adelaide

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

 

Looking for more helpful tips? Try:

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Networking…am I doing it all wrong?

Mobile laptop bed

A few years ago at the beginning of my business journey I was told during a one-on-one session with a marketing consultant that networking events are not for making friends. My follow-up emails with the people I met were all wrong. I needed to get to the point about the services I offered and cut the pleasantries.

I do a lot of networking with other women and most of my clients are also women. Do we attend networking events to make friends? Heck yes.  We’re often working from home on our own, we have challenges that other women and mums can relate to and sometimes these are our only opportunities to connect.  Yes, we are there to find clients. Yes, we are also there to find people that we can form alliances with. But when a fellow business owner tells me how she felt about her teenager going out driving on her own for the first time I remember that conversation and I remember that woman and her business, because we genuinely connected over that conversation.

Networking is a time for listening – not just pitching.  If you listen you’ll find out what people’s frustrations are, where they could do with some help.  I don’t want a business card thrust in my hand and to be “sold” to without getting to know that person first.  A wall goes straight up and doing business with them is the last thing on my mind.

There’s definitely room for me to be more aggressive in my networking. I’m getting better at selling my business when I do my “stand up and tell us about your business” pitch.  But I also know that when someone picks up the phone and calls me after meeting me at a networking event, then there was a degree of trust there and they felt I was the type of person that would do the right thing by them (and their business finances).

In hindsight, a lot of the advice the marketing consultant gave me was good, solid advice.  I went ahead with some of his recommendations later (after I got over the initial shock of his bluntness). I also agree that at the end of the day you’re investing time and money in networking events in order to grow your business. I’ll continue to make sure potential clients are aware of what I do and how I can help them, but I’ll also be having a laugh and getting to know the people I’m out spending my night with.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

You can also find me here:
Facebook / Instagram / Website

 

 

2017 – The Year in Review

2017 The Year in Review

Well I certainly had some ups and downs in 2017 and I thought now would be a great time to look back and reflect on the year that was.  Mainly business-related but a little bit personal too.

The Ups

Business contacts – I made some amazing business contacts and became more comfortable with being put on the spot and talking about my business. Although I’m used to standing in front of a room full of students, having to promote your business in front of other business owners takes a bit of getting used to.

Out of my comfort zone – I tried some new activities with family this past year that were so much fun and I’m glad I did them.  I’m not a spontaneous person, but I’m not afraid to try new things either. Age is just a number right?

Trying new things

Business growth – December 2017 was my best month income-wise since I started Festival Bookkeeping in September 2015.

Business coaching – I signed up with a great business coach who gets as excited about my business as I do! Her network of business owners has also been invaluable in the growth of my business.

Growing my businessCollaborations – local and overseas.  In 2017 I had the chance to work on projects with business owners locally. I also had the Head of Marketing at a New Zealand software company contact me personally about a blog post I did. Exciting to see what new projects will come about in 2018.  Technology and collaboration will be 2 focuses for me in 2018.

New working space – My hubby made me a beautiful built-in desk which has been fundamental in keeping a clear work-space (and head-space) to while away the working hours.

Xero – Towards the end of the year I received the good news that I’d achieved bronze level partner status. This came from a year of focusing my time and energy on marketing the Xero side of my bookkeeping business, as well as going the extra mile for my existing bookkeeping clients.

Bookkeeping blog award – Also later in the year, Feedspot.com featured me as one of their “Top 40 Bookkeeping Blogs” on the internet. My blog was up there with some popular bookkeeping blogs that I’d been reading over the years, so this was pretty exciting.

Blog growth – My blog “The Savvy Bookkeeping Blog” had 2,762 views. Wow! I had readers from 66 countries reading my posts – from Iceland to Argentina and everywhere in between.

Achieving milestones

 

The Downs

Burglary – Our house was broken into and it hit our family pretty hard.  It took a lot of time and effort to get back to where we were with missing items and the injustice of people taking things they hadn’t earned. Things they hadn’t been gifted by loved ones. We tried not to dwell on it and to not let our kids dwell on it too much either. As a result we’ve changed the way we think about security. You can read more about it, from a business owner’s perspective, here.

Pricing – One of my goals slipped by the wayside last year (although to be fair I hadn’t started working on it until later in the year). Talking with another bookkeeper and with my business coach has been invaluable in the progress I’ve made so far. (Tip for other small business owners – don’t be afraid to reach out to others that you trust in your industry when it comes to pricing advice). I’m determined to tick this goal off my list early in 2018. No excuses.

Distractions – I have too many ideas for my business and the past year I think I could have focused a little better. Too many directions I want to move in and things I want to accomplish. I’m sure I’m not the only business owner who suffers from this though. I think it’s part of the reason we start businesses, because we want to get our ideas out there and create businesses we really love and can be proud of.

Friends and family – Unfortunately I felt that I lost contact with some friends and family in 2017. It’s easy to use working on your business as an excuse not to make the effort to see people.  Deep down I’m not a “hustle at all costs” type of person, so I’m determined to do better in 2018.

 

A Down that turned out to be an Up

Part-time employment – My part-time bookkeeping work ended halfway through 2017 which at the time I saw as a “down” but really turned out to be an “up”. Maybe it’s a coincidence that I got new clients not long after my employment ended –  maybe those extra free days in my calendar gave me the motivation to work harder and put myself out there a bit more.

So that’s it.  Probably a little more personal that my usual blog posts, but it’s been a great exercise to look back over the past year and to clarify my goals for the year ahead.

 

Happy bookkeeping to everyone in 2018…

Sarina

 

Timely Software – A Salon Owner’s Perspective

Makeup Rabbit Shelf Jar

I recently booked in for a massage at Silvana’s Beauty Salon and noticed that they used the scheduling software Timely to manage their client bookings.

The booking process from my point of view, as a client, was easy.  I went to the salon’s website, clicked on the “Book Treatments Now” button and was taken step by step through the process of booking. I could see at a glance what times were available, pick the type of service I wanted and was able to choose who I wanted to do the massage.

Once booked, I received an email confirmation with all the details and my invoice.  I also received an email and SMS reminder the day before the massage – so no risk of embarrassingly forgetting to turn up for my appointment. (Hey we’re all busy – it can happen!)

But what I really wanted to share with you today is Silvana’s experience and thoughts on the software. Timely is one of the big names in online scheduling software for salons and for those in the beauty and wellness industry in general.  It integrates with Xero accounting software, which is where my interest in the software originated.  So please read on and enjoy my interview with Silvana of Silvana’s Beauty Salon.

Can you please tell me a bit about you and your business journey

I started working for myself from home approximately 9 years ago.  I initially offered nails, waxing and massage treatments from a room in my home.  Business grew steadily (I worked it around family and other work commitments).

Four years down the track, we built a beauty studio outside our home with street access – creating greater privacy and professionalism for myself and my clients.  Business grew more rapidly after this.  Four or so years later and that brings us to today… with a beautiful salon on Milne Road (Modbury) which I hope creates a relaxing and welcoming space for clients to come in and have quality, professional treatments in privacy with a caring and friendly therapist.

How did you hear about Timely?

Via Facebook.  I was looking for a versatile booking system that allowed me to also monitor stock sales etc.

Did you try any other scheduling apps prior to using Timely?

I was trialling Cliniko ($50) and have also trialled Shedul (free) but find Timely more suited to my needs.

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

It didn’t take long at all to learn to use it.  Setting up took some time as I have a lot of treatments to enter into the system… so I wouldn’t be too keen to change systems and have to re-enter all those details.

It’s pretty user-friendly.  There is a Help at hand with information available at any stage if a user is unsure.  You can also chat to a staff member if you’re really stuck.

What is the main advantage for you? ie less interruptions due to answering phone, easier for clients to book etc

Using Timely and having online booking has increased my business.  I have only had positive feedback from clients.   They love the confirmation SMS’s / emails and some of them have said their appointment is even uploaded to their phone calendar!!

They love how they can jump on and book an appointment whenever it occurs to them… eg midnight as they try to go to sleep but their mind is racing with all the different “to do” lists.  And they don’t feel bad about messaging me so late etc.

I love how it frees up my time – no more back and forth texts regarding available times etc with clients…. They check the dates/times that suit them and see if I’m available.

I also love that I can sync my Timely bookings with my personal Google calendar too.

Do you use all of the features? If not, what features do you mainly use?

I use most of the features, especially the schedule/calendar… still getting used to the reports.  But I love the packages (create a package, allocate a package & then keep track of package treatments taken etc) and gift certificates (clients can purchase online gift certificate…. Letting them buy a gift at any time).

Have you had any feedback from clients about whether they like it/don’t like booking appointments with Timely?

All the feedback I’ve had is very positive.  My clients love it.

Do you use Timely in conjunction with accounting software, such as MYOB or Xero?

Not yet.

Do you use Timely in conjunction with any other apps, such as PayPal or Vend?

I use PayPal and love it.  My clients can pay on line if they choose to and I can send them invoices if they prefer it.

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

Its’s pretty good for my needs.  Although it would be handy to select individual booking timeline limits for each staff.  For example, I’d like my clients to be able to book up to within 3 hours of their appointment, however my staff member needs at least 24hrs notice.  Currently we have it set at 24hrs booking notice as we cannot do it individually.

Finally, would you recommend Timely to other business owners in the beauty and wellness industry?

Absolutely 🙂

 

So if you’re thinking of using Timely to manage your client bookings, I hope this has given you a bit of an insight and helps you to come to a decision.  There are lots of options out there!

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

 

PS. For more information on scheduling software,  I provided a comparison of some of the popular options in my post Which Scheduling Software? and wrote about Cliniko software in my post Cliniko + Xero.

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