Staying up to date with accounting tech is now a major part of our job. There are so many innovative solutions out there, some more relevant than others. We’re right in the middle of accounting conference season (sounds exciting, right?) and having been to Accountex and the Digital Accountancy Show we are feeling bang up to date. So what are our top tech tips?
Its not just about Xero
Yes we know we are always talking about Xero. And in our view Xero is always going to be the right place to start for small businesses. But if you are using Xero on its own without linking to other apps then you are missing out on what it is really good at. If you’ve got the basics set up, your bank feeds working, and your invoices looking pretty and branded up then you are ready for more.
Make it easy for your customers to pay you
The quickest and easiest way to improve your cashflow is to make it easy for your customers to pay you. Cheques are pretty much consigned to the history books, and accepting cash is a nightmare for clean record keeping. If the only way you accept payment is via bank transfer then read on. Open banking has already resulted in a huge amount of innovation in the payments space.
If you sell online then you likely already accept payments using PayPal and credit card (Stripe being our favourite). Make sure that you look at what digital links you need to put in place to get the information pushed into Xero quickly and easily.
Where you have monthly repeat revenue setting up payments via direct debit is a no brainer. GoCardless has been around for some time now and is much more cost effective for a small business. Get it linked to your Xero account and when you send out an invoice you can set GoCardless to collect the amount owed on the due date automatically – it even reconciles the payment in Xero for you.
What about one off payments? Our new favourite bit of tech is Crezco. Although you can set up Stripe or PayPal as a payment service in Xero and add a “Pay Now” button on your invoices the payment fees can be a bit chunky. Crezco, however, is free. And instant. You send out an invoice, your customer clicks “Pay Now”, that takes them through to their online banking to authorise the payment without having to manually enter the details.
Integrate your website or point of sale software
Make your tech work for you. One of the most consistent problems we see with new clients is one bit of tech not talking to another. If you sell online then you need your website to push data into your accounting records. And if you have a till with lovely whizzy point of sale software then make sure it links to Xero.
We are always on the lookout for better ways to manage some of these integrations. We have a couple of favourites – so for example Zettle and Xero usually work well together. But many integrations aren’t as effective. Our next top tech tip will help you to understand your digital sales in real time. Dext Commerce (formerly Greenback) sits in between your ecommerce or point of sale software and Xero. It automatically fetches sales data from lots of different platforms, and splits out transactions, fees, refunds and VAT. Getting reliable data is so important and Dext Commerce makes it much more accessible.
Streamline paying your suppliers and employees
We get it. Logging into your online banking and individually paying supplier bills and the pay run is time consuming and fiddly. And surprisingly stressful – what if you accidentally pay the wrong amount, or to the wrong bank account? Being an ethical business means paying your bills on time, but for busy business owners who never have enough hours in the day this often ends up being an evening or weekend task.
There is another way. Apps like Libeo and Telleroo link to your Xero account, allowing you to select which bills you want to pay, and paying them with one click. You can schedule bills to be paid on their due date, and never miss another supplier payment.
Don’t forget about your receipts and paperwork
Our top tech tips wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Dext Prepare (was Receipt Bank). If you don’t already have an app that takes care of your receipts and bills for you then this will change your (business) life. Taking a photo of your receipt on the Dext Prepare app and throwing away the actual bit of paper is still really liberating.
It isn’t just about having a digital copy, Dext Prepare is a smart scanning app that pulls key data from the receipt or bill without you having to do manual data entry. It links to Xero, meaning you can push the receipt into Xero with all the data already included. We love it (no more plastic bags of receipts once a year!) and our clients love it as it completely removes a major headache. If you have accurate records of everything your business spends money on then you will reclaim the maximum amount of VAT possible, and save the most amount of tax. What’s not to love!
And the best bit?
All of this beautiful technology works with Xero. When we talk about the benefits of Xero it is much more far reaching than bank feeds and pretty invoices. The tech is there to make your life easier. To help you to focus on what you do best – running your business.
If you want to get some top tech tips that are tailored for your own business then book in for a Xero Healthcheck. Don’t get bogged down with business admin – it’s a really bad use of your time.