Excel can serve you well when you’re starting out in business and your turnover is low. It’s all part of being a new business owner, even if the sight of a spreadsheet makes you nervous (and you’re not alone there).
But on a grander scale? For bigger organisations, Excel can spell trouble - as the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics discovered when they oversold 10,000 extra tickets after a single keystroke error. As your business grows, online accounting software is a better option.
So if you’re considering making the switch, here are 6 things to bear in mind.
1. Consider your level of Excel expertise
Because Excel is so widely used, it’s often assumed that it’s simple to master. In reality, if you don’t have specific experience then you’re facing a steep learning curve. It’s easy to introduce errors, and tricky to undo them.
And if your business is expanding, setting up an accurate spreadsheet that grows with it takes strategic thinking - adapting one that no longer does the job is difficult, not to mention time-consuming.
2. Hiring more staff?
Excel accounting is limited when it comes to more than the bare minimum of staff. A more sophisticated accounting system will help you manage a growing number of employees, by:
Configuring pay schedules and employee details like pension contributions, pay rates and holiday leave accrual to match your payroll
Automating pay slip notifications and leave calculations
Adding timesheets directly into your pay run
Handling multiple bank accounts
Managing tax responsibilities
Submitting real-time PAYE (RTI) data to HMRC
Generating P45s and P60s.
3. Customer service
The customer is king - and the lifeblood of any small business. Switching from a manual system on Excel to online accounting software is a highly effective way of building on good relationships with current customers as well as sourcing new ones. This way you can:
Track customer records so you can see what they buy, how often and when.
Simplify payments by accepting online and mobile payments from credit and debit cards, allowing customers to pay their invoices on the spot.
Sync to data from apps like PayPal.
Store data on customer purchases, so you don’t need to rifle through the paper trail.
4. What about a cloud-based system?
Online accounting software like QuickBooks streamlines processes and minimizes mistakes. Not only do you save time on admin, you’ll begin to see increased profits as a result. These are some of the key benefits:
It’s quick and simple to set up
You can access it from any device, including your smartphone
It’s easy to keep tabs on how your business is doing, with dashboards displaying key figures
It syncs with your online banking – no more data entry mistakes
You can use it to create custom invoices
It integrates with your payroll
You’ll get a tax report that matches the HMRC form, making self-assessment simpler
You can see what shape your business is in at the click of a button, enabling you to plan further growth more effectively.
5. Choose a solution that fits your business
Do you need to think about stock control and payroll? Or do you just want to make sure you’re prepared for self-assessment? Look for an affordable system that suits your needs without extra features you don’t want to use.
With QuickBooks online accounting software you can choose from four plans, starting with a tax-oriented plan for sole traders, moving through to one for SMEs looking for full finance management. And it’s easy to upgrade should you need to.
Ditching the spreadsheets was a trigger for growth
The Street Style Surgery runs creative, entrepreneurial and educational workshops to inspire young people across the UK. The company’s founder’s time was always tied up in admin and managing manual processes – all locked into spreadsheets.
When the company made the move to cloud-based accounting software, QuickBooks, she was able to devote more time to strategy and business planning, using the reports to forecast and project earnings. Street Style Surgery hasn’t looked back.
When to make the move?
This will depend on your spreadsheet skills and the complexity of your accounts. But there are advantages to switching early on – you’ll have all your figures in one secure, accessible place from the word go. A good system will grow with your business and support your needs through every phase of expansion.
So if you find yourself struggling to streamline your invoices or in need of a clearer picture of your balance sheets, it’s time to step away from Excel and embrace the easy-to-use functionality of QuickBooks’ online accountancy software. You can sign up now for a free trial here.
We hope you’ve found this article useful. If you’re looking to stay on top of your accounts as you expand your business, QuickBooks can help with software to streamline your processes and save you money.