Software

Xero – One of the features that saves me time

working-with-xero-on-laptop

There are a lot of features Xero has that save me time whilst I’m wading through merrily singing my way through my bookkeeping.

One of my favourites, though, is one of the most simple and basic features that Xero offers. The feature I’m talking about is copying transactions.

To give you an example, I do very similar work for a client each month, with a few changes here and there.  Because I like to be transparent in how I charge I include extra detail so that clients can see exactly what I’m charging them for – therefore my Invoices can sometimes be lengthy.  I wrote about this in my previous post 3 Simple Tips to Improve Cashflow.   I don’t invoice at the same time of the month every time, so automatically repeating Invoices isn’t the best option in this case.

When I’m ready to charge those clients I simply search for that client’s name in Xero, click on the last Invoice and copy that Invoice.  I copy by selecting Options then Copy in the top right hand corner.  I can then tweak it with any adjustments needed, but the bulk of the information is already there and my wording is consistent from one Invoice to the next.

Copying also works for transactions like Spend Money and Receive Money as well.

I try to remember to work smarter and not harder and this is one of those simple things that makes a difference when it comes to the sometimes very time consuming task of small business bookkeeping.

What is one way you work smarter and not harder?

Other tips on working smarter, not harder:

 

 Happy bookkeeping…

 

3 simple steps to getting your bookkeeping sorted

3-simple-steps-to-getting-your-bookkeeping-sorted-wordpress

If you have just started a business you may be stressing about whether you are on the right track with your accounts.  If you have been in business a little while you may be wondering if there is an easier way to keep on top of your accounts.

Once you start looking into the various accounting software options out there, unless you are in the business of bookkeeping or accounting, it’s not uncommon to become overwhelmed or confused.

I like to keep things simple, so I’ve come up with 3 simple steps to help you out and get you started.  These are 3 steps I’ve used to get clients up and running with accounting software.

3 simple steps to getting your bookkeeping sorted (Video)

Importantly, don’t forget to try your software out for free first.  Get a feel for it and make sure you can easily get answers to any questions you may have via their help centres, forums, videos, email support etc.

Happy bookkeeping…

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5 reasons using Excel may be holding your business back

Laptop Xero

Excel is a great tool for business.  I like to use it to manually check payroll calculations, particularly when setting up new accounting software for a client.  However, it’s not always the best choice for business bookkeeping.

Here are 5 reasons that it might be time to move on from Excel:

1.  Doubling-up of transactions

In Excel you don’t get a warning if you try to enter the same bill number or invoice number twice, whereas you would if you used accounting software. Doubling up on accounting transactions can get you into a real mess.

2.  Time consuming

It is time consuming to set up a detailed, useful spreadsheet.  You need to have the end result in mind before you even start and then work out a design that will get you that end result.  A lot of time is wasted if you are part way through setting up a spreadsheet only to realise that it can only do half the job you need it to do.  For example, you might be able to set up a spreadsheet that tracks all of your income and expenses, but it is tricky and time consuming to set it up to track tax codes for your Business Activity Statement as well.

3.  No audit trail

If more than one person is entering information into a spreadsheet it is difficult to tell who has entered or changed information.  This leaves the door wide open for fraud to occur.

4.  Costly errors

Excel spreadsheets can be linked to other Excel spreadsheets, which can save you time.  However it is easy to link a cell incorrectly which results in errors that can be hard to detect.  You could be using the same spreadsheet for months without realising it is picking up incorrect figures from another spreadsheet.  Just like in Reason # 1, Excel doesn’t warn you of potential errors.  A quick internet search for “spreadsheet mistakes” shows just how costly some of these errors can be.

5.  You still need to invest time into learning how to use Excel properly

You can teach yourself how to use Excel and set up spreadsheets, however with such easy to use accounting software on the market now, isn’t your time better spent learning software that will do most of the hard work for you?  For example, using software with automatic bank feeds, such as Xero, can reduce time spent on manual data entry once set up correctly.

Do I need to use accounting software?

Laptop on desk

Spreadsheets have their place in business, and I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with creating a customised spreadsheet that is easy to use and looks good too.

However, accounting software can be purchased relatively cheap and businesses can choose the level of bells and whistles that they need, depending on the type and size of the business (or non-profit organisation) they are running.

Below are some of the advantages of using accounting software.

  • Save time. One entry in your software replaces several manual bookkeeping entries.
  • Real-time financial statements at the click of a button.
  • Information can be shared with your bookkeeper or accountant without physically having to let go of your business records.
  • BAS preparation (for Australian businesses) is faster and, if set up correctly, there is less chance of the errors that can occur when transferring figures with pen and paper.
  • Transactions that occur regularly can be automated.
  • Fast and accurate tracking of inventory.
  • Back-ups of data can be safely stored in the cloud or taken off-site. What would happen to your paper-based business records if there was a fire in your office?

If you are just starting out and are starting small, then spreadsheets may do the job for you in the beginning. If you do choose to use accounting software you will still need a bookkeeper or software consultant to help you along the way at some stage, however a lot of the day to day transactions are well within the scope of the average small business owner. Also, if you choose to hire a bookkeeper in Australia, don’t forget that they must be a registered BAS Agent if they are preparing or lodging your BAS for a fee.

A few of the more popular software companies provide free or low cost trial versions, so don’t be afraid to get in and have a go. I wrote about my experience with trialing accounting software in my post Trying Accounting Software for Free. You can also try a quick internet search for “Free Accounting Software Trial”.

If you have gone from keeping manual bookkeeping records to using accounting software, how did you go? Do you have any tips you can give other small business owners or non-profit organisations?

 

How burpees can help you build a better business

Really like this article from the Xero blog.  If you have ever done burpees you can probably relate to it – if you’ve never done them then you might be curious as to what they are and how they relate to business!

How burpees can help you build a better business.

Happy bookkeeping…

 

Trying Accounting Software for Free

Trying accounting software for free

Choosing accounting software can be hard. Each product comes with slightly different features, looks different and the prices vary. Don’t think that you have to jump right in and purchase straight away – make use of a free trial and you can play around and have a good look at it before you decide whether to go ahead and purchase it. Even if you outsource your bookkeeping, you still need to be comfortable with finding your way around the software and getting access to essential information.

MYOB Essentials and Xero are popular cloud based accounting products in Australia. You also have Reckon One, Quickbooks Online, Sage One and Saasu. For tips on getting started with Sage One head over to Steve Bicknell’s blog and look at: How do you switch over to Sage One.

So I thought I would show you my experience of getting started with the 30 day free trial of Xero.

  • I went online to the Xero Australia homepage, clicked “Try Xero for Free” and filled in my name, contact number and email address.
  • From there nothing happened for quite a long time and I couldn’t move on to the next step. I refreshed the page a couple of times, which did nothing. I have “Ghostery” set up in my browser and I noticed it was blocking something – once I selected unblock I was instantly through to the next step. Success!
  • Entered my basic organisation details in the next screen. There is an option in this screen to convert your MYOB datafile over to Xero, if that is what you want to do. Xero had entered a default conversion date, which was not the date I needed. Not to panic – it also tells you on this screen that you can change the date via the Settings screen once you are set up.
  • Up and running – straight into my business dashboard.
  • Watched the 2 minute information video.
  • Went into Settings / General Settings / Conversion Balances and changed my conversion date.

And that was pretty much it! Ready to get into the finer details of setting up contacts, customising the chart of accounts, setting up bank feeds etc. You will need all your business accounting information handy for the next stages of set-up if you are taking it that far.Alternatively, there is a sample company file
Just a side note – I had a question about something which I had typed into the Xero website and less than 24 hours later a representative from Xero phoned me (yes – not emailed, but phoned) to discuss. I thought this was good customer service.

If you are wanting to look at MYOB, then the Student Edition of MYOB is a great way to sample the product – it costs $15.00 at the time of writing and you get the desktop product in CD-ROM format. There is a limit to the number of transactions you can enter (is still quite a lot) but there is no timeframe that you have to finish using it by, which is handy. Students at TAFE use this when studying accounting and bookkeeping.

Alternatively you can try the 30 day free trial of MYOB’s online products here.

For some more good info on cloud accounting products in Australia you might like to check out 2015 – The year that was for cloud accounting software.

How did you go about choosing accounting software for your business or organisation? Was it recommended to you or did you do your own research? Love to get your feedback.

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2015 – The year that was for Cloud Accounting Software

As a small business owner or non-profit are you contemplating moving your accounting software to the cloud, or thinking of changing which product you use?

This is a really great round-up of significant improvements and changes in cloud accounting software throughout 2015, as well as some insights into where accounting software may be headed in 2016. Margaret of Cloud Accounting Buzz knows her stuff when it comes to accounting software, so I hope you might be able to get something out of this post. Enjoy!

Source: 2015 – The year that was for Cloud Accounting Software