While most people consider the holidays a time to kick back and relax, many small business owners are taking advantage of their down-time to review the past year, and to plan for an even more successful new year. We find that December and January is often an ideal time to re-evaluate your financial management processes, and to create a success plan that will help to start 2018 off right.
As an entrepreneur myself, I am always looking for ways to streamline my financial processes so I can have more time to focus on my business’ growth, or to relax with my friends and family. Following these tips have saved me, and my clients, time and money. So kick back with a cup of holiday cheer–let’s make some New Year’s Resolutions you’ll actually want to keep.
Move Your Accounting to the Cloud
Setting a strong financial foundation is the key to success for every small business. You’ll need an accounting program that fits your needs and budget, and is scalable for when your business grows and you’re managing more complex transactions.
For small to mid-size business owners, cloud-based accounting programs are generally your best option. They’ll save you time with their easy-to-use interfaces, and they’re an entirely affordable option for even the smallest of businesses. Rather than being tied to your desktop computer, today’s cloud-based accounting software allows you to work from anywhere, even when you’re on the go. Best of all, security features of cloud-based accounting programs are stronger than ever, meaning your financial data is entirely safe.
Programs such as Xero and QuickBooks Online offer features that are designed for small to mid-size businesses, meaning they’re ready to scale with you as you grow. Both interfaces are extremely user-friendly, making it easier for small business owners to have full clarity on their finances.
Digitize Your Documents
The cloud offers business owners more than just a way to take their financial data on the go. Digitizing your financial documentation means you’re able to ditch your filing cabinet (and miscellaneous drawer of unmanaged receipts) in favour of storing and organizing everything digitally. By moving to a digital documentation system, you’ll not only save space, but you’ll save time hunting down receipts or invoices should you ever need them again.
Many financial document management systems can integrate with your accounting software to create a seamless workflow for you, and for your accountant come year end. Applications such as Hubdoc, Receipt Bank, and LedgerDocs are easy-to-use programs that helps you organize your receipts, bills, statements and emails in one easy place. Whether your business manages a lot of expense reports or you’re simply tired of losing money by misplacing receipts, these programs make document management headaches a thing of the past.
Automate Your Processes
The easiest resolutions to keep are the ones you don’t even need to think about. Automating various accounting functions creates a set-it-and-forget-it system, leaving you more time to handle the parts of your business that you love, and reducing the chances of a missed payment or unsent bill.
Programs such as like Hubdoc and Receipt Bank use OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to “read” your receipts and enter them into your accounting software, automating your data entry process. If you make regular payments to the same vendors every month, consider an automated payment portal like Plooto. Plooto also makes it easy to approve payments from your smartphone, meaning if you’re in back-to-back meetings or traveling to a tradeshow, your bookkeeper can easily keep track of your financial records so you can focus on growing your business.
Outsource your Bookkeeping
Maintaining an up-to-date and concise set of books is a necessity for small and medium sized businesses who are focused on growth. Although bookkeeping is something that often gets pushed off by business owners until the last moment, a good bookkeeping system can offer a range of benefits that allow for smarter business decisions. From more accurate account receivables to reliable financial reporting, if you haven’t already, consider outsourcing your bookkeeping functions to a professional bookkeeping service. The cost will more than make up for itself in the amount of time you’ll save not needing to focus on day-to-day accounting.
Cloud accounting and bookkeeping practices such as Enkel help to reduce your accounting burdens, giving you peace of mind and allowing you to focus on growing your business. Your financial data will be easily accessible online, and your bookkeepers are able to manage everything remotely. When it comes time for year-end accounting functions, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that everything is entered and tracked accurately.
Expect More From Your Bookkeeper
With so many new tools focused around automation, it is becoming easier for bookkeepers to streamline data-entry and simplify their clients processes. When searching for an outsourced bookkeeping solution, it is important to evaluate their use of technology, and their additional value added to their service. Many firms, for example, offer additional reporting and advisory services that help you reduce the costs spent on an in-house bookkeeper, while being able to save money and make more informed smarter business decisions.
Speaking with business owners daily, I can say for a fact that financial management is one of the most critical aspects of running a business. These five recommendations should give you a baseline to think about the needs of your business in more detail, and will hopefully provide you with the information necessary to develop a financial resolution for the new year. Having up-to-date information and analysis at the tip of your fingers will give you the power to run your business and to make decisions that you can believe in.