Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of “the cloud”. This nebulous offshoot of the internet has changed our lives in countless ways. It’s changed the way we listen to music, for example. A near limitless supply of music is at our fingertips, and we don’t even own it.
Our photo collections?
Off in the ether on some server never to be seen by us. Do people even stock photo albums any longer?
What about personal organization? Instead of file cabinets, we now gravitate towards applications like Evernote. Images, documents, web pages, recipes. You name it. All off in the cloud, somewhere unseen. But, right at our fingertips if we need it. Through our PC or Mac. On our phone. On our tablet. Right at our beckoned call.
So, we’ve seen the benefits of “the cloud” in our personal lives. But, what about your business life?
Enter Cloud Accounting
Yes, having your head in the clouds can be almost as damaging to your business as shoving your head in the sand, so they say. However, putting the accounting for your business in the clouds has some attractive benefits.
Data Redundancy – I’ve been around long enough that I remember the dark times. The times where your data existed on a floppy disk. All of those plastic disks, all of your precious files. So, easy to lose one and weeks of work along with it. We upgraded eventually to beefier hard drives. However, hard drives crash. So, to combat that, we were blessed backup systems. Which worked pretty well. Unless you forgot to back things up. Oops.
This is where the cloud delivers in spades. Get your accounting on a cloud based application (I use Xero, personally, and FreshBooks is also an awesome option for small businesses) and you no longer have to worry about backups, or hard drives frying. You let the company hosting your data worry (and incur the cost) of doing that.
Portability – One of the nicest benefits, in my mind, of cloud accounting is its portability. Your accounting software is no longer chained to your desktop computers. Once your data is housed in the cloud, it can be accessed on many different devices. I’ve had occasions where I forgot to send an invoice and I was able to pull out my phone and complete and send an invoice in a minute or so. All the actions you perform go straight to your books of record immediately. Receipts? Snap a picture and upload it immediately.
Collaboration – Bar none, this is one of the shining stars of cloud accounting. More than one person in multiple locations can access the data. The days of burning your data to a disc or printing off a bunch of sheets of paper to bring to your accountant are long gone. You can simply set up a user account for anyone that needs to access your data. You, your tax accountant, and your bookkeeper can all be in different locations and the job still gets done.
Cost certainty – Most cloud based applications charge low monthly fees. When you add it up, its generally less expensive than off the shelf, desktop based programs. The best part is, you get the upgrades instantaneously and included in your cost. No more eeking out every last bit of life from that 6 year old piece of software on your computer.
Flexibility – Many cloud based applications are quite versatile and open to very specific add-ons that can suit your business’ unique needs. Take Xero, for example. That application has a host of add-ons, such as inventory tracking, that you can choose to add to your systems. But, it’s optional. You do not have to buy a bloated package you don’t need just to get one feature.
As you can see, the cloud can really transform how you track and manage your business finances. Still, not convinced? Give one a whirl. Most have free trials where you can get a feel for how the package operates before you commit.