If your laptop was stolen

Laptop sofa ipad working

So this is a subject that I feel strongly about. Something I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing recently.

I have a couple of questions worth thinking about.

If your laptop was stolen, what would be the impact on your clients? What would be the impact on you personally and your business?

Would you lose all your marketing materials, invoices, expensive promotional photos, business plans, written procedures, client testimonials, eBooks, training materials?

Would your client’s confidential information be released out into the big wide world? What would your client’s reaction be? Would your business even recover from that?

Would you lose personal photos that you never got around to printing?

If your laptop gets stolen you don’t, unfortunately, get to choose the day it’s going to happen.  You don’t get to say “well I think my laptop might disappear into the hands of strangers tomorrow so tonight I’ll run a backup”.

Backing-up data daily has been a part of my routine from day 1 of working for a hire company here in Adelaide many years ago. They ran a tight ship and I’m glad for that great foundation right from the beginning.

Things to do today:

  • Buy a couple of USB’s. Label them. Make a copy of everything on your laptop regularly. Put the USB’s somewhere safe (taking a copy off-site means you still have a copy if you get fire or water damage in your office).
  • Consider backing up to the cloud as well.
  • Run a search in File Explorer for “password”. Have you got documents that contain passwords for you or your clients? Change the word “password” to something else.
  • It goes without saying you shouldn’t have a document actually called “passwords’!
  • Log into all your websites that require a password. So emails, accounting software, online banking etc. Ensure that none of the passwords are stored. I know it’s a right pain having to remember every different password (but I still hope you’re not using one password for everything, right?).
  • Set up a password for initial access to your iPad and laptop, so that it’s difficult to even get past that first login screen.
  • Lock-up filing cabinets and paper shredders are a must if you have confidential client information in your office.

If you’re like me you may be security conscious when going away for the weekend and you probably also make sure you don’t leave technology in the car when you run into the shops, but what I didn’t realise was just how common home and office break-ins are during broad daylight. School pick-up time is a common one!  Not a nice experience for anyone.

Please back-up, lock-up and password protect.

Happy bookkeeping…

 

Sarina

 

P.S.  I often share small business tips on Facebook and Instagram – just search for Festival Bookkeeping. Look forward to seeing you there.

 

More free resources for small business owners:

 

 

 

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Xero apps – What are they?

Headphones calculator coffee pods

Do you love technology or have you been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century longing for the good old days? I think I’m a bit of both.  I enjoy cutting my teeth on new technology for my business but I still love teaching Journals and Ledgers to students the old-fashioned way using pencil and paper. I prefer the comforting tap tap tapping of a big clunky calculator to whipping out my smartphone (my hubby & kids will attest to this).

If you’re a Xero user, you may have heard of Xero apps (or Xero add-ons). They’re cloud-based applications that work with Xero to perform one or more extra functions. There’s an app for pretty much every task and every type of business.

Some apps are ‘horizontal’ apps that are made for use across a range of industries. Others are ‘vertical’ apps that are made for one main type of industry.

They come in varying shapes and sizes and some are more complex than others.  For example, Receipt Bank is straight-forward to use and once integrated with Xero correctly you can be up and running pretty quickly. It has a couple of main functions, which it does well.  Mindbody is an example of a more complex app with many functions, and will therefore take more time and energy to integrate with Xero and to learn to use correctly.

Most of the apps allow you a free trial period at first, so you can try before you buy. Once you’ve decided to go ahead with the product you’re often required to pay by monthly subscription that automatically gets charged to your credit card.

It’s a good idea to make sure you’re comfortable using Xero first before you go add-on shopping. But if you live for learning new technologies, then hey – don’t let me stop you jumping right in! You might also start the other way around, using an App first and then integrating it with Xero down the track. I’ve seen this work successfully as well.  If you use a cloud-based accounting software other than Xero such as MYOB, Quickbooks or Reckon, many of the apps will integrate with these too.

Why are people using Xero apps?

  • To provide a better experience for their customers
  • To save time
  • To get organized
  • To streamline processes
  • To improve cashflow
  • To keep a closer eye on their finances

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

 

Looking for more info on software & technology?

Which scheduling software?

Diary glasses

Continuing on from my post “Cliniko + Xero”, I wanted to share some more thoughts on scheduling software.  In particular, scheduling software that integrates with Xero.

I found that once I started looking into these types of software solutions it was like a vortex dragging me in deeper and deeper.  So many options – all offering slightly different features and aimed at slightly different target markets.  It took all my willpower not to drown in the sea of information and to remain focused!

So after extensive research, I came up with 5 software solutions that all have something to offer the small business owner looking for scheduling software.  Some are more suited to the health and well-being industry, some are aimed at the hair and beauty industry and some are general in nature and could suit consultants or personal trainers. They’re all hosted in the cloud, so no need to mess around installing software. Being hosted in the cloud also means you can access them from mobile devices. They all offer the ability for the business’ clients to book appointments for themselves online.

Once you outgrow booking in client appointments with paper and a pen, these types of software solutions are a huge asset to the busy business owner. They offer so much more than appointment scheduling and are complete practice management systems.

I’m only covering the basics here.  This list doesn’t cover everything that you’d want to know before making a decision to commit to one solution over another.  It will give you an idea of some of the differences, though, and an idea of cost.  Prices are in Australian dollars and include GST (as at the date of writing).

xero scheduling app comparison

My research has uncovered many more variables between each of the products listed.  Each of your businesses is unique and has its own needs – I would recommend you delve deeper than this table and look beyond the “features” listing on the respective software websites.  Alternatively, invest in the services of a Xero adviser who can do the research for you. It will save you a lot of time and they will also be well placed to assist you with your Xero integration if needed.

Looking forward to sharing more of my findings – there are some great small business solutions out there that integrate with Xero.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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10 easy ways to work with technology instead of against it (video)

Sunglasses phone iPad Festival Bookkeeping

You don’t have to spend hours learning something new in order to make the most of technology.  In this video I’m sharing 10 really easy ways that you can take advantage of technology (with the minimum of time investment).  These tips will reduce hours spent on admin and take your professionalism up a notch.

Watch on YouTube now:   10 easy ways to work with technology instead of against it

 

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

 

Cliniko + Xero

 

Bookkeeping desk laptop software

I’ve been having a good look around Cliniko lately, and have a client who is particularly happy with it.  She’s recently integrated it with Xero, so I thought I’d give a bit of an insight into the software.

Cliniko is a cloud based practice management software that can be integrated with Xero accounting software. It’s particularly suited to healthcare professionals – so counsellors, massage therapists, chiropractors and the like.  They have over 20,000 healthcare practitioners worldwide using their software.

Client bookings are managed in Cliniko and as invoices and invoice payments are entered this information feeds through to Xero daily. If set up correctly your reconciliations in Xero are quick and easy to do and you have access to accurate, more powerful financial reporting in Xero.  As your business grows you can take advantage of Xero’s payroll.

You can add treatment notes and client letters can also be prepared and printed or emailed directly from the software. Clients can book directly through your calendar and the email or SMS appointment reminder feature can help reduce appointment no-shows. Different methods of client payments are catered for, such as EFTPOS and cash. Basic financial reporting is available and you can get good insight into client bookings and missed appointments.

It’s important to note that information entered in Cliniko feeds through to Xero, but changes made in Xero don’t feed back to Cliniko. If there are problems during the integration stage and data has been linked to the wrong accounts in Xero then these will need to be identified early and the adjustments will need to be undertaken in Xero.  An understanding of your business Chart of Accounts and Xero reporting will help here. The date you choose as your integration date is also important.

You can try out Cliniko yourself by signing up for a 30 day free trial.  During this time you can integrate it with Xero and get a feel for how the two work together.

Some other alternatives for health practitioners, that currently integrate with Xero, include Timely, Mindbody and Coreplus. They’re at different price points and the features that are offered will vary. Many software providers charge per practitioner.  Tip:  if you’re in Australia the online prices are often quoted as GST exclusive, so don’t forget to factor the extra 10% into the cost.

Xero have over 500 apps that can be integrated with their software – be sure to research all the options available to find the one best suited to your particular business.  This can take some time.  Some things to consider are whether you are a solo practitioner or have a team, whether you have multiple practice locations and whether you need the ability to do online Medicare claiming.

Do you use scheduling software in your business? What do you love about it?

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

 

Some other posts you may like:

 

Working with trust accounts

 

Book glasses plant bookkeeping

Those working in the legal or real estate industry would be familiar with trust accounts.

I started working with trust accounts in my teens when I was employed by law firms.  Now as the owner of Festival Bookkeeping I’m once again working with trust accounts on behalf of clients.

It’s important that the money held on behalf of clients can be fully accounted for every step of the way.  In fact in many circumstances firms must have their trust accounts professionally audited once a year to ensure trust account legislation is being complied with.  So by working with trust accounts you are taking on another level of responsibility, in addition to the usual tax responsibilities that come with small business bookkeeping.

With that in mind, here are some of my top tips for working with trust accounts:

  • Do not overdraw (cause a deficiency of) a client’s trust ledger
  • Perform regular backups of trust accounting software & store a copy off-site as well
  • Ensure you have the details of every client whose money you hold
  • Avoid single trust transfers between unrelated parties if possible (eg vendor to purchaser)
  • Keep all cheque butts and ensure all cheque numbers are accounted for in sequential order
  • Do not pay general office expenses, debts or bank fees from trust monies
  • Check with the governing body of your industry as to what accounting software is suitable for your trust accounting. In some circumstances the software you use to track your business income and expenses is not suitable to use for your trust accounting.
  • Keep the details of any errors or discrepancies that have occurred and/or been fixed
  • Don’t draw “cash” cheques
  • Finally – reconcile regularly

Be sure to do your research and check which legislation applies to your industry and state.

As with any small business bookkeeping, errors can occur but if they do make sure you have a “paper trail” or explanation of what occurred and how it was fixed. Fix mistakes promptly and don’t hang onto client’s money any longer than necessary.  Regular reconciling will help pick up any differences between your bank account activity and your accounting records.  A good bookkeeper can help you with this task.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When’s the right time to hire a bookkeeper?

Working at desk with diary and calculator

This is a great question! The answer depends on your individual circumstances.

If you can relate to one or more of these scenarios it may be time to consider hiring a bookkeeper:

  • Your business is growing and you’re at the point where you simply can’t do it all yourself. Your health and/or personal relationships are starting to suffer.
  • You’re making mistakes with your figures (due to rushing, lack of training or simply getting numbers the wrong way around).  You’re finding that the stress and time taken to find mistakes and correct them is not worth it anymore.
  • You find it stressful keeping up with tax office obligations and deadlines
  • You want to focus on the income-producing activities of your business, such as producing your products or services and generating new leads
  • You don’t enjoy bookkeeping (that’s okay – it’s not everyone’s idea of a good time)
  • You’re happy to do the ongoing bookkeeping but need a hand getting started or when doing something new for the first time
  • You’re behind in your bookkeeping and need your books up to date for the end of financial year or BAS lodgement time

These are all common indicators that it may be time for you to find yourself a good bookkeeper.

Where should you look for a new bookkeeper? Either use someone that you have personally met and who you feel has your business’ best interests at heart, or you can talk to your accountant and other business owners for their recommendations.  Find out what education and experience they have.  In Australia, they must be a registered BAS Agent in order to charge you a fee for BAS related services.

The 3 main advantages to engaging the services of a professional contract bookkeeper as opposed to hiring an in-house bookkeeper are:

  • No need to pay superannuation, holiday pay, sick pay, holiday leave loading or WorkCover.
  • No need to provide extra desk space and equipment or to be tied to the office waiting for them to finish their work – many bookkeepers will do your bookkeeping off-site.
  • They are business owners like you – they know the ups and downs and how the small business world works.

 

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina