How to motivate yourself to do your bookkeeping (secrets from a bookkeeper)

Bookkeeping Adelaide How to motivate yourself

You lean over and turn off your computer after a full day of work. You feel relieved that another day is done. Your mind turns to what you’re going to have for tea and whether you’re going to need anything from the supermarket. Then out of the corner of your eye you spot a couple of receipts partly folded and starting to fade that are placed precariously on top of a pile of other papers. Sigh….you still haven’t done your bookkeeping. Another day has gone and you didn’t get around to it like you promised yourself you would. Again.

If you don’t run your own small business, this scenario might seem a little trivial. It’s just entering a few dates, names and numbers, right?

Well I’ve lost track of the number of small business owners that have confided in me how bad they feel about being behind in their bookkeeping and how much it’s affecting their personal life and business life.

This is what I hear a lot:

“My partner is getting frustrated with me because I don’t know my figures”
“My tax return is overdue and I’m sure I’m going to get a big fine that I can’t afford”
“I’m sure I will need to register for GST soon, but I don’t know what my income is. It’s really worrying me because I know I have to do something about it soon”
“My business coach keeps asking for my figures – but I don’t know them”

Now you would think I’m going to tell you that you should outsource to a bookkeeper or buy this new, beaut software. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is to genuinely share methods that small business owners can use themselves, in order to gain the motivation to get their bookkeeping done. These methods are what I use myself when motivation is low, or overwhelm is high. They are not expensive or difficult and I’m sure that if you use even a couple of these methods, you will get your bookkeeping done or at the very least make great progress.

1. Use a timer

This can be an online timer, your watch, or even try an old-school method. Set the timer for a short period of time – 40 minutes is fine. Commit to 40 minutes of bookkeeping only. Smash it out and feel great about the progress you just made. Maybe that’s enough – you’ve achieved what you set out to do. Turn off your computer and forget about it for today. Now maybe the time went quickly for you and you feel you’ve got another 40 minutes in you. You’re on a roll. Go off and step out into the sunshine for 5 minutes or make a cup of coffee to reward yourself. Go back to your computer, set the timer for another 40 minutes and smash out another 40 minutes of bookkeeping.

2. Work somewhere different

If you’ve got a laptop, move it out of the office to the dining room table. Or move it from the dining room table to the bedroom. Personally I would have difficulty working outside, but if that works for you, then go for it. Go to the library (I get phenominal amounts of work done when I work from the library – however it’s usually business development work and not accounting, as I don’t want to risk others accessing my accounting information because I’m using a public internet connection). Go to your parent’s house. Book a once-off day to work from a co-working space. Just change up where you’re working from, because sometimes just the thought of sitting down at that same spot that you’ve already spent hours at can be depressing.

3. Treat yourself

Buy snacks for yourself that you wouldn’t normally buy – specifically for bookkeeping. Treat yourself with something nice, so that sitting down to do your bookkeeping is a positive experience.

4. Do smaller amounts often

Now you might not realise that this is one of the reasons you put off your bookkeeping. But if you’re only logging into your software or opening up your spreadsheet every few months (or even longer), then you’re probably forgetting how to do a lot of it. Decision fatigue is a thing! If you have to keep stopping and deciding what to do next, or are trying to remember how you did something last time, then you’re wearing yourself out without even realising it. By doing it more regularly, everything will stay fresh in your mind.

5. Eat the ugliest frog first

This has been one of my most helpful business mantras since I discovered it about 5 years ago. If I’ve lost you here, check out Brian Tracy. I’m thinking bookkeeping might be your Ugliest Frog. So eat it first!! Practise a bit of tough love on yourself and do your bookkeeping before you do anything else that day. You can even try getting up 40 minutes earlier, for the sole purpose of getting bookkeeping done. The rest of the day will feel SO good for you that the decision to then get up and do the same thing the next day will be even easier. Your day will flow a lot better and you’ll become much more productive in general. You can use this concept for anything in your personal or business life.

6. Listen to music

Motivate yourself to do your bookkeeping with music


This seems a bit obvious, but how often do you actually make the effort to put on music while you work at your computer? Or if you are doing your bookkeeping first thing in the morning, have music on while you’re in the shower before you start. Similar to the special snacks you treat yourself with, you will start to look forward to doing your bookkeeping because you’ve made a fun ritual for yourself.

7. Start tracking your monthly income

This doesn’t need to be fancy. Start writing down your total sales each month. Each time you get another month’s bookkeeping done, record somewhere separately what that monthly sales were. Some months it may be less than the month before – that’s okay. You just motivated yourself to kick butt that bit more in the next 4 weeks. Some months it will be more than the month before – congratulations! Something you’re doing is working – the proof is in the numbers. It’s quite addictive once you start tracking your numbers – you will find yourself automatically motivated to get your bookkeeping done.

8. Just turn on the computer


In my early 30’s I used to run a lot. There’s a trick with runners to keep motivation up – they say just to “put on your sneakers”. It really works. Once those runners are on, it’s that much more easier to just step out the door and do your run. Do this trick with your computer. Get up and turn it on! Before you get dressed. Before you make your coffee. Before you check your phone. When I have a particularly overwhelming and large client job to do, this (oh so easy) tip works every time.

9. Positive mindset


I know it’s easy to get into the mindset that bookkeeping is boring. Bookkeeping is pointless. Bookkeeping is hard. Or thinking “numbers aren’t my thing”. Well I challenge that mindset. You’re not going to love everything in business – if it was easy, then everyone would be doing it and doing it successfully, right? Having a positive mindset helps in all areas of your business and personal life. You can choose to keep thinking bookkeeping is horrible – and continue to avoid doing it – and continue to beat yourself up over not doing it. Or you can choose to re-frame your thinking around it.

For example:


I can’t wait to get that 40 minutes of bookkeeping done, because then I’ll be on track to get my tax return done early this year. Gee that’s going to feel good.

I feel like my sales are up this month – I can’t wait to check my income spreadsheet to see if I hit $5,000 in sales finally.

Woo hoo – another month’s bookkeeping done. Time to hit the pub.

Okay – so these might seem a bit corny, but you see what I mean. Your bookkeeping is what you tell yourself it is. You get to choose your attitude.

Why would a bookkeeper share these tips?

I don’t mind sharing these tips with small business owners. There will always be business owners that don’t want to outsource their bookkeeping. There will always a point in time when it makes sense for a small business owner to do their own bookkeeping. When it’s time to outsource – it’s time to outsource. The cons of doing it yourself will outweigh the pros and you will (probably with relief I’m thinking) hand it over to a professional bookkeeper.

In the meantime, I just know there’s a tip or 2 above that you can implement straight away. My wish for you is that you no longer feel bad about being behind in your bookkeeping and get to experience that feeling of relief that comes with being up to date very soon!

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

About the author.

Sarina Abbott is the owner of Festival Bookkeeping. She’s a registered BAS Agent and Xero adviser who has previously worked in the legal and conveyancing industry, as well as for registered training organisations. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband, 2 sons, a dog and a rabbit.

You can find out more about Festival Bookkeeping here.

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Festival Bookkeeping Cliniko

Cliniko – A Business Owner’s Perspective

Trying to choose the right software to use in your business can be difficult. Having the opportunity to see what other business owners who are already using that software think about it can be a huge help. So I was lucky enough to have Merel Purmer of The Art of Expression tell us a bit about her business and her own personal experiences with using Cliniko.

What services does your business The Art of Expression provide?

We provide counselling and art therapy services

Can you please tell me a bit about your business journey – where you started and where you are now?

I started my business in July 2014. I have slowly built my business. At first still working in a part time-job, then moving full-time in my own business and now I have 2 employees working with me.

How did you find out about Cliniko software?

I did extensive online research into the different practise management software systems. This helped me working out what exactly I wanted from a system and which one would than suit me best.

How long have you been using it?

I have been using Cliniko since January 2017

Did you try any other similar software prior to deciding on Cliniko?

No I haven’t tried anything else. I use the free trial period to find out it I liked it. Once everything is set up it does not make it easy to move to a different system. Having said that, I have not once thought about moving to a different system.

Did it take you long to learn how to use it? Did you teach yourself or did someone show you how to use it?

I taught myself how to use it. It did not take me very long to understand the main components of the Cliniko. It is very easy to navigate, I like the lay-out and all the features it has.

Cliniko has very good support. I can ask a question at any time and someone will help me out.

What is your favourite feature of Cliniko and why?

I like how from my booked client appointment I can easily add the notes for the session and create an invoice for that particular session, and Cliniko sends the invoices to Xero. The best thing is that I can give you Sarina, as my bookkeeper, access to Cliniko to create all my invoices!

I am now also using the ‘forms’ feature with my clients. I create my own customised form, for example my assessment form, and send this to my clients to fill out. Clients don’t need a laptop or any special software to fill out the form. They can access the form by following the link I send them, on their phone/tablet/computer.

Have you had any feedback from clients as to whether they like/don’t like it?

I have asked for feedback when I send of the first assessment forms and the feedback from clients is that it is easy to use. The only negative is that they have to fill out the form in one go as it does not safe anything you have entered previously.

I also use the online sessions, Telehealth, feature with clients. This has been absolutely fantastic during COVID. The connection is secure, encrypted from both ends, giving my clients the privacy and confidentiality they need. Clients have appreciated still being able to connect during COVID. Some clients still access the online sessions.

Do you use Cliniko in conjunction with any other software or apps?

Yes, I have my Xero account linked to Cliniko.

Is there anything you wish the software would do, that it doesn’t currently do?

I don’t think I am using all the features yet!

Finally, would you recommend Cliniko to other business owners in the same industry as you?

Absolutely!!

Hopefully this will help you in your business journey as you navigate your way through software selection.

Festival Bookkeeping specialise in assisting business owners with their Xero and Cliniko bookkeeping needs. You can find out more about us on our website: http://www.festivalbookkeeping.com.au/

Happy bookkeeping...

Sarina

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Cliniko – Writing off bad debts

Most of us have had to do it at one stage or other – writing off an invoice issued to a customer because we are just never going to get payment.

Writing off bad debts is relatively straight-forward in Cliniko. I think because it’s not something you do every day, you do feel a bit of dread at the thought of having to do it. But fear not and read on for some simple instructions to get those bad debts dealt with.

Step by step instructions:

Head to SETTINGS and then BILLABLE ITEMS. If you don’t see the option to select SETTINGS on the left-hand side then this is because of the level of user access that you’ve been given.

From here create a new Billable Item by clicking on the ADD OTHER button. Set the price at “0”.
For those registered for GST you will probably want to create one new Bad Debt item called “BAD DEBT with GST” (the tax box should be GST 10%) and one called “BAD DEBT no GST” (the tax box should be N/A).

Make your way to the Invoice you want to write off and open up that invoice. At this point I like to write down on paper the amount and Invoice number, just in case I get interupted part-way through.

Click on the REVERSE button up the top.

What you will see next is Cliniko’s version of a Credit Note. If you haven’t dealt with credit notes before – don’t let this scare you off. Credit notes are the perfect way to adjust or “0” out an invoice whilst still keeping proof that the invoice existed in the first place. This new Credit Note will display the same Item name and amount as the original invoice, but the quantity will now be showing as a negative number. Go ahead and click the REMOVE button to the right of that line.

Add your new billable item called BAD DEBT. Enter the unit price with a negative sign in front of it. The amount will need to be what you are writing off.

I always like to add good descriptions where I can and there’s a handy NOTES box where you can explain the circumstances surrounding the write-off of the invoice.

Click the CREATE CREDIT NOTE button and you’re done!

Extra tip:

Oh and if you’ve got Xero integrated with Cliniko, don’t forget to hop over to Xero and write the Invoice off as a bad debt in there as well. Reversals done in Cliniko do not feed through to Xero.

Festival Bookkeeping specialise in helping Australian small business owners with their Xero and Cliniko bookkeeping needs. You can find out more about us on our website: http://www.festivalbookkeeping.com.au/

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

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Improve Cashflow with Flow Software

 

Business owner man cashflow Xero Flow Software

My favourite thing about Flow is that it doesn’t mess around. No need for studying accounting books or endlessly Googling how to read your financial reports.

It’s a daily cash management tool for small business. It pulls your hidden, critical information out of your accounting software and brings it right out into the light of day.

It’s great if you’re feeling overwhelm and just need the simple facts so you can get stuck in.

From the Futrli website, some of the ways Flow can help the small business owner:

  • Quickly identifies hidden poor payers
  • Calculates the right time to pay bills
  • Helps you understand how to make the right decisions to keep more of your cash in your account

An example of how Flow communicates with you:

FlowScreenshot2Snipped

And this:

FlowScreenshot1Snipped

Once you connect Flow to Xero they sync on average every 12 hours – giving you up to date information to work with. Because your software is integrated, as you’re scrolling through your posts in Flow, you can click on those posts and you’ll be taken over to Xero to look at the actual Invoices and Bills that Flow is referring to (with the Pro version).

I recommend pinning posts in Flow so that you can go straight to the information that’s important to you if you are short on time.

Soon Flow will also integrate with Slack and Gmail.

Getting on top of your debtors and creditors is one of the easiest ways to improve cashflow. I think we tend to just accept things how they are though and honestly we don’t realise how much of a difference working on these key areas of our business can help turn our business around. Whether it’s in a time of urgent need to stay afloat (like a lot of small businesses are experiencing right now) or during those times when our business is looking strong and we’re wanting to spend some money and take it up a level.

Flow is very easy on the budget and easy to use. There’s a free version with the basics and the Pro version with some nice extra features that are worth the small monthly subscription.

Happy bookkeeping…

                                              Sarina

 

Interested in more great software that integrates with Xero? Try reading:

10 Tips for Reconciling with Smokeball Software

Tips for reconciling with Smokeball software

It’s a great feeling when your trust account is in order and reconciled!

Smokeball is online software, primarily for those working in law and conveyancing. It integrates with Xero accounting software. If you haven’t seen their promotional video with Calista Flockhart, you can check it out here http://www.smokeball.com.au/calista.html.  I got a giggle out of it!

If you’re new to Smokeball, here are my 10 tips for reconciling your trust account.

  1. If you’re moving towards a paperless practice, work from an electronic copy of your trust account bank statement instead of printing off a hard copy. If you open your Statement with Adobe Acrobat Reader you can use the Highlight Text tool to highlight discrepancies or use the Sticky Note tool to add notes. For your first few reconciliations you may feel more comfortable working from a hard copy that’s been printed out, and then progress to using electronic copies later.
  2. Once you select RECONCILE you can’t undo that action. So be sure to fix any discrepancies within that date period first if you can.
  3. Anything that is on your bank statement but missing from Smokeball will have to be recorded in the ADJUSTMENTS tab until it has been fixed and can therefore be ticked at a later date.
  4. Make use of the SAVE DRAFT feature – this will enable you to come back and finish reconciling when you’re ready. You’ll be able to pick-up your reconciliation where you left it.
  5. If you have to reverse a transaction to fix a mistake, it will default to the current day’s date and this date can’t be changed or backdated. You won’t be able to reconcile these entries until you complete the reconciliation for that period.
  6. Don’t select RECONCILE until you have a “0” variance in the brackets below the Reconciliation Balance figure on the right-hand side.
  7. Always record the details/reasons for any Reversals or Adjustments. If someone else logged into your software, would they be able to see a complete story of what has occurred and why? You’re aiming for an easy to follow audit-trail of all your clients’ trust monies and any problems that you’ve fixed.
  8. You can go back and print off your Bank Reconciliation reports at any time, regardless of whether you’ve closed off (clicked RECONCILE) or not.
  9. Save electronic copies of all your bank statements and reconciliation reports in one place and in date order so that they’re easy to find.
  10. Reconcile regularly. The more transactions you have, the more often you should be reconciling to keep on top of it. You don’t want to let your reconciling grow into a bookkeeping monster that you’re afraid to face!

For further information on working with trust accounts, you might like to read my post Working with trust accounts

Festival Bookkeeping specialise in helping Australian conveyancing firms with their bookkeeping needs – including trust account reconciling using software such as Smokeball and CATS. You can find out more about us on our website: http://www.festivalbookkeeping.com.au/

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

5 Quick Tips – Investment Property Record-keeping

Investment Property Record-keeping tips

1.  Keep the bigger picture in mind

It’s important that you don’t let your record-keeping overwhelm you – to the point that it discourages your from buying further investment properties. Be on top of your record-keeping from the start and have a simple system that works for you. A good filing system and a spreadsheet for starters. Online software such as Xero Cashbook are an even better option.

2.  The first year is the most complicated

You won’t be able to claim immediate deductions for all your expenses in the first year – some expenses may need to be written off over several years and some may come into play when it comes time to sell. Be sure to keep extra documentation such as your purchase and sale Contracts, conveyancing documents and loan documents. An accountant experienced in preparing Tax Returns for property investors will know the ins-and-outs, but it’s in your best interests to ensure they have access to everything in order to get the best outcome for you.

3.  If you can’t substantiate it, you can’t claim it

Make sure you keep invoices, receipts and bank statements for all property expenditure, as well as proof that your property was available for rent, such as rental listings. Purchase a diary to help keep track of key dates and travel.

4.  Your record-keeping responsibilities aren’t over once a property is sold

Capital gains tax may apply when you sell your rental property. Keep records over the period you own the property and for five years from the date you sell the property.

5.  Protecting your documents

Scan all your receipts and paperwork for safe-keeping and peace of mind. Have you ever pulled out a cash register receipt after 6 months and the writing has already faded? Imagine what it will look like in 5 years’ time.

 

In the words of the Australian Taxation Office:

Keeping proof of all your income,

expenses and efforts to rent out your

property means you can claim everything

you are entitled to.

 

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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Is it time to Marie Kondo your accounting software?

Marie Kondo

Does doing your bookkeeping spark joy?

If it doesn’t (and you’re only human) I’m not suggesting you get rid of it from your life completely. It might be a good time to tidy it up though.

Messy data means inaccurate records. Does this really matter? Well yes, because inaccurate records can mean:

  • Paying too much income tax
  • Paying too much GST
  • Underpaying super for your employees
  • Missing out on a bank loan
  • Making bad business decisions because you’re looking at incorrect figures

 

4 common issues that I come across when working with client’s accounting software are:

1.  Doubling-up of expenses

2.  Not reconciling bank accounts correctly

3.  Old unpaid Bills and Invoices

4.  Recording superannuation, GST, PAYG withholding and income tax payments

     using the wrong Account code

 

Here are some examples, using Xero accounting software:

1.  Doubling-up of expenses

You receive a bill from a supplier and enter the Bill into your accounting software. You pay the bill at a later date and when it comes through your automatic bank feed you enter it directly from the Bank Feed screen as a Spend Money transaction instead of closing off the Bill. The bill sits there as unpaid in your system with the expense now being recorded twice.

2.  Not reconciling bank accounts correctly

You merrily work your way through your Bank Feed – hitting the Green “OK” button and watching those transactions disappear from sight. You get the message “Congratulations. You Reconcile!” But wait – your bank had a glitch a couple of months back and several transactions didn’t feed through. You also deleted some bank statement lines because they were for personal purchases. And you had closed off a couple of bills that you never ended up actually paying. The result is missed income and expenses, doubled-up expenses and incorrect Asset and Liability figures in your Balance Sheet.

3.  Not checking for old unpaid Bills and Invoices

Old unpaid bills still sitting in your software can be the result of doubling-up (refer no 1), paying bills from personal funds but forgetting to record them and bills that need to be closed off due to credit notes being issued or contra agreements being made.

Old unpaid Invoices still sitting there might need to be followed up with your customers, or could be mistakes that need to be dealt with, or written off due to non-payment.

4.  Recording superannuation, GST, PAYG withholding and income tax using the wrong Account code

These errors are made really easily, especially if you aren’t familiar with double-entry bookkeeping. Knowing when to use Expense type accounts and Liability type accounts in your software can get confusing. There are also special rules regarding how Income Tax payments get recorded in your software.

For me, the 4 abovementioned issues are the ones that crop up the most. They need to be fixed correctly so that financials are accurate.

And who doesn’t love a good de-cluttering?

 

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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3 Easy Bookkeeping Tips for Tradies

Tradie working tradesperson

I get that bookkeeping can be a bit of a hassle or (dare I say it) boring for some small business owners. Your focus is on doing a great job for your clients and being able to pay your bills. So with that in mind I’ve chosen 3 of my favourite bookkeeping tips to make life that little bit easier for the tradies out there.

1. Separate personal banking from business banking

Many business owners start out by using their personal bank account for business purposes. And if you’re a sole trader the Australian Taxation Office doesn’t have a problem with this. However, I still advise people to separate the two as soon as possible. Why? Well firstly getting your paperwork ready for tax time will take longer if you don’t (and ideally you want the process of getting ready for tax time to be as streamlined and pain-free as possible).  Secondly, it makes it much more difficult to know how much money you have personally pumped into the business to get it off the ground and to know how much you have taken out for personal expenses.

 

2. Keep all receipts

There may be some tax deductions you aren’t aware of – and no-one expects you to know them all. For example, if you’re outdoors a lot as part of running your business the cost of purchasing sunglasses and sunblock may be a tax deduction. If you’re not sure, keep your receipt anyway and run it past your accountant before tax time. Storing your receipts electronically is a great way to go as well. There are also some great apps that can help you with storing receipts and reducing data entry time – be sure to check out Hubdoc and Receipt Bank.

 

3. Invoice promptly

If you have time after completing a job can you invoice whilst there or straight after? Using mobile software is ideal because you can log in anytime, get your invoice prepared and emailed through then and there. Lack of cashflow is one of the main reasons small businesses don’t survive.  So the faster and more regularly you can get that cash coming in, the more likely you are to have money to cover your bills when they become due (and the less reliant you will be on expensive loans and credit cards). Rather than let your invoicing build up into a big job that you dread doing, doing little bits more often means less stress and better cashflow. If you’re having trouble with clients paying you on time, I prepared this infographic: Top 6 Tips – Keeping on Top of Customer Payments

If you’re looking for easy to use accounting software, Xero is popular with tradies and you can try a free 30 day trial here. It works well with the above 2 mentioned receipt apps Receipt Bank and Hub Doc as well.

 

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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Helpful resources for small business owners

Desk diary laptop planning

Sharing some of my favourite (and essential) resources and tools that I use as a small business owner in Australia.


General Business

Australian Taxation Office – information on everything from record-keeping, GST, super, tax, employees and everything in between (recommend subscribing to the Small Business Newsroom)

Fair Work Ombudsman – essential resources if you’re hiring staff

Return To Work SA – worker’s compensation information including whether you need to register and how to go about paying and lodging

Business.gov.au – information, links and guides on starting a business, running a business or exiting a business

ABN Lookup – to check if other businesses you are dealing with have an ABN and if they’re registered for GST

Grant Assist – information on grants available to South Australian small business owners

 

Workshops and Events

Eventbrite – Find workshops and networking events in your local area

 

Inspiration

Small Business Secrets – TV show on SBS. Interviews with various types of business owners around Australia.

(Confession:  I’ve spent way too many hours on a quiet Sunday morning up
binge-watching recordings of this under a rug with a cup of coffee before anyone else
gets up. It’s an inspiring start to the day but then I find it hard to snap out of business
mode for the rest of the day…watch at your own risk).

 

Accounting Software

Xero Australia – popular online accounting software

“We started Xero to change the game for small business. Xero is now one of the fastest growing Software as a Service companies globally. We lead the New Zealand, Australian, and United Kingdom cloud accounting markets, employing a world-class team of more than 1,400 people in 20 offices worldwide. Our beautiful cloud-based accounting software connects people with the right numbers anytime, anywhere, on any device.”
ReceiptBank – popular record-keeping automation software that can be integrated with your accounting software

“Receipt Bank helps small to medium-sized businesses, sole traders, and individuals save valuable hours by pulling information from receipts and invoices quickly, accurately, and efficiently.”

 

Happy bookkeeping…

 

Sarina  

Festival Bookkeeping

 

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