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Technology and online assistance can help you run your business
Disclaimer: This information is of a general nature only and should not be regarded as tax, financial, or legal advice. It does not take into account your individual circumstances or objectives. You should not act on the basis of this information without first obtaining advice from a suitably qualified professional advisor.

Bookkeeping and invoicing apps are clever tools to help you run your business smarter and more efficiently.

Save time and money

If you’re running a small business, there are a lot of time- and money-saving apps and tools that can help free you up to focus on doing what you do best.

But where to start?

Firstly, ensure your business is set up properly. Talk to your tax professional about the right structure (your company, sole trader, a partnership or a trust). There’s also handy Australian Government online tool to help point you in the right direction.

Set up separate bank accounts for your business

This helps to develop a financial trail (which is especially important at tax time) and establishes boundaries between personal and business spending.

Files and a laptop on a desk

Smart tech solutions

As your business grows, paid subscriptions can be more cost-effective. However, while it's growing, there are many tools available that are suitable for a start-up.  

Jane Betschel is the Head of Marketing and Digital at accounting software company MYOB, and she says technology has been a godsend for small businesses. “If you think about the depth and breadth of accounting software, the level of features and how easy it is to use, that's a game changer for small business,” she says. “It can all happen in the background. And if they've got a good accountant and bookkeeper, then they're sorted.”

Look into Australian Taxation Office (ATO) resources

Check out the Australian Taxation Office website for great information, calculators, tools and downloadable resources, including information on common deductions.

The ATO app is a simple and easy way you can access and manage your tax and super on the go, and it is free to download and use. You can view when your lodgments and payments are due and seamlessly action them via the ATO’s online services. If you’re a sole trader, you can also use the myDeductions tool to record tax-related information including mileage, receipts and income while you are away from your office or desk. Find out more at ato.gov.au/app.

A person typing on a calculator on a desk that is next to a laptop

Free online tools

Waveapps provides free invoicing, although its capabilities are fairly limited (no GST, for instance). Wix (a low-cost website solution) and Squarespace both have invoicing facilities. You can even use an invoicing template through Microsoft Excel. Toggl is a useful free tool for time-tracking projects.

Most accounting software packages have an entry-level rate, and the major platforms offer a free 30-day trial period, which can help you to understand if it’s the right program for you. Software applications such as MYOB are very user-friendly, and their associated apps can make tracking finances much easier. 

“The features that are really important, particularly for tradies, include managing quotes, managing invoices and projects,” says Jane. “It’s important to track everything.”

Cloud Storage

Cloud-based systems also allow you to track outstanding invoices and you can set up automated reminders, removing the need to follow up with slow payers. Many have a capability that allows you to scan receipts and upload them into the program.

If you’re a PowerPass member, receipts can be routed automatically into MYOB software for ease of reporting and invoicing. “If you’re buying things at Bunnings, you can track them against every project you’re doing and it will be integrated inside the software,” explains Jane. “It helps you to remember to invoice customers for anything purchased relating to their job. If you’re doing all of that manually, you’re bound to miss things. This means every nail is accounted for, and it really helps manage projects and the admin associated with them.”

Jane also recommends using a cloud-based storage system such as Dropbox or Google Drive to store documents safely. “I just put everything in Dropbox,” she says. “My accountant’s got access to that so, at the end of the year, he can find it all rather than sending emails back and forth. It's so much easier than trying to keep track of things like contracts and receipts.”

Both Dropbox and Google Drive have smartphone apps, allowing you to add things on the fly as well. “People are out and about,” says Jane. “If you put it in your pocket and wait for the end of the day to scan it or do something, your chances of losing that are pretty high. The day of the shoebox is over.”

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Need to know

This information in this article is general in nature and doesn’t take into account your specific financial position, needs or circumstances. As with any major project, you should look at your own financial position, objectives and requirements and seek professional advice before making any financial decisions.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images