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Archive for March, 2011

Do you need an Accountant?

Many new small business owners take on the role of accountant during their startup efforts. As there are already numerous demands on the owner’s time, this may or may not be a smart move.

An accountant can be an important member of your business team. Not all accountants are created equally, however.

A capable accountant focuses on the relationship. Find an accountant who is interested in your success and in building long-term clients, and he or she will be even more advantageous to your team. Your accountant should be interested in both your personal and professional financial success. Unfortunately, some accountants aren’t interested in this kind of relationship, and their clients are simply numbers in their practice.

Moreover, some accountants have little or no hands-on business experience and, therefore, lack a broad knowledge base. They may be excellent at crunching numbers but very weak in practical application. Even high-priced firms can make the mistake of choosing an accountant with little input toward the success of the business. For example, they may take profit and loss numbers and produce tax returns with no questions asked. There could be glaring mistakes, but someone who doesn’t care about the well-being of your company may plug them in without any thought.

What role do you need your accountant to play in determining the success of your business? Ask yourself the following questions:

* Do you need assistance determining your business structure — sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation?
* Do you need guidance in establishing your accounting systems for quarterly and year-end reports?
* Would you like to use a software program for accounting and year-end reports?
* Are you clear about which taxes you need to pay and when you need to pay them?
* Do you need assistance with payroll?
* Will your business require year-end paperwork completed, such as Annual Tax Return Forms?
* Do you understand tax laws well enough to represent yourself if you are audited?
* Do you know how to depreciate your startup costs?
* Do you know how to roll personal property into business property for taxation purposes?
* Will you use your personal home or automobile for business purposes?
* Do you know what expenses are tax deductible?
* Do you know how to keep personal and business expenses separate for tax purposes?
* Will you require assistance in determining how best to equip your new business, whether it be purchasing or leasing?
* Do you truly understand financial statements?
* How will you handle retirement for both you and your employees?
* What health insurance is best for you and your employees?

It’s vital to have not only an accountant on your team but the right accountant. If you are a small business owner who wants to do it on his own, without the involvement of a tax or financial specialist, you may wonder how difficult it is to stay abreast of tax law changes. Moreover, what’s the real cost to the small business owner to do this work on his own?

The longer you’re in business, the easier this gets. However, when a business owner is just beginning, many of the accounting details seem like a foreign language. If you would eventually like to perform accounting functions on your own, find an accountant who’ll teach as he or she smoothes out the financial details.

The better informed client has a much higher success rate. Tax laws do change, but the basic principles of keeping business records remain the same.

If effective recordkeeping is put in place from the beginning, tax law changes are easier to accommodate. Many small business publications, such as the Kiplinger Report, cover tax law changes that pertain to the small business person.

Carol Parenzan Smalley is an educator, innovator, and entrepreneur. She is the creator of and instructor for Creating a Successful Business Plan an online course offered by colleges and universities around the world.

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How to save Accounting Fees

Like many small business owners, you engage a Chartered Accountant and probably view your accounting fee as “normal”. It’s important for you to consider what you’re getting for your money. Before shopping around to reduce your accounting fees, compare the value that you’re receiving from your accountant.

Consider the following two examples:

Example 1: Your accountant prepares monthly management accounts for you, as well as end of year tax returns, etc and charges you $3,500 throughout the year. During that time, they give you regular business advice and advice on how to legally reduce tax (via an on-line newsletter like we do). You gladly adopt a few of the tips and you see a dramatic improvement in your business. And now you work less and fish more!

Scenario 2: The only time you talk with your accountant is at tax time and your accounting fee is $1,750. You receive no monthly management accounts to identify any early warning signs and you receive no advice at all.

Would you choose accountant 1 or accountant 2? Which one will provide you with more value?

Business owners often seek my advice on how they can receive a value added service from their accountant. Here are a few of my tips:

* Ask them to show you a way to organise your accounting records and if they recommend suitable accounting software.

* The majority of accountants charge an hourly rate (rather than fixed fees) so if they need to call you to get a missing bank statement or payroll return, you’ll be charged more. Keep your bank records, deposit books, cheque stubs and invoices tidy and in some kind of order.

* Don’t over complicate your needs. Often, you’ll only need a set of basic financial statements. Clients regularly instruct us to code hundreds of transactions to dozens of separate account transaction codes. This additional work adds to accounting fees and is often unnecessary for most small businesses.

* Separate your personal and business spending. Open a new account with your bank and pay all business expenses from that account as much as possible. Many people forget cash expenses for the business and then forget to claim for them. Try to remember to keep receipts and write on each one a brief description of what you spent your cash for. Think about adding yourself to your payroll, rather than taking irregular cash drawings.

* It’s ok if you hate accounting – hire someone to do your book-keeping. Recruit a part-timer or see if your accountant has book-keeping staff. Your accountant probably has junior accounting staff who can help you and their fees will be less than senior accounting staff. You should find that they’ll be able to do the job quicker and better than you which will ultimately save you time and money.

* Before making big business decisions or investments, consult with your accountant first. Poorly considered business decisions that affect your business’ financial performance may be very costly to rectify after you have made them.

File your GST & PAYE returns ahead of time or if you are falling behind your accountant should be able to negotiate a repayment plan for you.

* Speak with your accountant every few months or so to establish feedback on your business’ performance. You don’t need me to tell you that your business is far too important to ignore early warning signs and proven business methods.

You may view a “cheaper” accountant as a short term solution but longer terms consequences can often be overlooked. If it’s just number crunching you want, there are plenty of accountants out there to help you. But you should view your accounting fees as an important investment.

If it’s value for money you’re after, I hope you’ll use these tips to ensure your Chartered Accountant gives you more than bean counting.

Extra 5 Tips:

1. Use Accounting Packages

Learn to use your accounting package correctly and understand the effects of processing transactions to the Profit and Loss (P&L) or Balance Sheet. The better you understand these figures and what can impact on them, the easier it will be to spot when you have made an error in your allocation. If you are not confident with this, or you do not have the time to do it properly, then make sure you engage the services of a reputable and qualified bookkeeper.

2. Does It All Add Up?

Reconcile as many of your balance sheet accounts as possible, e.g. your transactional bank account and credit card account. Make sure your balances match your bank statements, ensure your GST accounts match your final BAS for the June quarter, reconcile your wages accounts and make sure they match the PAYG payment summaries you have compiled.

3. Be Prepared

Present your information in an organised and methodical way. Ask your Accountant for a checklist of what they require and have these items prepared for them. Ensure things are totalled and clearly labelled. The more time an Accountant has to spend adding things up, or searching for things and then waiting on you to provide them, the more it ends up costing you.

4. Shop Around

Find an Accountant that suits your budget and requirements. Many small businesses don’t need a top end Accounting firm with expensive offices in the city — and often these large Accounting firms are not in touch with all of the issues relevant to small businesses. Your local Accountant can probably provide you with more cost effective services, without compromising on quality. Also, some Accountants are moving towards packaged fees. Ask your Accountant if they are willing to lock in an annual price that you can pay in monthly installments. Your Accountant may also provide free email or telephone advice – this may be something of great value to you. Lastly, consider working with your Accountant’s staff rather than the owner directly – they will often be cheaper but just as knowledgeable on small business issues.

5. Maximise Meetings

Before meeting with your Accountant, take some time to prepare. Think about any business issues and questions you might have – and write them down! Talk to your Accountant about any challenges you are having or opportunities that you would like to explore. Use the time wisely and minimise personal chit chat.

Most Accountants prefer to spend their time actually helping their clients to grow/impact their businesses, rather than filling out the required tax forms for the year. They enjoy helping you utilise the money you spend with them to your maximum advantage. Ensure you are prepared and organised before you visit your Accountant to facilitate this. Don’t dump a disorganised mess on your Accountant as this makes them a very expensive data processor.

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F.A.Q – Accounting & Bookkeeping Group Australia Pty Ltd

What areas do you service?

We can service the whole Brisbane, Gold coast and sydney suburbs. Later on, we will have our franchisees located in every capital city in Australia and hopefully we will have our franchisees located in remote areas in Australia.

What are your fees?

The fees structure is very flexible and competitive depending on your situations. In average we charge around $40 plus GST for 1 hour bookkeeping work. We may charge less or more depending on skills and knowledge needed to complete the assignments.

We are open to negotiate a fixed fee with you, this can smooth your monthly/quarterly cash flow and let you have a peace of mind.

Please see our “Fees” section in our website.

How long has Accounting & Bookkeeping Group been in business?

Accounting & Bookkeeping Group Australia P/L has been in the business since 2003, we have serviced hundreds of small to medium sized enterprises in Australia and overseas.

What support do you offer?

We offer a range of bookkeeping services including MYOB, QuickBooks set up and training, data entry, bank reconciliation, debtors & creditors control, payroll, BAS, IAS, GST reporting, fixed assets registration and maintenance, management reporting & analysis, budgeting, cash flow, end of year reports preparation etc.

Please see our “Bookkeeping Services” section for more detail.

Are your bookkeepers experienced and formally qualified?

All our bookkeepers are registered BAS agents accredited by Australian Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB). All of them have extensive bookkeeping experience and are eager to help you to achieve your goals. They are not just bookkeepers, they understand your business environment and will provide invaluable advice to improve your business financials.

Are you qualified to prepare Business Activity Statements (BAS)?

To be eligible for registration as a BAS agent, an individual must meet one of the following education requirements prescribed in Schedule 2, Part 1 of the TAS Regulations 2009:

i. accounting qualifications
ii. membership of a professional association – recognised BAS agent association or recognised tax agent association

See Schedule 2, Part 1 of the TAS Regulations 2009.

BAS agent must also gain relevant experience as an individual:

a. as a tax agent or BAS agent registered under the TASA 2009
b. as a tax agent registered under Part VIIA of the ITAA 1936
c. under the supervision and control of a tax agent or BAS agent registered under the TASA 2009
d. under the supervision and control of a tax agent registered under Part VIIA of the ITAA 1936
e. of another kind approved by the Tax Practitioners Board
in the course of which the individual’s work has included substantial involvement in one or more types of BAS services.
Work by an individual of a kind approved by the Board’ is a matter for the Board to determine.
See Schedule 2, Part 1, Division 2, item 103 of TAS Regulations 2009.

All of our bookkeepers are Registered BAS Agents under the supervision by IPA, CA & CPAs, so we are qualified to prepare and lodge Business Activity Statements (BAS)

Do I need an appointment?

Feel free to give us a call or email us or come to our office by whatever means. We can go to your office to identify your bookkeeping needs if that suites you the most.

Can you help me setup my bookkeeping systems?

Definitely! We will not just help you to setup your bookkeeping systems, we will also provide ongoing training for those bookkeeping software packages such as MYOB, Quickbooks, Xero, Bank Link etc.

Will you provide onsite services?

Absolutely, we will allocate and send one of our bookkeepers to your office according to your specific requirements. Your account manager will be responsible for your books from the start to finish and they are always available to communicating with you.

What will you need me to do?

Keep all your financial records together as you’re currently doing. If you are starting up a new
business, we can show you an easy way to do this.

What if I want to do some of the work myself?

Feel free to do whatever you feel comfortable and confident, but please give us a call to obtain advice before you do something that you are unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Make sure you are right at the start will save you time and headache at the end.

What if I am years behind, my books are a mess and I did not manage to keep my books
in order for years?

Do your best to find all your invoices, receipts, cheque butts, bank statements, ATO forms, letters etc etc. Then call us and we will go to your office to help you to make them in order or you can send all documents to our office, we will send you a list of documents you need to provide.

Will I need to change my accountant?

We are also a registered tax agent with many dedicated IPA, CPA & CAs. So why not appoint us as your accountant to prepare your financial statements and tax returns. We will be able to connect with our bookkeepers more quickly and will save you potentially thousands of dollars.

Will my accounts be exactly right to the cent?

Accounting & bookkeeping is not an absolute science, different accountants and bookkeepers will create different financial results and advices. That is why you need to read “How to find the right accountant” and “Key steps to finding the right bookkeepers” in our website.

Will I lose control of my business if I outsource my bookkeeping?

Absolutely not! In fact, our clients found that they have more control about their businesses after using their bookkeepers. They have a piece of mind that their financials are always up to date and accurate which can help them to make better business decisions. They can also free-up their precious time to concentrate on their business or spend more time with family.

How do I get started?

There are 4 steps for you to get started to improve your business.
1. Make sure all your documents are ready, doesn’t matter how many of them and doesn’t matter how messy they are.
2. Call us or email us your bookkeeping requirements.
3. We will send most suitable bookkeeper to your office according to your requirements.
4. Relax and enjoy the benefit we will provide for you.

Accounting & Bookkeeping Group Australia Pty Ltd

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