Running a business is hard; it requires the skill, enthusiasm and dedication of its owners and managers for the business to be ultimately successful. As a result, one of the key assets of any small business is therefore the time of these owners and managers. After seeking feedback from the SME community it is surprising to find just how much time owners still spend on tasks such as accounting and business administration in comparison to the strategic running and marketing of the business. This ultimately results in owners struggling to grow their business with most of their time being allocated to completing the never ending tasks of today. All businesses should try and dedicate focused time on their strategic aims and business growth; however, this requires a structured time management plan to ensure that business as usual tasks continue to be completed to the required standard. Time management remains one of the most demanding aspects of running any business. There could be disastrous repercussions for any business owner that spends too much time on business strategy over regular accounting and business administration. Whilst too much time spent on business admin and accounting can limit time available for marketing and running the business consequently hampering the long term growth prospects of the business.
The time management conundrum is solved by purchasing accounting software. There isn’t anything more important in a small business than having a healthy balance sheet and a sustainable cash flow into the business. Accounting software allows owners of SMEs to have a firm grip on company financials whilst demanding considerably less time than would have been required manually completing and submitting forms. Anybody who is well versed in completing annual returns and VAT returns will appreciate the time these can take to submit correctly. The time freed up from the form filling can then be spent on growing the business strategically and marketing the business to prospective clients. This reallocation of time from form filling to growing the business can be the difference between success and failure of an SME.
On this basis it is hard to think why more owners haven’t invested in an accounting software package? After doing some research in the SME community we found that some owners mistakenly perceived accounting software to be only suitable for medium/large businesses. When asked about the benefits of accounting software the small business owners we asked focused on the large scale management of corporate expenses and regulatory approved accrual of corporate accounts; obviously not relevant to small businesses. Whilst these benefits may be true for large organisations; accounting software is equally beneficial, if not more, in the small business world. The benefits of accounting software for a small business, as discussed above, are more about freeing up time and ensuring that the company financials are well structured.
Another misperception of accounting software is that it is expensive – this simply isn’t true. It is true that there are a range of prices, but as all things in life, it depends what features you are looking from your product. You can pick up a product that simply focuses on general ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable. These products whilst not very expensive will produce very professional accounts and be more than adequate for most small businesses. However, companies with slightly larger income streams that would like the added functionality of features such as payroll, job costing and banking integration can expect to pay more for these additional features.