What is AI and why is it relevant for my small business?

by Jason 0 comments


It’s safe to say that artificial intelligence (AI) is now part of common language and everyday life. But while we’ve all heard of the term, not everyone really knows what it is or how to use it (or rather, whether it can be useful for them). 

Believe it or not, the term ‘artificial intelligence’ has been with us since as far back as 1955, when a number of academics and professionals in the field of technology first proposed a study of the term. In that same year, the first AI program was developed, and in the many decades since, AI has held an evergreen fascination for the human race.

This fascination led us to explore and experiment our way into the first industrial robot, devise bold predictions about what AI will be capable of in our personal and professional lives, and even prompt a raft of popular culture references that captured our hopes, fears and imaginations surrounding the technology — from driverless cars through to robots with empathy, and even foolproof computers incapable of error.

While many predictions, hopes and fears surrounding AI have subsided or been disproven, we’ve gone on to make significant gains with AI in a huge variety of areas. For instance, the fun and time savings we all enjoy from products and services such as Netflix, Spotify and the various app stores we use every day. There’s a lot to be learned from the watching, browsing and purchasing habits of humans around the globe — and this is only possible thanks to AI.

As we’ve seen most recently with the advent of ChatGPT, the hype, fear and conjecture surrounding AI may never wane. But AI is here to stay. And for those not yet familiar with how to leverage its benefits, it can be the source of great angst — particularly when trying to figure out how to make use of it in your business.

Working with AI

Just because something is available to use, doesn’t necessarily mean you should use it. The best way to think about AI is as a tool — like a hammer. Just like a hammer, AI can be extremely helpful in the right situations, and less useful (maybe even dangerous!) in the wrong ones.

When used well, AI can create a magical ‘whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ experience, where humans and AI work in close partnership and accomplish things faster and with less effort.

Harnessing that partnership lets companies of many sizes deliver new and better experiences, remove manual toil, and provide helpful insights at a hyper-personalised level. Consider the many decisions made in your business each and every day. In many cases,  AI can help make the process easier, faster and better informed.

For example, if you’re managing paper bills and invoices in Xero, AI is quietly at work for you every time you upload a new document — thanks to intelligent form filling and credit note detection.

Even as you’re busy reconciling your bank statements, AI is right there suggesting the best matches from your contacts and accounts.

These products look for patterns and trends in the data flowing through the Xero platform. And in even better news, every time you point out a mistake — by changing a suggested account or correcting the extracted receipt amount — you’re feeding back vital information to help the AI get better and better.

A great rule of thumb to follow when trying to work out if AI is right for your business is to consider a current business challenge you’re facing. If you can figure out the answer to the problem in a couple of seconds — and if five other humans would likely come to the same answer — then AI is likely going to do a reasonable job of answering that question or completing that task for you.

If the answer is more complicated or ambiguous, AI is probably not the right tool for that particular business challenge and humans will likely do a better job than AI — at least for the next few years.

Understanding AI and its value

Generally speaking, AI has proven to be fantastic at augmenting or extending human abilities and intelligence.

This is most notable in our interactions with AI-powered products and services. These products are brilliant at learning from the wisdom of crowds, and when millions of users complete billions of small tasks everyday, it’s possible to glean significant value in very little time.

But AI comes in more than just one type or form. In fact, there are two key types of AI that you should know how to distinguish from the other:

  • General AI is just what it sounds like — a generally smart, reasoning entity that can tackle many varied tasks and learn from lived experience
  • Narrow AI on the other hand is fantastically efficient at performing a particular task — so it’s never going to learn how to read the kids their bedtime stories!

Expert consensus says that General AI has a long way to go before it is ready to enter mainstream usage and deliver tangible value on a large scale.

Narrow AI, on the other hand, will become more and more useful to us. The only factor holding it back is us — specifically, the speed at which humans can define the problems for it to solve and build the data sets needed to train the algorithms. When used well, Narrow AI will continue to help remove toil from our everyday tasks.

A word on bad data

When used correctly and responsibly, AI is capable of contributing great value to our lives. When used incorrectly, there can be terrible consequences.

One of the contributors to negative AI outcomes is bad data. The good news is that there is a really simple way to avoid these negative consequences, and this is to keep accurate, up-to-date and consistently categorised accounts.

Data is the food for powerful AIBy feeding AI algorithms with great data, you’re less likely to run into trouble.

Bookkeeping basics: An overview

by Jason 0 comments


Understand bookkeeping in the time that it takes to order takeaway.

By the time you find the number of the local pizzeria and argue with the kids over what to order, we’ll teach you about bookkeeping.

We’ll satisfy your curiosity over what a bookkeeper actually does, how they’re different to an accountant and how to work with your bookkeeper.

And we’ll do it in about five minutes of reading time.

Top 3 takeaways

  1. Bookkeepers are involved in the day-to-day financial running of a business. They typically record revenue and expenses, prepare wages and maintain accounting systems.
  2. One way to remember the difference between bookkeepers and accountants is that bookkeepers record business data and accountants analyse the data.
  3. Consider hiring a bookkeeper as soon as you start your business to get your financial records right from the start.

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If your business isn’t making money, it won’t last.

It’s important to make sure you have someone in your business who knows exactly what financial state it’s in. That’s why bookkeepers can be a huge help.

Bookkeepers are the people who deal with the cash flow of your business on a day-to-day basis. Having a good bookkeeper and establishing good bookkeeping practices will help your business thrive.

What is bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping is the recording of financial transactions for a business. It involves preparing source documents for all transactions, operations, and other business episodes.

What’s the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?

A good way to think about this is that the bookkeeper keeps financial records about your business activities, while your accountant will analyse these records and give you advice on how to act accordingly.

Sometimes it can be hard to understand the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant – especially since many accountants may perform bookkeeping duties as well as accounting duties.

What qualifications do you need for bookkeeping?

To keep financial records in your own business, you don’t need any qualifications. But you do need to know what’s involved and how to manage all the different types of financial data and processes that you must stay on top of to be compliant. This can take a lot of commitment, time and reading – it’s not a business function that can be skimped on.

To become a professional bookkeeper and manage other people’s business data and record-keeping, you’ll need some training and certification. There may also be legal requirements for setting up a bookkeeping business. For example, to provide BAS and GST services you need to be registered as a BAS agent.

What do bookkeepers do?

Bookkeepers are the financial record-keepers of a business. They collect invoices and receipts, record cash flow, pay wages and prepare tax documents.

These are some of the tasks that bookkeepers perform.

1. Manage accounting systems

Getting your accounting system set up and maintained requires close attention. A bookkeeper will help you get your accounts and invoicing set up, and get your clients into the system – and will keep it all up to date.

2. Process invoices, receipts, payments and other financial transactions

A good bookkeeper will make sure invoices are sent promptly, follow up on late payments and manage all cash coming into the business.

A bookkeeper will manage all invoices, receipts, payments and other financial transactions by entering them into the system regularly and accurately, and allocate them to the correct accounts in your accounting software.

3. Manage payroll

A bookkeeper can check timesheets, allocate any commission payable, calculate payroll tax and superannuation, and keep accurate employee records including their bank account details.

Payroll also needs to be processed through both the accounting system and the bank account.

4. Prepare financial statements

A bookkeeper will provide regular financial reports, producing weekly or monthly reports that provide useful information on your business performance

Bookkeepers will also prepare important financial reports like profit and loss, balance sheet, budgets and cash-flow forecasts that will give you all the information you need to improve the financial performance of your business.

5. Reconcile accounts and prepare reconciliation reports

All business expenses need to be recorded and reconciled to any purchase orders and receipts of delivery.

A bookkeeper takes on this role and can enter any petty cash and credit card purchases into your accounting system.

They can also monitor who is spending what and identify any potential excess expenditure.

6. Manage any loans or debt repayments

If you have any business loans or debt repayments, a bookkeeper can manage and report on these as well.

7. Calculate GST & prepare and lodge your BAS

Your bookkeeper should be a registered BAS agent, which means that they can prepare your BAS in line with the ATO requirements.

They will also be able to prepare any payroll tax and superannuation records and payments.

8. Prepare forecasts for your business

A forecast contains fixed costs, variable costs, revenue and cash flow and helps you plan for your business’ financial needs.

A bookkeeper can help you manage this, ideally a few times a year.

When should I hire a bookkeeper?

Getting your financial processes set up as soon as you start your business is one of the best things you can do as a business owner. A bookkeeper should be one of the first people you hire.

Bookkeepers often work as freelancers, so you can employ them on an hourly basis. In the start-up phase of your business, you may only need them for a few hours a week.

Beyond an initial consultation with an accountant to set up the legal and tax structures of your business, a bookkeeper will look after the day-to-day running of your business.

How to work with your bookkeeper

One of the benefits of hiring a freelance bookkeeper is that you can work with them remotely. Many bookkeepers work from home or online, which will help you keep your business overheads down.

Here are some tips for building a good working relationship with your bookkeeper.

1. Work out the terms of your arrangement

Whenever you start working with someone, discuss the responsibilities and expectations of both parties.

Discuss the tasks you need done and ask for an estimate of how much that will cost you. They’ll probably want set boundaries around their working conditions and how available they’ll be for your business on a weekly basis.

2. Find out how you prefer to communicate with each other

Good communication is crucial for any professional relationship to work.

Whether you prefer to communicate via email, text message or phone call is something you should discuss with your bookkeeper.

As your business grows and their role in it evolves, keeping communication open and honest will help maintain a good working relationship.

3. Have regular catch-ups

Even if they work from home, having face-to-face meetings, either in real life or via video call, will go a long way towards making sure you’re both on the same page.

Consider catching up every fortnight or once a month.

The importance of customer success for your small business

by Jason 0 comments


There can be a lot of competing priorities for a small business. But there’s one thing that shouldn’t be overlooked, or treated as a ‘nice to have’. It’s customer success. A strong customer success strategy can help you increase customer loyalty, increase revenue, reduce churn – and encourage your customers to become ambassadors for your business. 

So what is customer success? The best way I can describe customer success is that it helps customers maximise the value they can get from your product or services through their entire lifetime. Traditional customer support is reactive, while customer success is proactive, in the moment and relevant to each customer. 

Read the full article - The importance of customer success for your small business | Xero Blog

Bookkeeping Basics

by Jason 0 comments


  1. Bookkeepers are involved in the day-to-day financial running of a business. They typically record revenue and expenses, prepare wages and maintain accounting systems.
  2. One way to remember the difference between bookkeepers and accountants is that bookkeepers record business data and accountants analyse the data.
  3. Consider hiring a bookkeeper as soon as you start your business to get your financial records right from the start.

If your business isn’t making money, it won’t last.

It’s important to make sure you have someone in your business who knows exactly what financial state it’s in. That’s why bookkeepers can be a huge help.

Bookkeepers are the people who deal with the cash flow of your business on a day-to-day basis. Having a good bookkeeper and establishing good bookkeeping practices will help your business thrive.

Read the full article - https://www.myob.com/au/blog/bookkeeping-basics/

Understand and manage your finances

by Jason 0 comments


The uncertainty of last year is in the rearview. A bumpy road still lies ahead. Businesses need to understand and manage their finances to not just survive but thrive. Take a view of the 13 tips for surviving 2021.


Great Leaders Understand Why Small Gestures Matter

by Jason 0 comments


"Small gestures — whether signage or speech, body language or handwritten messages — send big signals about who we are, what we care about, and why we do what we do." A good reminder to never underestimate the power of a small gesture.

Read more here: https://bit.ly/2vh35VF

Are you ready to hire a bookkeeper? 

by Jason 0 comments


Are you ready to hire a bookkeeper? Give Janet Patton & Associates a call on 0414 797 836 we can assist you with all your bookkeeping requirements! Janet Patton & Associates 118 Prospect Road, Prospect, SA, 5082, Australia Mobile: 0414 797 836 Email: janet@janetpatton.com.au Website: www.janetpatton.com.au


Introduction to 3D Printing, Entrepreneurship and Design Thinking

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Hi All, Would you like to get an insight on entrepreneurial process and understand the fundamentals of commercialisations? The University of Adelaide's Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC) and the Rotary Club of Norwood is hosting a one-day event of Introduction to 3D Printing, Entrepreneurship and Design Thinking. This event is not hosted by Janet Patton and Associates and we don’t normally advertise this type of event, but we strongly believe that it is a worthwhile and decided to publish it on our website. The aim of the training is to enhance our community.   To book for this event, go to www.eventbrite.com.au/e/introduction-to-3d-printing-entrepreneurship-and-design-thinking-tickets-43919085166?mc_cid=f0e85ea4fc&mc_eid=de2c04ba23   For more information, contact Michael J Fox on (08) 8431 0022 or (618) 0417 826 863  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Wishing all of our Customers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! A huge thank you to all of our loyal customers. We sincerely appreciate your support. Wishing you and your families all the best in 2018.   Kind regards, Janet Patton & Associates.  

Essential Xero Training

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SETTING UP XERO FOR SMALL BUSINESSES About this course Janet Patton & Associates is offering a unique training experience to all participants to learn the fundamentals on how to operate Xero. This one day hands on course will teach you how to successfully manage your own finance and how to utilise all the fundamentals features of Xero. You will gain a better understanding on how Xero software works and how it can imrpove your business practices. This course is suitable for business owners, employees working in the accounts/ bookkeping function in business or by bookepping/ accounting professionals. This course will cover topics such as bank accounts, contacts management, invoice settings, purchases and reconciliation. About your trainer Janet is a Xero certified bookkeepers and business consultant. She has been working in the industry for over 20 years and has developed strong relationship with all students. Janet goes the extra mile. As an experienced trainer, Janet uses Xero every day and understands the program inside out. Janet coordinates the very successful Xero User Group with its long term relationship with Accodex. With over 100 attendees at last event, attendees commented on how beneficial her training skills were to their journey with Xero. Who should take this course This course is intended for those wishing to improve the management of their business finances. This course is highly suitable for small to medium size business owners or finance managers. Prerequisites There are not prerequisites to this course. A computer is needed for the day. Attendees are not required to be signed up to Xero as Janet can arrange this for you on the day – which will be offered at a discounted price (if this is something you are considering please bring a credit or debit card to sign up to Xero). What the day will look like: 9:00-10:30 Introduction to Xero Xero Set Up Users Chart of Accounts 10:30-10:45 Morning Tea – tea, coffee and snacks provided 10:45-12:30 Bank Accounts Contacts Invoicing Purchases Reconciliation 12:30-1:30 Lunch - not provided. 1:30-2:00 Reports Activity Statement 2:00-5:00 Setting you up on Xero. In this session a computer will be required and Janet will assist with setting you up on Xero. From organising your Chart of Accounts to organising bank feeds with Xero. This will be your chance to set up and get your trainer to help you with any questions you might have. Training Cost For such training attendees are normally charged $350. Janet Patton & Associates are offering this training for a competitive $199 per attendee. If there are two of you wanting to attend we will offer the training for $300. You will be refunded $100 when you book for two. You will not find training at a cheaper price and with a more experienced trainer. Group sizes will be no more than 8 to guarantee one to one guidance. Details: Date: Wednesday 28th June 2017 Time: Please arrive at 8:30 for a 9am start. Training session will end by 5pm. Location: Boardroom, Little City, 118 Prospect Road, Prospect SA 5082 Cost: $199 or $300 for two attendees What you will need: a computer, a log in to Xero (or credit or debit card to arrange a log in) Where to eat for lunch Cafe Komodo – 118 Prospect Road Muratti Cakes & Gateaux – 116 Prospect Road Prospect Road has many food outlets which you can choose your meal or you can choose to bring your own lunch and eat it in our comfortable kitchen area. Parking There is plenty of all day on street parking just off Prospect Road. Public Transport From King William Road you can catch a G10 bus to Prospect Road. More Information? For my information please contact Janet on 0414 797 836 or email support@janetpatton.com.au BOOK NOW! https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/essential-xero-training-tickets-35232430147