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Brent: Cloud accounting can work for small business

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 program cost, lack of knowledge or time and too many other reasons to list.

While the reasons are honest and earnest, they do nothing to resolve the lack of knowledge these business owners have about the state of their business. Think about this: A business owner with an accounting program is like a speed boat, while one with a program is like the Titanic. The point is this: By time the one without an accounting program gets the information it may be too late to avoid the iceberg.

Speed helps with critical decisions

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.

Good programs are affordable

Monitoring the health of your business used to be an expensive proposition. It required a large powerful desktop computer, which was expensive, and an equally expensive accounting program. These two items were cost-prohibitive for some small businesses 15 years ago.

Today with the advent of the information cloud and programs operating from there, all a the equipment a business owner needs is a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Most accounting programs operate from the cloud and are cost-effective for any budget. Cost is no longer an issue.

Updating is easy

The second most heard reason was, “I do not know how to use it.” You do not have to have an accounting degree to use programs. Online versions allow you to keep it up to date, but also allows 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 decisionmaking.

Set it and go

The third most heard reason was, “I don’t have time to use it.” Once you get your accounts set up properly, keeping up 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 9 (English) and May 25 (Spanish); and the third is on July 25 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 fbrent@georgiasbdc.org.

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