During her 13 years working in an animal shelter, Caroline was heavily involved in training new staff and volunteers in safe and low-stress animal handling. From there, her passion for understanding behaviour in dogs and cats grew, and led to her going out on her own. Her Melbourne-based business offers animal handling training to councils, shelters and vet teams, as well as courses for pet owners. “We aim to improve human-animal interactions by enhancing people’s understanding of the emotional experiences of pets, so they can live their best lives together,” she says.

She shares her tips for sole traders to keep on top of taxes at the end of financial year (EOFY) and manage business finances solo while on the go.

SEE ALSO: Tax Tips from a Small Business: Blackwood Collective

Tips for Being a Successful Sole Trader

Unearth Your Passion

A GIF series of AnimalWise Training owner Dr Caroline Cook demonstrating dog handling with a medium-size dog on a lead in a park setting.  

Caroline’s passion for helping animals is what has helped carve her career path, and it has proved to be an entirely rewarding experience. “When people think about working with animals, they think about kittens and puppies, but from my experience, [I see] animals that aren’t necessarily cute and fluffy, but ones that are just in need of some help,” she says. “[When I worked] as a vet, being able to help them and see them on their way, or see them adopted from the shelter, was just so rewarding.”

Expand Your Skill Set

Specialising in animal training and behaviour revealed an opportunity for Caroline to help others learn how to manage animals in a safe environment. “I’ve got a Bachelor of Veterinary Science with honours, and I’ve also got a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment so I can train staff. I’m also Fear Free certified, which is a certification from the United States that focuses on seeing things from the perspective of animals. [These qualifications help me] understand animal behaviour and be able to [work with them] in a low-stress and fear-free way.”

Caroline’s Top EOFY Tips for Sole Traders

A GIF series of Caroline with the supplies and equipment she uses to run her business at home. Things like a laptop, laptop riser and keyboard, and a desk planner.

1. Understand How to Manage Your Taxes

The paperwork side of running a business has been a learning curve for Caroline after working in larger vet businesses for many years. From advice from her hairdresser, an architect, and a bookkeeper, she has taken tax-time recommendations from other business owners, and discovered the tools that suit her. "It has been a process of exploration to find out how different people [manage tax time], and now I've worked out a way that works for me."

2. Keep Your Records for Ease at EOFY

Caroline uses accounting software to track expenses and the Hubdoc app to upload photos of receipts while she’s out and about. "Hubdoc extracts all the information so I don’t have to type anything in. When I get back home or at some point every week or two, I can do the reconciliation.”

3. Don’t Delay Doing Your Tax

Keeping on top of tax each month is key to avoiding an overwhelming EOFY workload, says Caroline. “Try not to fall into the trap of putting off doing your tax just because you can [Technically], I can put it off until the following year because I do my tax using a registered tax agent, but then it tends to creep back each year.”

SEE ALSO: 10 Tax Deductions You Could Be Claiming

Top Products for Sole Traders

Two images of Caroline using products she finds helpful for running her business. She’s using a printer in her home office and a clipboard while holding a dog on  lead in a park. 

For Reliable Printing

“I had an old laser printer that lasted for 10 years. It was so reliable and efficient, but it was due for an upgrade. I went to Officeworks thinking I would just buy the same one. But I talked to a staff member on the day about my needs and they recommended that I consider an inkjet printer. In terms of the numbers of pages you get per cartridge, that’s changed a lot [over the years]. So, it’s actually much more efficient and technologically advanced than my old one, and also has a scanner and photocopier. It’s really upped the stakes in my multifunctional capabilities, and now I can print much more seamlessly from my mobile or computer.”

For In-Person Training

“I use clipboards [to hold] my own notes during training sessions, [including documents] that the participants need to sign. [I also use a] remote from Officeworks for presentations. It means that I can be anywhere in the room and easily forward to the next slide or video while I’m roaming around and being more interactive [with the participants].”

What to Try

A GIF series of products useful for sole traders shown on various pastel-coloured backgrounds. Products include things like printers, laptops, highlighters and clipboards.

SEE ALSO: Tax Return Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Return in 2024 

This is general information only. Seek professional financial and/or legal advice to determine the right outcomes for your business or individual needs.