small business success

My 3 favourite productivity tips

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“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

Bookkeeping tips for tradies

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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…

 

 

 

Are you an Uber driver?

 

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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…

 

Looking for more related tips?

 

 

 

 

 

 

BAS Tips for Aussie Small Business Owners

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If you are registered for GST in Australia, then you would be familiar with a little old thing called the Business Activity Statement (BAS). No doubt you have also spent many an hour researching the ATO website trying to figure out one thing or another in order to get your BAS completed and lodged in time.  Unless, of course, you have a trusted BAS Agent to take this time-consuming task off your hands.

Here are a few tips for preparing and lodging your BAS that will hopefully save you a bit of time and stress.

  • If you are due a refund on your next Business Activity Statement, you must make sure any outstanding BAS have been lodged. Why? Because the ATO won’t pay your refund until they know the full story regarding your GST payable or refundable.
  • A lot of businesses sell gift vouchers. You may not be aware that you don’t claim GST collected at the time of selling the gift voucher unless the voucher is for a specific product or service. For example, if I run a hairdressing salon and sell gift vouchers than can be redeemed for anything in the salon then I don’t claim the GST on the sale until the recipient of the voucher comes in and uses the voucher. This is one of my favourite pieces of GST legislation I’ve come across. (Okay, don’t judge me).
  • Registered for GST and you sell food? It can be difficult to determine whether some types of food you can charge GST on. You can find out the GST status of more than 500 (yes 500) food items via ATO’s detailed food list. Who would have thought? They also have handy flow chart to help you decide.
  • You can’t claim the GST paid on purchases if your supplier isn’t registered for GST. It goes beyond receiving a Tax Invoice with an ABN and a GST charge included – this isn’t proof that they are in fact registered. Use the ABN lookup tool to find out whether individual suppliers are registered for GST here: ABN Lookup Tool
  • Disposing of a capital asset eg vehicle, factory equipment? This is still a taxable sale, even if you sell to an individual and not another business. The sale will need to be reported at G1 Total Sales on your BAS. Trading in a car is usually considered a taxable sale as well, and will need to be reported on your BAS. More specific information can be found on the ATO website here:     GST and Motor Vehicles

Don’t forget that if you outsource your BAS preparation and lodgement to a bookkeeper, they must be a registered BAS Agent.  GST is a tax and bookkeepers must have the necessary qualifications, substantial hands-on experience and be continually refreshing their knowledge of GST law.

Are you registered for GST? What do you like/dislike about having to complete your own IAS or BAS?

 

You might also like these other posts with bookkeeping tips:

 

 

 

 

5 great business blogs you should be following

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In the 4 years I’ve been writing about bookkeeping on my website The Savvy Bookkeeping Blog I’ve learned a lot from reading other people’s posts on small business.

Here are some of my favourites that I’d recommend having a look at if you’re needing inspiration or tips to run a successful business.

 

Insanely Clever Marketing

https://insanelyclevermarketing.com/

Penelope is a fellow Adelaidian whose blog covers not only marketing, but also office design and style, as well as office fashion.

One of my favourite posts: Where the heck is your branding? Get it recognised now

 

Cath Cox

https://cathcox.com/

Cath runs her own massage practice in the U.S and I love this blog because it’s such an honest insight into running a business and what has and hasn’t worked well for her. Cath’s blog has tips on such things as handling your small business taxes, getting new customers and much more.

One of my favourite posts: How to show clients you love them

 

Adventures of a QBO Bookkeeper

https://qboadventures.com/

Jennie is a Canadian bookkeeper and has a tonne of great stuff on her blog including articles, small business app reviews and videos.   Jennie manages to make bookkeeping fun (what??).

One of her short videos:  What is cloud accounting Jennie – I don’t get it.

 

Steve J Bicknell

https://stevejbicknell.com/

Steve Bicknell is an accountant based in the U.K. and is very generous in the free content he makes available for readers.  If you are a business owner based in the U.K. you are going to get a lot out of this blog.

One of my favourites posts: Do you want to work for yourself?

 

Colin Sander

https://colinsander.wordpress.com/

Colin is based in New Zealand and is the founder of Top Performers.  His focus is to “find ways for people and businesses to achieve more from less.” I particularly learn a lot from his sales-focused posts but there are lots of other areas he covers as well, including:  5 Tips to manage overload

 

All these bloggers regularly post content so you’ll always have something new to read – and in the true spirit of blogging they are extremely generous in the professional advice they give for free via their posts.

 

Happy reading…

 

Xero – One of the features that saves me time

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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…

 

3 simple steps to getting your bookkeeping sorted

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If you have just started a business you may be stressing about whether you are on the right track with your accounts.  If you have been in business a little while you may be wondering if there is an easier way to keep on top of your accounts.

Once you start looking into the various accounting software options out there, unless you are in the business of bookkeeping or accounting, it’s not uncommon to become overwhelmed or confused.

I like to keep things simple, so I’ve come up with 3 simple steps to help you out and get you started.  These are 3 steps I’ve used to get clients up and running with accounting software.

3 simple steps to getting your bookkeeping sorted (Video)

Importantly, don’t forget to try your software out for free first.  Get a feel for it and make sure you can easily get answers to any questions you may have via their help centres, forums, videos, email support etc.

Happy bookkeeping…

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