Don’t let tradition cloud your judgment

Emma Woods says it’s time that small businesses consign old-style book-keeping to history and embrace the cloud.

It’s quite surprising how many small businesses are still keeping manual accounting records as we approach 2018. With Making Tax Digital very much on the agenda and real-time information being required by HMRC, these old-school methods are no longer to be an option in the years ahead.

I’d always encourage clients to look positively on new technology though. Once you embrace it, the chances are you’ll never look back. After all, we now take smartphones and tablets for granted, when they once seemed futuristic.

Cloud accounting is much more efficient and is very secure. I know that some people may worry about sensitive information or banking details being accessible online, but data is encrypted and there haven’t been any security breaches reported on direct or indirect feeds.

Increasingly the cloud accounting world is being changed by artificial intelligence too. With machine learning, the software is able to look at patterns and anticipate where particular expenses should be allocated, for example. You still have the ability to check the decisions, but a lot of the hard work is taken out of your hands.

Your accountant may be able to recommend particular cloud accounting software and even provide you with some training if you’re uncertain of how to use it. You’ll then be able to access your accounts anywhere at any time – particularly useful if you travel as part of your business. Meanwhile, your accountant can access the data in real time and give you more up-to-date advice and direction, rather than reviewing figures a year after they’ve been compiled.

So my message is not to be frightened. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.