Well welcome to 2014 folks. For most people I meet at the moment, the month of January seems to be all about making changes that will improve their working or personal lives. Or in the case of many owner-managed businesses – both!
I was chatting with a friend the other day about the financial pressures imposed on businesses straight after the festive break – it seems that all eyes are on HMRC and the imposing deadline for submitting tax returns. She had an interesting story to tell, as with a rather smug look on her face she delighted in telling me her accounts were all taken care of. “The wonders of the digital world” she said means that her business and submission has all been taken care of online and from the comfort of her home office.
She went on to tell me about having chosen a new accountant who encouraged her to transfer to an online accounts package called Xero – which enables her to keep track of her business from anywhere at anytime, including sending invoices and reconciling her bank statements in realtime, on a mobile while she’s out having a coffee. This, she says, also means that her accountant can have a more pro-active input to her business by seeing live data, and help to keep her on track regularly rather than just a once a year meeting to dot the I’s and get a signature. Adding that this can be done through a Skype call with a screenshare also maximises both their opportunities to work more productively without losing time travelling to and from meetings.
Combining that with a handy little app called Receipt Bank also means that she can easily track her expenses with a simple snap of a receipt at the till; it can be submitted under its own nominal code and tracked straight into her accounts and tallied with any card or cash transaction in the future. No need for piles of screwed up paper cluttering the handbag! The icing on the cake she said was that not only does her accountant generate her reports for her by remotely logging in – when it came to submitting her accounts to HMRC online – she didn’t even need to meet him face to face – just a simple 3 click process and she had electronically signed the forms to submit to HMRC! All done, no stress, no worry and a January to actually get on with the business of doing business.
So it would seem that more and more businesses are looking to make life simpler and the evolving digital age with new cloud-based software and apps, is helping to increase the popularity and realisation of the previously idealistic paperless office.