I love spreadsheets – of course I do, I’m an accountant. Once you’ve mastered the various formulas and functions they have to offer, and developed your own ways of working with them, they can be really powerful tools for organising and analysing data.
But I’ll be honest here. If you’re still relying on spreadsheets, and spreadsheets alone to run your business, you’re missing a trick.
For business owners, time is precious, so anything that helps you to work more efficiently and get things done quickly and easily is really valuable. In most cases, that’s more important than the extra control you might have when you build a spreadsheet for yourself – and nowadays, there are software packages built to perform pretty much any business task you can think of.
For ease of use and opportunities for automation, nothing is better than an online accounting package. Storing your records in the cloud allows you to cut out hours of data entry time, as well as giving you an up-to-date readout of your financial position at any point in time.
It also means you can access your accounts from anywhere you like as long as it has an internet connection, which is a huge help for business owners who need to work on the go. (Or, of course, from home, unexpectedly.)
But which software package is right for you?
At Mayflower, we’ve spent a lot of time looking into this and can highly recommend both Xero and QuickBooks. Both come with an impressive range of features and are quick and easy to set up.
Plus, they both integrate with ReceiptBank, one of our other favourite apps for business owners. This makes record-keeping so much easier, by allowing you to store your receipts, either by taking a picture or uploading a file, and to automatically extract the data from them and send it to your accounting software.
There’s only so much you can do with long lists of client details that you keep on several sheets in an Excel file. And the bigger your business grows, the more unwieldy these lists start to become.
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are a much more intuitive way to manage your client data, and they help you to use it more effectively. Instead of working on multiple files and having to cross-check them for accuracy, they let you keep all your information in one place.
Your salespeople can log into the system and update it at the same time, making collaboration easy, and you can set up reminders for calls, meetings and more to keep everyone on track.
Then, once you or a salesperson is ready to contact a customer, they’ll have all the vital information about that person right in front of them – their contact preferences, details from previous interactions, where they are in the sales funnel, and more.
If you link your CRM to your accounting software, you can also use it to automatically generate invoices and seamlessly manage the payment process.
Those same advantages go for your inventory management system, too. Using software to track your orders and sales in real time will help to make sure you don’t overbuy or run out of stock, so you can run your business as efficiently as possible.
Most software for this purpose will come with a visual dashboard, so you can monitor your inventory at a glance. And if you’re selling online, there are a lot of options that connect with ecommerce platforms like Shopify or Amazon.
They can also connect with your accounting software, allowing you to create an interconnected software system for your business.
Speak to us about getting your business set up for cloud accounting.