The Business Guide to Picking Accounting Tools for SMEs

Posted on 10th October 2017 in Business

Written by Freya Hughes

A day in the life of an entrepreneur is hectic. Downtime becomes a distant dream, as every second is spent fire fighting. From the moment you open your eyes in the morning, to last thing at night when you’re kept up planning your next move, there’s not much rest for the brave. You need to know what to use to support your business, and it’s not always easy to choose what would be best. We’ve summed up our top picks of tools to help you with the accounting side of your company, because you deserve someone (or something) else to do the heavy lifting for once.

We know that entrepreneurs value time, a lot. With so many automated processes and tools out on the market now, it makes no sense for you to be wasting yours doing manual processes and agonising over spreadsheets. Like many before you, you may feel you’re constantly fighting fires and the day is over before you’ve done everything on your to do list. This isn’t an efficient way to work, so here is our guide to the best accounting tools for business owners. Work smart, and get more out of your days.

Good morning!

If the first thing you do on a typical day – before you’ve even had your morning coffee – is worry about money, then you need to select the right tool to help you see where you stand at a moment’s notice. We’d recommend you get familiar with Xero.

They’re one of the top cloud accounting platforms on the market, built to let you run your accounts on your own terms. Use your favourite device to ensure you and your team are working from the same data wherever you are in the world. Real-time updates will keep you on the same page, and sending online invoices speeds up getting paid. There are even automatic reminders so you don’t waste time chasing what you’re owed. Xero is flexible, so will grow with your business and the well-stocked Xero Marketplace gives you the freedom to create a mix that meets your business’ specific needs. See our favourite add ons here.

So you’ve checked in with your accounts, and things are ticking over nicely. The insight that up to the minute data provides really is a game changer. Time to get ready and head into the office.

Let the working day commence

When you arrive at your workplace, your entire team have questions that need answering. Your managers are waiting to give you the rundown of your reports and KPI results, while there’s a delivery just arrived and their driver is letting you know about their adjusted (read: increased) prices. Sound about right?

What you need is an all in one platform with the ability to display your forecasted figures, insights into whether you’re hitting your targets and the ability to plan for different scenarios. Planning and strategy are at the heart of a successful business, so having all of your data in one place is going to save you time and energy checking up with how you’re doing. That’s why FUTRLI is designed the way it is – to make your life easier.

More coffee!

A desk with notebook, coffee, ipad and stationary

Finally you’ve sat at your desk, coffee in reach, ready for the next task. It’s occurred to you that payday is in sight, and while this is usually cause for celebration, for you it means collating information and dishing out what’s due. Have you got your time sheets handy? Do you know who has worked what hours? Spreadsheets can do this to a point, but you’ll come unstuck pretty quickly if you rely on them. The thing with spreadsheets is they’re very prone to error, and what if your employees are working remotely? Or if they’re speeding from one client meeting to the next? You need something that’s going to cover all bases.

TSheets gives you an agreeable interface, so you can track time sheets and manage your team’s time. For those business owners with remote workers, or employees working in other countries, they’ve introduced GPS time trackers. It’s a simple way to clock in and out of the working day, with breaks and overtime logged with ease. No more worrying about time zones, as it can handle those for you. That dodgy wi-fi is no longer an issue thanks to the app’s ability to automatically sync when you are back in range.

Using an iphone

Another big hitter for looking after your staff hours and payment, Deputy is exactly what the name says: your pocket second in command. This Xero add on is fully integrated, meaning if you set up an employee in their software it’ll sync immediately to your Xero account. It’ll do all the hard work for you, like calculating ordinary hours, overtime, allowances and any penalty rates that may crop up. Made to save you time and money, your payroll will be processed in mere minutes due to Deputy’s integration with Xero payroll.

Break for lunch

Time to refuel, at last. You’ve had a bit of a morning of it, so you’ve decided to use your hour (or so) to get a nice lunch with colleagues. In the midst of discussing the next big thing to happen for the business, and a bit of moaning about who keeps setting the air con too cold, you sit back and stuff your receipt into your pocket. Immediately remembering you need that to claim back on expenses – it was a working lunch after all – you attempt to straighten it out and store it safely. It would, you think, be so much simpler if these things were automated…

Four adults enjoying lunch

Introducing Receipt Bank, some serious software which logs all of your receipts for you. All you need to do if take a photo of your receipt (with your smartphone) and upload it to their site. They do the rest. Another integration with Xero, this add on pushes all the receipt data into Xero, so you don’t have to worry about saving every single stub from every single transaction.

Your accountant will definitely thank you for signing up with them too. Wave goodbye to rushing in to their office on deadline day with all of your tax receipts and dumping the lot on their desk. If all this isn’t quite enough, you can forward digital invoices to custom email addresses; transfer information for transactions, suppliers and payment methods; share the whole lot with your team so you can have five minutes’ peace.

The afternoon slump?

All this fun and there’s still more to come. You’ve paid your team accurately and bought lunch, but your outgoings aren’t quite done yet. Bills, bills, bills. They’re unavoidable, but at least your forecast has them all logged so you know what you should be expecting to pay.

Bill.com is our recommendation because you can select bills from a list and pay them in seconds, with no need for paperwork. When you need to chase cash, it can send out invoices and payment reminders to customers, and the recurring ones are made easy. If you get your vendors to email you their bills, the whole process can be approved instantly thanks to the cloud.

End of play?

Time on screen

By late afternoon, worries about money creep back into your head. Your bank account has been hit hard today, and even with your automatic billing getting clients to pay up you could really do with a bit more cash. While you may, by this point in the day, be thinking about how you’d spend a big cash injection on an extravagant holiday, a new iPhone or a new kitchen for the house…

But let’s get real for a minute, because iwoca can provide you with exactly the funding you need. We do not suggest you outlandishly spend your funding on these luxury items, but we do suggest you see what this tool can do for you. They’ve got a quick and simple approval system, which will examine your business performance, and get the money in your account within a matter of hours. You’ll need approval of course, but they understand that as a business owner when you say you need money (or anything really!) you need it now. You only pay per day you hold the funds, too, so interest isn’t going to sneak up on you either.

Home time

Woman with flag with 'free' written on

Because you’ve automated so many of your usual processes using this handy guide to the best accounting tools for business owners, you’ve earnt some downtime. There’s little else to do but get home, run a bath and chill out – you deserve it.


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