bookkeeping

4 reasons to choose Xero accounting software

Laptop beach working Xero

If you’ve been following my blog, Facebook or Instagram feed for a while you would have noticed I talk a bit about Xero. It’s cloud-based accounting software that came out of New Zealand in 2006 and it’s pretty much changed the landscape of accounting software as we know it.

I’m around small business owners a fair bit and get to hear what their frustrations are with regards to their bookkeeping – as well as hearing what’s working well for them.  So based on feedback from clients and also my own experiences, I’ve come up with 4 reasons small business owners choose to use Xero over other accounting software.

Bank feeds

Xero’s bank feeds are the bees knees.  When you log into Xero in the morning, your previous day’s bank statement shows up in Xero.  It’s all right there – customers payments, bill payments, transfers between accounts. A couple of clicks later and your data entry and reconciling is done in one go.  The risk of doubling up on anything or missing anything is greatly reduced.  Transactions can be dealt with while everything is still fresh in your memory. And the real magic starts when you set up rules telling Xero how to deal with the information showing in your bank statement. Brilliant.

Easy access

Your bookkeeper and accountant can log in and access your data via the cloud without having to access your computer. No more having to export data and risk problems later when you import changes back into your file.  No more printing out endless pages of reports to pass on.  You can give access to anyone you want to for no extra charge. Employees can login and submit time sheets and leave requests without having access to the rest of your business data. Going on holidays and want to be able to keep one lazy eye on the books for a couple of minutes each day? The mobile app will allow you to do just that.

It’s beautiful

Xero is a joy to look at. It’s clean, fresh and easy on the eye.  Who wants to be overwhelmed when logging in to do their bookkeeping? Not me. You can even customise what information you want to show on the first screen, depending on the type of data you want to keep a close eye on.  Small business owners are wanting and demanding more from their technology and Xero have got this right.

Easy to use

This is what I hear most from Xero users.   There are other accounting software packages that are more powerful and have more in-built features than Xero, but in my experience this also means that business owners can get their bookkeeping into more of a mess too.  As your business grows or you need extra features, you can use the appropriate Xero add-on. There are over 500 add-ons to choose from so chances are there’s one out there that does exactly the job you need it to do.

I could go on and on about why I would recommend Xero over other accounting software, but I wouldn’t want to bore you – bookkeepers tend to get excited about these sorts of things 😊.  If you’re looking to get organised with your finances, or you don’t love the software you’re using, then have a look at Xero.  Give the 30 day free trial a go and teach yourself two or three easy things from their free video tutorials.  Even if you plan to outsource your bookkeeping I would recommend knowing your way around the basic features of the software and making sure it’s the right one for you.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

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5 payroll pitfalls to avoid over the Christmas break

Christmas cards festival bookkeeping

With only a week to go until Christmas many small business owners are desperately trying to keep everything together and make it through this busy time of year.  It’s not just running a business, it’s also end of school functions, sport functions, work functions, organising pets and holidays, organising food and getting the present shopping done.

If you have employees then you can also throw payroll issues into the mix as well.  The Christmas period brings with it a few extra challenges to face as an employer, so I’ve prepared these 5 tips to help you through so you’ve still got some wind left in your sails to enjoy the silly season. These tips apply to Australian readers, but will give other readers some ideas as to what they need to look out for as well.

1. Christmas bonuses and super

Bonuses are considered Ordinary Time Earnings (OTE) and must therefore be included in your calculation of the super guarantee for your employees. More info on bonuses here.

2. Asking employees to take Annual leave

This is really interesting and can be a bit of a touchy topic for employers and employees.  When I was an employed bookkeeper I was asked to use up some of my annual leave – not just over the Christmas break but when I had a bit accumulated during the year.  An employer can only direct an employee to use up their annual leave in some situations. There is often an amount of notice you must give your employees as well. You need to check the relevant Award or Registered Agreement to see under what circumstances you’re allowed to direct your staff to take annual leave.

2. Rest breaks

Many businesses are busy this time of year, however there is a maximum amount of hours you can make your employees work without a break. Check the Award or registered agreement that your employees come under. For example, the Clerks Private Sector Award 2010 stipulates (at the time of writing) that employees who work for 5 hours or more must get at least 1 meal break.  More info on Awards and break entitlements here.

4. Casual vs part-time vs fixed term

There are differences between casual employees, part-time employees and fixed term employees – and yes, the onus is on the employer to ensure they have categorised the employee correctly and have given them the appropriate entitlements. You may hire someone on a casual basis over the Christmas break but the actual working conditions may change over time and their entitlements should be reviewed accordingly.

5. Christmas parties

Ahhh … Christmas parties.  What to claim and what not to claim? There are rules around when you can claim a tax deduction, when you can claim GST credits and what you need to pay fringe benefits tax on.  First you need to determine if the food and drink you’re providing is considered “entertainment” in the eyes of the ATO.  You need to look at why the food and drink is being provided, what type, when it’s being provided and where (on or off business premises). You can find the ATO’s rules regarding providing entertainment and the associated taxes here. There are some helpful scenarios that walk you through the process of deciding what to claim.

Wishing everyone a great Christmas.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

More posts about payroll:

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:

 

 

 

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

 

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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?

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Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

Are you an Uber driver?

 

delorean-uber

The sharing economy is such a hot topic right now.  Think Airbnb, Uber and Airtasker.

If you bring in income via the sharing economy you might be disappointed to learn that tax rules apply to the sharing economy just like they do to the rest of the economy.

The Federal Court of Australia has handed down its decision that ride-sourcing is taxi travel.  For GST purposes, the word taxi means a car (vehicle) made available for public hire that is used to transport passengers for fares.  Don’t be caught out thinking that you earn less than the current GST registration threshold of $75,000 – it doesn’t apply to ride-sourcing enterprises!

In Australia, if you operate a ride-sourcing enterprise you are required to:

  • keep records
  • have an Australian business number (ABN)
  • register for GST, regardless of how much you earn
  • pay GST on the full fare received from passengers for each trip you provide
  • lodge activity statements
  • include income from ride-sourcing in your income tax returns.

Not sure if what you are doing is considered running a ride-sourcing enterprise?  Australian Taxation Office website provides more information:

Providing taxi travel services

 

Happy bookkeeping…

 

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