festival bookkeeping

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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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

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

 

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3 money tips for salon owners

money tips salon

I’m always on the lookout for ways small business owners can increase their profits or remove stress.  It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking – big or small it all adds up.  As Gary Vaynerchuk says “1 is greater than 0”. I love that saying by the way…. when you feel like what you’re doing isn’t enough or your business isn’t where you want it to be, it gives you reassurance to keep going.

So here are my 3 money tips for salon owners.

Gift certificates

Do you track the gift certificates you give out? Not tracking them leaves you open to fraud.  Tracking them gives you an opportunity to help your clients out if they lose a voucher – you can easily confirm the date, amount and client name.

You can manually track them by giving each one a unique number and noting the number and details in a notebook or spreadsheet. Even better, track them in your salon software. Using your software makes it easy to find valuable information – such as which services are most commonly purchased using gift vouchers.

Discounts

If you give discounts, do you know how much they’re costing your salon? Do you have guidelines for yourself and your staff as to how much is acceptable or is it dependant on how generous you’re feeling that day? You might think you’re only missing out on a couple of hundred dollars a year, but in reality it could be a lot more. If you do your usual amazing job with these clients, do you think they would mind if you stopped giving discounts? Start keeping track for a set period of time – say 3 months.  Times this figure by 4 to see how much you could be out of pocket over the course of a year. Could this money be better spent on marketing to bring new clients in the door or on training a staff member up in a new service offering?

Online bookings

Let clients make their own bookings using online scheduling software, so that you and your staff spend less time running back and forth to the phone.  A common way to manage online bookings is to have your calendar linked to a booking button on your website or business Facebook page. I interviewed salon owner Silvana of Silvana’s Beauty Salon recently – she uses Timely appointment scheduling software.  Using this software for her online bookings has resulted in an increase in business. It’s a win-win situation for both her and her clients. Businesses that aren’t embracing automation risk being left behind and are missing out on opportunities to save time and money. You can read the interview here: Timely Software – A Salon Owner’s Perspective

One of my favourite business books is called The Naked Salon by Lisa Conway.  Salon owners – if you have a chance to get your hands on a copy, you won’t regret it – whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years.

For more information on Timely online appointment scheduling software, you can find their website here.  The website also has a great blog with salon owner interviews, tips and industry news.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

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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

 

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

 

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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.

 

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