The benefits of Cloud Accounting for SMEs

Over 1 million UK SMEs trust Xero and QuickBooks as their cloud accounting software & are reaping the benefits – here’s why you should too

Early in my career in credit management at an electrical wholesaler, where most of our customers were small local contractors, I met many business owners who saw it as a badge of honour that they kept their accounts in a small pocketbook. At the time there was often a sense of achievement in keeping numbers secret and in suggesting that the success of the business was due to the flair and flamboyance of the owner rather than a disciplined approach to financial management. They failed to realise that being more transparent about their financials might open the door to larger credit lines and the opportunity to grow their organisation faster. But that tended to be a secondary benefit they were happy to overlook!

A few years later, Excel became the ‘pocketbook’ of choice and businesses managed their finances using a spreadsheet thrown loosely together, helping owners to keep a closer eye on money matters.

Fast forward to today and many small business owners understand the need for much tighter financial management, but they balk at the cost of employing a bookkeeper and muddle through instead. Too many still rely on spreadsheets or worse, without realising how this can stifle the growth and development of their firm.

What they fail to realise, or choose to ignore, is that there are now solutions that could provide the controls they need without employing extra staff and without having to learn major new skills and expertise.

Welcome to the world of cloud accounting which isn’t as expensive as you may think, and can provide benefits far outweighing any costs involved. Over 1 million UK SMEs trust Xero and QuickBooks as their cloud accounting software and are benefiting from the ways that it transforms the way they operate.

So what are these benefits? I believe they can be encapsulated by answering some key questions:

Where is the data held?

All your bookkeeping data is held online, in the same way as internet banking and other services we all regularly use. Holding it on the cloud means it isn’t sitting on your computer or laptop and allows access from anywhere, using any device, as long as you have the right login details to get through the encrypted security system.

If your computer crashes, or you lose your laptop, the data remains available and accessible.

How does the system work and connect?

You connect to a cloud accounting software solution, either move your books to the cloud, or create them there, and can then access your accounts from any browser and any device. You can connect the software to your business bank account and transactions will automatically feed into the package. This saves you re-entering data and removes the likelihood of transactions being missed or duplicated. McKinsey estimated that 50% of accounting tasks can be automated by using the cloud accounting technology that is on the market today.

Why should a business use it?

You can see data about your sales, income, and purchases online and also see the current financial position of your company. You can monitor your cashflow which is so important to business survival and success.

There’s no need to load software onto your computer; everything is backed up automatically and regularly, and you can give access to multiple users if required, making it easier for your accountant or advisers to provide support. When the software is updated or developed, enhancements are automatically applied; the days of loading and updating software are long past.

As well as linking to your bank account, the system can also link to other financial organisations like finance providers and other third-party apps. This enables these organisations to make faster decisions if you need finance or approval for something, and it means they have access to the information they need without involving you in long conversations.

If you use an organisation like Nimbla to insure your invoices against the risk of non-payment, the details can be synced automatically and Nimbla can check the risk across your whole sales ledger and tell you how much it will cost to insure individual invoices or the whole portfolio.

Using cloud accounting software frees you up to spend more time on what you’re passionate about: the growth and development of your business. At the same time you can set up a dashboard providing you with key information such as, who owes you for outstanding invoices, what invoices you need to pay, and whether your cash flow is healthy. Once your cloud accounting is set up and working, your data will also now be even more powerful: it will generate the insights that can power your business into the future.

Is it secure?

Yes, the level of encryption and security utilised by reputable cloud software providers is robust enough to ensure that only users with the correct login details can access your data, and you can control the access given to any additional users.

In just a few months time, Nimbla will be launching a new era of trade credit insurance making it simpler, faster and more accessible to get cover against non-payment. Our new product will give you real-time credit opinions on all of your customers whilst providing cover for your whole turnover against non-payment all sat within your cloud accounting software.

It’s foolish not to take control of your business by using the tools that are now so readily available. After all, however big or small they are, businesses fail when they run out of cash. If you would like to find out more about how we can help protect your business from non-payment email us at [email protected] or call us 020 3984 8833.

Philip King

Philip King

About the author

Philip King is passionate about credit management, the importance of cash flow, and supporting small businesses. In a career spanning over 40 years, he has held senior credit management roles in the high-tech and communication sectors, and in distribution and retail. More recently, he held the role of interim Small Business Commissioner for the UK government between 2020-2021 and, prior to that, was Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM) for 14 years. These roles involved providing support and advice to small businesses on their trading relationship with customers, particularly in respect of payment issues, and working with businesses of all sizes to improve their payment performance Philip was also the architect of the Prompt Payment Code, and the author of a series of Managing Cashflow Guides, for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).


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