BIT spoke to Brendan Drummond, principal at SHB Business and Wealth Advisors, about the choices new and existing small businesses can make in order to make their relationships with accountants and bookkeepers as smooth and productive as possible.
Not surprisingly, one of his top recommendations was to use cloud accounting software as this makes the relationship as efficient as possible.
That gives the advisor (we'll use that term from here on in the interests of brevity) live access to the client's data, so corrections can be made promptly rather than in one large batch at the end of the period. Combined with the use of bank feeds, this means the business has an up-to-date profit and loss statement at all times, which helps make the right decisions.
And the ongoing cost of having your accounts nursed throughout the year can easily be offset by the savings at tax time resulting from a clean set of books. As a general rule, the longer such tasks are left, the higher the fees involved.
On a related point, using secure document sharing and signing systems such as MYOB Portal saves time and money compared with having the client attend the advisor's office or shuttling paperwork around by mail or courier.
Using current accounting software (as opposed to an outdated version) is particularly important if you have employees, as it - along with your advisor - will help you meet legal requirements such as those relating to superannuation and pay slips. But that's not an issue with cloud accounting, as the provider keeps it up to date for you.
If you're in retail or hospitality, cloud-based POS systems such as Vend or Kounta can be far more cost effective and efficient than their traditional counterparts. Just add a docket printer and a cash drawer to an iPad, and you're in business. What's more, they integrate with cloud accounting systems, minimising the admin load needed to keep your books current.
Apps that can capture paper documents such as invoices and receipts help you avoid overlooking some of your expenses, and also save time by creating the corresponding entries in your accounts. It also makes it easy to retrieve a copy of the source document if you are ever required to substantiate the expense.
Get paid on the spot
Mobile credit card payment systems such as MYOB's PayDirect are especially useful for tradies and other mobile businesses. They improve cash flow, and the integration with accounting systems means less work for you or your advisor.
Track those kilometres
Apps for tracking the business use of a vehicle can be more convenient than using a traditional paper log book, which means you're more likely to capture every journey and therefore be able to provide your advisor with more accurate information.
Consult sooner rather than later
Finally - and only partly tech-related - talk to your chosen advisor at the very early stages of setting up a business, as it is important to get the business structure, business plan and IT/accounting issues correct from the start. Definitely don't wait until your first BAS is due, he warned.