Choosing an accounting software…

Business owners always have to answer questions and make decisions, especially about their accounting methods. Once upon a time it would be a decision about which book-keeper to hire. The advent of accounting software has changed that. Now it is a question of which accounting software you should choose for your small business.

There are several options open to you. You can choose from traditional well known software, such as QuickBooks or MYOB. Or you can choose to go with completely online software such as Xero or Saasu. Each has its benefits and pitfalls so let us take a look at these four and compare what they have to offer and how they can help you.

QuickBooks and MYOB
QuickBooks and MYOB are two of the more popular pieces of accounting software. Both offer a selection of packages, ranging from basic accounting methods to the more complicated and involved. They both have a choice of either purchasing a subscription of 12 months or buying the full package outright. QuickBooks and MYOB have similar functions including payroll, time billing, and inventory control and accounts preparation. Another similarity between them is that that they both offer the facility for online accounting. This means that you can access your accounts from any computer that has access to the internet. They are both capable of automatic data-entry, which means you can hook up your bank accounts and credit cards and the data will be automatically imported to the system.

Also, full back-ups, updates and technical support are offered as part of the service. One big difference between the two is QuickBooks ability to offer multi-user licences – each copy of the program can be licenced for use by multiple individuals.

Xero and SAASU
Online accounting software is fast becoming a favourite method for small businesses. There are many companies that offer online accounting software, two of which are Xero and Saasu. Both of these are part of the latest in cloud based accounting programmes and are quite similar to each other in what they offer. They both offer a series of different packages, ranging from small and basic up to the most comprehensive package available. Each is priced separately and is available on a subscription basis. Both Xero and Saasu offer basic accounting functions such as payroll, sales orders and invoices, bank feeds and inventory control. They both have the ability to automatically produce invoices and both provide real time views of your bank balances, sales and bills pending. As well as automatic bank feeding they can both also update from your PayPal account as well.

We have only really touched on the basic features of all of these packages; you will need to go to the various websites for more detailed information. However, it is clear that the accounting software that you use really depends upon several factors: – the size of your business, how many users should have access, how detailed your accounts need to be and how much you are prepared to pay. It is worth bearing in mind that any software that is available online normally comes complete with automatic updates, back-ups and complete support, three very valuable requirements in the new digital age.

Original Source: 13001800Numbers Blog

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Using video to market your business.

Those of you that are in the business of internet marketing will undoubtedly have heard the saying “content is king”. This is especially true with using video to market your business. The use of video for SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – is fast becoming one of the most powerful marketing methods there is. Search engines love video content and will tend to rank it quite high in the stats for a particular keyword or niche – provided the content is relevant of course.

That is the key point here. As with any form of marketing, the use of keywords in video is important, not just in the title but in the content as well. SEO is all about keywords or key phrases. More than that, it is about them being used in the right places and in the right way. The other important part of getting your video recognised and watched is to upload it in all the right places. Let’s take a look at the benefits of using video for SEO purposes and why it works so well.

Given the choice between reading something and watching it on a video, most people will opt for the video. Human nature dictates that we will be more apt to take in information if we can see and hear it. For example, let’s say you produce an article about putting together a flat-pack desk and also produce a video showing how to put it together. Most people will watch the video as it is easier to follow and learn from visual content than it is from written.

Properly and professionally formatted and executed, videos reach a much wider audience. The big question is whether you should host the video on your own website or on an external site and embed the code to you your own site. The real answer depends very much on your requirements but both ways can be a huge boost to business.

Many people choose to use free video hosting sites such as YouTube and embed the code to their own website or social media site. YouTube is highly ranked on Google and therefore, any video that is uploaded should also be ranked fairly highly but this will also depend on your specific keywords that you are using. There are paid for video hosts such as Vimeo and Vzaar. It all depends on whether you actually want to spend anything on video hosting as to whether you choose one of those against a free one or using your own website. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are also good places to embed links to your videos.

If your website is highly ranked in the search engines then by all means host the video yourself but if you are just starting out then it is probably best to use embedded code and external hosting sites to try to build up your ranking first.

It is highly important for the discerning business owner to try to improve their SEO rankings and using video is one of the best methods with which to achieve this. Excellent, clear and concise visual content will generate far more traffic than just writing an article or a blog and we all know that, to generate sales for our business we need that all important – traffic!

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Relay For Life – Coomera Anglican College

Well we had the gig on the weekend for the relay for life down at Coomera Anglican college and it was amazing. The day wasn’t that pleasant to us in terms of weather but that most certainly did not dampen the spirits of the band members or those participating in the 24 hour walk! The people were so enthusiastic and inspiring how they committed to the cause. Being rained on while dressed up as Chewbacca walking around a damp oval cannot be the most pleasant experience but there was a big smile on that person’s face….well hairy costume face!

There were hundreds of kids and adults all together for a wonderful cause doing their part for cancer research. I suspect most of us have been touched by the decease in some way or another with a friend or family member. I have, with my mother being diagnosed with a brain tumor and it still remains a decease that we know so little about in terms of prevention. It also seems a decease that appears to come back so often even when tumors are removed. That wasn’t the case specifically for my mum, but certainly the complications of the surgery were.

So it was a magical thing to see so many young people together and promoting the awareness of cancer research. There were tents all over the oval for people to get some shut eye and food vendors serving delicious options for a snack- and of course, plenty of coffee available! We definitely fueled up with the caffeine before hitting the stage. Not so “rock n roll” I know but horses for courses right?

The set up was lengthy as we had to mic up drums and set up keyboards but it all got done in 20 minutes or so and off we went. Smashing out a bit of Crowded House and Aussie Crawl is always a blast, throwing in a bit of harp for “Boys Light Up” and a couple of Tom Petty numbers, great fun! We did asked for “Gangnam Style” which was always gonna be a bit of a problem with guitars and keys so we left that to the DJ! The rain was smacking on the left so the bass player and myself were wishing we voted the other side. The set list was reduced to mashed bits of muddy paper within 15 minutes but no problems. We are old rockers!

Threw an original in there that the lead guitarist wrote which went down really well and was a hoot. Finished up with a bit of Bob Marley, “Three Little Birds” and of course “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers. That was a great opportunity for me to jump on the keys for the first time which was great fun and a different sound for the guys – oh the band name by the way is Barefoot Servants – a line out of “All Along the Watch Tower” I think but I am open to getting corrected on that one.

Anyway, it was a wonderful experience and my thanks to the people giving their hearts at the event and the boys of Barefoot Servants. Great gig!

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1300 Numbers – Routing Options

We have had quite a few enquiries this month from clients asking what types of routing are available on 1300 numbers in Australia.

So I thought I would detail the information here. The first note by the way also is that all of these configurations can be applied to the 1800 number as well. There is no difference between the routing availability on 1300 or 1800 numbers.

Single Answer Point
So the first option, and of course the most common, is to land your number to a single phone number. That can be a land line, VoIP line or a mobile phone line. The rule generally is, if you can ring the number directly then it can also be an answer point for a 1300 or 1800 number.

Overflow Routing
You can choose to overflow your number to additional numbers. You would choose a primary answer point (as mentioned above in the Single Answer Point option) and then also advise of additional numbers to land to in the event that the primary number is busy or is not answered. For example you may terminate calls to your business land line first and then overflow to your mobile phone on busy or no answer after 15 seconds. Thus if you go out of the office, you will still receive your business calls. Of course you may also have 2 or 3 land lines in the office and you could overflow through those first so that different team members could take calls when times get busy. The multiple of overflows is unlimited but you would want to consider the callers experience and have them looked after as quick as possible.

Time Of Day
This option is very effective for landing calls to different numbers during hours and after hours. Often our customers at Ozetel will land their 1300 number calls to the office during business hours and then to their mobile phone or live answer service after hours. The routing is pretty much unrestricted in that you could choose an answer point for every minute of the day if you wished!

Public Holiday Routing
We can even highlight public holidays and have your number land to special numbers for each holiday. Very useful if you are going away on a particular day.

Call Percentage Splaying
This basically means landing calls to different numbers based on a percentage set in our network. Often this is coupled with the time of day routing so that between 9am and 5pm for example, we could land 90% of calls to your Melbourne office (where the bulk of your staff work) and the remaining 10% of calls to your Sydney office. Any percentage can be set and again, as many numbers that you require to include in the splaying.

Barring Calls
There are a multitude of barring possibilities including;
– all mobile phone callers,
– callers from a specific state or region,
– specific phone numbers that are considered nuisance calls.

State Based Routing
A business can choose to have each state or territory in Australia routed to it’s own answer point – so if you have offices in each state of Australia and want only callers from that state landing to the right office, this is achievable. This of course is done for both incoming mobile and incoming fixed line callers.

Regional Routing
There are approximtaely 200 mobile phone regions covering all of Australia (for incoming calls on a mobile) that can each have their own answer point. There are far more fixed line (incoming call) regions but again, all of these set regions can have it’s own answer point for your 1300 or 1800 number.

Telstra Exchange Routing
There are thousands of Telstra Exchanges around Australia and a business can choose to have every exchange land to it’s own answer point. It is a massive routing table but very effective when you want to deliver calls to a high number of offices around Australia. The downside is this is only for incoming calls on a fixed line and the default setting for incoming mobile callers is to have just one single number for ALL mobile calls. Clients using this option will often use the Ozetel Postcode Prompter service as the default number for incoming mobile phone callers. This refines the deliver of calls and creates a much more efficient system.

Delivery By Postcode
This isn’t technically routing on the 1300 number network but Ozetel has an additional service called the Postcode Prompter service. Larger businesses, (and specifically franchises), can land their 1300 or 1800 number to the Postcode Prompter indial phone number so that all calls land to this service. Callers are then asked to enter the most relevant postcode for them and then they are landed to the most appropriate store or office, as advised by the business owner.

The final point to keep in mind is that combinations of these options can be used depending on the requirements of the business model. It really is an unlimited situation and often we will have different configurations for the same business as they grow in their industry. There are more services that Ozetel offers (similar to the Postcode Prompter) such as the IVR Menu, Fax to Email, Live Answer services but we have not mentioned those in this article. The Postcode Prompter was included because it was relevant to this discussion.

As you can see, the 1300 and 1800 number has powerful routing capabilities and fits to all business sizes from the small private company to the multinational corporation.

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Cash flow control for small business – without it you fail!

By definition a small proprietary business must fulfill two of these criteria;
– consolidated revenue of below twenty-five million dollars a year,
– value of consolidated assets at year’s end of less than twelve and a half million dollars, and
– the company employs fewer than fifty staff.

And what we are trying to say is – even at these levels, this is a LOT of cash right?!

Recent statistics show that ninety percent of all companies in Australia are small businesses. More than two and a half million Australians run these firms, directly employing a further five million people. As of February 2012, bankruptcies have risen by forty-eight percent (48%). Poor cash flow controls account for many of these failures – this is why it is vital for the Australian small business person to learn how to get it right.

Cash flow analysis is a vital tool to keep the business healthy. Preparing a cash flow budget is a core skill for keeping tabs on the company’s finances. Without these basic checks,a business might show a profit, but in reality be short of cash due to late payments by customers. A projected cash flow statement estimates the stream of money through the business in coming months, based on the history of sales and expenses. These periodic exercises reveal the current state of play in the financial welfare of the small business.

In the current monetary climate it is vital for every Australian small business to use the correct diagnostic processes to ensure they know exactly where their money is, where its going and how to raise more cash if necessary. Cash flow management practices anticipate when needs will crop up and predict what’s coming. A good motto to remember is “Cash is King” – it is the lifeblood of the small business. Recommended reading on this topic is a great book by Philip Campbell called “Never run out of cash”.

Taxes are one of the major expenses for all firms. The Australian Taxation Office offers small business support along with free and useful taxation advice. Another useful source of assistance for the Australian small business is the Australian Securities and Investments Commission who provide financial advice and services. An Australian Business Number can help to register for G.S.T and other company tax obligations. Without this number,other firms can withhold up to forty-six and a half percent of payments due to your company. Find out all you can about tax breaks,concessions,G.S.T credits. Take full advantage of this free and helpful tax advice – there are no strings attached.

Business bank accounts are vital to every small firm. It is good practice to deposit cheques daily. Mobile and on-line banking can be cost saving digital tools to put businesses on track towards responsible money management. Late bill payments can ruin cash flow as well as damaging your credit score, online banking reduces the potential costs with scheduled automatic payments. Program an alert to review varying bills and pay on-line without the postal delay of a cheque. Keep a rigorous check to reconcile your payments against your bank statements. Stay on top of disbursements to control cash flow.

Without learning these cash flow lessons, things can go downhill fast for the small company. Many business failures are primarily caused by a lack of education about cash management. Ensure you know the basics, such as collecting monies urgently and pay invoices as late as possible without incurring late fees or interest payments. Inventory is dead weight – liquidize it fast. Get cash into your firm rapidly, then hold on to it!

Cash flow control is the most important ingredient for the success of small businesses in Australia and worldwide.

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Internet Security for Wireless Networks

Computer and smart phone users now routinely connect wirelessly to the Internet, and workplace intranets. Wireless technology makes it possible to view, read, and generally interact with digital media regardless of whether we are at home, in the office, or on the move. It is easy to take this data mobility for granted, but the lack of visual clutter previously created by wires taped to floors and walls also means the removal of a physical barrier to entry into the network.

Wireless access points (WAP), often referred to simply as routers, are devices that allow connection to a wired network. By removing a physical point of entry into the network this box has created the possibility that a person sitting in a car outside your house or workplace, but within range of its wireless signal, can potentially connect directly to your network and its computers.
Some security commentators recommend configuring your network so it doesn’t broadcast its network name (SSID). The idea here is to make the network invisible to Windows-based devices; so that hackers will be unaware the network even exists. But Microsoft’s TechNet forum says this approach is ineffective, and leads to other problems. Instead, they recommend that authentication and encryption are correctly set up as this is the best line of defence.

Another approach, if your WAP allows it, is to reduce the strength of your network transmission and tune it until the network leakage outside of your home or business premises becomes minimal. This reduces your network visibility, and the weaker signal is less useful to would be hijackers.

The American National Security Agency (NSA) recommends WPA2 network encryption because it offers stronger encryption than the previous WPA and WEP standards. This standard needs recent hardware to run, but combined with a strong password, it is considered to be very secure and your best defence against network intrusion.

The NSA also recommends administration of home networking devices should only be from inward facing devices, and to disable remote administration. In commercial situations where networks devices can be managed via a web interface, it is essential that passwords on these devices are strong and complex.

To summarise network security considerations, they generally fall into one of two categories, physical or virtual security. The risk can either be managed by controlling the physical devices entering the building, or the risk can be managed by controlling virtual factors like the number of available logins.

Practically Networked
Technet – Microsoft


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Printer Ink Cost More Then Blood!

Well we thought we had an amazing deal on a new printer a couple of months ago – I seem to remember it only cost us $55 dollars. Great machine with all the go gear;

– colour printer,
– Wifi,
– scanner
– copier etc etc.

It ticked all the boxes and was a great find as I am sure many others felt the same. So we got to using it, loving our new addition to the office that just sat their unassumingly. And then 7 days later, (yes I know we do a fair bit of colour printing), the friendly little machine starting telling us we were low on ink. I thought it must be just one of the cartridges that has been overloaded with the colour printing we had been doing to review drafts of a new marketing brochure. So after purchasing a set of ink cartridges for $60 I replaced the one that it had instructed me too – to be told repeatedly that another was empty…and another…and another…

So, $60 later (more then what I spent on the printer 2 months ago), the friendly machine was ready to go again!

It got me to thinking, well a couple of things. Firstly, have I been duped here and was this some kind of false advertising that got me to buy the printer? Do the printer makers get a cut of the ink sales? I know, that is a bit cynical but wow, really replacing the ink is more then the printer itself and I have been made to do so within 2 months – wow!

Secondly, just how expensive can ink be? Why would such a man made, available commodity be so expensive? Surely something that is in high demand but with very little supply would be more expensive right? Like Blood for example! Well no, it turns out that if consider some of the more used and important liquids in the world, ink is more expensive then blood! Check this statistical data out from Gizmodo.

Basically, 42mls of black ink for a HP printer costs approx. $0.71 per ml. Whereas, it is reported that the cost of 500mls of blood is about $200 so $0.40 per ml! As the Gizmodo writers say, that’s assuming those donating are not the usual Australian punter who would generally maintain a blood alcohol level of less the 1:1. As a further thought, Penicillin works out to be about $0.09 per ml.

Well that’s the rant for the day.

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The Music Bug Is Back – Singing For The Cancer Council

Well it has been a long time since I hung the axe up but it is back! In fact a new guitar (axe) has been added to the mix. I am a proud owner of a new Tanglewood acoustic and very pleased with the sound of it. It is adding the finger picking styles to the regime and making me work hard to pick up some great tunes from John Mayer and Jason Mraz. I have to confess they are a little out of my league but hey, if you don’t try you don’t nothing will change right?

Anyway, it is exciting as I have jumped into a band as well (the solo thing is a focus for me). We are in the throws of rehearsing and piecing together a set list for an upcoming gig in October at the Relay For Life Charity function supported by the Cancer Council Queensland. It is very exciting and we are all looking forward to the experience. Any readers who may be around the Gold Coast on October the 27th, come along and have a sing with us and support this great charity event.

Most of us have been touched by cancer through our family or friends so it is pretty much close to all of our hearts. It would be wonderful to see some friendly faces and get some feedback on how us old rockers are progressing.

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When To Use A 1800 Toll Free Number

When deciding to get an inbound number (that is a 1300 or 1800 number), business owners need to choose whether to go with a 1300 number or a 1800 number.

A 1300 number is great for Australian business if you have a majority of local clients who call you. This is because the owner of the 1300 number will get free time on every call that is deemed to be a “local” call. That is, a caller who is using a fixed line to call and is within 50 to 60 kilometres from your answer point for the 1300 number, which by the way must also be a fixed line. If you do no have a majority of local callers then there is no benefit to you as the owner of the inbound number.

Thus, you may as well go a 1800 number because the costs will be the same to you.

The additional benefit of course, is that 1800 numbers in Australia are considered “toll free” numbers. That means, callers who ring your 1800 can call that number for free, whereas a call to a 1300 is charged at a once off fee of usually 25 to 30 cents depending on their carrier. Now it is important to remember that both of these considerations change when you consider the caller who calls on a mobile phone. Mobile phone carriers will often charge a per minute rate for us to call a 1800 number and so the “toll free” characteristic goes out the window. Also, calling a 1300 number can be higher on mobiles, again depending on the mobile carrier in Australia. Of course, the call to a 1300 can never be a “local call” when callers use a mobile phone line also.

So it is worth weighing up these points and choose accordingly.

Do you have a market predominantly outside a local foot print?
Do you want to present to the market as a “free” call?

If your answer to both of these questions is yes then you would generally choose a 1800 number because you would be creating more value to your market and the costs of the calls would be the same.

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Netgear Modem Router Issues For VoIP

Internet telephony is a must nowadays for small business, especially with the continued rolling out of the NBN. There is so much to look forward to in the future with the speed and precision of the fibre networks of the NBN.

As we continue to activate VoIP based phone systems, currently still over ADLS2+ connections, we notice that there are things to consider with the hardware that we are placing these phone systems on. Ozetel, my company that I am very proud of, generally has been using Netgear routers for these internet based phone connections and we have always had great reviews both internally and with our clients.

But it is important to note that developments will always occur both with the networks (like the NBN) and with the hardware we use to run those networks over. Netgear have enhanced the management capabilities of functions like NAT Filtering and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) which although giving access to additional flexibility for the internet user, are creating issues for the VoIP network phones that sit on the internet. We have encountered that with the DGN2200 recently and have had 2 days of trialing settings and coming up with blanks! While it has been a bit frustrating it is also a good thing for our industry because it means we need to stay on the cutting edge of coding and development to stay in line with the hardware that we rely on.

It has meant enhancement of our VoIP network coding and programming and while that is time consuming it enhances the service to our clients. The other option we have of course is to stick with one type of modem/router that will always be the same when a new phone system is activated. However, the problem there is that companies like Netgear will cease stocking models when new ones are produced so we need to stay up with the game.

This will continue in to the future and forever really as technology winds it’s way through the doors of time. Consider the NBN, a fibre optic network that will require new hardware to cope with the incredible enhancements we are about to see. Again, we will need to evolve the VoIP networks to ensure quality supply of telephony services over the net and I am sure that leading companies like Netgear will work with us to do so.

I still very much recommend Netgear and the products they produce even with the extra brain power they require of me!

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