small business

How to motivate yourself to do your bookkeeping (secrets from a bookkeeper)

Bookkeeping Adelaide How to motivate yourself

You lean over and turn off your computer after a full day of work. You feel relieved that another day is done. Your mind turns to what you’re going to have for tea and whether you’re going to need anything from the supermarket. Then out of the corner of your eye you spot a couple of receipts partly folded and starting to fade that are placed precariously on top of a pile of other papers. Sigh….you still haven’t done your bookkeeping. Another day has gone and you didn’t get around to it like you promised yourself you would. Again.

If you don’t run your own small business, this scenario might seem a little trivial. It’s just entering a few dates, names and numbers, right?

Well I’ve lost track of the number of small business owners that have confided in me how bad they feel about being behind in their bookkeeping and how much it’s affecting their personal life and business life.

This is what I hear a lot:

“My partner is getting frustrated with me because I don’t know my figures”
“My tax return is overdue and I’m sure I’m going to get a big fine that I can’t afford”
“I’m sure I will need to register for GST soon, but I don’t know what my income is. It’s really worrying me because I know I have to do something about it soon”
“My business coach keeps asking for my figures – but I don’t know them”

Now you would think I’m going to tell you that you should outsource to a bookkeeper or buy this new, beaut software. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is to genuinely share methods that small business owners can use themselves, in order to gain the motivation to get their bookkeeping done. These methods are what I use myself when motivation is low, or overwhelm is high. They are not expensive or difficult and I’m sure that if you use even a couple of these methods, you will get your bookkeeping done or at the very least make great progress.

1. Use a timer

This can be an online timer, your watch, or even try an old-school method. Set the timer for a short period of time – 40 minutes is fine. Commit to 40 minutes of bookkeeping only. Smash it out and feel great about the progress you just made. Maybe that’s enough – you’ve achieved what you set out to do. Turn off your computer and forget about it for today. Now maybe the time went quickly for you and you feel you’ve got another 40 minutes in you. You’re on a roll. Go off and step out into the sunshine for 5 minutes or make a cup of coffee to reward yourself. Go back to your computer, set the timer for another 40 minutes and smash out another 40 minutes of bookkeeping.

2. Work somewhere different

If you’ve got a laptop, move it out of the office to the dining room table. Or move it from the dining room table to the bedroom. Personally I would have difficulty working outside, but if that works for you, then go for it. Go to the library (I get phenominal amounts of work done when I work from the library – however it’s usually business development work and not accounting, as I don’t want to risk others accessing my accounting information because I’m using a public internet connection). Go to your parent’s house. Book a once-off day to work from a co-working space. Just change up where you’re working from, because sometimes just the thought of sitting down at that same spot that you’ve already spent hours at can be depressing.

3. Treat yourself

Buy snacks for yourself that you wouldn’t normally buy – specifically for bookkeeping. Treat yourself with something nice, so that sitting down to do your bookkeeping is a positive experience.

4. Do smaller amounts often

Now you might not realise that this is one of the reasons you put off your bookkeeping. But if you’re only logging into your software or opening up your spreadsheet every few months (or even longer), then you’re probably forgetting how to do a lot of it. Decision fatigue is a thing! If you have to keep stopping and deciding what to do next, or are trying to remember how you did something last time, then you’re wearing yourself out without even realising it. By doing it more regularly, everything will stay fresh in your mind.

5. Eat the ugliest frog first

This has been one of my most helpful business mantras since I discovered it about 5 years ago. If I’ve lost you here, check out Brian Tracy. I’m thinking bookkeeping might be your Ugliest Frog. So eat it first!! Practise a bit of tough love on yourself and do your bookkeeping before you do anything else that day. You can even try getting up 40 minutes earlier, for the sole purpose of getting bookkeeping done. The rest of the day will feel SO good for you that the decision to then get up and do the same thing the next day will be even easier. Your day will flow a lot better and you’ll become much more productive in general. You can use this concept for anything in your personal or business life.

6. Listen to music

Motivate yourself to do your bookkeeping with music


This seems a bit obvious, but how often do you actually make the effort to put on music while you work at your computer? Or if you are doing your bookkeeping first thing in the morning, have music on while you’re in the shower before you start. Similar to the special snacks you treat yourself with, you will start to look forward to doing your bookkeeping because you’ve made a fun ritual for yourself.

7. Start tracking your monthly income

This doesn’t need to be fancy. Start writing down your total sales each month. Each time you get another month’s bookkeeping done, record somewhere separately what that monthly sales were. Some months it may be less than the month before – that’s okay. You just motivated yourself to kick butt that bit more in the next 4 weeks. Some months it will be more than the month before – congratulations! Something you’re doing is working – the proof is in the numbers. It’s quite addictive once you start tracking your numbers – you will find yourself automatically motivated to get your bookkeeping done.

8. Just turn on the computer


In my early 30’s I used to run a lot. There’s a trick with runners to keep motivation up – they say just to “put on your sneakers”. It really works. Once those runners are on, it’s that much more easier to just step out the door and do your run. Do this trick with your computer. Get up and turn it on! Before you get dressed. Before you make your coffee. Before you check your phone. When I have a particularly overwhelming and large client job to do, this (oh so easy) tip works every time.

9. Positive mindset


I know it’s easy to get into the mindset that bookkeeping is boring. Bookkeeping is pointless. Bookkeeping is hard. Or thinking “numbers aren’t my thing”. Well I challenge that mindset. You’re not going to love everything in business – if it was easy, then everyone would be doing it and doing it successfully, right? Having a positive mindset helps in all areas of your business and personal life. You can choose to keep thinking bookkeeping is horrible – and continue to avoid doing it – and continue to beat yourself up over not doing it. Or you can choose to re-frame your thinking around it.

For example:


I can’t wait to get that 40 minutes of bookkeeping done, because then I’ll be on track to get my tax return done early this year. Gee that’s going to feel good.

I feel like my sales are up this month – I can’t wait to check my income spreadsheet to see if I hit $5,000 in sales finally.

Woo hoo – another month’s bookkeeping done. Time to hit the pub.

Okay – so these might seem a bit corny, but you see what I mean. Your bookkeeping is what you tell yourself it is. You get to choose your attitude.

Why would a bookkeeper share these tips?

I don’t mind sharing these tips with small business owners. There will always be business owners that don’t want to outsource their bookkeeping. There will always a point in time when it makes sense for a small business owner to do their own bookkeeping. When it’s time to outsource – it’s time to outsource. The cons of doing it yourself will outweigh the pros and you will (probably with relief I’m thinking) hand it over to a professional bookkeeper.

In the meantime, I just know there’s a tip or 2 above that you can implement straight away. My wish for you is that you no longer feel bad about being behind in your bookkeeping and get to experience that feeling of relief that comes with being up to date very soon!

Happy bookkeeping….

Sarina

About the author.

Sarina Abbott is the owner of Festival Bookkeeping. She’s a registered BAS Agent and Xero adviser who has previously worked in the legal and conveyancing industry, as well as for registered training organisations. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband, 2 sons, a dog and a rabbit.

You can find out more about Festival Bookkeeping here.

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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

 

You can also find me here:
Facebook / Instagram / Website

 

 

Which scheduling software?

Diary glasses

Continuing on from my post “Cliniko + Xero”, I wanted to share some more thoughts on scheduling software.  In particular, scheduling software that integrates with Xero.

I found that once I started looking into these types of software solutions it was like a vortex dragging me in deeper and deeper.  So many options – all offering slightly different features and aimed at slightly different target markets.  It took all my willpower not to drown in the sea of information and to remain focused!

So after extensive research, I came up with 5 software solutions that all have something to offer the small business owner looking for scheduling software.  Some are more suited to the health and well-being industry, some are aimed at the hair and beauty industry and some are general in nature and could suit consultants or personal trainers. They’re all hosted in the cloud, so no need to mess around installing software. Being hosted in the cloud also means you can access them from mobile devices. They all offer the ability for the business’ clients to book appointments for themselves online.

Once you outgrow booking in client appointments with paper and a pen, these types of software solutions are a huge asset to the busy business owner. They offer so much more than appointment scheduling and are complete practice management systems.

I’m only covering the basics here.  This list doesn’t cover everything that you’d want to know before making a decision to commit to one solution over another.  It will give you an idea of some of the differences, though, and an idea of cost.  Prices are in Australian dollars and include GST (as at the date of writing).

xero scheduling app comparison

My research has uncovered many more variables between each of the products listed.  Each of your businesses is unique and has its own needs – I would recommend you delve deeper than this table and look beyond the “features” listing on the respective software websites.  Alternatively, invest in the services of a Xero adviser who can do the research for you. It will save you a lot of time and they will also be well placed to assist you with your Xero integration if needed.

Looking forward to sharing more of my findings – there are some great small business solutions out there that integrate with Xero.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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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

 

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

Are you an Uber driver?

 

delorean-uber

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

calculator-coffee-cup-pen

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

diary-keyboard-calculator-pen

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

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…

 

Small business owners – Wages or Drawings?

working-at-table-with-laptop

The issue of paying yourself money from your business can be confusing.

Technically, a Sole Trader cannot employ themselves. Money a sole trader takes out of the business for personal use is classified as “drawings” and is not considered wages for tax purposes. Drawings are not allowable deductions for the business.

Transactions that you record using the account Drawings are not reported in Activity Statements that are lodged with the Australian Taxation Office.

This is also the case for someone who has their business set up as a Partnership. At law, you cannot be an employee.

If your business is set up as a Company, you can be an employee of the company.  You can pay yourself wages and would therefore withhold PAYG withholding tax if your wages are above the tax free threshold.  Unlike drawings, wages are allowable deductions for the business.

Transactions that you record using your “Wages” accounts are also not reported in the “Goods & Services Tax” section of your Activity Statements – only the “PAYG tax withheld” section.

Because Drawings and Wages are both outside of the GST system the tax codes to use in your accounting software are as follows:

Xero = BAS Excluded

MYOB = N-T

Reckon Accounts = leave the tax code blank

 

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Happy bookkeeping…