In the summertime, when the weather is fine [ahem], the last thing you want to be thinking about is your business’s books.
If you haven’t already done so then you may well be planning to take some time off this summer, and so, in all probability, will your customers. How can you make sure that your business’s accounts don’t fall by the wayside while you’re away?
Emily Coltman, Chief Accountant to FreeAgent – who provide an award-winning online accounting system for small businesses and freelancers – gives her five top tips for making sure you don’t return to a pile of paperwork and cheques to wade through.
Take payment online by bank transfer or PayPal
If your customers have to post you cheques, or pay you in person with a credit or debit card, then they can’t pay as effectively, if at all, while you’re away.
Consider taking payment by online bank transfer, or using a service such as PayPal or GoCardless, so that your customers can pay you in your absence. This will not only help to reduce your administration but will keep your cashflow healthy, too.
Use a scanning tool for expenses
To avoid having to wade through a huge pile of receipts for money you’ve spent, why not use a service like ReceiptBank to scan these and have them posted automatically into your accounting system? ReceiptBank integrates with many online accounting software systems including FreeAgent.
You can then either just photograph your receipts on your iPhone, or even better for saving time while you’re away, pop them in an envelope and drop them in the postbox before you go.
Let people know you’re away – safely!
So that your contacts aren’t banging their heads against a brick wall wondering why they can’t get hold of you, set up an e-mail auto responder, and consider using a service such as Moneypenny to pick up your unanswered phone calls.
But be cautious with publishing your holiday snaps and updates on Facebook or Twitter, particularly if you work from home and your address is available on the public record. If your business is a limited company registered at your home, then anyone can trace your address, so that picture of you on the beach in Ibiza might also act as a sign at your home saying “Burglars please stop here!”
Pay suppliers before you go
It’s also a good idea to make sure your books are right up to date before you go, not only in terms of posting all your entries but also for paying your suppliers.
It’s better to pay them a bit early, before you go away, if your business’s cashflow permits, than wait till you get back if the supplier’s deadline for payment falls while you’re away. You could come back to demanding letters from suppliers, and paying late will potentially also damage your relationship with them.
Issue invoices before you go
Also, make sure that your customer invoices are all created and sent before you go away for your holiday. That will encourage your customers to pay and keep your cashflow healthy.
Taking a few precautions and putting systems in place before you go away will not only mean you have less tasks to do when you come back, but that you won’t have to worry about your books while you’re away and be able to switch off and relax as much as you can – and come back to your business “rejoicing as a strong man to run a race”!
Emily Coltman ACA is Chief Accountant to FreeAgent, who provide an award-winning online accounting system designed to meet the needs of small businesses and freelancers. Try it for free at www.freeagent.com