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F.A.Q

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Below we’ve answered some FAQs on accounting services for small businesses. Contact us if we can help further

So you’ve done your research on Xero, and want to get started on the amazing piece of bookkeeping software that can revolutionise the way you conduct your business. But how do you set up your Xero accounting software? You visit your accountant.The setup is crucial, as any mistakes made here may flow on for over a year before the errors are identified, so taking the time to do it right becomes of utmost importance in the running of your business.

Questions you need to be asking yourself, before you set it up include;
1. What do I want my invoices to look like?
2. What expenses am I likely to have in running the business, and do they have GST?
3. How do I set up my employees, so their payments can be tracked, and superannuation paid?
4. How do I set up customers, and suppliers?
5. How do I chase money outstanding to the business?
6. How do I link everything to my bank accounts?
7. How do I access reports?
8. Who is going to be responsible for updating bookkeeping records?

Xero’s business help centre, have very useful data on all of the above, and as long as you are willing to watch, and take notes, you can get through all of the above. If you feel comfortable going down that path, you can find what you need by starting with us

It’s very important to gather everything that Xero asks for, before you start, as the process cannot be completed without all information.

We also strongly suggest that either just before you set it all up, you consult your accountant to go through the setup of GST, to eliminate errors on your quarterly BAS.

If you have any problems with setting up your Xero account, we have a team of accountants here to assist you and are able to ensure you are set up and ready to go from day 1.

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There are multiple avenues to find the right accountant, but like anything sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Here are some of the most common areas and how successful it is likely to be:

Google searches & reviews:

  • The plus side to finding an accountant online shows that they have an online presence & they are proactive in growing their image
  • A lot of accountants (even still) don’t have an online presence & if you are wanting advice to grow your business, would this person suit you.

Referrals from colleagues whose business has done what you want to do:

  • There is a lot to be said about this as the accountant has typically just been on this journey will the business owner.
  • Typically, people don’t share who their advisors are, so you might need to ask this one on one to get the information you want from them.

Accountants who are changing with the environment:

  • Platforms such as Xero (bookkeeping software) have “accounting partners” for accountants who are familiar with their products and even rank them into silver, gold and Platinum.
  • If you are wanting to use a certain type of software, it always makes sense to use this to “shortlist” some of your options.

The meet and greet:

  • Typically, you would have used the above to short list a handful of potential candidates.
  • The next step is to meet with them and start the evaluation process (above) to find who is the right one for you.

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Size of Accounting Business – There really isn’t a preference on the size of an accounting firm as there are pros and cons for both. The type of experience they have in the industry is just one of a myriad of factors that is considered when hiring a new accountant.

Accessibility – When taking on an accountant to assist your business, it is important to make sure there is always a point of contact to answer any queries in a timely manner. At Mantra, we have a large team of accountants, who are supported by client liaison managers to ensure queries can be dealt with in times when accountants are in meetings. We use online accounting software Xero, plus have a dedicated client portal, which allows clients to access their account data anytime, on any device, in any location.

Experience – How long has the accountant been successfully operating?

Qualifications – Aside from this tertiary qualifications in accounting and tax as a bare minimum, you should look for an accountant who has developed their skills by gaining either a CA (chartered accountant) or CPA (certified practicing accountant). With the ever-changing landscape of the legislation in accounting and tax, it is important that accountants are willing to keep abreast of the changes that are made every year.

Personality – Finally the last aspect of hiring an accountant will be based on their personality and their fit within the organisation. Are they a good fit for your business and can you work with them to increase the success of your business? It’s best to talk to a couple of accountants to see who would be most suitable for your business.

Cost – The cost of an accountant can vary significantly depending on what services you require them to carry out. It’s a good idea to speak to several to get an idea of pricing. Don’t always go for the cheapest; the advice and work done by accountant can have a huge affect on the performance of your business. An upfront saving of $1000 could result in missing out on $10,000 if you are not given the right advice.

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Your first point of call before setting up a business should be to find an accountant that can help you.  They will be your “go to” person to make sure you have set things up correctly and have engaged the right people along your journey.  Things to take into consideration:

  • Getting setup in the right trading structure from day 1.  You don’t want to have to worry about this again once you are up and running
  • Setting up your internal systems and accounting package based on the business you want be in the future, not the business you are now
  • Make sure your insurances are all in place & you are covered for the industry you are in
  • Build your business plan.  This doesn’t need to be a huge document, a 1 page document of what you want to achieve is good enough for a lot of people
  • Make small goals that will help you achieve the big goals.  Without them, the big goals appear too far away and you don’t have anything to guide you

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This is a tricky question as the services that you demand from your accountant (or even the services that they might offer) will be different from accountant to accountant.  What you really want:

  • Fixed fee service where you know what you’re paying well before you receive the bill
  • No surprise bills randomly during the year for simple discussions or queries
  • An understanding of what work fits outside the scope of your normal fee
  • The opportunity to add more services to your fee when you need them, not before
  • The opportunity to “dial down” services when you don’t need them

The above sounds very much like common sense, but unfortunately it isn’t always & the industry has been built on time sheet billing rather than fixed fees.  It should be the requirement of the accountant to increase efficiencies internally in order to keep your accounting work on budget, not the other way around.

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