Never Fear: A “Sales” Pitch Can Really Just Be a Conversation
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Glean Relevant Info from the Property Industry
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.
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.
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.
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?
Whether 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.
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.
How 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
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.
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!
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
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!
If 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.
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.
When it Comes to Your Career, Hopping Around is OK
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
In 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!
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.
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
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
I 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 blokeholding weekend retreats helping new parents understand and bond with their babies!)
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.
The Christmas Holidays is a Terrific Time to Start a New Business
IF 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:
Digital and traditional marketing
Intellectual property and general law
Researching the market
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
We don’t want you to wing it or fly blind — our goal is to help small businesses succeed which is what we’ve been doing for 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
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.
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
Bookkeepers 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).
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.
Reconciling Your Accounts Daily Gives a True Picture of Cash Flow
For a lot of business owners, just the thought of reconciling their accounts once a month is enough to make them go weak at the knees, never mind every day. Yet there are plenty of contract and remote bookkeepers who work for their clients each week, and some that work every day for the same client, reconciling their accounts and providing other vital bookkeeping services.
And they’re not just big businesses whose accounts are reconciled daily — plenty of small businesses do so too. In fact, with so many small businesses going asunder due to cash flow problems (often stemming from a lack of procedures in place for credit and debt management) it can be not only a cost-saver but a potential life-saver to your business.
If you’re a small business, reconciling just one day’s accounts is a lot quicker and easier than trying to reconcile an entire week or month. There’s less potential for error, and it’s easier to resolve any issues when they do crop up because you’re not looking through days and weeks of transactions. For small businesses, daily reconciliation takes between 5 and 10 minutes; for larger businesses, it could be 30-60 minutes each day.
Improved Cash Flow Management
Too many business owners log onto their internet banking to get an idea of their cash flow, but this is an imprecise way to manage your finances. It doesn’t take into — excuse the pun — account any pending payments and, worse still, it doesn’t give you a clear idea of who hasn’t paid you yet and whether they’re late in doing so. If your accounts are reconciled daily, you can use your accounting software to get a true picture of your cash flow.
Daily reconciliation can provide you with great insights into your business’s financial future, in particular, it greatly assists with payroll. Many business owners find payroll immensely stressful, especially when it leaves their cash flow tight, due to late or unpaid invoices. If you reconcile your accounts on a daily basis, you’ll know exactly where you’ll be when payroll comes around, and whether or not there’ll be any cash shortfalls.
Payroll Plus: Bookkeeper Mandy is Available in the Dandenong Area of VIC
With so many people doing bookkeeping, how do you find someone with whom you can trust your most sensitive financial information? Do you know exactly what role a bookkeeper could play in your business? How much will they charge? Some business owners are unsure where to start when looking for a truly competent and professional bookkeeper they can trust and rely on. In finding the right bookkeeper, word of mouth may be helpful — if you can get it; some people are reluctant to even do this for fear of losing a cherished and valuable resource.
If you’re business is located in or near Berwick, Narra Warren, Harkaway, Guys Hill, Beaconsfield, Dandenong or Hallam, Mandy is a bookkeeper with over 25 years’ experience in payroll and 18 years’ experience working as a company bookkeeper/financial manager with a SME with 50 employees. You can find out more about Mandy’s credentials at her profile page. Our directory includes many degree qualified local bookkeepers, who are ready to start working with your business, in person or in the cloud.
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.
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
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.
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.
Do You Have to Drop a Client Because of a Bad Credit Check?
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
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, a 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.
Following 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.