Most Australian small businesses lodged their BAS statements last week. For many, this is still a time-consuming, frustrating and cumbersome task. But it doesn’t have to be. Gone are the days of keeping business receipts in a shoe box; and here’s why…
Keeping track of your finances is critical to the success and growth of your business. Xero recently reported that at the five-year point for small businesses, 85% of Xero customers were still up and running, while the industry average is 50%. The introduction of cloud-based accounting has given many Australian small business owners access to their financial data securely, available 24/7 anywhere with an internet connection.
The user-friendly accounting platforms allow you to get a grip on your business financials at a glance, with the ability to access reports and analytics that will help you identify shortfalls in cash flow, seasonal trends, future opportunities and potential pitfalls on the horizon. With low start up costs and no long-term commitments, it’s easy to see why so many businesses have flocked to cloud accounting in Australia. It’s never been easier to collaborate between business owner, bookkeeper, accountant and management.
With many options available at different price points, it’s important to ask yourself what you really need from your accounting system so you can make the decision that best suits your business. Consider these key questions:
Where are you heading?
Make sure the accounting software you invest in supports the strategic direction of your business not only now, but well into the future. Does your business plan involve expansion into new markets or potentially selling parts of your business? It’s important to know where you’re going in 3-5 years to choose an accounting software that’s right for you in the long term.
What’s your process?
It’s important to map out your business process so you can determine what functionality you need from your accounting software. Thinking through every detail step-by-step will help clarify which processes you may want to automate or eliminate in future.
What do you really need?
It’s worth discussing what your bookkeeper, accountant, directors and employees what they would ideally like from an online accounting platform. You may not be able to meet everyone’s needs, but at least you can prioritise what is important to the main users.
Functionality is critical to online accounting systems. Depending on your requirements it’s worth considering the points below.
Can your cloud accounting software:
- Calculate payroll including salary, superannuation and annual leave
- Calculate GST & other taxes
- Track stock, works in progress, orders, jobs and task management
- Automatically import bank accounts for reconciliation
- Accept multiple bank accounts
- Are there foreign currency options
- Ability to produce separate financial reports for each business department within the company
- Does it integrate with other systems such as point of sale systems, online payments, customer relationship management (CRM), stock records etc.
- Does it keep detailed records of your customers – what they buy, when they buy, how often they buy etc.
- Does it offer user support and training
- Can you manage permissions to allow external bookkeepers or management to access accounting records
- Does it allow you to customise your quotes, invoices, follow up emails and other documentation
- Can you migrate data from your previous system
- Does it have apps for iPhone, android, iPad or tablet
- Are there different tiers or plans available if/when you need to scale your business
Sign up for free trials
Most online accounting systems offer 1-month free trials. It’s worth signing up and using real data from your business over a reasonable period of time before you make a decision. This allows you to test functionality and see whether the software produces the reports you need, and also whether the platform integrates with the other business software you may use.
Consider the cost
Any upfront or ongoing costs need to be weighed up against the benefits of investing in an online accounting software. Cost shouldn’t be the sole factor in determining which option suits your business. Time saved on accounts and payroll, and the myriad of processes you can automate or eliminate going forward may be worth far more than the expense of the system itself.
There you have it. Cloud accounting can make all the difference to your business (and sanity!) so why not check out your options and get organised before the EOFY.
The industry leaders we recommend include;