Passing on paper
More and more small businesses are doing away with traditional paperwork in favour of digital accounting software that allows users to quote, invoice, and accept payments from clients from a mobile device.
When your average work day consists of driving from job to job in a van or ute, keeping track of a bunch of paper receipts and invoices can be a pain in the proverbial. Many tradies are now turning to the many digital options available that allow users to log and store this information on a mobile device. These services usually store information in the cloud so it can be accessed from multiple devices. Typically they charge a monthly subscription fee and have different rates for varying levels of functionality.
“I recently spoke to an electrician who said that when a client asked him to do an additional task, he would have to go home, write up a new invoice, email it to the client before and then wait to get paid. This was taking him a significant amount of time but with our online mobile app he was able to create and send an invoice on the spot while he was still with the client. There are huge benefits in both time and money in being able to digitise that paperwork. It also enables you to serve your customers more quickly and on the spot which is great for them as well,” says Intuit Quickbooks vice president and country manager of Nicolette Maury.
Traditionally, management of receipts involves a shoebox full of paper that is carried in to an accountant’s office at the end of the financial year before getting handed over, the accountant then works through it and lets you know how you did in the last 12 months.
“The alternative with an online solution is that they can throw away that shoebox of receipts and store their receipts on their mobile phone. That way their accountant is kept up to date live with how their business is going and it allows their accountant to be much more proactive in giving them business advice and helping them with their on-going day-to-day business management rather than looking backwards and saying ‘ hey here’s what you should have done differently in the last 12 months. It creates a much more collaborative and value-adding relationship with their accountant as well.”
Mobile accounting apps can also prove useful if you are struggling with designing your own invoice either through a computer or on paper. Most apps have fairly straightforward processes for setting up customised invoices, allowing you to add your company logo, choose the colour scheme and adjust the layout.
“One guy I spoke to last week said, ‘I have an invoice book and I tear a page out of it and I write down what the parts are that I need and the time required and I hand it to them on the spot. When you compare this method to the electrician I mentioned who can create an invoice on his phone: it has his logo on it, and his payment details. He’s able to email that straight away and is able to create a quote first and have the customer sign that quote on the spot on the ipad or on the phone. It creates a much more professional look for that small business and it enhances the relationship with their customer because they are able to send that invoice straight away, there’re not waiting to receive the invoice and it enables them to get paid faster as well.”
Nicolette also stresses is the importance of having a good relationship with an accountant. Enabling your accountant to see the same data as you real time, creates a stronger relationship and makes the business more effective, more in control for tax time and feeling more confident that they’re on the right track.