Empower Your Business

Accounting is Just the Beginning

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Four reasons why BankLink is a proven solution for rural clients

“Stressful! Disorganised and time consuming.”

That was life for beef and deer farmers Kate and Nathan Stratford before moving to MYOB BankLink.

“We didn’t really have a handle on what was happening, we had minimal formal budgets and didn’t know if we were moving forwards or backwards with our business”.

Fickle internet connections, lack of time, need for reliability, and (for the Stratfords) a need for financial visibility – these are some of the reasons New Zealand’s primary producers turn to BankLink as their preferred accounting solution.

Let’s take a look at how BankLink has earned its position as leader in rural accounting solutions.

Read More

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What’s Good (and Bad) about Cloud Accounting

Cloud Accounting, ABAC Hastings, Hawke's Bay

Fashion and clever advertising has a huge influence on our lives, especially where technology is involved. Sometimes this can be positive but often it’s bad for us e.g. you see folks out and about who don’t look like they have two pennies to rub together with the latest expensive smartphones or 60” surround-sound TV’s in houses that are unbelievably tatty. So is cloud accounting a fashion or is it here to stay?

There’s no denying there’s loads of good stuff about cloud accounting:

  • Back-ups. For those who can’t get into the routine of backing-up cloud accounting can save some pain and cost, and to be fair, sometimes the back-ups are not backing up or they fail, which is why it’s wise to have two systems to back-up as well as testing the back-up’s regularly. Assuming, of course, terrorists or hackers don’t get to your data in the cloud or the underground server room floods!
  • Software Updates. You’re always on the latest version and there’s no dilemma about whether to spend the money to upgrade to the latest version which in actuality, is probably not a lot different to the existing.
  • Access. With some (but not all) cloud accounting software you can access your data from any computer with an internet connection, or on mobile phones or tablets if you have sharp eyes.
  • Only One Data File. With cloud accounting there’s only one live data file which means there’s no chance of entering data on the wrong file or getting confused as to which file is the live one. A client the other day had 4 data files on her desktop – talk about the potential for a stuff-up!
  • Security. They say that cloud accounting software has much better security than desktop software. Hmmm………..not sure that’s very relevant to small businesses but maybe for bigger ones?
  • Sharing Data. The best thing about cloud accounting is that you share your data with others from a distance, whether it’s your business partner, your accountant or your business coach. Prior to cloud accounting sharing data meant getting in the car to collect a back-up, or emailing a file to another or via Dropbox all of which take time or can cause confusion.

You may have noticed that I haven’t listed automated bank feeds as an advantage of cloud accounting. This is because there is some fantastic accounting software available with automated bank feeds utilising coding rules which is not cloud based. Not only is this cheaper but it’s much easier to use by non-accountants and bookkeepers.

So are there any downsides to cloud accounting?

  • For smaller businesses the ongoing monthly fees can be a disincentive. If you’re paying $50 a month over 10 years this is $6,000, a huge amount more than the few hundred dollars you used to spend on desktop software. Some of my clients are still using 10 year old accounting software which cost them $250! 
  • Although internet speeds and coverage is improving it can still be frustratingly slower to enter data or run reports using cloud software, especially if the software itself is launched prematurely and is just too slow! 
  • Third-Party Software. The ability to integrate with third-party software is often quoted as an advantage of cloud accounting software but to me, it’s often just a nuisance because there’s more cost and hassle and often, they just don’t work together. Why on earth would you want to pay for two different software brands if you could get everything in one?
  • Difficult to Use. The clever marketing of one cloud accounting software brand puts forward the idea that it’s easy to use for non-accountants or bookkeepers. Unfortunately I don’t find that to be the case and whilst desktop accounting software is not exactly easy to use either at least there was no attempt to pretend that it was!
  • Whose Data is it? There’s been various stories floating about the internet about the difficulties business owners found when they fell out with their accountants (who for some odd reason owned their data!) or when they stopped paying the monthly fees and found they could no longer access their data. Neither of these issues would occur with desktop software. 
  • No Internet = No Software! It’s rare these days I must admit but what happens when your internet fails?

So don’t be swayed by fashion or clever advertising, do some research and ask around before you take the plunge and commit to a particular brand of accounting software. Get advice too from an honest accountant, not one who’s been bribed by a cloud accounting provider!

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6 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Running Your Business

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While prospects for SMEs may be looking better, many cash-strapped business owners still need to be cautious and look for ways to reduce the costs of running their businesses. Here are a few ideas:

1. Analyze your premises.

Do you really need to be in the CBD? Could you work out of town from a cheaper (maybe industrial) area or from home? Perhaps you could encourage staff to work from home or hire contractors responsible for their own work space. Technologies such as the cloud, Dropbox or Skype mean it’s never been easier to keep in contact with remote team members.

Can you cut down on inventory so you can downsize your premises?  Rather than renting premises, can you buy a house in the right zone and use this instead? This way, you would be investing for yourself rather than helping someone else with their retirement plans.

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Ask an Accountant – Top Tips for Starting a Cafe

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Welcome to the second episode of Ask an Accountant. This is your chance to get direct answers to your accountancy, business & tax questions from business and tax expert Nick Roberts who founded the Accountancy + Business Advice Centre

This week’s question asks for tips on starting a cafe….
Press play to see the response

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Simple Steps to Reduce Your Accountancy Fees

What accounting systems do you use now?

Any tips you would add?

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Cloud Accounting – MYOB v Xero

Boxing GlovesNow that MYOB have released a new and much quicker version of their AccountRight Live which is much cheaper than Xero the battle between MYOB and Xero is hotting up!

I asked A + BAC’s Samantha, an experienced Xero user, to review the new MYOB cloud software and compare the two. The views expressed are Samantha’s alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Accountancy + Business Advice Centre

Appearance

Xero has a cleaner, less cluttered screen than MYOB which appears blurry, dated and is difficult on the eyes after a period of time – particularly when working on a laptop.

The Xero desktop can easily be customised to promote greater ease of use and to suit the client’s needs.

Ease of Use

Navigation within Xero for users new to accounting software is much easier as all core functions are easily identified on the desktop.  Navigation in Xero is consistent with Google and internet navigation.  For instance, by selecting the “back” option to return to previous screens and the ability to open multiple “tabs”.  Overall, this makes navigation much easier, particularly where the user is familiar with the internet.

However, if a user is already familiar with the MYOB layout, they are both straight forward to navigate, though the “internet” type of navigation is not available with MYOB.

For simple daily transactions, for instance bank statement coding, entering and emailing invoices/ purchase orders and sending statements Xero is much quicker, entry is more straightforward and overall easier to use.

For more complex tasks such as applying bank rules (coding rules) receipting payments to existing accounts and matching invoices, MYOB is easier to set up and use, however Xero has greater functionality and flexibility and works more effectively.

Under payments, prepayments and overpayments are a little more hassle to complete in Xero than in MYOB.

Reports

MYOB has far superior reporting options, flexibility and ease of use.  Transferring to Excel is simple and well formatted. With Excel transfers, complex analysis reporting is accessible, with some limitations.

Xero reports are satisfactory for all basic and common reporting requirements.  It is, however, difficult to gain more complex analysis reporting.

Pricing

MYOB has a consistent, across the board pricing which is affordable and probably better value with the basic software at $21 per month. Xero’s pricing is dependent on number of transactions.  The starter package has similar pricing to MYOB live at $25 per month; however at this level is only be relevant to a small number of businesses.  The Standard and Premium packages are $50 & $65 per month.

Features

Essentially, MYOB is a more basic version of Xero with one distinct advantage in being able to work offline as well as online and more in-depth reporting options are available.  Another core advantage with MYOB is the ability to complete desktop back up’s of your data files, which means data can be retained by the owner and if necessary, can allow the user to restore from a previous backup if data is corrupted or totally screwed up, by say, an inexperienced user.

Xero’s has enhanced features, greater flexibility and can be more fully customised to suit the user’s needs. Xero is probably more “modern” with iPhone and iPad apps and a number of add on’s available to purchase.  If set up correctly by and experienced Xero user, with a number of well written bank rules Xero is probably easier to use with greater accuracy for small to mid-sized businesses in which accounts are managed by a user with limited accounting software experience.

Conclusions

MYOB and Xero both offer reliable accounting software solutions which can be matched to different users according to needs.

MYOB is an effective solution for a business with very basic accounting needs, where the volume of transactions exceeds Xero’s starter package criteria.

For a larger organisation, with an experienced office administrator MYOB Premier or Xero’s Premium package will be equally suitable.  In this instance, MYOB Premier may be a more cost effective solution, particularly if you have inventory (which Xero doesn’t do) unless of course, you’re wed to the Cloud as MYOB Premier is not up there yet!

For a small to mid-sized organisation, that can utilise the enhanced features of Xero, Xero is probably a better match, particularly if an office administrator is not completing the processing.  To gain maximum benefit from Xero it is important that set up of the accounts, general ledger, comparatives and bank rules is completed by an experienced Xero user.

What to do Next

Don’t get carried away by fashion or public relations hype. Seek expert advice from an experienced accountant who can advise you on what’s going to suit you and be best for your business. At the Accountancy + Business Advice Centre we are experts on accounting software so contact us on nick@abac.co.nz.

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Having trouble getting paid by customers? – Try these 8 tips

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A lot of business owners struggle with getting their customers to pay, and, as a result, get into cash flow difficulties themselves. Here are 8 practical tips that may help.

1. Clear expectations

Make your payment expectations clear on all your invoices and your Terms of Trade, which ALL customers should sign. Set the scene from the onset, making it clear that prompt payment is a condition of doing business with you.

2. Resolve quickly

Deal with queries or disputes as quickly as possible to get any excuses from your customers out of the way. The longer you leave matters in limbo, the longer it will be before you get paid.

See full article HERE

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Boost your profitability with MYOB

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Many small business owners don’t know how to go about boosting their profitability. It’s often easier than they think because they have some great tools available right under their noses. Take, for example, MYOB AccountRight Standard, Plus or Premier, all of which include a large range of features designed to help you better manage your business and increase your profits. Let’s have a look at a few features.

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Is Your Accounting Package Still A Good Fit?

dreamstimefree_40306For the past few years many businesses have “put off” investing in their accounting system in favour of improving other areas such as sales and production efficiency, i.e. areas that ultimately have an impact on their bottom line. Good old Kiwi ingenuity has seen many businesses “tack on” and “patch up” their system to enable them to keep operating without having to go through the expense of an upgrade.

At a basic level upgrades are released to make our lives easier, improve the customer experience or both. So why would you continually turn your back on them?

Without realising it, businesses have increased their administration tasks and become reliant on this “additional work” to function on a day to day basis. Many companies extract their data into Excel to calculate and/or manipulate the figures into a usable form. In some cases this has been simply to undertake essential functions such as allowing for GST at 15% and accounting for foreign currency transactions.

Believe it or not these types of inefficiencies are not only holding you back, they also add up to a hefty dollar amount.

While some businesses still have a hangover from the recession, low interest rates and a more positive business outlook appear to be encouraging others to review their systems and invest in this area. Businesses have also come to realise that their choice is no longer restricted to choosing between an off the shelf accounting package (that may not totally meet their needs) or an expensive custom built accounting system. Systems have evolved over the past five years and can now be tailored to meet a business’ specific needs and it won’t break the bank.

Today business functions are intertwined and reliant on similar information. Most businesses whether big or small realise the efficiencies that can be achieved from a consistent data source. A good operating system should, where possible, integrate data to avoid duplication, inconsistencies and to minimise input errors.

So what are the signs that your business is ready for an upgrade? Here are a few key questions to get the ball rolling:

How easy is it for you to generate your financial reports today?

Are your monthly reports always pushing your reporting deadlines? Are you reliant on a team to combine/manipulate data to enable your reports to be produced? While you may think you are saving money on the upgrade and/or system review, you need to consider the extra resources that you devote to the accounting and finance function.

How much double/triple handing of data is there?

Does your month end process involve pulling data from one system and re-entering it into another? Do you rely on Excel spreadsheets for job-costing/work in progress calculations? You need to consider how much time you or your team is wasting that could be better utilised elsewhere in the business.

Has your business recently gone through an expansion phase?

This may be a growing customer base, expanding into new markets and/or projects or simply an increase in your staff numbers. A small business can get by with a more basic accounting system. However, as your customer base/number of locations and/or projects and employee base grows, there is a greater need for access and sharing of key data.

How do you assess sales, finances, and other business functions to evaluate your performance?

If you rely on information pulled from all different sources your data is bound to be plagued by errors caused by manual entry. Tying up your resources and timeliness is also likely to be an issue.

Is your financial data difficult to audit or unreliable?

You may rely on a few key team members simply because they are the only ones who know how the system works. This leaves you exposed if they go on extended leave or leave the business completely. There may also be the risk of incomplete records or discrepancies as it is unlikely their work has been reviewed before.

It is important to remember that a new and improved accounting system is not much use on its own. You need to ensure that your accounting team has the right level of experience for the role, and that you provide them with training as required.

You may recognise the above signs or have your own growing pains that simply need to be dealt with. If you have identified the symptoms, you can contact us to discuss your options.

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Reducing Your Accounting Fees

One of the best ways to reduce your accountancy fees is to get some decent accounting software and use it properly. It doesn’t matter that much what brand of software (we accountants are happy with MYOB, Quickbooks, Xero or any other software with a full general ledger) you use, as long as you use it properly. This means:

  • Making sure you reconcile the balance on the bank register to the balance on the bank statement at each month end, NOT the last statement date which is often part-way through the month. If you don’t know how to use the bank reconciliation routine don’t worry, just make sure all the transactions on the bank statements are accurately reflected on the software.
  • Ensure the amounts showing for Accounts Receivable and Payable agree to the balances showing on the general ledger/trial balance for these accounts or at least any difference is very small.
  • Clear out any accounts like undeposited funds or the electronic payment clearing account and reconcile the amounts in accounts for supplier or customer deposits or similar.
  • If you can BEFORE you prepare your GST returns reconcile the amounts recoverable or payable in GST ledger accounts.
  • Your accountant should be adjusting the balances on your accounting software for the balances showing on the Annual Financial statements as otherwise you cannot prepare any interim or regular management accounts which are so useful for managing your business and telling you on a timely basis whether you’re making or losing money.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY of all you must LOCK the period after you’ve prepared each GST return to the date of the last GST return. It’s so easy to enter transactions in prior periods which makes a mess of the GST and probably means income or expenditure will be omitted from your Annual Financial statements.

Now many accountants more interested in feathering their own nests will tell you that you can’t use accounting software because it’s far too complex and that you’ll never get to grips with it. Well, in rare cases yes, but I find the great majority can if they invest the necessary time and effort. And the outcome? It’s wonderful – a one-stop shop for invoicing, your customer & supplier database, tracking your Accounts Receivables and Payables, time billing, job costing (the list goes on and on here) as well as reducing your accountancy fees!