Organising Your Business Information For Your Accountant

I often have new business clients which are not sure what information to give me as their accountant or bookkeeper in order to prepare Australian Accounting and Tax returns, or Financial statements. So I have put together a brief explanation of a simple method of getting it all together. If you use this simple method you will not only look professional to your accountants but save them time (by doing some of the legwork and having all of the relevant information available) getting you a cheaper accounting invoice by saving accounting time and you money. This is a process primarily for businesses which, do not have an internal accounts or bookkeeper person and simply provide information to accountants to prepare returns.

I want to stress that all good businesses know how well they are doing. In fact many businesses fail because of a lack of current financial information. It is vital you know your current financial position and profit or loss statement ideally monthly or at least quarterly if the business is well established with comfortable cash flow. If you are a business who only reviews their financial position annually, I strongly recommend you consider obtaining more regular financial information. This is so you have relevant information to manage your business and profitability. This can easily be done by engaging in a bookkeeper or accountant who can also come to your office. However if you wish to prepare information for the accountant and bring it to their office here is a quick process for you to complete.

The starting point of accounting is that it is based on recording all transactions from bank statements of all relevant bank accounts including cheque accounts, investments,credit cards and loans. For this reason, businesses should aim to track all business transactions through one of their bank accounts and hence have little or no cash transactions. If you have cash transactions you may need to provide additional information.

Step one
The first simple step is to collate all your bank statements of all business accounts, credit cards and loans for the period you need to report on. Some examples to illustrate the periods involved for a tax return 2010 you’ll need to gather statements from 1st of July 2009 to 30th of June 2010, or for a BAS return March 2010 you will need to gather statements from 1 January 2010 to 31 March 2010. You should receive all statements from your bank, if any are lost or misplaced your need to reorder from your bank incurring normally a bank fee. Sort this out before you provide the accountant your information. Better still accountants love to get electronic files of your bank statements as they are quick and easier to data entry, contact your bank to do this.

Step two
Once you have collated all bank statements review all individual lines and code them with relevant information (write a relevant description of them if not obvious from the bank statement line entry). For example all credit entries all money going into your accounts, you should indicate if they are income or sometimes they are owner contributions. With all money expended (money out) from accounts, you should also be describing relevant details especially cheque numbers and EFT transfers. Remember any additional information may be useful to your accountant such as asset detail so they can process specific taxation rules. If you are GST registered, you should also indicate whether the transaction involved GST or was GST free. The more you code the more you make your financial reports accurate and speed up things for your accountants processing which will lead to cheaper fees.

Step three
If you have coded all bank statements as for step two and have made sure all relevant bank statements have been collated. You may provide this to the accountant so that the financial report can be prepared. However, as tax law requires substantiation of your transactions and keeping these records, I would also suggest, attaching all relevant invoices relating to transactions on each bank statement. There may be a few transactions which do not have invoices such as bank charges and direct debit all regular charges loan payments etc. You may have other ways of filing invoices which are also acceptable.

This has been a quick outline of how to provide information to your accountant to prepare your financial or taxation reports. It is advisable eventually for a business to take the next step and to complete it’s bookkeeping internally which may result in even greater savings. I recommend this is done with the combination of internal resources, suitable accounting software and professional accounting involvement to control and develop the financial information further. Speak to an accountant or business adviser on this issue or to discuss installing an accounting software and training you to do some of the work. Often this will streamline some of your other administration tasks such as payroll, quoting and invoicing customers, knowing which debtor accounts are due or to facilitate a purchase ordering system, and to better track creditors or cash flow.

However, if you know book work is not an optimal use of your time and do not have internal resources, please do use a professional registered BAS agent, TAX agent (in Australia) or registered accountant in your country. But, perhaps consider updating your financial information on a more regular basis. I also had a recent experience with a client who did not wish to prepare their accounts themselves, but is available when I am coding their transactions; they were also able to see how the financial report is put together giving them a better understanding of the financial information. I also recommend that you do query, and get involved with the information provided to you at a summarized level so that you are sure that it is correct.

Overall, the key to book work is to do it regularly to stay on top of it and to complete while many transactions are fresh in your memory. Having up-to-date financial reports will give you a greater sense of pride in knowing how your business is tracking. By having current financial information you are in the much more informed position to make better business management as against having only annual and lagged financial information from your accountant.

Catering Business Information and Tips

Does everyone love your food? Do you create mouth-watering dishes that have people talking? Then starting a catering business may be just the breakthrough you needed. Why would a creative person like you who has that kind of talent work for someone else? This is the time to channel all your vigor and ideas into something you really love. Being your own boss can be challenging but running your own catering business will give you the opportunity of a lifetime. The only boundaries that are placed on you are those you place on yourself.

The catering business provides service for small or large parties, weddings, or even private dinner parties. A corporate event such as conferences, meetings, employee morale boosters, and grand openings looks for the services of a catering business.

The most important part of running any business is gaining clients. The ideal thing to do is to hire a sales person with a great personality in the catering business. If you are not the sales type and you are dealing with different clients including corporate executives, party planners, and nervous brides a sale person may very well be accommodating. The main ingredient to close the sale is to convince the client that the occasion will be memorable, the food will be presented appealingly and served quickly and discreetly. Networking with similar business will prove well to create a referral network to increase business. Successful caterers introduce themselves to other people and businesses that are involved in party and event planning as well. Good business in which to network are bridal boutiques, pastry chefs, wedding planners, florists, party supply, card and shop keepers.

Build a relationship with these businesses. Make sure they have your business cards and brochures. Check in with them often by dropping in with some tasty desserts or some hors d’oeuvres. They will remember you for that and may even result in some referrals. Create sales letters and brochure and send them to corporate offices requesting an appointment to talk about your services.

Follow it up with a phone call. Your accomplishment with catering will be directly linked to the strength of your planning, and the execution of that plan. Thirty percent in the catering business is food while the rest goes to delivery, transporting the food, lining up rental equipment, and juggling personnel. You will need to understand exactly, in writing, what your client wants, and deliver that in a way that reflects upon the client positively. Your organizational skills really count here.

To succeed in this business you must prioritize the tasks and devote your best effort to completing each task successfully. Show enthusiasm, discipline, and always aim to keep the clients happy. Have patience and understanding at all times to make the best out of any situation.

Business Hubs: Your Business Information Center

Those who want to harness the power of the Internet for growing their business; a business hub is where they will find a variety of resources as well as marketing tips and strategies. The Internet has changed the way businesses operate and reach customers. Businesses have to match their strategies to this new arena. Most traditional marketing methods will not work online, so they have to learn new marketing strategies for increasing their online presence.

There are plenty of Internet marketing methods-some are niche-specific, while some work across different industries. Marketing online is relatively more affordable than traditional advertising. When approached the right way, they can give your company the boost it needs. But where is the best place to go to learn those marketing strategies?

A business hub, which also known as web hub or vertical portal, is a website dedicated to providing content, information, and services to businesses within a particular industry such as health care and IT. While some serve as meeting ground for businesses and customers, it tends to focus more on the needs of businesses than industry customers.

As a business-to-business website, a business hub can serve as your gateway to essential information on how to grow your business. They typically cover information specific to a niche, but they may also include general marketing information (e.g. Facebook marketing, article marketing). Some also offer industry analysis or business design. Here are some of the most common business marketing strategies covered by business hubs.

  • Article marketing.Article marketing is a method of promoting a business or company by publishing keyword-optimized articles in web directories. When properly done, it is an effective tool for reaching broad audience and showing them your expertise.
  • Cloud Marketing.This is the collection of different Internet-based marketing services, allowing marketing functions to operate more efficient and effectively.
  • Consumer Generated Marketing.This is a marketing method that directly involves participation of audience in marketing products or other activities of business.
  • Facebook Marketing.This looks at Facebook as a platform for marketing one’s business and reaching audience.

Summary of Benefits Business hubs share 3 common aspects:

  1. Marketing resource.Business hubs are great source of information on how a company or business can thrive online. It gives you quick access to different marketing strategies and other relevant information-tools you need to stand ahead of the pack.
  2. Niche-specific information resource.Because it caters to niche markets, you don’t have to sort through millions of web pages to find the information most relevant to your industry. If you’re new to online business and don’t know where to start or what direction to take next, you may find the answers in a business hub.
  3. It serves as a directory of different businesses in the industry. Most keep a listing of companies offering industry-specific services. All in all, business hubs function as a reference center for people who want the ins and outs of an industry in particular and the world of Internet-based business in general.

Building Your Coaching Business – Information Marketing – What to Do When You Get the Appointment

Here are some power questions that will grab your prospective client when you have your meeting.

Stop selling, and start helping. You will see your sales close ratio go up 5-10 times from where you are if you’ve been “selling” during those meetings.

Although this article is meant to show you how to follow up the Information Marketing letters we mentioned in the previous article, this approach still works for almost any sales appointment.

Just keep in mind that “you are not there to sell,” you are there “to help.” There is a clear distinction, at least as far as how the prospect perceives it.

Does that mean that you aren’t going to close, no, you will. However, you MUST be there to help him no matter where that may go. You are there to help the prospect find the answers he needs to solve the problems you are going to help him discover. You will work on HIS problems together heading for the answers. When he finds those answers, he will recognize that you were the one that guided him there. And, in most cases, there is still more work to do. He’ll want you around to help him find more and more answers, and help him implement the actions.

Since you are not here to SELL, you will not be in the TELL mode. You will be coaching him to find his most important answers to his most important problems.

Here are some questions that just might help:

Start your meeting off by asking them to explain what was the most beneficial thing they got from the article (assuming this is the follow up to that information marketing campaign). If this isn’t a follow-up to an information article campaign then just go directly into the questions that follow.

  • What are your biggest goals for your business this year?
  • What are they worth to you, if you could achieve them?
  • If you could achieve them sooner than expected, what would that do for you?
  • What has been the biggest obstacles to you pulling that off?
  • What might have delayed achieving those on time?
  • If you could solve those problems in the next week or two, what would that do for you?
  • What has it cost you for not achieving those?
  • What is it costing you every week that you don’t achieve those goals?

You want the prospect to define the value of achieving those goals in dollars and cents. What it has cost them in not achieving them. That sets a value for moving forward and a cost for not acting.

You’ll see that most will decide to move forward either at this meeting, or a meeting that follows up quickly.

If the prospect ultimately says he isn’t ready to move forward, what do you do?

Ask him when he absolutely has to have this problem resolved?

Make sure that you know what the weekly cost to him is for every week that this is delayed, because the chances are that the delay is more costly than your fee. This might be worth a discussion before leaving.

When he gives you a date, ask him if he’d like to continue receiving your articles on how to resolve his problems. He’ll be on your list, and it wouldn’t hurt to have some hints and tips about it.

When the date comes up, give him a call. There is a really big chance that he hasn’t done anything to fix the problem. In that case, show a concern that he said it was costing him $______ a week, and you have some other suggestions that might help out. Schedule another appointment to talk it over.

Remember, your fees ARE going to be less than the costs he is facing in not getting it fixed.

You are selling your value, not coaching or consulting. Be able to give a testimonial that shows how much other clients gained from your coaching.

Protect Your Business Information

Protect your information and your business

It is not uncommon to encounter media accounts of a data breach or loss. The consequences are usually severe, including monetary loss and loss of confidence in the organization. In fact, a study completed by Symantec in 2006 determined that 60% of organizations that lose their data shut down within six months of the loss. You don’t want to find yourself in this number, but where can you begin to make a difference?

What information do you have?

In order to effectively and efficiently manage information, it is necessary to first confirm what information assets the organization has and also to identify people in the organization that “own” the information. The owner of the information is responsible to determine who can access information and how it will be used.

What types of data do you have?

After information assets are identified, they should be classified according to their sensitivity relative to unauthorized disclosure. For example, there may be legal or regulatory requirements that specify that certain information must be protected. There may be industry guidelines that address information protection, for example the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard that outlines requirements to protect credit card data. When classifying information, it helps to consider information in broad categories, for example, corporate intellectual property, human resource information, financial information, information to access systems and records (user-ids and passwords) and information that could typically be found in the public domain.

It is important not to develop too many classifications of information because such a scenario will likely become unmanageable. Quite often, three classifications are often sufficient. For example, information that should only be shared amongst management may be classified as restricted. Information that is less sensitive, but should not leave the organization may be classified as confidential. Information that typically exists in the public domain may be classified as non-sensitive.

Getting started?

  1. Make a list of the information: who is responsible for it? Who should have access to it?
  2. Determine the different categories of information: remember, probably no more than 3 categories should be enough.