Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Updates from the Xero Roadshow

I had been counting down the days to Xero’s Roadshow, and it turns out it was for good reason. There were some exciting (subjective though the use of that term may be) new announcements and updates, which we’re happy to share with you in the hopes you find them useful!
Statistics show that while only 51% of small businesses survive more than five years, 88% of those on Xero will still be around to celebrate their fifth birthday.

Soon, Xero will have access to daily direct feeds for some 100 financial institutions in Australia - 98% of the banks that Aussie small businesses prefer to bank with.

In 2011, there were around 10,000 Xero subscriptions. Today, there are 380,000 in Australia, and 862,000 subscribers worldwide, in 180 countries.

Knowing your business position makes all the difference - and Xero is there with real-time data. The updated report centre in Xero is here to help you compare anything with anything, so you can really drill down, or get a broad overview - whatever you want!

Cash flow has a huge impact on business success. Using any one, or a combination of, Xero’s great payment services will help you get paid faster. If you use, or wish to use, any of these add-ons or services I’m sure you’ll be as thrilled as I was!

Updates to Stripe and Paypal now allow easier reconciliation with an automatic “Spend money” transaction being created in Xero to match payments. Stripe will automatically pass on a service fee to your clients, to assist in recovering banking costs (just remember new rules come into effect in September this year regarding surcharging).

Very soon BPay will be available on Xero sales invoices, and then, within 90 days, you will be able to make batch payments using Bpay.

There are some current and upcoming additions to the Xero mobile platform too, to make invoicing and payments on-the-job that much easier. You can now (as of five hours ago, at the time of writing this sentence!) view quotes on the go with your Android phone, and iPhone capability is on the way, and accept payments on your iPhone (this functionality is already available on Android).

And for the grand finale (I say this due to the round of applause this announcement received at the Roadshow… what a sight, seeing so much enthusiasm from a room full of accountants!), if you have have goods or services that require a shipping address different to the billing address, these can both be applied on your invoices now!

As always, if you have any questions about getting set up on Xero, or would like assistance in using your subscription, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Bonus news! If you haven’t already, we recommend setting up Two-Step Authentication on your Xero account to help keep your data secure. Once set up online, this can also be applied to your Android or iOS app - this has just recently been released on iOS.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Make your Christmas shopping less taxing (ha…)

With only five Saturdays left until Christmas Day, here are some tips to help you get organised and save some money.
The total retail spending for December 2015 in Australia was $24.8billion, and is projected to rise this December1. Great news for all our retail clients, but it can be a bit tough on the annual household budget.
Which brings me to tip number one:

1. Make a budget, and stick to it.
Hopefully you’ve read and adopted our tips on budgeting already, but when it comes to Christmas time it can be particularly important to monitor your spending. Research in 2014 found that 57% of Australians set a budget, but only 19% stuck to it2.
There are plenty of apps for budgeting and tracking your spending - ASIC’s MoneySmart website has some great tips and tools on budgeting, and of course there are many third-party apps for tracking your spending (you can find just a few listed here). Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with a pen-and-notepad approach either - whatever works for you, keeping an eye on what you spend can help curb overspending, and has the added benefit of keeping track of what you’ve bought for whom.
IMG_1691.JPG2.  Plan your gift-giving and buying.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to make your list and check it twice. Are you going to get gifts for extended family? Just for their children? Are you part of a Secret Santa draw (a Google search for Secret Santa might help organising the gift-buying)? For all your colleagues? Will you get a few extra gifts, just in case anyone drops by? Perhaps it might be something to discuss with the people with whom you celebrate Christmas, to clear up any confusion and expectations.
retail-shopping-tired-e1370017906371.jpgWhatever you decide is up to you and what you’re comfortable with - just make sure you plan for it! If you only plan and budget to buy gifts for your immediate family, but decide to get 20 extra gifts once you’re at the shops, you’ll very quickly blow your budget.
Allow plenty of time to buy the gifts you need. If you are going to buy everything in-store, a good idea might be to go a few times and get a few gifts with each visit. Besides helping you scope out gift ideas and compare prices, knowing that you have that extra time will prevent panicked overspending. Plus, if you’re anything like me, after a few hours trudging through the stores you’ll be too drained to be thinking of the perfect gift and just grab what’s closest.

3. Embrace the digital age.

It’s not too late to order online, and if you don’t want to pay for postage, many of the major stores around Australia now offer Click & Collect services, so you can just pop in and grab your items, leaving someone else to do the legwork.
Shopping from the comfort of your home takes the stress and time-pressure out of selecting gifts, and will help avoid impulse buying. You can also take advantage of reading reviews of potential gifts online at the same time. You can even order most gift cards online, and have them sent straight to those family members you won’t be seeing in the holidays.

4. Plan how you’ll pay.

Consider paying in cash only - research on the psychology of spending suggests it’s much easier to overspend when paying with a credit card, or even gift certificate3. If you do pay on credit, as around 20% of aussies do4, make sure you have a plan to pay it off to avoid the sting of late fees and interest.

5. Get a head-start on next year.

I’ve always liked the idea of buying gifts throughout the year, but it can be hard to plan for someone else’s needs, in secret, 12 months in advance. If there are certain gifts you know you’ll be giving next year, consider layby, or keep an eye on sales throughout the year.
If you don’t have any gift ideas yet, why not do everything short of buying the gifts? Start making lists now, and start saving. By putting aside $35 a week now, by December 2017 you’ll have a healthy nest egg of around $2,000 - and that’s not including any interest you might earn on the savings account of your choice. ASIC’s savings calculator can help you plan for your savings goal.
These tips will take the stress out of Christmas gift-buying. If you have any questions about budgeting, tax-savvy tips, planning your work Christmas party (see Andrew’s myth-busting blog here) or planning for the year ahead, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Our office will be closed on Thursday 22nd December 2016, and re-open Tuesday 3rd January 2017. The team at Vivid Chartered Accountants wishes everyone a safe and happy festive season.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

DIY Bookkeeping

We offer bookkeeping as well as accounting and business services at Vivid, but we also understand that some small business owners like to keep costs down and take a hands-on approach to bookkeeping. So, we’ve put together some tips for those of you who are already, or are thinking about, Doing It Yourself:

    1.  Start with user-friendly accounting software that meets your needs. We use Xero – it is user-friendly and cloud-based, so you can access up-to-date information from any device, anywhere there is an internet connection. Xero also has an add-on market place, so if Xero doesn’t do exactly what you want, someone else has probably already built an add-on that does.
          2.  Set up a bank feed. Setting up a bank feed to your accounting software means that bank statement information is automatically imported each night, making reconciliation easy and giving you up-to-date information.
          3.  Bank reconciliation. We’ve heard of businesses not doing this, and it’s really important. You can do it daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, but we recommend doing it at least monthly. Reconciling your bank statement allows you to see exactly who has and hasn’t paid, make sure you have recorded all your expenses, and identify any unauthorised transactions. Xero makes this really easy; click on the bank account from the dashboard to see options for reconciling your bank statement.

    Image result for xero dashboard

          4.  Chase your debtors. If you’ve done the work, you need to get paid to keep your business profitable. Keep an eye on outstanding invoices and follow up any that are overdue. Sometimes customers just forget, and a quick reminder makes the difference between getting paid, and working for free. Xero’s dashboard makes it easy to keep an eye on overdue debtors, and can send automatic email reminders, or there are add-ons that go the extra mile and can even call debtors for you.

          5.  Check if you need to register for GST. If your business has a GST turnover of $75,000 per year or more ($150,000 for a non-profit), or you provide taxi or limousine services (including Uber), you need to register for GST. Once your GST turnover exceeds the threshold, you have 21 days to register for GST, so it’s important to keep an eye on your turnover. If you don’t register for GST when required, you may have to pay GST on sales from the time you were required to register, plus possible penalties and interest. See the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website for more information.

          6.  Submit your Activity Statements. If the ATO has sent you a Business Activity Statement (BAS) or Instalment Activity Statement (IAS) to complete, make sure you do this and make any resulting payment by the due date to avoid penalties. If you need help with completing your BAS or IAS, please don’t hesitate to contact the ATO, or Vivid Chartered Accountants, for assistance.

          7.  Payroll. This is a complicated area that small business owners often find tricky. If you have staff, make yourself familiar with the ATO and Fair Work Australia websites. If you can’t find the information you need, don’t hesitate to call the contact numbers on those websites for advice. We also offer payroll services at Vivid Chartered Accountants.

          We hope these tips help you with DIYing your bookkeeping, but if you would like our assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our bookkeepers are qualified, Xero Certified, and work closely with our accountants. They can assist you with setting up Xero, full on-going bookkeeping, BAS/IAS preparation only, payroll, and one-off clean-ups or advice.

    Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Goal Setting Part 1

    Business-Planning-Goal-Setting-Resized.jpg31st December is renowned for being the evening when it comes to setting goals, and waking up to a whole new ‘you’ to kick off the New Year. But what about the slightly-less-celebrated financial new year?  As 30 June brings the year to a close, it can be the perfect time to really look into your business performance and set some goals to reach for the next financial year.

    While the concept of goal setting is familiar to everyone, its value is often greatly underestimated. By giving yourself a goal to reach, you’re making a commitment to do something better. Some of the common goals we hear from our clients include;

    • Creating wealth and establishing financial security
    • Creating work-life balance
    • Reducing personal and business debt

    When trying to determine your overarching business goal, take the time to really evaluate:
    • Where you are now?
    • Why you are there?
    • Where do you want to be?
    • How do you get there?

    Ask yourself why you wanted to establish your business in the first place.  Anyone can make a grand sweeping statement and say that’s their goal, but does that goal really have meaning when there’s nothing substantial behind it?

    Recognise and evaluate the real information that your financial statements give you.  Take the time to understand what those numbers mean both for your current performance as the indicators towards where you can improve.  Taking on board industry averages and benchmarks, as well as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will give you a solid grounding for your goal setting.

    Here is a quick checklist of all the best things to keep in mind when trying to establish your goals:

    • Make sure your goal is quantifiable – a goal that cannot be measured doesn’t assist in giving you any indicator of performance or progression.  When determining how to measure your goal, be specific about the results you want to achieve.

    • Create a time limit for when you want to achieve your goal.  Having a time frame in which to achieve your goal provides focus towards what you really want.

    • Make your goals challenging, but also realistic.  You want to continue to push yourself and your business to improve, but setting completely unattainable goals will only demotivate you and your staff when you fall short.

    • Make your goals your own.  Above everything else you must be honest – create goals that are true to you and what you really want.  In order for goals to be achieved, they must fall in line with your values and reflect you as a person.  Falsifying goals or waiting for someone else to create your passion will never work long-term.

    • Become accountable for the goal you have created.  Write your goal down and share it with your staff members, friends and family.

    • Once the overall goal has been determined, it’s time to start planning how to make your goal into a reality. What actions need to be taken on a daily, monthly and/or quarterly basis to make these goals happen?  Small short-term goals will help to create a path, as well as maintain focus and motivation towards the long-term goals. To plan your short-term goals, they can be broken down into two categories – performance and process.

      Performance goals are the benchmarks you need to reach to ensure you are on track to your overall goal.  The best way to achieve these is to break them down into short- and medium-term performances as well as categorise them in line with your determined KPIs.  For example, if your annual goal is to increase sales by 24%, then your performance goal can be to increase sales by 2% per month, or 6% per quarter.

      Process goals are the actions necessary to reach the performance goals. In the above example, what needs to be done on a daily basis to ensure there is a 2% growth in sales for the next month?  It is imperative that the processes are measured against the performance goals on a regular basis, as this is the only way to know if your processes are appropriate to your overall goal.  Process goals, although small, are by far the most important component in your goal setting. The reality is, if you can nail your processes, then you’re on track to your overall goal with very little additional planning.

      Goal setting is an invaluable business tool and something all of us here at Vivid Chartered Accountants embrace personally, and encourage our clients to take on.  Not only does it give you something to work towards, it creates a clear pathway to keep you moving in the right direction.  By evaluating, understanding and planning what you want from your business in the long-term, you will see yourself exactly in the position you want to be.

      Stay tuned for our next instalment - Goal Setting Part 2