small business tips

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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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.

 

More free resources for small business owners:

 

 

 

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

 

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