SBM March Financial Fitness logoWhether you outsource your accounting, or have a bookkeeper on staff, accurate, up-to-date financials are not always at your fingertips. Karen Stern, partner in charge of BSW Small Business Services discusses how cloud-based accounting systems can help your small business operate more smoothly in this month’s “Financial Fitness,” as featured in Small Business Monthly.

It’s tax time again! Pulling together tax return information is probably one of a business owner’s least favorite things to do. However, maintaining accurate accounting records and having up-to-date financials will help make this task less taxing. Plus it is vital to running a successful business. Cloud-based solutions such as QuickBooks Online, Xero and Zoho Books give business owners an up-to-date view of their financial information.

Working in conjunction with their accountants, business owners can use these solutions to be effective in optimizing cash flow and managing tax liability while focusing more on growing their businesses. Innovative applications, or mobile programs, are also available to make tasks – such as electronic payments from customers, payroll time tracking and inventory management – less daunting. All this can be done anywhere you have access to an Internet connection and your laptop or mobile device.

Is my accounting information safe? A cloud-based system resides in a managed data center with high levels of security and verification. This significantly reduces the risk of theft, damage or other security issues when compared with keeping the same information on a PC within an office. If you’re worried about not being able to get to your information, there are accounting systems available that allow you to download a copy of your account with just a few clicks.

Top five tips for picking a cloud-based accounting system:

  1. Check out the different pricing models and know what features you are getting for each.
  2. Find out what applications are available to customize your accounting and increase your productivity.
  3. Ensure your system can integrate key transactional data, such as your PayPal account or inventory items.
  4. Know how much support is included with the subscription.
  5. Ask your accountant for advice.