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Here’s How You Can Make Bookkeeping Less Stressful

January is by far the busiest month of the financial year because this is the time when financial records need to be recreated and reassessed. For business owners, the idea of checking financial records and identifying areas for improvement can be a challenging task. Suffice it to say, it is a stressful event that makes bookkeeping the most dreaded task for a business owner. It is easy to get side tracked with other obligations but allowing bookkeeping to take a backseat can have a negative effect on the overall outcome of your business. Instead of hoping for the best, you are only increasing the chances of taking a turn for the worse.

How to avoid bookkeeping stress?

1.    Create a folder for your expenses – For business owners who are busy attending to various transactions, throwing all receipts and folders into one folder is the easiest way to take care of financial activities. However, when you need to retrieve specific receipts, you will have difficulties getting the right information because you got the invoices mixed up. When you make it a habit to compile essential information by creating an expenses folder, not only will you speed up the process but also have enough time for carrying out other tasks.

2.    Set up a bookkeeping system – These days, it is easy to store bookkeeping information with the use of bookkeeping system in the form of a software program. You reduce the chances of duplicating entry of information and you automatically capture the details you need. There are various software programs for you to choose from and the program you choose will greatly depend on your bookkeeping needs.

3.    Update your system on a regular basis – It is not enough that you have set up a system as you also need to update it on a regular basis. However, this does not mean you should do it every day. It depends on how frequent you need your system updated. Some owners update the system every month, while others update it on a quarterly basis. Make sure all information is captured because you will need them in the future.

4.    Capture information as soon as you have them – It is easy to overlook some things that are going to be essential to your business if you are only focusing on big expenses. If you have used your personal card for business transactions as you have not brought your business credit card, it does not necessarily mean that you are going to skip liquidating your expenses. While the amount may seem small it can still add up causing you to lose track of your business expenses.

Bookkeeping need not be stressful if you know how to organise essential information for recreating financial records. Even if it is the busiest month of the financial year, you can still maintain a steady pace with these best practices. Once you follow these practices, you will begin to notice that your day-to-day task becomes easier and faster. It is important that you keep your system organised so you can make bookkeeping less daunting.

Signs You Need To Consider Hiring A New Bookkeeper

IMG 6960 2A bookkeeper will always be considered necessary in every business especially if you are managing a fledgling company. Aside from making your financial activities more sensible, they are also considered your partner in running your business. There are different aspects of your business that you need to keep an eye on and in your absence, your bookkeeper should be able to keep track of your budget or cashflow so your business' financial aspect remains intact.  

However, there are problems associated with hiring a bookkeeper especially when their presence does more harm than good. Have you ever found yourself doing the task that a bookkeeper is supposed to carry out? If you think that your business operation is interrupted because your bookkeeper is unable to achieve your business' primary goals, it can already be a sign that you and your bookkeeper need to part ways. 

Signs You Need A New Bookkeeper  

1.Your bookkeeper fails to deliver financial reports and other forms to you on time. 

One of the reasons you hired a bookkeeper is for you stay on top of your business' financial aspect. Your bookkeeper does not make the entire process easier for you if they don't deliver timely reports. Find out if you contributed to the delayed submission. Have you sent the reports they need on time? If all things that the bookkeeper needs are made available to them before the deadline, you may need to think twice of keeping the same bookkeeper. While these reports require ample time to be completed, being consistently late means you need to consider another person for the job. 

2. Your bookkeeper is always busy or out with other clients. 

A bookkeeper that has strong commitment to your business should be available whenever you need to engage their service. There are days when you can be very busy and you need financial reports done ASAP. However, when your bookkeeper is nowhere in sight, you may want to choose someone that can devote his or her time for your bookkeeping task. It's time to bid your current bookkeeper goodbye if your bookkeeping tasks become the least of their priorities. 

3. Your bookkeeper does not take time to explain financial reports. 

As a business owner, you have the right to understand your financial reports and your bookkeeper should schedule a meeting to present the reports. If you are being denied of your right to obtain information of your business's financial aspect, how can you be confident that the figures on the report are correct? You don't have any assurance that ATO also gets the right information and this can spell trouble on your part.  

4. You receive repeated notices from ATO.

If you are constantly receiving notices from ATO, this only means that your business has not been taken care of correctly. This is considered a serious warning sign because if notices become very consistent, you may have to deal with bigger problems with ATO. You might also be flagged as a repeat offender and this could mean penalty on your part. 

5. Your bookkeeper fails to return your phone calls. 

Do you always find yourself in a waiting game when trying to check in on your bookkeeper? If your bookkeeper never returns your phone calls even when you left a message, this can be a sign that he is no longer interested in working for you. While there can be instances when employees encounter circumstances beyond their control, it is a different story if this happens regularly. 

Reasons Small Business Struggles With Bookkeeping

entrepreneur 696976 1280It is easy to pay little attention to bookkeeping when your business is going well. Why would you still go into the smallest details of your business when you can focus on more important things? Any business owner can hover on the brink of disaster with this mindset. Your business’ bookkeeping task does not end where your success begins.

In fact, you can’t take shortcuts on other tasks such as selling without prioritizing bookkeeping. You can overlook financial activities but once these errors take their toll on your business, it is already too late for you to realize that you have already made a costly mistake. If bookkeeping stays in background, you won’t be able to determine the factors that have driven the success in your small business.

Avoid These Bookkeeping Mistakes:

Failure To Maintain Records

A small business can swim in its pool of success and just watch the bookkeeping task take a nosedive. As the temporary allure of your business starts to fade, bookkeeping starts to resurface, but this time, there are numerous questions that quickbooks can’t provide any answers to. Record-keeping is important in every business. Even if you have already tasted the sweet success of your business, this does not take the glamour out of bookkeeping. Make sure you keep all receipts in a safe place as you will need them in the future.

Unaware Of The Amount You Spend For Your Business

It is perilous to every business to assume that there is still enough cash without budgeting your spending. Keep in mind that you are spending money to run your business on a daily basis. If you are complacent that you have sufficient money at your disposal, unable to keep your financial activities in check can make you spend more than you know. When budgeting the money for your business, make sure you separate them into 4 categories: 1. Fixed expenses; 2. Prospective income; 3. Paycheque-allowance; 4. Variable expenses. You should give priorities to needs more than wants.

Spending Rather Investing

There’s a difference between spending and investing. When you spend, your business does not obtain any benefits from it as you just let your money go out the window. On the other hand, investing your hard-earned money can help you reap long-term success. While it can be inevitable to spend, make sure that the benefits still outweigh the cost. Although the balancing act can be challenging, making a sound judgment usually does the trick. If you need to buy office supplies, think first if these are necessary to improve your business’ quality of work.

Not separating your business bank accounts

You can easily lose track of your cash reserves when you don’t separate your business and personal bank accounts. If you continue to follow this practice, you may end up using all the money for your business and you have nothing left to pay for your living expenses. You can avoid confusing your personal bank account for your business bank account if you pay your business expenses from a business credit card. There should be a credit limit so you can control your cash flow. It will also give you the ability to be more flexible.

Are You Stuck In A Routine Or A Deadly Sin?

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Whether you have a busy day or you just want to get things done more quickly, multitasking is usually the route you are more likely to take. You believe that doing several tasks at once can save time, but what about the quality of your work? If there's one aspect that multitaskers often compromise, it is the quality of their work. Sure you save time doing things at the same time, but since each task only gets 50% of your attention, you give little time to ensuring that you deliver high quality results. Imagine working at the computer and talking on the phone at the same time. These tasks are both demanding and distracting.  You lose your focus even if you are a seasoned multitasker. 

What makes multitasking less efficient?

The chaos that a divided attention brings can be compared to money: it is quantifiable. If your attention is shifted to another task, you are only giving less than 100% of your attention to the first task. Even if you make an effort to finish earlier than usual, there is still one important aspect of the task that you might miss out. While you try your best to make the task error-free, the attention you give to the task will not give you any assurance. 

Even if you only perform one activity and thinking about another, it can also be considered multitasking. Note that your attention is still divided even when you are just thinking of another task. If you always find yourself doing two tasks at once, you need to consider introducing mindfulness into your life. Mindfulness is the opposite of multitasking. 

Unlike multitasking, mindfulness lets you pay full attention to what you are doing at the moment. For instance, if the phone rings and you are working at the computer, you leave your current task and answer the phone. If it is an important call, you are a hundred percent sure that you are getting the message right as you are not distracted. Once the call is over, you resume working and quality is not compromised. 

A complete attention to the task at hand ensures that errors are corrected and your job is kept to a satisfactory level. Mindfulness hit two birds with one stone: your work life and your personal life. More likely than not, multitaskers find it easier to be lost in thought or become absent-minded as there are so many things running in their head. Even at home, they still can't give their full attention to their family and quality time is already out of the picture.  

Mindfulness breaks the spell that binds multitaskers into the same routine. It puts things in proper perspective so it will be easy to carry out various tasks without the need to multitask. Not only do you promote efficiency but you also ensure that the job you accomplished is consistently satisfactory. 

When you integrate mindfulness into your daily routine, you will begin to notice a transformation in how you accomplish your tasks. You genuinely focus on the quality and take your work to a higher and more consistent level.  

 

Tax Systems And Other Impediments To Business Growth

Business expansion is a big decision and it can create a rippling effect on other factors of your business. It is not just a decision that you make on the spur of the moment. You need to consider several factors before you can decide which direction you are going to take. However, there are several factors that can stop a small business from growing. These factors are part and parcel of having a small business. They only become deterrents when entrepreneurs decide on taking their small business to a higher level. You may need to take a look at these several factors first, before you can decide whether or not you are going to broaden your busines horizons.

Tax systems and other barriers to business growth:

Limited access to the privileges you get from having a small business. 

When you are running a small business, you are also entitled to gain complete access to various small business concessions, which are related to GST, income tax, CGT and many others. Once you decide to expand your business, all of these will be no longer be accessible for you. When taking the road to business expansion, you need to ask yourself if you are willing to gamble or if you are ready to lose access to these concessions. 

Business restructures. 

If you want significant change to happen to your business, you need to welcome restructures. Although it is not going to be an easy decision, being familiar with the effects that restructures make can help you stay on the right track. If you are going to switch to a more effective business structure, you also have to be prepared for the challenges ahead of you. One of the challenges that you are going to face is the CGT liability. 

Payroll Tax  

One of the essentials of putting up a business is making sure that you pay the right tax including payroll taxes. The government is very particular with tax payments and they are keeping their eye on small businesses as well. This is why you need to take it seriously if you really want to run your business smoothly. You subject yourself to a series of problems if you fail to pay on time. You can also get stuck in debt which can take a serious toll on your business. Make sure you keep your payroll taxes in check and avoid falling behind your payment schedule because debts can pile up faster than you know. 

For business owners who decide for an expansion, it is necesary to step out of the business' comfort zone. There are some challenges along the way but once you are familiar with how your business works, everything will fall into place. It does take time before you can reap positive results but it will be all worth your efforts. 

There are other barriers to fulfilling your dreams of expanding your business. Regardless of the obstacles that you will face, you need to keep in mind that you can obtain remarkable results if you are going to consider the risk factors and the steps to take to reduce the possibilities of failing. 

How To Classify Your Allowances Correctly?

For employers, getting bookkeepers to ensure that financial activities including handling allowances are kept in check is a difficult responsibility to fulfill. In fact, it is one of the most complex areas that both employers and bookkeepers are trying to decipher. When you misclassify an amount, the impact on your business and your employees are going to be serious. There will be some corrections that need to be done so you can put your finances the way they should be. Why are there misclassifications on allowances and how can they be avoided? Misclassifications take place when the amount that employees expended are not identified correctly.

When are allowances given to employees?

Allowances are separately identified payments and they are given to employees for:

• Expenses that are work related such as traveling between work sites.
• Working conditions
• Expenses that are not considered as an employee’s tax deduction.
• Special duties or qualifications.

Allowances should not be mistaken or confused for reimbursements. Allowances are intended for covering anticipated costs and these are given whether or not the employee incurs these expenses. These are also considered an assessable income and they are already included in the employee’s tax return. The employee has the right to claim a deduction for the expense.


On the other hand, reimbursements are given to employees for the expenses they have already incurred. The employer may also shoulder the fringe benefits tax (FBT). The reimbursement is not considered an assessable income if it is covered by FBT. The employee cannot claim a deduction for this type of expenses.

Super obligations for paying allowances:

• Reimbursements and expense allowances are not considered wages or salary. They are not ordinary time earnings as well but can be included in ordinary time earnings.
• Employees will only be granted expense allowances if they have fully expended the money on items that are tax deductible.
• When employees are required to work during non-working hours, they will be excluded from ordinary time earnings.

Travel Allowance

• The expenses incurred when employees travel in the course of their duties.
• The expenses for food, drink accommodation and incidental while employees travel.

Reasonable rates for travel allowance

The travel allowances given to employees must also be compliant to the reasonable travel allowance rate for the following expenses:

• Meals
• Deductible expenses which are related to travel
• Accommodation

For domestic travel, the rates only apply in commercial establishments such as serviced apartments, motels and hotels. If another type of accommodation is used other than these commercial establishments, the rates will not apply.

In the event the allowance has not been fully expended, the amount must be recorded on the employee’s summary report and this should be part of the gross earnings. The employee must also show the allowance received as assessable income in their tax return. The claim will only be the amount of the deductible expense that the employee incurred. Tax Office tables can also be used for ensuring that the summary reporting for payment is error-free. Gaining a deeper understanding of how allowances should be handled can save you from committing some errors. You just need to be keen on details and be able to tell the difference between reimbursements and allowances.

Five Tips for Choosing Bookkeeping Software for Your Business

man 475557 1280It is a dream-come-true for every business to keep transactions smooth, hassle-free and fast. This is where bookkeeping software comes into play. You can be sure that your tasks are kept in order because one of the primary benefits of the software is to reduce redundancy especially when it comes to data entry. For small businesses, the process of encoding the customer’s information can be time-consuming if they heavily rely on employees. If one employee is assisting a handful of customers, the level of efficiency is more likely to suffer.

How to spot the right software for your bookkeeping needs?

1. Choose the software that is specially designed for your business’ niche because it can save you from choosing unnecessary features.

2. It is important that you determine your budget so you will know how much you are willing to spend for the software. While your budget can be your primary concern, do not put too much focus on it because you should also take quality into consideration. 

3. It is worth investing in the software that can help your business grow. One of the challenges of most small businesses is keeping up with the well-established businesses but with the help of efficient software, this goal will be achievable. 

4. Make use of a trial version for you to find out if you have picked the right software. 

5. Ask your bookkeeper for some recommendations in case you don’t know which option to choose. Read reviews from reliable sources to get an idea about your prospective software’s features and benefits. 

The Software Small Businesses Can Rely On:

• MYOB

This bookkeeping software allows you to get an accurate view of your cash flow. You will be spared from getting stuck in endless computations for your financial report. All you have to do is to link your bank account and the software will enter the necessary data for you. If you need to obtain real-time information of invoices and tax liabilities, MYOB will provide you a clear picture so you will know the status of your company’s finances. 

While accounting tasks can be a tiring and daunting, the software will make the process a whole lot easier. You can fulfill your tax obligations in a timely fashion because your supplier invoices and bills are stored securely. The best thing about MYOB is that you can collaborate with your bookkeeper without being physically present. You can keep up with the changes and updates with this feature.

The time you spend for payroll preparation will also be reduced by up to 40% because there are only three easy steps you need to follow. You can also send invoices with the use of your mobile device. Once you download free MYOB OnTheGo app, you will have the ability to use EFTPOS and credit card. 

• Xero

Xero is the noteworthy software that small businesses can put their trust in. This is not just the usual online bookkeeping software because it provides you up-to-date financial reports so you can keep track of your financial activities accurately. Its dashboard gives you quick and clear view of your bank balances, bills, invoices and other transactions.

Sales and purchases are also tracked easily so your employees will no longer spend too much time on this task. It also has the ability to categorise or import your bank transactions. As opposed to waiting at the end of the month to generate budgets and reports, Xero gives you the ability to obtain reports in real-time. 

When it comes to paying super contributions, the process will be fast and easy as the usual long process is by-passed. With this software, you can simply pay your employees’ contribution in a snap. The software can be downloaded so you can gain access to it anywhere you go. 

• Reckon

The software is such a time-saver because of its ability to generate over 200 reports. It also features unlimited payroll and massive lists of inventories. You can also make use of its job tracking tools so you will remain in control of your business no matter how busy you are. It also integrates BAS and payment summary so you can save time sorting them. 

For bank transactions, all you need to do is to link your bank account for real-time bank transaction monitoring. The invoices are also customizable and this is going to be advantageous because the feature lets you create your own logo and payment terms.

When it comes to choosing your bookkeeping software, it really pays to start with a free trial so you can gauge the software’s ability to deliver efficient and effective service. You should also keep in mind that the software has its own glitches and this is why it is imperative that you opt for the software that offers 24/7 technical support.

Get Ready For Superstream

In a nutshell, Superstream is an advanced package dedicated to improving everyday superannuation transactions. The process of submitting payments and essential data will be made much easier with the use of this system. Employers with more than 20 employees will have until June 30, 2015 to complete the requirements. However if a company has less than 20 employees, employers need to comply with the requirements until June 30, 2016. To ensure that employers are ready for these changes, it is important that they also prepare contribution data following the electronic format. The employers will adopt the new standard by June 30 2017. All employers that are making super contributions are mandated to use SuperStream.

Reasons for introducing SuperStream:calculator 695084 1280

It is every employer’s obligation to ensure that employee contributions are paid in a consistent and timely manner. With this new system, discrepancies will be prevented because transactions are done electronically.

Before employers can use SuperStream, changes have to be made with their existing system. Otherwise, there will be some issues with adopting SuperStream. The software that employers need to use should be compatible with SuperStream. Employers can either upgrade their payroll software or a third party service provider. For employers with less than 20 employees, another option to consider is using a commercial clearing house. This is also referred to as free Small Business Superannuation. Since this is a completely different approach, employers will also be required to collect additional information for the electronic processing to take place. The essential information includes electronic service address, bank account details, ABN and unique superannuation identifier.

The Significant Benefits of Superstream to Employers and Employees:

Employers

• Employers will only spend less amount of time dealing with fund queries and data issues.
• Employers save on the cost of processing payment and contributions.
• Since SuperStream only uses a single channel, employers can focus on a systematic process for handling employee contribution.
• Superannuation obligations become less stressful because there is a steady flow of information and cash.

Employees

• Employees will have greater peace of mind as payment processing will be less prone to errors.
• Payments and contributions are processed faster than using the old approach.
• Employees will have better retirement savings as the new system is more efficient.
• Employees will be notified once their contributions have been received.

How does SuperStream work?

SuperStream has four elements, which are essential for each transaction being made:

• Payment methods which have been set using standard electronic format.
• Standard message structure designed for sending and receiving notifications or messages when funds have been received.
• Data format so employees receive reports of their contributions.
• Business terms and definitions used for describing employees’ contributions.

While these are considered technical details of SuperStream, employers should not worry about it so long as compliance with the requirements is observed. In the event SuperStream is prevented from sending notifications of contributions due to internet outages or technical issues, the alternative channels will be used such as paper and electronic options. Employers must also include the reasons for using these options. These contributions cannot be rejected if these reasons are indicated.

For employers to get a better grasp of this new system, support tools will also be provided and these include support mailbox, seminars, self-help materials, which can be accessed online and links to the system’s framework.

­ Questions? Give Andrew a call 0450 605 592

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