Automating your accounting set-up will turn it from being a “basic tax calculator into a road map to grow”, according to software analyst Sholto Macpherson.

Sholto, who is an accounting software analyst and editor of Digital First, said your accounting set-up is “full of commercial intelligence and data that’s unique to your business” that should be leveraged not avoided.

“Good automated accounting software is a proactive forecasting tool as opposed to a retrospective cash compliance tool,” he said.

“Instead of looking at your accounting once a quarter or once a year for tax or BAS obligations, you can look at it on a weekly basis to see the trends in your business, what’s selling, and if there are any nasty surprises coming up.”

Sholto said there was misconception with a lot of small businesses that using these kinds of software is a hassle because it’s something new to learn, but by “connecting all these things like your POS and EFTPOS, you are actually taking the hassle out of it”.

He said one of the main benefits of using cloud-based accounting software was that it “goes a long way to eliminating time-consuming data entry and human error because it swaps key pieces of information between your POS, EFTPOS, rostering, and payroll”.

There are number of packages on the market such as Xero, Intuit Quickbook, Reckon One Online, Sage One, Saasu, and MYOB Account Live.

MYOB offered these benefits:

Tax reporting: Produce instant reports on PAYG, GST and BAS. Stays up to date with superannuation rate changes.

Cashflow management: Shows outstanding invoices and your tax liabilities in real time.

Cloud based: Work together with your bookkeeper without having to be in the same place.

Real-time access to timesheets: Employees can enter online or via smartphones. Hours and notes are automatically imported.

While Sholto remained agnostic over which cloud-based accounting program to use, he said Xero had the widest number of connections to other cloud-based apps.

Xero offered these benefits:

Invoicing and quotes: Create professional recurring invoices and receive updates when they’re opened.

Bank reconciliation: Your latest banking, credit card and PayPal transactions are imported and categorised.

Pay your employees: Calculate the payroll, pay employees and manage payroll taxes.

Claim those expenses: Manage your cashflow by scheduling payments. Easily handle personal expenses.

Enter bills: Manage your cashflow by scheduling payments and batch paying suppliers.

Bank feeds: Feeds directly into Xero saves an enormous amount of time. Once your accountant or bookkeeper sets up bank rules, many of your transactions will automatically reconcile.

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