As a retired accountant, I have heard possibly every reason from small business owners over the years for not having an accounting program to monitor the state of their business. The reasons ranged from the cost of a program, do not know how to use it, time to use it, and too many more to list in a short article. The reasons were honest and earnest, but the reasons do nothing to resolve the lack of knowledge these business owners have about the state of their business. If you compare a business owner with an accounting program as a speed boat and a business owner without an accounting program as the Titanic, the point is by time the one without an accounting program gets the information it may be too late to avoid the iceberg.
Accounting programs can give business owners up-to-date financials to make critical decisions about payroll, inventory, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and what the profit/loss is at any point. Do you know if the inventory has been increasing, and thereby decreasing your cash flow? You may have trouble paying next month’s bills without sufficient cash flow. Do you know if your accounts receivables are stretching beyond 30 or 60 days? This too can create serious cash flow issues. Are you paying your payables too quickly? Once again, this can affect your cash flow.
Monitoring the health of your business used to be an expensive proposition. It required a large powerful desk top computer, which was expensive, and an accounting program, which was also equally expensive. These two items were cost prohibitive for some small businesses fifteen years ago. Today with the advent of the cloud and programs operating from there, all a business owner needs physically is a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Most accounting programs operate from the cloud today and are cost effective for any budget. This resolves one of the most often reasons for not having one, cost.
The second most heard reason was, “I do not know how to use it.” Let me say, you do not have to go to college to be an accountant to use it. Using an online version of an accounting program allows you to not only keep it up to date, but your accountant or bookkeeper can sign in and check the status. This allows for a more fluid situation between you and your accountant or bookkeeper, which allows for quicker responses and decision making.
The third most heard reason was, “I don’t have time to use it.” Once you get your accounts set up properly, keeping up with your business is not that time consuming. Using the cloud based software gives you the flexibility to do this anywhere, anytime and from any device. As a small business owner, you have to take the time to do this or be willing to pay someone else to do it for you. And, even if you are paying someone else, you should be reviewing your numbers weekly at a minimum.
If you are considering QuickBooks Online as your choice of cloud accounting software, there will be three training classes offered by the Small Business Development Center in the coming months. The first two are in Savannah on May 9th (English) and May 25th (Spanish); and the third is on July 25th in Statesboro. You can go online to register at https://www.georgiasbdc.org/southern.
Flint Brent is the area director of the UGA Small Business Development Center at Georgia Southern University. He can be reached at email@example.com.