Bookkeeper. Business person.
Tax Advisor. Leader.
They go hand in hand nowadays, right?
Things have changed a lot in the last few years. Legislation. The market. Clients’ needs. Software.
Changes that fill a sleeping accountant’s head with nightmares of a monster in a Xerocon t-shirt, eating their firm before using the bones of colleagues and family to pick the remnants of tax returns and chipboard office furniture from its long, sharp teeth.
Let’s be honest, the entrepreneurial life is no walk in the park. Whatever happened to the days of clients walking in off the street with paper-based balance sheets, paying hourly rates for something that software was unable to do for them? Truth is, you have no choice but to embrace the change.
There’s another problem. The market is saturated. Those firms that survive are the ones who adapt to change the quickest. However, when you’re juggling a business, you’ve only got so much time to keep your ear to the ground.
But, you know what?
The beauty of digitalisation is, there are plenty of tools out there for the modern accountant; tools that can help to make processes more efficient, and free up time for you to work on some of the more innovative stuff; tools that will help you stay a step ahead of the game.
Below, we’ve given our list of the best platforms to help you, the entrepreneurial ‘bean-counter’, with all sorts of things that are probably taking up far too much of your time already.
If you haven’t yet heard of Xero, you’ve obviously recently been rescued from a desert island, where you lived for years with your only friend, a volley ball called Wilson. If, indeed, you didn’t know, Xero is an online accounting system that gives small businesses easy access to bank transactions, invoices, reports and GST. You can access all this and more at anytime, anywhere in the world. The ease of use means it’s great for your clients, and miles easier for you to keep track of their accounts.
Alright. We’re a bit biased here. But alongside cloud accounting tools, Diagnostax adds a huge amount of value to your clients. What does it do? In short, it makes it easier for you to deliver bespoke tax advisory by providing personalised diagnostic reports. The tax code just got a whole lot simpler, baby. Don’t call you baby? Why? What do you mean it’s weird?
We’re harping on about saving time, yeah? Well then, it’s pretty crucial that we look at tools like Receipt Bank, whose sole focus is to save you, the accountant, time. Clients take pictures of their receipts with their smart phone and, like it says on the tin, the software banks and organises them for you. Easy peasy, expense claims squeezy.
In Slack’s own words, the tool unifies your entire team’s communications. In basic terms, it’s a group messaging app that allows you to collaborate with your team as and when you need to, and with customisable notifications, it helps to cut back on needless internal emails. You know the emails we’re talking about, Dan.
Video, plus screen-sharing. It’s like being in the same room as the person you’re meeting with, only…you’re not. With tools like Zoom, you can have face-to-face meetings, without being, well, face-to-face. The ability to show your clients, colleagues and even your dog, exactly what you want, on screen, improves efficiency and makes remote communication smoother than Barry White in a silk dressing gown.
Evernote is, arguably, still the best note taking and syncing software on the market. With versions across all platforms, including web, it’s great for syncing all of your notes, clippings and articles into one, easy to use application. The free version offers access to your account across two devices but, if you need access to more, you’ll have to upgrade to, god forbid, a PREMIUM ACCOUNT*.
*To be said in a deep, echo-y voice, whilst in the dark, with a torch under you chin.
Everything’s Google nowadays, so it’s not surprising that the Google calendar is the smart choice for linking accounts. It makes setting up meetings and sharing occasions a breeze. It even gives you the option to turn any appointment into a Zoom meeting, which takes the hassle out of organising the damn thing!
A neat, little tool for mapping out and managing tasks, assigning responsibilities, and building a to do list that’s visible to the whole team. It’s great for making the whole process transparent, and ensures all of your team are fully aware of the tasks that are assigned, both to them, and to their colleagues. It makes people accountable. It’s a bit like openly spying on each other to make sure things are getting done. OK, that sounds a little creepy. Forget we said it.
It can get a little pricey, but HubSpot offer a brilliant suite of products for those firms that are either still struggling to establish an online presence, or that are looking to improve it. Whether it’s blogging, web design, social media, video marketing or analytics, HubSpot provides you with the tools to grow your digital offering (with a bit of graft, of course), and measure your progress while you’re at it. HubSpot brings the ingredients, you’ve just got to cook ‘em, momma.
Despite the name, this software doesn’t use monkeys to deliver your business mail, although we must admit, that would be much cooler. Nope, Mailchimp simply provides you with easy to use, drag and drop templates to create beautiful email designs, and analytics that tell you a shed load about how your mailing list reacted to your latest newsletter. Email marketing at its finest.
OK, so this is a random platform to include on the list, as you probably wouldn’t consider LinkedIn a ‘tool’ for making your accounting/business life easier. Well, hear us out. The beauty of LI compared with other social networks, is that posts and articles are much more likely to trend organically than on other platforms. Add that to the fact that your target market of clients probably has a flick through their feeds on the daily, and you’ve got real potential to get in front of them there. All you need to do is make sure your content’s not as dry as butter-less cracker with eczema. You can produce interesting content in the accountancy space, right?
So, there you have it. A list of tools that will save you time, money and, in turn, your marbles. The entrepreneurial life is a rocky road, and anything that helps to smooth out a few of the potholes will make your life a whole lot easier. Sure, if you refuse to adapt, automation and tech can be your worst enemy but, when applied in the right way, it can help to refocus your energy into the things that really matter.
Like your firm.
And your clients.
If you enjoyed this read, check out, ‘How to sell if you’re an introvert‘.