small business success

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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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

 

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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

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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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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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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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