Small businesses are often as unique as the people who run them, yet they all share crucial similarities. If they are going to thrive, they must be run efficiently and be built for growth. This is as true for florists as it is for architects, graphic designers, restaurant owners and tradies. Which is why streamlining your business operations is essential. Thankfully, with the advent of the cloud, there is now a diverse array of business apps on the market that can help you sync the different aspects of your business with your cloud accounting solution.
The challenge is knowing which apps are most suitable for your business.
At Intuit we’ve come up with three simple steps to address this challenge based on the experiences our customers have shared with us over the past few years.
- Firstly, ensure you get a clear understanding of what apps are available in the marketplace. There are hundreds of apps out there but not all of them will be relevant to your business.
- Secondly, assess exactly how your business is operating and where you could introduce efficiencies. This way you can narrow the list of apps worth considering.
- And finally, our customers emphasise the importance of knowing where to get help when you need it. This is where a trusted bookkeeper or accountant is imperative, preferably one who is a specialist in your industry and has access to expert knowledge on cloud accounting and app ecosystems.
Know what apps are out there
A quick visit to the App Store, or to the app page of your cloud accounting vendor’s website, will highlight just how many apps are on the market. The sheer volume can be a little overwhelming at first. The lighthearted joke “there’s an app for that” is obviously based on an element of truth. Apps have rapidly replaced myriad tasks that were once performed with pen and paper, which is why they are so useful.
The trick is to know which ones are available in Australia, as opposed to the US or any other country, and whether they can connect to your existing cloud accounting solution. This will improve the flow of data throughout your business. And it will enable you to get a quick accurate snapshot of your business whenever you need it, with figures that can be shared with your trusted financial advisor in real time.
I spoke about this recently with accounting thought-leader Steph Hinds. Her accounting firm GrowthWise offers a dedicated software advisory service, helping small businesses navigate app ecosystems. “No one likes having to do data entry,” she says. “They don’t have time. Anything they can do to lessen administration is a huge advantage.
“Being able to see your data in the one spot is very important, as is ensuring your financial advisor has up to the minute figures, so we can give the best advice.”
Understand your business needs
Once you have a sense of what different apps can do, it’s time to have an honest look at your own operations to see where efficiencies can be made. This will be different for each business. If you run a warehouse, inventory may be an area of concern. If you work in retail, then point of sale may be the area to focus on. “Look at your biggest problems,” says Steph, “the areas which consume most of your time. In hospitality, if your wages to sales ratio is not getting what you need, you should look for an app that will give you that data.”
Lauretta Finis is the owner of QuickBizness Bookkeeping Solutions. When I spoke to her about this she said it pays to understand the strengths of your cloud accounting system then find apps to enhance its functionality in relation to your business. This will cut down on unnecessary data entry and improve the accuracy of your information. “It’s about streamlining your time,” she says. “The right app can save you two to three hours a day.”
Know where to get help
Of course, we aren’t always aware of how our business operations could be improved. It makes sound business sense to get an impartial, trained eye to look over the company figures and processes. We strongly advise you enlist the support of an accountant or bookkeeper.
Steph says, “The key is to finding an accountant or bookkeeper with a niche in your industry. There are so many specific details for each industry, such as inventory, that need to be understood.”
When it comes to software advice, accountants and bookkeepers will either provide a dedicated service as part of their offering, or will have access to third-party experts they can draw on for help. Steph suggests finding out exactly what your financial advisor can provide. “It’s one thing to be a good accountant or bookkeeper,”she says, “but if you are talking about apps to run a business, that’s more than just cloud accounting software.”
Lauretta says, “I’m relying on third parties to help out. So a client can contact me and I can speak to my expert to get the best advice on which apps are most suitable for their business.”
Another invaluable source of information on apps for small business is QuickBooks Connect, our flagship conference that kicks off in Sydney this week. For the second year running, Intuit is bringing together some of the country’s finest business minds, such as Mark Bouris and Melanie Perkins, CEO of Canva, to discuss a variety ways you can grow your business. It’s part of our commitment to powering the prosperity of small businesses across Australia. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for you to connect with other business owners, accountants and bookkeepers.
I urge you to come along to find out more about app ecosystems, and how we can help you ensure your business thrives well into the future.
To register, visit QuickBooks Connect and use promo code GROW for 20% off for $119 tickets.