Three tech trends to consider before you expand

It’s a given that technology is constantly changing so before you take the next step to expand your business, step back for a moment and take a look at what the latest in cloud software could mean for you.

1. Flexible work options

Cloud technology and tools that you can carry with you on your mobile phone or laptop have opened up more choice for business owners about where and when they work. There’s no need to be at your desk or on-site to stay aware of what’s happening in the business and to remain in control.

It means how you manage the line between work and life is up to you. You can switch off from work altogether when you choose, or stay connected wherever you are, whether it’s at home, at the kids’ sports practices, on an overseas holiday or on a business trip out of town.    

Some people prefer strict boundaries between work and life. Others are happy for an interplay so that it’s more work-life harmony than work-life balance. It depends on how you’re wired as to which reduces the stress on you.

There’s something else to consider too. Because staff can access cloud software anywhere, anytime,  you may be able to offer staff flexible work options – and that can be a big factor in attracting and retaining talented people.

2. Greater connection, leaner operations

As your business grows and gets busier, you’ll probably need to employ more staff. But before you do, take a look at what could be automated. Start by hooking up your accounting software to your bank so your bank transactions flow directly into your accounts ready to be reconciled.   

You could also look at automating the entire payments process, from taking payments and marking invoices as paid, to matching payments with bank transactions in your accounts. In Xero, for example, it’s all seamless once Xero online invoices are connected to a payment service like Stripe or PayPal.  

Then consider connecting other kinds of cloud apps so data flows between them – for instance, you might want to link together an inventory app, a customer relationship management and a POS app. Do away with entering data such as customer contact details and sales transactions in more than one place. You’ll free up the time that would have been spent on manual data entry, avoid keying errors, and get more timely, accurate information.

For many jobs, you’ll still need to employ staff, but you can keep business operations lean and more profitable when you have connected cloud software working for you.

3. Closer collaboration with accountants

Before cloud technology became more widespread, businesses looked to their accountant to prepare their end-of-year financial statements, and to make sure they were complying with tax rules and regulations. A business owner and accountant may have met just once a year to review how the previous year had gone – but that was often some time later and of limited value.

The advent of cloud accounting software is allowing businesses to work more closely with their accountant, as both of them see the same set of up-to-date figures in the accounts. Accountants can easily answer queries and help resolve problems on a day-to-day basis. And they’re able to regularly review the numbers and offer timely advice, whether it’s alerting the business owner to a forthcoming cash flow crunch, advising how much tax to put aside, or suggesting the timing for a big purchase or investment.

Many accountants welcome the opportunity to do more than compliance work, so look for one who offers advisory services and is there to help your business succeed as you expand and grow.