by Karl Veitch
Small businesses are increasingly adopting cloud-based solutions (also known as software as a service, or SaaS) to manage their businesses more cost-effectively.
As a soloist, you probably go online to promote your goods and services via your website, social media, email and other digital technologies. Taking your accounting online could be a cost-effective solution for you too.
Why go to the cloud?
Since they don’t come with the cost or headaches involved with server-based software, hardware, and maintenance, cloud environments are often much friendlier to the small business budget. They offer low-cost entry, upgrades, secure data management and subscription-based pricing that can scale to suit your business size or specific functionality needs.
While customer relationship management (CRM) systems, project management and document solutions have existed for some time in cloud environments, online accounting systems have lagged behind their more innovative counterparts in developing user-friendly tools.
That, however, is history. Accounting systems have smartened up. Vendors such as MYOB and Quicken have recognised the value of providing accounting software for small business, and new players such as Xero and Saasu have rolled out cloud services that are giving established vendors a run for their money.
Know your business
If you’re a small business owner and you’re thinking of a new accounting system, how do you decide which is the best one for your business?
Knowing your business needs is vital for choosing the right accounting solution – be it online or offline. Key things to consider include:
• The size of your business and whether you employ staff
• The level of integration into management and process systems within and outside the business that you need
• Whether you need to manage stock and inventory
• The complexity of your financial reporting needs
• Having the capacity to upscale your accounting tools as your business grows
Flexibility is key
There’s little point in paying for more than you need, however if you’re a growing business, then you’ll want to choose a solution that’s able to grow with you. Most cloud accounting vendors offer a ‘tiered’ subscription, allowing you to choose a level of service and features to suit your needs. Working with a system that doesn’t suit your business and doesn’t have the flexibility to change can have a devastating impact on your business.
The devil is in the detail, and knowing what features you need before you compare options will ensure you select the right package for your business. To streamline the process of determining the best fit for your business, we’ve reviewed the offerings from the established accounting giants Quicken and MYOB and two relatively new players, Xero and Saasu to help you determine the best fit for your business.
Of course, you shouldn’t act specifically on the basis of this information alone. Before proceeding, seek professional advice from your accountant.
Have you taken your accounting to the cloud? What have the advantages and disadvantages been for your business?
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