’s vital that business owners and managers know how to manage the digital aspects of their business. This starts by understanding some of the terms used and how websites, domain names, hosting and the Google search engine works.

It doesn’t matter whether you intend to start a fully digital business (i.e. a home based bookkeeping business or online shop for example) or if you will start a more traditional bricks and mortar business (a cafe, retail clothing or gift shop, or some other business with office or retail space), you need to understand how to use the internet to develop new leads, engage with your existing customer base, and build your presence online.

Register for Our FREE Digital Business Foundations Course

I created a free Digital Business Foundations Course to help new and existing business owners understand how to digitise their business. You can register for our free Digital Business Foundations Course (scroll about half way down the page) to begin receiving the free course content. Some of the things you’ll learn include:

  • Insights into websites
  • Domain names
  • Web hosting
  • How Google Search works
  • How businesses use Content blogs for SEO
  • What SEO really is, plus much more.

Each of the principles discussed in the free Digital Business Course were applied to EzyLearn, when it transitioned from a bricks and mortar training centre business to an online only training business, and have been used by 123ezy, which provides content marketing for real estate agents, content writers and bookkeepers across Australia.

Case Study: Baby Massage Business

baby-massage-helps-new-parents-bond-with-their-newborn-child-wordpress-training-courseI wrote about Sonia Mitterdorfer and her baby massage business in August this year. For most of her working life, Sonia had been a registered nurse. After raising her family she wanted to return to the workforce in some sort of meaningful capacity and heard about baby massage. Her first introduction was a seminar (incidentally, run by a middle aged bloke holding weekend retreats helping new parents understand and bond with their babies!)

Sonia had her website created by a registered BAS agent who wanted to have add another feather to her bookkeeping bow (and wanted to do more “creative” work). Sonia’s website has been pivotal as a means for her to demonstrate her credibility and explain about the nature of her work.

There’s Much More to Domain Names

So many business people think (wrongly) that a domain name is simply the cost of a website, but that’s just the name — you need to:

  • point it (DNS) to a web host
  • set up your email at the web host (I prefer to outsource that to Google Apps — now called Google G Suite)
  • install website design software like WordPress
  • create the pages and menus
  • insert images (source them and edit them)
  • write some words (that Google thinks are relevant).

Don’t worry if you feel a little bamboozled — we cover all of this in our WordPress course!

Add an Online Dimension to Your Business

The majority of people, when they’re looking for a product, service, restaurant, cafe, real estate agent, bookkeeper, virtual assistant — online training course, even — will search online. Even if you think your business is already doing well, if it’s not optimised to deliver online leads, then it could be doing much better.

Reach your business’s full potential, register for our free digital business course to start a digital business or transition into one today.

Posted on 3 Comments

Start Your Business NOW for the New Year!

The Christmas Holidays is a Terrific Time to Start a New Business

start-your-own-small-business-this-christmasIF YOU’VE DECIDED THAT 2017 will be the year you start your new business, don’t wait until January to begin your journey to becoming the head honcho.

Right now is the best time of the year to begin — because while everyone else (businesses included) has gone on on holidays, you’ll be ready to take on your first client or customer by the time January 2017 rolls around.

Before a business can commencing trading, there’s a lot of work to be done. This takes time and requires some rudimentary knowledge of Australian tax law, copyright law, trademarks and patents. You should also have knowledge of particular software applications, and digital marketing.

One of the most common reasons a business fails is because it was mismanaged; the other most common reason is because the business failed to implement appropriate credit management processes. In both cases, businesses fail because the owners, directors, partners or managers lacked the appropriate management skills to make it a success.

Don’t Become a Small Business Statistic

Research has shown that by taking just one short course on small business management, the chance a business will fail is reduced by as much as 50 percent. The key areas businesses owners should understand before starting a business include:

  • Business planning
  • Digital and traditional marketing
  • Intellectual property and general law
  • Researching the market
  • Cloud-accounting software
  • Working with content management systems.

Ordinarily, to become skilled in each of those areas, a person would have to take, at least, five different training courses. But few people are ever likely to do this. Instead, they’d be more likely to cherry pick the areas they’re least familiar with, and fly blind with the others.

Take Advantage of Our HUGE Xmas Discount

start-your-own-business-in-january-2017We don’t want you to wing it or fly blind — our goal is to help small businesses succeed which is what we’ve been doing for near on 20 years. As a special offer, we’ve reduced the price of our EzyStartUp Business Course to $297 (down from $697). It covers each of the key areas mentioned above that a small business owner needs to be familiar with, in addition to the following:

  • Originating and developing concepts
  • Establish legal and risk management
  • Product packaging

Plus, you’ll have access to ALL of our software training courses for 12 months at a big discount, which includes Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint training.

Don’t Wait Till January — Become the Head Honcho Today

Use your time off from work this summer to begin working on your new small business. All of our training courses are delivered online, and can be completed at your own pace, so you can complete them while you’re actually on holidays, or relaxing at home or at a cafe. And since one of the best ways to start a new business is by operating it as a side project to your other job, if you get all the startup stuff out of the way while you’re on holidays, it’ll be ready to go by the time you back to work.

Learn more about the EzyStartUp Business Course at our website or view all of our special offers to save on your next EzyLearn training course.


 

Posted on

Three Things Your Bookkeeper Shouldn’t Be Doing

Is Your Bookkeeper Making Stuff Up?

how-to-find-a-good-bookkeeper
Some bookkeepers may fudge their way through your books, but you can spot this before it ends up costing your business.

In a previous post we wrote about the three tell-tale signs that your bookkeeper isn’t paying attention and we thought we’d expand on this a little further by writing about three of the things your bookkeeper shouldn’t be doing — and what it means if they are.

 1. Your Bookkeeper Adds Adjustments to Reconciliations

The reconciliation is just a comparison between your records and those of the bank, so if you see reconciliation adjustments, something’s wrong. A bookkeeper should never make reconciliation adjustments, because it means they haven’t accounted for something properly and, instead of trying to find it, they gave up and made an adjustment instead. This is a classic example of why daily reconciliations are a good idea.

2. Vague Descriptions for Transactions

A good bookkeeper should know exactly what descriptions to use for each of your transactions, so if you see strange or vague ones like “opening balance??”, it’s a sign your bookkeeper doesn’t know what they’re doing. By the same token, if you see that the description field has been left blank or there are lots of journal entries, this should likewise raise a few red flags.

3. Lots of Old Transactions in Undeposited Funds Field

In most cloud-accounting software packages, such as QuickBooks, Xero and MYOB, there’s an undeposited funds account, where certain unreconciled transactions may sit. If you see lots of old transactions sitting there, it’s a sign your bookkeeper doesn’t understand what this feature is for or how to work with it, and as such, they’re manually recording deposits, which will overstate your income or sales.

If you’re seeing any of these things happening with your bookkeeping, you should speak to your bookkeeper straight away. It’s a clear sign that they don’t understand your accounting software properly, and you will pay for it later — usually when you go to see your accountant at tax time. Ensure your bookkeeper is qualified to work with the accounting package you’re using, and, ideally, that they have the equivalent of a Cert IV in Bookkeeping or higher.

 

Finding the Right Bookkeeper

finding the right bookkeeper for your businessBookkeepers seem to be ‘ten a penny’, but like in most professions, the really good people tend to stand out. A competent bookkeeper — someone who really listens, who understands the software and who prioritises your business — is crucial to a business of any size. A quality bookkeeper will help see to it that you’re not overpaying tax and meeting your payment obligations to staff, of course, but they can also help you put in place proper credit and debt management procedures and processes, something vitally overlooked by many small businesses (and yet most small businesses go insolvent as a result of cash flow problems — many of which stem from non-paying or late paying clients).

If you are after an efficient bookkeeper and you run a business in Meadow Springs, Parklands, Silver Sands, Mandura, Halls Head, Erskine, Dudley Park, Coodanup, Furnissdal or Barragup or Rockingham in WA, Deb Crompton is a tertiary-qualified bookkeeper with plenty of experience in bank reconciliations, invoicing, accounts receivable and payable and reporting; she also has the practical experience of having operated her own business in the past. You can see more details about Deb at her profile page or request a quote for a similarly experienced bookkeeper in your area. Our directory includes many degree qualified local bookkeepers, who are ready to start working with your business, in person or in the cloud.

Check out our National Bookkeeping website which has recently undergone a significant upgrade. We will keep feature more of our bookkeepers in forthcoming blogs — join now and we can feature YOU in our articles too.

Posted on 2 Comments

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

Are You Getting the Best from Your Bookkeeper?

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

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

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

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

1. They’re always behind with your books

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

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

2. You accountant’s bill is still high

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

3. They don’t understand cash vs accrual

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

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

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

 

Does Your Business Need a GREAT Bookkeeper?

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

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

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

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

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

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


find a local bookkeeper

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

 

Posted on

What if a Credit Check Comes Back Negative?

Do You Have to Drop a Client Because of a Bad Credit Check?

customer-with-bad-credit-rating
It’s only business: but sometimes a bad credit rating doesn’t mean you have to end the working relationship.

A Credit Check is one of the most important first steps of good credit and debt management but you can still do business if the check comes back negative.

In our previous post on credit and debt management, we recommended that all businesses — regardless of whether they offer credit to customers on a 30-day account or not — perform a credit check on any new client who will spend more than $1000 on goods or services in one sale, on an ongoing basis. But what should you do if the credit check comes back negative, and shows that the potential customer is guilty of late payments, pending legal action or already carries a significant level of debt?

It may not be a case of having to turn a potential customer away. You may still be able to offer services to the customer without the risk that they won’t pay by trying the following approach, before refusing them entirely:

Advise the Client of the Bad Credit Rating

If the client filled out your credit application or work authorisation form, which should have stated that you were collecting their information for the purpose of credit check, there may be a good chance they filled it out in good faith and they’re unaware of their bad credit rating. There may be a reason for the rating, like, for instance, that the business was recently sold. It may even, potentially, stem from an ongoing dispute with another supplier over the standard of their goods or services (although proceed with caution here, as this, too, throws up a few red flags).

Look a Little Closer

When you search deeper, you might discover that the customer experiences predictable fluctuations in trading conditions which render them more vulnerable to being cash flow poor at certain times of the year. You may be able to accommodate this in how you design your credit terms with this customer. You might also ask for a list of suppliers (ensure you get a complete list, not one that has been hand-picked by the customer to only show them in a positive light) who you can call and verify as to their likely credit risk for future.

Request Payment in Advance

This said, a bad credit rating is a bad credit rating, even if the client has a perfectly good and reasonable explanation for you. You have the upper hand here, so you’re well within your rights to only agree to do business with this client so long as they pay for your goods or services in advance.

If you’re a supplier, say, of goods and your delivery driver has the capacity to accept cash payments on delivery, you may accept COD, however it’s not recommended. If the client is unwilling to prepay for your goods or services, then there’s a good chance they’re not acting in good faith, and so you’re best to avoid doing business with them.

Need a Bookkeeper? Sydney’s North Shore

good-qualified-bookkeeper
We have qualified, professional bookkeepers available Australia-wide.

If you’re in need of some help with your own business’ credit and debt management and are seeking a reliable bookkeeper to manage your daily or weekly bookkeeping and accounts, either remotely or in-person, we are pleased to recommend Roz, qualified bookkeeper based at St Ives, with tertiary qualifications in accounting. She is a National Bookkeeping member and comes to us with the practical experience of having operated her own business and proficient in the day-to-day accounting functions of a small business. Visit her profile page and Request a Quote for Bookkeeping Services.

Our National Bookkeeping website has recently gone through a significant upgrade so keep a look out for more stories about featured bookkeepers in forthcoming blogs. If you’re a bookkeeper why not join and we can feature YOU in our articles too.

Posted on

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.