I was reading some recent announcements from Xero as they try to displace Sage as the small business accounting software of choice in the United Kingdom and notice some announcements they have about how Xero is a great tool for property management.
It was an eye opener because it shows how aggressive they are against MYOB by quoting a client publicly who converted from MYOB to Xero. They didn’t mention that Re-Leased software also has an integration with QuickBooks Online – but why would they? Here’s what they wrote..
OUR HARDCOPY COURSE workbooks are the written foundation of all our online training courses. Sometimes these workbooks start as little more than a list of transactions. We then create the training course outline and film the breakdown of this in a series of brief, easy to absorb videos.
We made the move online a long time ago and with it came great benefits but it wasn’t a simple case of doing the same thing we did in our Sydney training centres! We had to deal with the loneliness and disconnection associated with not being in an office with others!
Xero Certification is designed for contract bookkeepers to increase the number of customers who use and support the software.
Like all “partner” programs offered by software vendors including MYOB and Intuit QuickBooks the purpose of these programs is to increase their “channel to market” but it may not always suit every student.
Pardon the pun but it’s true, Sage One training course materials will now be included in the Bookkeeping Academy Training Course Package along with Xero Accounting, MYOB & QuickBooks.
Many bookkeepers use EzyLearn to keep up to date with the various accounting software programs now available and this latest announcement is for you. Training Course materials and support for Sage One and Reckon One.
‘Social proof’ is testimonials, reviews and feedback of others, that vouches for the product or service we’re thinking of buying. Social proof backs up the fact that what we’re considering buying is what it says it is.
Come see some social proof about EzyLearn by meeting some students from the past few weeks — you just might have a lot in common with them.
A lot of the time, however, people enrol in an Excel online training course or Xero online training course because they need to refresh a specific set of skills for their job, which means they don’t have the time to focus on other areas that don’t have an immediate relevance for their work.
Since then, however, a number of cloud-based accounting applications have entered the market — QuickBooks Online (now distributed by their US-based parent company Intuit), Reckon One, Saasu, Zoho, and so on.
Even though Xero was hailed as a breath of fresh air when it first entered the market, it is still a little more complicated to use when compared with other cloud accounting apps, like QuickBooks and Reckon One. For instance, the purchase orders feature is still hidden behind bills, when it could easily be access via a dropdown menu. But it’s not a major quibble.
Xero’s contact profile misses a beat
Although Xero allows you to assign customer numbers for your suppliers or customers in the contact profile, it doesn’t have the functionality to record customer numbers assigned by supplier or customer.
As a general rule, every business needs at least two finance professionals working on their business accounts, but which two professionals you’ll need to hire depends on your business needs. If you’re not sure who you need to hire for your business, here’s a cheat sheet to help you out.
Bookkeepers (not registered with the TPB)
An independent bookkeeper not employed by an accountant and not registered with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB) may only perform basic bookkeeping services, such as the entering of receipts, coding financial transactions, generating invoices and, possibly, some accounts receivable work. If you hire this type of bookkeeper, you’ll still need an accountant.
BAS agents must, by law, register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), which certifies that they are qualified and have completed the necessary continuing education requirements to perform the tasks of a BAS agent, which involves carrying out most of the bookkeeping tasks mentioned above, in addition to preparing and lodging business activity statements on a business’s behalf.
If your business is registered for GST, you will need to file regular activity statements. If you hire a BAS agent, you’ll also need an accountant. In some instances, you may find a BAS agent who’s also a registered tax agent and vice versa, who may be able to take care of all your taxation needs.
Although tax agents, like BAS agents, must also register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), a tax agent is focused on income tax — how much income you have to declare, how much you can claim back, etc.
This is distinct from a BAS agent who is concerned with the day-to-day financial tasks of your business (bookkeeping and BAS lodgements). That said, some tax agents will also perform some the basic bookkeeping tasks on a regular basis, though they primarily specialise in lodging tax returns.
If you’re not registered for GST, and your tax agent will also perform regular bookkeeping tasks (or you can do it yourself), you may not need to hire an accountant. In some instances, you may find a tax agent who’s also a registered BAS agent and vice versa, who may be able to take care of all your taxation needs.
An accountant is mostly concerned with planning and strategy. Unlike bookkeepers and BAS or tax agents, an accountant will assess and advise you on what actions you should take to maximise your income. Great accountants will get involved with planning the direction of your business and ensure it’s been structured properly and that you’re meeting any additional tax obligations.
They’ll also help you to make strategic purchases for equipment and machinery, and work with your BAS agent or bookkeeper to ensure these decisions are reflected in your daily financial records. An accountant is also able to prepare and lodge tax returns on your behalf.
How much should I pay a bookkeeper?
Check out the National Bookkeeping Directory, which features the details of bookkeepers, capable of doing data entry and clerical tasks, through to high-level accounting work as undertaken by BAS agents, accountants and CFOs.
You can also see the National Bookkeeping rates page to find out what level bookkeeper your business needs.
ONLINE RATINGS AND REVIEWS ARE a great way to determine whether a business is trustworthy or whether they products and services they provide will suit your needs. TripAdvisor and Yelp have transformed the hospitality and accommodation industry, for example. And Airbnb is doing similar with short-term rentals.
While recently working on a home renovation in Newcastle, I came across a carpenter who had seven employees working for him. Jimmy the Chippy in Belmont has been in business nine years, has no website or online presence — but his business is booming.
How does he do it?
The old fashioned way! He does exceptional work for his customers and clients, who hire him again and again and refer him to friends, relatives, colleagues and so on. He also made a point of networking with local builders and plumbers in the area, who contact him when they have work to do, and refer him to other builders and plumbers as well.
Use word of mouth
If you’re looking locally, and the online ratings and reviews of the businesses you’re trying to decide between aren’t helping, asking a friend, relative or work colleague if they know any of the businesses.
If no one in your social network knows the business, you can also google an online forum like Whirlpool, where members frequently provide fair and balanced opinions of businesses they’ve dealt with — and if they don’t, they’re usually called out for it.
Testimonials are helpful, too
Real estate agents, accountants and many other businesses — EzyLearn included — use testimonials rather than ratings or reviews (except on Facebook), so you shouldn’t discount these just because they’ve been vetted before going online.
At EzyLearn we provide testimonials from our students, which include their full name and location, and why they chose EzyLearn to study in the first place. We ask each student whether it is ok to publish these beforehand. We also offer a money-back guarantee and free samples of our course content, so students know they can trust they’re making the right choice.
If you’re in the financial position to buy your business premises outright, it may seem like a no-brainer to do this instead of getting a mortgage. However, there are some things you need to consider:
You’ll lose liquidity on the assets in your property, which means you won’t be able to tap into any equity in the property, unless you take out an equity loan against the property.
You’re tying all your cash to one asset class, which may limit your ability to make other investments and prevent your business from expanding. This could run counter to your reasons for making the property purchase in the first place.
You’re spreading the payments over many years, which ties you to paying down that asset for the foreseeable future.
You’re paying interest, which although it’s a tax deduction, will significantly inflate the price of the property.
Work out the best way in Excel
Using the data from your Xero accounting software package, Microsoft Excel can help you determine whether your business will be financially better off buying its premises outright or getting a mortgage.
Lots of businesses avoid buying premises for their businesses, because you’ll need to have a large capital injection right off the bat, and you may also incur land tax obligations, building insurance, and also be liable for maintenance and repairs.
Renting gives businesses, especially new ones, flexibility, as you’re only locked into a short term lease — not a multi decade mortgage. And if you decide to move or find new premises before your lease term is up, you can often minimise the costs by subletting the premises.
You’re also afforded greater freedoms and stability when you own your business’s premises — in particular, protections from rising rents — than you would have if you rented your premises. If you outgrow the space, you can always access the equity and may be able to buy adjacent premises, or rent out your existing ones while you upgrade, providing another valuable income stream.
Industrial units are a good pathway into ownership for your business. If you don’t need to be right in the heart of the city or major town centre, you can often purchase an industrial unit for under $100,000.
In Newcastle in the Hunter region of New South Wales, you can purchase an industrial unit called a Cubbyhole, which can be used as a workshop, storage unit or office space for tradespeople, small and online businesses. These come with amenities such as toilets and showers, car parking (including visitors’ and disabled) and CCTV security, among other things and are worth checking out if you want to buy and only need a smaller business space.
Cash flow reports show the money going in and out of the business, so they’re better indicators of a business’s overall financial health than a Profit and Loss statement (P&L).
A cash flow report enables you to make forecasts and budgets for your business based on previous trends — recurring expenses, average time to get paid, seasonal quiet periods, and so forth.
The 3 cash flow categories
Cash flow reports are typically broken up into three categories:
Operating activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from revenue-generating activities
Investing activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from the acquisition and sale of long-term assets
Financing activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from borrowings and changes in equity.
Items in a cash flow report
In our Cash Flow, Budgets and ROI Xero Training Course, you’ll learn how to generate a cash flow report in Xero. That report will show every transaction that’s run in and out of your business, divided among one of the three categories.
In the operating activities category, you’ll typically find things like costs associated with any training courses or seminars, advertising and marketing expenses, income or commissions from your business, subscriptions to any magazines or periodicals, etc.
Under the investing activities category, you’ll find the cost of purchasing office or warehouse space and the capitalised borrowing cost, for example.
The financing activities category will show the loan you’ve taken out to purchase your business’s office or warehouse space.
The sales spiels of many of the notable online accounting software packages like QuickBooks, Wave Accounting, Outright, Kashoo, LessAccounting, Clearbooks and even Xero, claim that this feature will save you time and effort as it imports your bank transactions. The truth is, this is not foolproof and won’t work 100 percent of the time (even if it’s just a matter of not being able to get your software and your bank to “connect” just as your mobile phone connection inexplicably doesn’t work sometimes).
Therefore, always double check your bank transaction data has been imported accurately. This said, importing your bank statement into Xero (or whatever accounting software you use) is a really important step in the bookkeeping process that a lot of business owners forget or don’t know how to do. And the technology is only going to get better!
Using the correct format
To import your bank statement into Xero, you must ensure it’s in the correct format. Xero can only work with a CSV file of your bank statement. Depending on your bank, you might be able to download your bank statement as a CSV file from your internet banking, or you will have to create one from scratch.
Creating one from scratch isn’t too difficult. If your bank doesn’t give you the option of downloading a bank statement as a CSV file, you can create one yourself in Microsoft Excel.
You can download an Excel template from Xero. It includes the recommended fields and is already set up as a CSV file, so all you need to do is add in your data.
Setting rules for recurring transactions helps speed up the reconciliation process, which depending on the type of business you operate and how often you reconcile your account, can be the most time-consuming part of the process.
Importing your bank statement and creating rules for transactions that occur each week, month fortnight, year, etc, greatly speeds up this process.
No CSV? Use bank feeds
If your business has lots of expenses every week, and your bank doesn’t let you download your bank statement in a CSV format, you may find that manually creating one in Excel each month is too time consuming.
Now that virtual bookkeepers have become more common, lots of business owners have started selecting bookkeepers based on their affiliation with an accounting application. Such bookkeepers are often called a Certified Advisor (Xero), Pro Advisor (QuickBooks) or Certified Consultant (MYOB). But are they really the best bookkeeper for your business?
What are Certified Advisors, Consultants and Pro Advisors?
In a nutshell, a certified advisor, consultant or pro advisor is just an individual who has been endorsed by a software company because they’ve demonstrated a high level of knowledge and skill with a particular accounting product.
Hiring a bookkeeper who’s been endorsed by MYOB, say, means you shouldn’t have to worry about whether your bookkeeper has set up your accounting package correctly, or whether they’re using the correct codes. What it doesn’t guarantee, however, is that each consultant or advisor is a highly experienced BAS or tax agent, as the certification relates to their software knowledge only.
Find a highly qualified BAS or tax agent instead
Sure, a bookkeeper who’s experienced in your accounting package is important. It’ll help keep your bookkeeping bill down because they’re able to perform certain functions quickly, while your accountant shouldn’t need to fix any errors, either. But that’s only providing that they’re as knowledgeable in Australian tax as they are MYOB or Xero or QuickBooks.
Unfortunately, however, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. So instead of focussing on a bookkeeper’s software experience, it’s more beneficial to ensure they’re qualified BAS and tax agents, with either a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping or higher.
If you don’t get a bad reference from their current and former clients, then there’s a pretty good chance they’re proficient in the major accounting packages, and if they’re not, most bookkeepers will tell you upfront.
Get the accounting package that’s best for your business, not your bookkeeper
There are lots of reasons a bookkeeper would choose to become certified with a software company, the biggest being that they get their accounting software for free and receive a commission for each new client they sign up to use the accounting package they’ve been certified with.
However, when you hire an independent bookkeeper who’s well-versed in a few different accounting packages, you’re more likely to get better advice about which accounting package is best suited to you and your business’s needs, rather than the accounting package that will generate income for your bookkeeper.
We feature our own online directory of local bookkeepers looking to add to their customers. Visit National Bookkeeping to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud. Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper looking to expand your client list or find contract work, you can register and become part of our network for free.