So you’ve decided to take the plunge and start your own business – or perhaps you’ve been going for a while? Either way, you will be engaging in transactions on a daily basis. You have an accountant (who is probably quite far removed from the day to day operations of the business) and you’re pretty sure that he’ll be able to write up your books without a problem at all when you give him all your slips and bank statements etc at the end of the month / year – after all, that’s what you pay him to do!
Year end comes and goes and you decide to have your accounts put together. You set up an appointment with your accountant, start putting all the information together and quickly realise:
- Bank statements are missing
- Those receipts have faded in your wallet
- You know you spent money on this and that – but where are those receipts ….. PANIC!!
You delay the appointment with the accountant thinking you’ll find them – and time marches on! Sound familiar? Don’t worry – you are not alone – literally hundreds of entrepreneurs are probably in the same boat!
So – what can you do to remedy the situation? Here are my tips for making sure you take the critical steps to getting your finances in order :
- First up – speak to your accountant to understand what information they need from you. Bookkeepers rarely use ALL of the information that is provided – and unnecessary info just wastes time and pushes your fee up!
- Have a filing system … whichever filing system you decide on is ok – provided it gives you access to all the information you need. Keep it orderly – and stick to it!
- Bank statements in date order
- Payments in supplier alphabetical order
- Payments in date order (to match bank statements)
- All VAT / PAYE returns grouped together
- Sales invoices in sequence
- DIGITIZE! – Ask your bank to email your bank statements to you in a csv or similar format. Ask Suppliers to email invoices to you. Take a photo of that coffee receipt and email it to yourself…… Keep electronic copies where possible. Use a system like Dropbox (or our free online vault at www.beadvised.co.za) The cloud is much safer than your shoebox! That way you will always know where to look first (and so will your accountant).
- If you are not using an accounting system, record all your non-bank expenses and income on a spreadsheet. This together with your bank statements should give your accountant 95% of the information required to do your accounts.
By taking these steps – and making it a habit – you will see that your admin becomes less of a nightmare, your records are more accurate and you will save money on bookkeeping and accounting fees!
Also, more importantly, you won’t lose expense claims and thereby pay unnecessary tax!
Knowing that your admin is sorted, you are claiming all your expenses and the “house is in order” frees you up to do what you do best: Run your business!
Save Your SME Money With A Good Payroll Management System
Not only does an efficient payroll system enhance staff morale and boosts your reputation, it can also save your business significant costs.
Payroll solutions are designed to help hone the strategic focus of your business’ HR department, by shifting HR and payroll managers’ from paperwork to developing and motivating employees.
“The biggest potential saving comes from full compliance with tax and labour laws and regulations,” says Ania Strydom, Compliance Specialist at Sage. “Avoiding the massive costs of fines, interest and penalties that a company risks if it doesn’t comply.”
Here are her tips for conducting payroll, saving money on a good system, and pitfalls to avoid that most SMEs don’t see coming:
Choosing a viable payroll management solution
- Look for a scalable product that can grow alongside the business
- Find a solution with full local support that is kept up to date with relevant labour and tax laws for the markets where the business operates
- Make sure the vendor has a proven track record and local reference sites
- Ensure that the solution is built on flexible modern technology that accommodates today’s trends — mobility and the cloud, for example
- Consider a solution with integrated employee self-service functionality.
Vital considerations when conducting payroll
- Ensure that the payroll department consists of people with a good knowledge of payroll and the required skills set to ensure success and compliance with payroll
- Instil a payroll environment that does not need regular review
- Conduct regular payroll compliance audits to ensure compliance minimises the risk of exposure.
How a good payroll management system actually save you money
- Using automated payroll software with employee self-service functions can help organisations save time as it diminishes the need for manual data capture, calculations, reporting or returns
- Rest easy knowing that automation reduces the possibility of human error, allowing businesses to focus on strategy, customers, and employee engagement rather than on red tape
- Payroll can help businesses understand how employees are contributing to profitability, what resources are needed, the cost for major projects, and identifying gaps or surpluses in their human capacity
- The risks of payroll fraud and incorrect payments are reduced by giving managers better visibility into transactions, providing an audit trail, and providing a set of controls, checks and balances
- The biggest potential saving comes from full compliance with tax and labour laws and regulations – avoiding the massive costs of fines, interest and penalties that a company risks if it doesn’t comply.
Avoid payroll errors SMEs typically make
- The use of manual solutions due to tight budgets. They should instead, look at affordable, cloud-based solutions that are priced per payslip per month instead
- Failing to enforce separation of duties. Different people should have responsibility for capturing payroll data and for managing access to the system as well as adding and removing employees from the payroll. Another person checking that the numbers add up could reduce risks of fraud and error
- Not keeping abreast of changes to tax and labour laws such as the Employment Tax Incentive.
What Is The Real Cost Of Your Time?
Are you not fully appreciating the real cost of your time, and leaving money on the table as a result?
More often than not, the true cost of time, that is, the hourly rate of each person working on a project has never been accurately calculated and therefore not factored correctly into the quotation price, including overheads that are paid annually and profit. Owners forget that they too are selling time in managing the project, but more often than not, include the cost of their time as part of the profit.
Many business owners do not realise that part of what they do is sell time and they do not consider calculating how much their hourly rates and those of their employees are. For example, take a small artisan ice-cream producer who has two employees who mix the ice-cream ingredients and place the mixture into ice-cream machines all day, while the owner spends half of every day supervising this process.
The employees are selling time and the owner is selling a half day of her time every day. They are not just selling ice-cream. These costs should be factored into each ice-cream tub’s selling price.
In simple terms, hourly rates are calculated using the employees’ annual remuneration package, including benefits such as medical aid, provident fund contributions and travelling allowances, company contributions to statutory obligations and overheads plus profit divided by the average labour capacity in a year.
To simplify this, here is the equation:
Annual Remuneration + Benefits
+ Company Contributions
+ Annual Company Overheads + Profit
If the owner of the business is providing the service personally, the remuneration should be market related and relevant to the years of their experience as well as the skill level and risk attached to the actual service being provided. For example, in the medical profession a cardiac surgeon provides more complex services and carries more risk in his work than a general practitioner and would therefore have good reason to demand a higher fee or hourly rate.
Depending on the industry, some element of an employee’s day will be unproductive as it is unreasonable for any person to be productive for a full eight hours, particularly in a high-skilled industry.
That leaves just 14 working days a month when averaged over a year. That’s right, less than three weeks a month.
Make sure that you recalculate your hourly rate and that of your employees each time there is a change in remuneration or benefits. The remuneration paid to employees who do not directly generate income, such as receptionists, administrators and sales personnel should be included under overheads.
If the hourly rate costing is correct, each employee’s true productivity can now easily be measured against the income they directly produce or have contributed when compared to their remuneration package. This provides useful information when conducting employee appraisals and addressing pay rises.
Related: How to Get the Better of Debt
If your business is selling a service or any part of a service, when last did you ask your accountant to assist you in checking your hourly rate and that of your employees?
EasyBiz QuickBooks – Business Management That Balances
EasyBiz QuickBooks – By Entrepreneurs, For Entrepreneurs.
EasyBiz QuickBooks are known for their business management software that makes accounting easy and the reason for that is EasyBiz was once a start-up business too.
Developed from the entrepreneurial spirit of Gary Epstein who wanted to offer small to medium businesses the opportunity to take ownership of their business success and growth by offering them an accounting package that would help them to achieve these goals.
EasyBiz have been there – done that, and are striving to share this knowledge and experience with their loyal customers to ensure that they bypass all of the possible pitfalls associated with the transition from being a growing business to a big business.
QuickBooks’ history in South Africa started 22 years ago, in 1994, when it was part of the Brilliant Accounting Software Company. In 2003 Softline Pastel merged with Brilliant and a year later QuickBooks was set up as a separate company within Softline.
Gary Epstein saw the value of this global brand and seperated from Softline by way of a Management Buy Out in 2005. Since then, guided by passion and a belief that this software truly lives up to its promise of making accounting easy, the company has gone from strength to strength in the South African market.
With over 50 000 users in South Africa and 63 Million around the world, QuickBooks has indeed gone from a relatively small business to a force to be reckoned with in the accounting and payroll software space.
This growth is not surprising when one considers the innovative and comprehensive nature of QuickBooks’ business software solutions. QuickBooks recognises the challenges that most small and growing businesses face – they have faced them too.
Many entrepreneurs, executives or managers are very good at what they were trained to do, but have very little idea about how the financial side of the business operates.
How many business owners and managers have you come across that can’t read a balance sheet? If you ask them why, they will always say that they rely on their CFO, FD, FM or accountant to tell them what’s happening to their business’s finances.
This lack of financial acumen has resulted in business owners being misled, which in turn has led to the demise of many businesses.
This is why QuickBooks not only developed accounting software that is quick to learn and easy to use (for operators as well as senior management), but it can also be accessed by different levels of a business, as the business grows.
Take for example QuickBooks’s latest innovation – the Business in a Bag concept – aimed at start up’s and fledgling businesses, this package includes software, a training manual, discounted training and mentoring (all at a very reasonable price) and has been devised to help new business owners to achieve their goals.
QuickBooks continues to focus on serving the needs of small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa.
There are no hidden surprises and of course, with QuickBooks’ legendary, easy-to-use interface that has made QuickBooks the choice of millions of users globally.
Their entrepreneurial spirit and understanding of the needs of their customers has certainly been a contributing factor in creating the massive support network that they offer to businesses, whether they are just starting out or managing exciting change and growth in their organisation.
Says Gary Epstein, MD of EasyBiz QuickBooks, “We are an entrepreneurial concern and know how difficult it is to start and manage a small business. On this journey, one thing is certain, without a good financial understanding and a feature-rich accounting package, most new ventures fail. We believes in assisting start-up and growing business and our goal is to help ensure that the entrepreneurial spirit of South Africa stays alive”.
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