festival 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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Xero apps – What are they?

Headphones calculator coffee pods

Do you love technology or have you been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century longing for the good old days? I think I’m a bit of both.  I enjoy cutting my teeth on new technology for my business but I still love teaching Journals and Ledgers to students the old-fashioned way using pencil and paper. I prefer the comforting tap tap tapping of a big clunky calculator to whipping out my smartphone (my hubby & kids will attest to this).

If you’re a Xero user, you may have heard of Xero apps (or Xero add-ons). They’re cloud-based applications that work with Xero to perform one or more extra functions. There’s an app for pretty much every task and every type of business.

Some apps are ‘horizontal’ apps that are made for use across a range of industries. Others are ‘vertical’ apps that are made for one main type of industry.

They come in varying shapes and sizes and some are more complex than others.  For example, Receipt Bank is straight-forward to use and once integrated with Xero correctly you can be up and running pretty quickly. It has a couple of main functions, which it does well.  Mindbody is an example of a more complex app with many functions, and will therefore take more time and energy to integrate with Xero and to learn to use correctly.

Most of the apps allow you a free trial period at first, so you can try before you buy. Once you’ve decided to go ahead with the product you’re often required to pay by monthly subscription that automatically gets charged to your credit card.

It’s a good idea to make sure you’re comfortable using Xero first before you go add-on shopping. But if you live for learning new technologies, then hey – don’t let me stop you jumping right in! You might also start the other way around, using an App first and then integrating it with Xero down the track. I’ve seen this work successfully as well.  If you use a cloud-based accounting software other than Xero such as MYOB, Quickbooks or Reckon, many of the apps will integrate with these too.

Why are people using Xero apps?

  • To provide a better experience for their customers
  • To save time
  • To get organized
  • To streamline processes
  • To improve cashflow
  • To keep a closer eye on their finances

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

 

Looking for more info on software & technology?

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

 

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

 

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…

 

 

 

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…