General Bookkeeping

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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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

 

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

 

My 3 favourite productivity tips

Handbag purse calculator phone

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” Dr Seuss

As a business owner, your productive days are the ones that keep you moving forward. They keep you one step ahead of the competition. Importantly, they mean that you can put your feet up at the end of the day with a smile on your face, feeling good about your day and what you’ve achieved.

Today I’d like to share my 3 favourite productivity tips to help you, in Dr Seuss’ words, get on your way!

Play music

Playing music whilst working BUT…only when doing easy tasks I don’t need to think too hard about. For me this includes scanning documents for filing & uploading receipts to my software. It’s surprising how much work you can power through when you have music to boost your mood and it’s almost like a reward for getting through your tougher work earlier on.

Use online invoicing software

Is this how you prepare Invoices? Open up a Word document, change the Invoice number (after checking it’s the next number), add the customer name and details, save it, attach it to an email, type up a professional-sounding email message, send. Oh and remember to back-up all your Word documents in case your laptop fails etc? Well you have probably already guessed what I’m going to say. Of course there are much more efficient, hassle-free ways to do your invoicing and this includes using online invoicing software. Using your mobile or iPad you can send an invoice to your customer whilst you are right there with them and you know they’ve received it. If you send the same invoices to customers every month, you can set up recurring invoices to go out in a fraction of the time than if you had to do it manually each month. For those in the UK, you can try Quickbooks’ online invoicing software free for 30 days.

Do the difficult tasks first

This is a gem of a tip that has really helped me in my business and in life overall actually. It sounds so simple, yet it can have huge productivity benefits. When the weight of a difficult task is lifted off of your shoulders you really do fly through the rest of your day feeling confident and able to tackle anything. I’ve come to believe that success comes to those willing to do the difficult things others put off doing. Pick up the phone and make those difficult phone calls first thing in the morning before you have too much time to think about it. Head out the door and introduce yourself to potential clients. Leave the fun stuff like updating social media until after the uncomfortable stuff is out the way. I tend to overthink things and before I know it part of my day is gone whilst I wait for myself to “feel like” doing the tough stuff. Since adopting the habit of doing the difficult tasks first I wouldn’t do things any other way.

So for me being productive is all about working smarter and not harder, embracing technology and remembering to reward myself. Not all of my days are productive ones, and that’s okay. As a bookkeeper sometimes I get weighed down with the numbers and just need a good break so I can come back and tackle my work another day with fresh eyes!

 
Let me know – how do you stay productive? Have you changed your habits and become more productive?

Similar posts you may like:

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

Bookkeeping tips for tradies

Tradies tools drill spanner

Receipts

Keeping receipts can be annoying and it’s easy for them to get damaged or lost, but when you think about each one as another tax deduction they take on a whole new meaning.  My top tip is to take a photo of each one so you can save it electronically.  The Australian Taxation Office accepts digitally saved copies of receipts that can be clearly read. Keep a plastic or material folder in your ute or van, write “Receipts” on it and put each receipt in here for safekeeping until the end of the week or month when you have a chance to enter it in your books. Once recorded, file it away in a labelled folder in date order. I keep electronic copies of all receipts, save a copy within my Xero accounting software and also have back-up copies on my laptop and a USB.

Don’t mix personal with business

One of the first things you should do is to open a separate bank account, solely for business purposes.  Use this account for business spending only and ensure all customer payments go into this account. Mixing business and personal spending can turn into a headache very quickly and can be easily avoided.

Vehicle expenses

As a tradie your business vehicle is probably your daily transport, storeroom, office, lunch room etc etc. You are going to cover a lot of kilometres in a year and so it’s important to get the right amount of tax deductions.  There are a few different methods of claiming your vehicle expenses – the ATO website explains them pretty clearly.

Equipment

You will no doubt have invested in good tools and safety equipment that are used in the running of your business.  Keep the details of all this equipment.  This can be done in a basic spreadsheet or Word document.  Include price, brand, serial numbers and where you bought them.  This will help with end of year depreciation (something your accountant can do for you) and is also helpful for insurance purposes.

Get a record-keeping system in place ASAP

This can be an Excel spreadsheet or accounting software – the important thing is to get a system early on.  Your priority in the beginning may be knowing you have consistent work and enough cash in the bank to cover your immediate expenses, but down the track being able to get easy access to your financial information (most profitable services, which clients are slow payers etc) can be the difference between having a struggling business and a growing, successful one. If you have the funds I would recommend using accounting software from the beginning. A good bookkeeper or accountant can help you choose.  My tip is to get a free trial, make sure it does everything you need it to and that your bookkeeper/accountant can work with it. I previously made a short video called 3 Simple Steps to Getting Your Bookkeeping Sorted.  You might also like Do I Need to Use Accounting Software?

Keep an eye on your bank account

If you get into the habit of checking your bank account regularly you will get a feel for what time of the month loan payments come out, when funds are running low, if there is any suspicious activity etc.  My software is linked to my bank account and every day I can see any bank activity from the day before.

Get customer contact details

Preferably more than 1 type in case you need to follow up unpaid invoices. If you are extending credit to some customers by allowing them to pay at a later date, it’s only a matter of time before you find some customers that won’t pay you on time or will try to avoid paying altogether.  By having several ways to contact them (email, phone, letter) you can follow up unpaid invoices easily. My top tip – keep a written record every time you contact a late paying customer and include dates, what was agreed and who you spoke to. For more help on this topic read Top 6 Tips – Keeping on Top of Customer Payments.

Plan for tax

Open a separate bank account and transfer a percentage of your income aside each month or quarter. Tax time can be stressful when you are running a business so avoid having that extra worry of trying to come up with a large amount of money for tax in one hit.

GST registration

At the time of writing this post the GST threshold is $75,000.  Keep your eye on your GST turnover throughout the year to see if it’s edging towards the threshold – at which point you’ll need to register.  For more of my tips on GST read Common GST Mistakes and BAS Tips for Aussie Small Business Owners.

Insurance

Make sure you have the right insurances.  As a Registered BAS Agent I have to have certain insurances in place in order to keep my licence and this is also the case with many other professional bodies.

Thank you to all my readers of the Savvy Bookkeeping Blog.  You may have noticed I love writing about small business and not-for-profit bookkeeping. I share more useful and fun bookkeeping information and videos over on my business Facebook page – Festival Bookkeeping.  Why not come over and follow me there? Love to hear from you.

 

Happy bookkeeping…

 

 

 

BAS Tips for Aussie Small Business Owners

calculator-coffee-cup-pen

If you are registered for GST in Australia, then you would be familiar with a little old thing called the Business Activity Statement (BAS). No doubt you have also spent many an hour researching the ATO website trying to figure out one thing or another in order to get your BAS completed and lodged in time.  Unless, of course, you have a trusted BAS Agent to take this time-consuming task off your hands.

Here are a few tips for preparing and lodging your BAS that will hopefully save you a bit of time and stress.

  • If you are due a refund on your next Business Activity Statement, you must make sure any outstanding BAS have been lodged. Why? Because the ATO won’t pay your refund until they know the full story regarding your GST payable or refundable.
  • A lot of businesses sell gift vouchers. You may not be aware that you don’t claim GST collected at the time of selling the gift voucher unless the voucher is for a specific product or service. For example, if I run a hairdressing salon and sell gift vouchers than can be redeemed for anything in the salon then I don’t claim the GST on the sale until the recipient of the voucher comes in and uses the voucher. This is one of my favourite pieces of GST legislation I’ve come across. (Okay, don’t judge me).
  • Registered for GST and you sell food? It can be difficult to determine whether some types of food you can charge GST on. You can find out the GST status of more than 500 (yes 500) food items via ATO’s detailed food list. Who would have thought? They also have handy flow chart to help you decide.
  • You can’t claim the GST paid on purchases if your supplier isn’t registered for GST. It goes beyond receiving a Tax Invoice with an ABN and a GST charge included – this isn’t proof that they are in fact registered. Use the ABN lookup tool to find out whether individual suppliers are registered for GST here: ABN Lookup Tool
  • Disposing of a capital asset eg vehicle, factory equipment? This is still a taxable sale, even if you sell to an individual and not another business. The sale will need to be reported at G1 Total Sales on your BAS. Trading in a car is usually considered a taxable sale as well, and will need to be reported on your BAS. More specific information can be found on the ATO website here:     GST and Motor Vehicles

Don’t forget that if you outsource your BAS preparation and lodgement to a bookkeeper, they must be a registered BAS Agent.  GST is a tax and bookkeepers must have the necessary qualifications, substantial hands-on experience and be continually refreshing their knowledge of GST law.

Are you registered for GST? What do you like/dislike about having to complete your own IAS or BAS?

 

You might also like these other posts with bookkeeping tips:

 

 

 

 

The post in which I mention bookkeeping & fun in the same sentence

ipad-and-receipts

Okay, so I may have a warped sense of what constitutes fun – but hear me out on this one.  If you find bookkeeping a pain in the butt and a necessary evil in order to keep the taxman happy, then take 5 minutes to read my:

6 ways to make bookkeeping fun!

  1. Get creative! Jazz up your accounts files with some nice labels or replace your folders with colour co-ordinated ones.  There are some really nice colours out there now, and you can colour co-ordinate your whole office.
  2. Every time you finish your bookkeeping tasks for the week, reward yourself with a little of something that puts a smile on your face. (Did somebody say chocolate?)
  3. Take time out to meet other business owners and attend a bookkeeping workshop. As well as picking up some hints and getting you enthused about getting back to your bookkeeping you’ll probably get a morning or afternoon tea thrown in as well.  There are workshops that cover debt collection, payroll, tax, software, cloud computing and lots more.
  4. Have your favourite music playing quietly in the background, grab a glass of wine (or maybe just half in my case or else my accounts would be a shambles) and enjoy the time to yourself.
  5. Get organised. Have a spring clean of your accounts documents and files and feel good about how organised you are.  I’ll be writing more on accounts organisation a little down the track (try this post here).
  6. Follow a blog that motivates you in your quest for business or career success.  A couple of goods ones are:
    http://under30ceo.com
    http://flyingsolo.com.au

If none of these ideas really appeal to you, you could always pay someone else to do it while you go out and have your kind of fun!

Some other bookkeeping posts you might like:

How do you keep motivated to do your essential bookkeeping tasks? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy bookkeeping…