Welcome to the beautiful world of online accounting! Exciting isn’t it? Well, not exactly, at least for most of you out there... accounting has always been seen as a boring, frustrating, and—let's face it—painful. A necessary evil that all businesses have to deal with.
But the tide is turning, feathers are being ruffled, and times are changing.
A dinosaur, the small traditional accounting firm, will no doubt die a slow painful death in the years to come. In person meetings replaced by more convenient and more accessible web conferencing, mountains of paper replaced by virtual data, fancy suits replaced by jeans and sneakers—the list goes on. These are just some of the ways that the accounting industry and accounting culture is changing, you might not notice it right at this very moment, but it’s happening.
Online or cloud accounting is relatively new in Canada. Our neighbours in the US have already caught on, but Canada has been relatively slow to adopt, with only a very small handful of professional Chartered Accountant firms moving to the cloud.
Online accounting basically means to offer accounting services in a completely virtual environment, which is only made possible through technological innovations. Today, forward thinking accountants are making use of these new technologies to help make accounting less painful for business owners like you.
ACCOUNTING CAN BE FUN—SORT OF
Fun, you say?
Imagine ditching your shoebox full of receipts and replacing it with an iPhone app that snaps pictures of your receipts, extract the data for you and export it to your cloud accounting software. That’s pretty cool if you ask me.
What about having a cloud accounting system like Xero connect automatically to your bank so that it pulls in your company’s transactions on a daily basis to eliminate much of the manual data entry needed? Yes, yes, yes!
Or how about being able to view a snapshot of how your company is performing on a daily basis, not months after year-end? We live in the information age, we should know how our business is performing each and every minute of the day if we want.
The software has existed for years now. It is the human aspect of accounting, the accountant, that has been behind the times. Modern day accountants need to understand that the industry is a dinosaur and it is undergoing radical changes. They need to understand the benefits of this technology and leverage it to businesses of today’s generation. Today’s generation of business owners want convenience and efficiency and this can be achieved by taking your accounting software and accountant to the cloud.
Modern day business owners are busy, always connected and always on the move. Most feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, at least the ones that I speak to. More importantly, they certainly don’t have the time to muddle around with mountains of paper, messy Excel spreadsheets or driving through traffic to see their accountant. Luckily, the days of that are over with online accounting.
TECH GEEKS AND ACCOUNTING
Personally speaking, I’ve always been fascinated with new technology in general. Anything from computers to tablets, mobile phones, DJ equipment (being a former Montreal DJ myself) and cool new software applications, I have always had my ear to the ground on exciting new technological product offerings for the sole reason that I am a bit of a tech geek.
When I first tried Xero, weird as it may sound, I actually had fun using it. It was simple, easy and intuitive, anyone without an accounting degree could use it, exactly the way accounting software should have been built in the first place. Is Xero right for every single business out there? Absolutely not. Other businesses may be better suited for Kashoo or Wave. It really is a case-by-case basis.
With technology moving so fast, today’s cloud accountants should be able to identify these new online technologies and recommend them based on the situation and business they are dealing with and this is really what is setting apart modern day accountants with traditional ones. Consulting on not only tax but also software is a key differentiator. Online accountants are adapting to the way business is being handled in today’s Internet era.
New accounting technology is not just there to look shiny and nice. Its purpose is to make accounting easier, less time consuming and allow you to use better, more up to date information for decision making purposes. The advancement of technology in our society is what moves us forward.
Why should some industries continue to stagnate while others move forward with the times? Professional service industries altogether have stayed still for much too long already. But that’s changing. For instance, I already know of a bunch of legal practices that have gone completely virtual. If we would have said that professional services such as legal and accounting would be conducted on a totally virtual basis 10 years ago, people would have thought you were crazy
IS ONLINE ACCOUNTING FOR YOU?
Taking your accounting to the cloud is a huge step forward for the industry. It’s a game changer. But is it for you?
Do you care about having your financial information 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Do you need (or even like) to visit your accountant in person? Are you completely computer illiterate? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I would say online accounting is not for you.
But if you are a modern day business owner who is looking for ways to shave hours off of your busy schedule, if you want a more convenient accounting option and if you want to be in better control of your business thanks to new tools being available, then I would take a good, long, hard look at the virtual accounting options available today.
Micro businesses, especially in the tech space, are a special breed of business who require a special breed of accounting. It’s time to move forward with the times and say goodbye to the dinosaur, the traditional accounting firm.