Blog

Sep 03

4 Reasons DIY Bookkeeping may be costing you

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Thursday, September 03, 2015

I found this article on a blog by Matt McFedries a business owner based in NZ and I wanted to share it here as I thought it captures the essence of the "value" you get from engaging professional bookkeeping services rather than seeing it as a "cost" to your business. It also supports my work & life mantra " Work Smarter, Not Harder ". I hope you enjoy reading Matt's article:

Four reasons DIY bookkeeping is capping your business growth

I went for years doing my own bookkeeping. I thought I was saving money... but in hindsight I think the cost of not having a bookkeeper was far greater.

Here's why.....

Reason 1: Sporadic bookkeeping habits slow you down

If you don't have up-to-date data on how your business is tracking weekly or at least twice a month it's hard to change your tactics throughout the month to improve your results.

For example, if it's clear mid-month that your income is not reaching budget, then at least you have the rest of the month to focus on closing more deals. Remember there's only 12 months in the year – the more months you can 'win' the better. Finding out at the end of the month that you missed the mark is not ideal.

Reason 2: You'll miss opportunities to make/save money

Having an expert or third party reviewing your books on a regular basis is likely to yield opportunities to save on tax or make other financial decisions to optimise your position. Some of the best advice and insights I've had have come by simply having a 3rd party opinion from someone viewing my business from the outside.

Reason 3: Every decision you make taxes your brain

Every decision you make costs you. Some people have a greater capacity to make decisions than others. Let's say you could make 100 decisions each day across your business, how many of those decisions would you spend on deciding how to reconcile your bank? Or is your brain put to far better use elsewhere in your business?

Reason 4: It lightens your load. Wouldn't that be nice!

Everyone that's started a business understands the true cost. It's measured in risk, stress, time away from family and the inability to switch-off outside of 'typical' working hours. Having a bookkeeper that's on your team, enabling better decisions, suggesting ways to save you money and increasing your financial IQ can provide a significant relief to the constant battle you face each day to build your dream.

Lastly.

I believe there's two types of business owners in this world. Those that value their time and those that don't.

Unfortunately our DIY mentality can really hold us back, we end up working harder, not smarter and we do it for years on end. It might be time to wake up.

Jul 22

8 tips to improve your Time Management

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Saw this great article on Time Management...something we all struggle with right? And importantly, TM is something we can all be better at and benefit from, not only in business, but in 'life' !

Below you will find some simple and easy ways to improve your time management and productivity.  Most of these are common sense....but like most things in life, the 'KISS' principle doesn't always come front of mind so it is useful to to be reminded.... I hope you enjoy and find these tips useful!!  

1) To-Do lists

Ever heard of the Zeigernik Effect? Well, according to Webster, it’s a psychological term for the mind’s tendency to fixate on unfinished tasks rather than the completed ones. In 2011, E. J. Masicampo and Roy F. Baumeister, two Psychologists, did a study on the topic. The two concluded that your mind fixates on unfinished goals almost 75% more often than if you made a plan.

In order to maximize concentration, just make one to-do list. Multiple lists scattered around your desk doesn’t put the mind at ease. If you use a Mac, try using the Reminders application. It syncs with your iPhone so you can have everything you need at your fingertips at all times. If you are using a PC; check out Wunderlist, they have a free app for Android, iOS, as well as desktop and web-based extensions for Safari, Chrome and Firefox.
  

2) Stop Multitasking

Pride yourself on your ability to multitask? Chances are you aren’t as good as you think. According to the journal of experimental psychology, it takes your brain an average of 4 times longer to recognize and process each item you’re working on when multitasking. Just think about a computer – when you run more programs, your computer operates more slowly. The same is true for your brain.

There are a few solutions to this issue, but for starters, stop being a “martyr multitasker.” Beyond that, the key is to weed out distractions. Utilize the “Do Not Disturb” function on your phone and on messenger applications. There’s no shame in doing one thing at a time, and there’s a good chance you’ll be more effective than any of the multi-taskers on your team.

 

3) Group Similar Tasks

Grouping similar tasks makes getting through to-do lists a hell of a lot easier. The University of Maryland has published a study supporting this fact. The study identified increases in retention and cognition from grouping. In essence, when you group related tasks, you remember more and thus perform better.

So instead of having lists like this:
- Call Jeremy,
- Employee Logs,
- Post Update on Twitter,
- Call Emily,
- Facebook Post

Make something that looks more like this:
- Employee Logs
- Sales Calls
o Call Kyle
o Call Laura
- Social Media Marketing
o Twitter
o Facebook

Grouping will put your to-do lists in a logical, fluid format; allowing you to tear through work and get that promotion in no time! (Okay, we can’t promise a promotion.)

 

4) Prioritization Is Crucial

You only have 4 hours to complete your entire to-do list during a typical 8 hour workday, according to research by McKinsey Global Institute. Spend time on non-critical tasks, and your chances of falling behind increase dramatically. Prioritizing this list is a crucial first step in managing your time and maximizing your output.

If you have trouble with prioritization, try the Time Management Toolkit from Mind Tools. The urgent/important matrix helps you identify where each item on your to-do list should be prioritized.

How to use the matrix:

sqrl-important-matrix

 

1. List all of your tasks no matter how big or little.

2. Rank those items in order of importance from most important to least important.

3. Now applying the urgency of anyone task, plot the to-dos in the graph.

4. Use the graph to help guide which items should be performed first, and start cranking out some work!

 

5) Time Yourself

Motivation has been linked to the subjective sense of future time according to a Stanford University study on human development. “Amount of time left” is a primary trigger for different emotional states – lose track of remaining time and watch your stress levels rise. Timers serve the purpose of identifying the exact amount of time which remains. The goal here is that by staying on top of remaining time, you can prevent the high levels of stress associated with needing more. You know, prevent the “oh shit” moments.

There are multiple timers to choose from and most phones have a timer application already included. If you need something on your computer, Mac users can find MenuTimer in the app store, which sits in the menu bar, and sends an alert when the time is up. Orzeszek Timer is a great option for PC users.
 

6) Don’t Be A Procrastinator

Unfortunately, to the one in five people who are chronic procrastinators, deadlines have no effect according to studies by MIT and the National Bureau of Economic Research. Fuschia Sirois of Bishops University identified procrastination has its roots in self preservation. By putting off negative feelings towards the future, you can be happy now (e.g. ‘productively’ alphabetizing your magazine rack) while ignorantly hoping to be more in the mood for your paperwork later.

There are 3 key traits to identifying procrastination;

1. Openly welcoming distractions
2. Using excuses as reasons
3. Giving in to despair

To overcome procrastination, focus on the negative feelings which come from not doing a particular task. You can take this a step further and write “Because of Procrastination” on a Post-It Note and stick it somewhere visible to other people. Whenever a negative outcome arises from procrastination, add it to the list. You will not only be reminded of the consequences of procrastination, but it may motivate you to avoid adding anything else to that list. And well, start getting shit done.
 

7) Take Control of Your Email

Almost half of each day is spent on email related tasks. Taking control of your email requires making a few key changes to save time. We will concentrate primarily on Gmail, however these options are available in many email clients.

Conversation View

The conversation view brings each separate email in a conversation, both sent and received, and combines them so you can quickly view the message in context.

Enable the conversation view in Gmail by going to the icon (top right) and selecting ‘Settings’. In the General tab, within settings, change “Conversation View” to ON.

Organize It

Identify common themes in your inbox and put them into folders (labels in Gmail). Each particular ‘theme’ is different for everyone, but the principle remains the same. Working with different customers? Set up a different folder for each customer. This allows quick access to each conversation between you and that customer.

To create a new label in Gmail, click the icon (top right) and select “Settings”. In the Labels tab (next to General), select “Create New Label”. Now you’re ready to go label crazy.

Establish Rules and Filters

Rules and filters keep your inbox cleaner by automatically redirecting incoming mail to folders, sending canned responses (we cover that next), or marking it as read or spam. By using the rules/filters function, you can prevent unimportant emails from distracting you from work.

In Gmail, go the the icon (top right) and select “Settings”. Then, select the ‘Filters’ tab at the top and hit ‘Create New Filter’. The drop-down window allows you to identify different criteria for the message, and select ‘create filter with this search’ to identify the action taken by Gmail.
 

8) ‘Canned Responses’ in Gmail

Canned responses are essentially email templates in Gmail. They can be used for anything from thank you notes to press releases to status updates. If you don’t want it to feel as if you’re writing a formed letter to each of your correspondents, just make more room to add a personal touch at the end with each message.

How to Create Canned Responses

1. Go to the icon (top right) and select ‘Settings’.
2. Select Labs from the tabs at the top
3. Find ‘Canned Responses’ in the labs and Select Enable.
4. After Canned Response is enabled, select Compose to create a new email.
5. Write the body of your Canned Response (Be sure your Signature is not in it – That will show up later)
6. Select the icon at the bottom right of your email
7. Put your cursor on the ‘Canned Responses’ text
8. Select ‘New Canned Response’ and Create a Name

How to Send a Canned Response

1. Select ‘Compose’ (or reply)
2. Click the icon at the bottom right
3. Put your cursor on the ‘Canned Responses’ Text
4. Select the Canned Response you would like to send.

Note: These steps can be used when deleting Canned Responses as well. Just select the Canned Response you want to delete from the bottom of the list.  (source: getsqrl.com)

Jul 17

No more shoe boxes of receipts !

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Thursday, July 17, 2014

Receipt Bank is a fantastic add-on to Xero that makes the accounts payable function an absolute breeze. The MUBS team are big fans and users of the app themselves, so they know their way around it.

Imagine completing data entry for a bill by:

1)    snapping a photo of a bill or receipt with your smartphone

2)    touching the screen once to send it off to Receipt Bank

It really is that easy! Once you have submitted your receipts and bills, Receipt Bank, through a combination of cool technology and a great team of people, will enter them line by line, ready for one-click export from Receipt Bank into your Xero file.

Forget about keeping the paper copy (the ATO accepts scanned copies of bills for your records), save some trees and buy back some precious time to spend either growing your business or improving your lifestyle.

Pricing for Receipt Bank starts at $19/month for a single user account with a 75 bills per month processing limit.

Intrigued? Excited? Give us a call to talk more about how Receipt Bank will work for you.

Jun 20

Want to Increase the Productivity of your Business?

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Friday, June 20, 2014

Found this great article on the GeoOp blog. It provides some great tips for the business folk from the trades & services sector and wanted to share.....enjoy!


Many small and medium business in the trades and services sector such as plumbers, electricians, cleaning organisations and maintenance and repair services to mention a few, express the annoyance that they spend far too long performing menial tasks that bear little or no relation to the core process of the service that their business actually offers. For new owners, it’s particularly challenging as they’re suddenly expected to become accountants, HR managers and advertising specialists all at the same time.

We see this especially in trades and services businesses where often the business owners are spending their evenings and weekends completing paperwork and sending out invoices. For these reasons, it becomes essential to find ways to cut down on the time spent on these tasks and maximise the actual productivity of the business.

We’ve compiled some top tips on increasing the productivity in your business utilising some technology and changes in thinking.

 Embrace mobile technology and get your systems in the ‘cloud’

It is now possible to run your business from the palm of your hand using a smartphone or tablet device. Sure it takes some getting used to and perhaps a change to your systems, but so does working less and going on more holidays. With GeoOp you can easily create, assign, quote, cost and invoice all of your jobs from your smartphone or tablet. There are a number of other apps you can use to keep an eye on your business as well including accounting and invoicing apps, stock and inventory and CRM systems depending on your requirements. All of these increase your productivity and allow you to access up to date information in real time, from anywhere.

Invoice right now, yes now!

One of the biggest headaches for tradies is the financial side of the business. Especially managing the time from job completion, to invoicing and finally being paid. Making things like invoicing easy and enabling the capability for the business owner to be able to choose when they’d like to invoice with the instant availability of the job details and charges through a job management system like GeoOp enhances productivity. If you wish, you could really speed cash flow by enabling staff to invoice once the job is completed.

However, if you wanted to conduct any checks or you didn’t want your staff to see the final charges being invoiced out, you or an accounts person can invoice at regular intervals, as all the information is available on hand. Just ensure you set specific times whether it’s daily or weekly to ensure it’s done regularly. GeoOp integrates with great cloud accounting solutions so you can seamlessly have your invoices in your accounting system, saving you needing to duplicate the information. It also allows for your general ledger to be updated and your profit and loss reports done.

Take payments on the road

Talk to your bank about setting a mobile EFTPOS facility or if they have a payment app available so your staff and contractors can take payments and deposits while out in the field speeding up productivity. GeoOp integrates to payment solutions such as St George Bank and DPS Payments as well, so any payments taken out in the field are correctly reflected against the job.

 Outsource

Spending hours a month doing your books and GST, or are you missing opportunities to bring in new business because you’re out fixing up mistakes? Look at what you can outsource to so you can spend more time on billable hours and leveraging the time you do work to the fullest.

Automatic customer scheduling

If you’ve got regular jobs you complete for customers, you can create recurring jobs in GeoOp and set the frequency as well to save you time inputting them. You can also grant your customers individual login details to be able to input, edit and see the status of their own jobs. With website integrations available too, even new customers who have just found you can request a job. Enabling these features means increased productivity for you and your office staff and increased communication and transparency with your customers as well.

Talk less

Improving communication between team members and access to information on clients can vastly speed up productivity on the job. Often previous job history is needed while on the job and many phone calls are needed to find it. With GeoOp you can bring up a full job history of the client while on site and move onto fixing the problem straight away.

Get online

With majority of customers now turning online to find their next tradie, their local tradie or references for a businesses’ work, you must get online. Whether its through a website, social media channels, blogs etc you need to ensure its easy for your customers and potential customers to be able to find you and find out about you.


May 31

Take Visa Without Paying For It – New Options for Online Invoicing

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Saturday, May 31, 2014


eWay PayThis surcharge on Xero's online invoicing

Last year Xero added the ability to take payments the moment a business issued its invoice through online invoicing with Xero Pay Now. Now payment providers are building on the service with advanced features that give offline businesses the advantages of e-commerce but without the cost.
eWay is the first provider to release a surcharge option called Pay This that lets businesses add custom surcharges for MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and American Express cards. The Xero user sets the amount for each type of card and the surcharge is applied when a customer pays an invoice through Xero’s online invoice portal.
Xero confirmed that eWay is the first provider globally to add this service and added that other providers would soon roll out their own versions.
“If you take PayPal and credit card on an e-commerce site you’re more likely to process a payment because the customer has more options. We’ve just brought that mentality to the Xero system,” says Trent McLaren, eWay’s “Xero ambassador”.
Surcharges present a neat solution to a growing problem. Businesses complain about high fees on card payments but customers often prefer using plastic.
Despite a proliferation of alternative payments systems, credit and debit cards remain the preferred method for making payments and are expected to make up three quarters of all point-of-sale payments by 2017, market research firm Javelin Strategy & Research has reported.
Businesses that help customers to pay invoices online are likely to decrease the amount of time it takes to get paid. “Instead of that eight-week cycle you’re (getting paid) in days, not weeks,” McLaren says. Even if a customer baulks at the surcharge for a credit card and opts to pay by direct deposit, “we’ve still done our job in terms of helping that customer improve their cashflow”, McLaren adds.
Xero claimed it had statistical evidence that online invoicing and payments reduce the time to collect on invoicing by nearly three weeks, based on analysis of four million invoices lodged through Xero.
Surcharges give businesses the flexibility that customers demand without paying the credit card suppliers’ costs, and they have received a lot of support in Xero’s feature requests forum.
“Partners and users want to pass that credit card fee onto the customer paying the invoice,” McLaren says. “It allows you to recover the cost of having an online payment system.”
The surcharge process is fairly simple. Payment providers can tell the type of card from the first six digits of the card’s number. Xero displays the surcharge on the online invoice’s payment screen in red and the customer is prompted a second time to acknowledge the surcharge before paying it.
eWay charges a range of rates that drop with volume and start at 2.9 percent of the purchase price plus 13 cents. The percentage can drop to 1.9 percent or lower by paying a monthly subscription of $49 a month and up.
This compares somewhat to PayPal’s 2.4 percent plus 30 cents standard merchant rate, which reduces as monthly revenue rises.
Online invoicing, online payment and credit card surcharges fall under Xero's Banking 2.0 concept. It builds on the work done by MYOB with its M-Powered Services which pioneered the ability to add a tearaway chit on the bottom of paper invoices to receive credit card payments. (This technology hasn’t yet yet made it across to MYOB Essentials or AccountRight Live !!)
eWay, led by technologist Matt Bullock, is pushing ahead with the Banking 2.0 concept. It has consolidated the admin and paperwork for businesses wanting to set up a merchant account for Xero Pay Now by handling the approvals process on behalf of the Xero user’s bank.
eWay’s next project is to add automatic late fees to invoices paid through Xero’s online invoicing portal.
Businesses taking advantage of this burst of innovation should see their payment timeframes drop as a result.