“The Cloud” has become an easy way for small businesses to keep their records in a digital, portable way. Now, thanks to the heightened security of the cloud, financial information and tax records can be stored there too. Banks, accounting systems providers and even the Australian Taxation Office have joined the cloud revolution.
“The Cloud” is a catchword that seems to infer that data and information are now floating above our heads in tiny pieces, like Mike TV in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In reality, the cloud is a massive network of computers, housed in warehouses all over the world and accessed via the internet. Files can therefore be stored in a single place (actually in many places for redundancy purposes, but it looks like a single place to the user), and accessed from anywhere by multiple devices without the need for a large personal hard drive. And, according to experts, cloud storage security has dramatically improved in recent times. It is still wise however to make local backup copies for disaster recovery purposes.
The cloud and accounting systems are a match made in heaven. There are several cloud-based accounting systems available, and all of them link to your existing business bank account which makes record keeping much simpler (well-known examples are Zero, MYOB and NetSuite – see more below).
However, it is vital to check that the software and any associated 'app' are compatible with the Australian tax system. Several popular systems like Zoho Books and Free Agent are not automatically compatible with GST and the BAS, although they can be configured.
All of the best cloud accounting systems offer the same basic services:
• Send quotes and issue invoices to clients and customers
• Take payments into your preferred bank account or PayPal
• Download, categorise, and reconcile bank and credit card transactions
• Record expenses and save receipts
• Take care of GST and prepare for the BAS
• Stay on top of payroll and superannuation
Some of the most popular cloud accounting systems in Australia are:
• Xero: Very popular, and ideal for small business. Fees start at around $25 per month.
• MYOB Essentials: Ideal for SMEs and larger businesses. Fees start at around $25 per month.
• Intuit QuickBooks: Fees start at around $10 per month for a subscription.
• Wave: designed for businesses with 9 employees or less. The basic accounting solutions in Wave are free.
For a more detailed review of the seven most popular cloud accounting systems, read this article by Business IT:
There are several mobile apps that also help small businesses keep track of their records and financial data. There are hundreds available, many free and some available for a small cost. However, two are from organisations with impeccable reputations and suit those with a need for high levels of security.
The first is the official app from the Australian Tax Office, available free for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows phones. This app is built in two sections, one for individuals and the other for small businesses. The business app allows users to:
• enrol and use voiceprint for fast, easy and secure access to online services for individuals and sole traders;
• record and manage car trips, work-related expenses, gifts and donations, interest, dividends and other deductions and the cost of managing your tax affairs on the go
• calculate the amount of tax to withhold from salary and wage payments;
• check an Australian business number (ABN) using ABN Lookup;
• work out key dates and set reminders and alerts for tax and super obligations;
• use the Business performance check tool to compare your business with similar businesses in your industry using the latest Small business benchmarks;
• watch videos and access important checklists;
• access a number of other useful tools and calculators.
For more information, visit https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Online-services/ATO-app/
The second is TrackMySPEND, which easily allows you to track your personal spending. Although not designed for business, TrackMySPEND can be useful for solo and micro businesses as an adjunct to their business recording. It records the following types of expenses and has a lot of useful features:
• Weekly household budget;
• Costs for special events like weddings or celebrations;
• Some work or travel expenses;
• Coffees, lunches and any other cash expenses that can be hard to record
For more information, visit https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/mobile-apps/trackmyspend
ACCAN wishes to thank Monica Davidson from Creative Plus Business for supplying this article. Creative Plus Business (www.creativeplusbusiness.com) is a business advisor and trainer specialising in creative business and arts entrepreneurship.