The old stereotype of stuffing a bundle of receipts into a shoebox and dumping them on your accountant is fast reaching its use-by date. Given the need to submit quarterly business activity statements, along with the dreaded end-of-financial year tax return, many small businesses are punching figures into a program or an excel spreadsheet.
Whether you get someone in to ‘just put the numbers into MYOB’ or scratch them into an accounts ledger, there is a better way of going about it on the horizon. Web-based accounting (often referred to with the catchphrase ‘cloud accounting’) is basically using software over the internet to handle your financials.
Whenever something is heralded as being new and fantastic, the first thing a small business owner will ask is ‘how much does it cost and how much time do I need to spend doing it?’While the use of online accounting means you have to spend a few extra minutes punching in your payables and receivables, the benefits more than makeup for the time cost.
“With online software, the accountant, the bookkeeper, the business owner – all of them – log into one version of the software. They are all looking at the same data,” explains Var Fernando, CEO, and co-founder of Reach Accounting.
One of the strengths of this is that it eliminates having a file that’s bounced around via email, or a file in a shared folder on the network. It may seem harmless to operate this way, but all it takes is for one version of the file to be mislabeled or saved incorrectly for an administrative nightmare to ensue.
There are other features that your typical shrink-wrapped piece of software isn’t going to be able to do, and neither is a tidy accounts ledger with markings in red pen. Some of these include the ability to send an SMS message to customers that have outstanding invoices – texting them an automated reminder.
“With web-based software as opposed to desktop-based, another advantage is that it is always available – there’s nothing to install or upgrade,” adds Fernando.
Online accounting allows you to remotely track your accounts receivable and payable, monthly sales, and customer information. On top of this, it can generate automatic invoices that can be emailed out on a set schedule.
“I’ve used Reach Accounting for a couple of months for my own investment property and there’s a number of benefits that overcome that time issue. Sure, it does take a little bit of time, but just knowing exactly where you are financial – I find it to be a huge benefit. At any point in time I can make decisions based on accurate information about what my profit and loss is for a particular period,” says Larry Bloch, CEO of Netregistry.
What does it cost?
The best things in life might be free, but most commercial software programs are not. That is of course unless you are a Netregistry customer. Thanks to Netregistry acquiring a 50% stake in Reach Accounting, all existing customers and those signing up for the first time will be eligible for a two-year license of the web-based accounting software for free.
“It’s a free service for two years and five years for the first 3,000 customers that sign up,” explains Bloch. “It will be a staged release, and in the first instance we will be opening it up to a limited number of customers who do sign on and become active users of Reach Accounting. The Netregistry group has over 250,000 Australian small business customers, so we are going to roll it out to those business owners over a period of time. It’s not something we can just deploy to everyone on day one.”
Is it a secret? Is it safe?
The number one concern when putting any kind of sensitive information online is security. There has long been the view that if it’s on a server, and physically located in the office, it’s somehow more secure than being hosted by an online provider. Where this idea falls down is in the level of security methods accredited hosting providers have access to. This is due to the cost of top-tier security systems that are way out of reach for a small business owner.
“The data is hosted in a world-class hosting environment by Netregistry. So it’s got the best backup, security, firewalls, etc. It’s in one of the best locations in Australia. It’s not hosted by an overseas cloud provider – where the data is going across the world and you don’t really know where it is. You know where the data is and you know it is secure,” says Don Buchanan, CTO, and co-founder of Reach Accounting. Additionally, Netregistry’s Bloch has added his own personal guarantee to the security of the online hosting.
“Netregistry has over a decade’s worth of experience in hosting business-critical information online in a secure fashion. We are PCI compliant,” continues Bloch. “It’s essentially Netregistry’s long history of security guaranteeing the safety of that financial information within our cloud environment.”
All Netregistry customers will soon be eligible for a 2-year free license of Reach Accounting. Find out how you can be one of the first 3,000 to get a free extended 5 year license.