Accounting

With online accounting options for small and home businesses becoming more and more readily available, and taking a variety of different forms, Phil Astley asks whether the free services available are worthwhile. While he feels they might be for some, he warns "free" could well be costly for the unwary.

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Too often decisions on accounting systems are made from a position of ignorance. These days most suppliers allow you to use their systems for a trial period. The period is usually too short by itself - but you can enter transactions for several months - so DO. NEVER assume anything.

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The most common question Sam Cherry gets asked by clients is a simple one, with a not so simple answer: Where is my money? He explains how you can go about tracking the cash down in your business.

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When I started an accounting practice in 1998, we did accounts from BankLink data – although a few clients used either MYOB 8 or QuickBooks 5. Today business owners tend to use an accounting package, either “in the cloud” or on the desktop. But do you understand what it says?

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article and picture from RAN ONE
if you have a budget for your business you're probably ahead of 90% of small business owners. But just as accounts don't provide much value if only used when filing your tax return, budgets aren't much use if not revised and referred to during the year. Here are some tips to help you get more value from your budget.

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article and picture from RAN ONE
There are many things could be said about accounting - but new year resolutions? Well why not? You may well have been using your system for years - but have you been getting the most out of it? Have you kept up with changes introduced in newer versions? Phil Astley suggests at least one of these tips could make your life just a little bit simpler.

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Doing the business's accounts
So much hype about on-line accounting systems these days - so should you start using an on-line system? And if yes or no, what factors should influence your choice.

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People often do a great job of accounting and can't understand why accountants charge so much. However, more often than not the biggest single issue faced by accountants is that GST returns don't agree with your balance sheet. Accountants then have two choices. They can spend time delving into the problem or they can suggest you resolve the problem. Here's something that may save fees and potentially IRD penalties.

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Coins
Since we changed to accounting over the Internet, we've found there are some ideas that seem really basic to us but not to others - but we're accountants so we live and breathe this stuff. We thought it might help those new to accounting if we explained a few simple but key concepts.

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Create a Profit and Loss Statement with this Excel spreadsheet.

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Create and manage a budget with this handy ready-to-use spreadsheet.

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You could be unwittingly stessing out your accountant.
Do your accounts keep you awake at night? Spare a thought for those you might ask for help. Phil Astley outlines several cardinal errors. How many are you making?

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Bookkeeping
If you're finding yourself stumbling over unnecessary hurdles, it could be time to get a bookkeeper. Karl Aviu identifies some pointers to look out for.

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For most businesses, the area which is the most difficult to manage, is finance, says Sue Hirst. And she outlines ten things you can do to make sure you are firmly in the driving seat when it comes to managing the money in your business.

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Doing the bookkeeping
Avoid major headaches in your new business by getting your bookkeeping basics right. Stephanie from Jada Accounts and Bookkeeping has nine tips for first time business owners (and those who have never quite figured it out).

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Probably the second most problematic area for accountants is the way clients account for wages and the associated deductions. But a simple and regular change to procedures can avoid all of that.

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If there's one job that accountants tend to hate, it's reconciling GST returns. Business owners have already done their GST returns and don't want to know, so problems often just accumulate over time. This article isn't about doing GST returns - it's about checking they're right once done.

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If you are applying for new funding or have loans coming up for renewal, lenders are likely to want accurate projections and cashflows, as well as recent financial statements. Sue Hirst outlines what you need to do

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Find out what you can do to keep the bookkeeping side of your business running smoothly - even if you are smart enough to get an expert to take care of it for you.

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We've looked at several areas previously - but in many ways finance and accounting are key. A business by definition has to seek a profit. It may have other goals as well, but money is its lifeblood. So this is not just an add-on - it's another vital aspect in any business - even the one-person operation.

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