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Review your expenses and save yourself money

Review your expenses and save yourself money

Review your expenses - and save yourself money


Running a business will always mean incurring certain expenses or 'spend'.

Whether you’re a large family business or a small fledgling startup, there will be costs, overheads and supplier bills that mount up – and these expenses will gradually chip away at your cash position, making it more difficult to grow and make a profit.

So, what can you do to reduce your spend levels? And what impact will this have on your overall margins, profits and ability to fund the next stage in your business journey?

Getting proactive with your spend management

Spend management is all about getting in control of your expenses – and, where possible, aiming to reduce the level of costs and overheads that you incur as a company.

Why does this matter? 

Well, excessive spending eats into your cash flow, reduces your profit margins and stops you from achieving the profits that you’re capable of as a business.

So if you can get proactive with your spend management, you can actually make your company a far more financially productive enterprise – and that’s great for your overall business health.

So, what can you do to reduce spend and slim down your company expenses?

Here are some key ways to reduce expenses:

Reduce your overheads

Your overheads are the unavoidable costs of running your business, producing your products or supplying your services.

If you have bricks and mortar premises, these overheads will include rental payments, utility bills and even the cost of paying your staff.

Drill down into the numbers and see where there are opportunities to reduce these overhead costs. That could mean moving to smaller premises, or reducing the size of your workforce, to reduce payroll expenditure.

Put limits on staff expenses

If your employees can claim expenses, or buy raw materials and equipment with the company’s money, these costs can soon start to rack up. It’s a good idea to put a spending limit in place, so each staff member can only spend up to an agreed amount.

Having a clear expenses policy helps, as will training up your staff in good spend management techniques. Expenses cards – such as WebexpensesSoldo or Pleo – allow you to quickly set spend limits, track expenses and pull your expenses data through to your cloud accounting platform for processing.

Look for cheaper suppliers

If you can reduce your supplier costs, this will go a long way to bringing down your overall spend.

If you’ve been with certain key suppliers for years, look around for new quotes, look at current market prices and see if you can negotiate better deals. And if your old suppliers aren’t flexible enough, try swapping to newer, more eager suppliers who will be willing to meet you in the middle on price.

Make your operations leaner

The bigger your operational costs are, the less margin you’ll make on your end products and services.

One way to resolve this is to aim for a ‘lean approach’, paring back your staff, resources and operational complexity to the bare minimum.

By making the business as lean as possible, whilst still delivering the same output, you keep your revenue stable, but reduce the spend level that’s eating into your cost of goods sold (COGS). The smaller your COGS, the more profit you make on each unit or sale – and that means better cash flow, more working capital and bigger profits.

Talk to us about improving your spend management

If you’d like to get in control of your expenses, we’d love to chat.

We’ll review your current costs, run forecasting, and help highlight the key areas where expenses can be cut. Then we’ll help you formulate a proactive spend management programme, to reduce your unnecessary spending.

Data regulation and ticking the right compliance boxes

Data regulation and ticking the right compliance boxes

Data regulation and ticking the right compliance boxes

Your business faces an increasingly complex regulatory landscape when it comes to data privacy, consumer protection and industry-specific compliance requirements.

Keeping on top of these compliance requirements is a complex task. Failing to meet your requirements can have serious implications, with non-compliance (whether intentional or accidental) resulting in legal repercussions and possible reputational damage for the company.

Taking excellent care of your customer data

We live in a digital world, where your organisation collects huge amounts of data from your customers. This includes contact details, financial information, credit card details and detailed breakdowns of their spending habits and buying preferences.

In an effort to protect this data and preserve customer privacy, there are various data regulations that you must comply with.

A sample of these global data privacy laws include:

Depending on your organisation's home territory, and where you trade, there may well be international, national and local data regulations to comply with. That’s a lot to get your head around, especially if you’re new to business and not familiar with the legal framework.

So, what can you do to make your compliance journey simpler and as effective as possible?

Here are five simple steps to enhance your compliance:

Work closely with legal advisers

Navigating compliance can be complex without legal expertise. Consulting legal professionals provides clarity on specific obligations relevant to your industry and region. They can guide you through the intricacies of laws such as GDPR, ensuring you understand how these regulations affect your business operations.

Run regular compliance audits

It’s important to conduct regular risk assessments of your in-house data compliance. These audits help your organisation stay in line with all relevant regulations and industry standards. They also keep you abreast of any changes in compliance laws. By regularly reviewing your processes, you can identify potential risks and take steps to mitigate them before they become issues.

Protect your customer data

Your customers expect you to take good care of their data, both personal and financial. Secure your customer and business data through end-to-end encryption and use of the best data privacy practices. Implementing robust security measures like end-to-end encryption and following best data privacy practices is crucial. This involves more than just securing data against external threats; it also includes internal policies to prevent data misuse.

Deliver regular training and keep your employees up to speed

Your team needs to know the latest rules around compliance and what’s required of them. This means running frequent compliance training, so there’s a culture of compliance awareness. By keeping your employees updated, you minimise the risk of inadvertent non-compliance and empower your staff to handle data responsibly.

Use the latest data storage solutions

With so much customer data being generated, it’s important to use up-to-date documentation management and data storage software. These solutions keep your records and data secure, organised, and readily accessible. They also facilitate compliance by ensuring data is stored and managed according to legal requirements.

A team effort

Getting a grip on data compliance is a team effort. It’s important to work with legal, IT and data security professionals to ensure your organisation is ticking all the correct compliance boxes.

By following these steps, your business is more likely to not only comply with current regulations but is also prepared for future changes in the legal landscape. It's about safeguarding your business from legal repercussions and strengthening your reputation as a trustworthy and responsible operator in the eyes of your customers and industry peers.

As your bookkeeper and payroll service providers we can connect you with experts in all the relevant compliance areas, so you get the advice, support and training you need as an organisation. Get in touch

over-automation. The need for a human touch

Is there such a thing as over-automation? The need for a human touch

Is there such a thing as over-automation? 

The need for a human touch

Automating your key systems is the way to turn your enterprise into a 21st century, digital business. But are we getting carried away with automation? And could we be systemising areas which could benefit from a more personalised, human touch?

Personalisation of the customer experience is vital. Automation can play a big part in creating targeted, data-based personalisation for each customer. But not everyone loves automation.

36% of customers in a recent survey would rather wait on hold to speak to a human agent when they have an issue, rather than interacting with an AI-powered virtual assistant to self-serve.

So, how do you get the balance right between automation and a genuine human touch?

A big part of offering a top-notch customer experience (CX) is having direct, personal human interactions with your customers. So, which tasks should you be automating? And which should you leave for your human team to deal with?

Here are a few ways to get the automation/human balance right:

Automate your basic admin tasks

Most of us hate the tedious, time-consuming admin tasks. With smart use of software tools and customised AI assistants you can quickly automate things like onboarding new customers, answering basic FAQs or sending out reminders and notifications to your customers.

Automate your key finance tasks

Many of the current crop of cloud accounting platforms have automation and artificial intelligence tools built in as standard. These tools help you automate your invoicing process, the collection of customer payments and the matching of transactions for your bank reconciliation process. This makes your bookkeeping and cashflow more effective and delivers real-time financial data.

Don't automate the whole customer journey

Customers want efficiency but not impersonal automation throughout their entire customer journey. 77% of customers say they’re more loyal to businesses that offer top-notch service – and being able to speak to a human agent can be a big part of personalising and humanising these interactions.

Make your people integral to your brand

The personality and experience of your people is vital to your brand identity and your CX. Have as many human interactions with customers as possible and tailor your interactions in the most personalised way.

Don't put efficiency over and above having a human face

People buy from other people. Because of this, having a human touch is vital for delivering a top-class CX to your customers. You can have a slick, automated buying experience when it adds convenience, but don't remove people entirely from your offering. Without humans, you have a software process, not a real, living, breathing business.

Talk to us about keeping the humanity in your automation.

There’s no denying that automation and smart use of AI will be vital for creating an efficient and productive digital business. But it’s important to never discount the importance of people, human interactions and real customer relationships when building and growing your business.

How automation streamlines your business

How automation streamlines your business

How automation streamlines your business

How can business automation streamline your business? Business automation uses technology to streamline and simplify all the repetitive manual tasks, processes and workflows that are part of the everyday running of your business.

Instead of spending hours of business time doing everything manually, automated systems can take on most of the heavy lifting.

You can automate the data-entry of your bookkeeping, the sending of recurring invoices or the coding of transactions when doing your bank reconciliation – basically, any task that’s repetitive, rule-based and taking up your time.

Automation makes your processes faster, more accurate and more efficient. This frees up your time to focus on other important strategic and customer-facing tasks. It also means you can get more work done in less time, making the business more productive and profitable.

How does business automation affect your business?

Smart use of automation can give your small business a major boost.

Instead of having to hire more people, you can grow the business and significantly reduce the admin workload for your existing human team. It’s the easiest way to set the foundations for scaling up the company.

By automating key areas of your operation, you can:

  • Streamline your workflows – business automation optimises your processes by automating tasks like data entry, payment collection and approval workflows. This reduces the manual effort that’s involved and boosts your operational efficiency.

    Online bookkeeping applications, such as Xero, can take on the time-consuming task of data entry for your financial records. They allow for the seamless organisation and tracking of income, expenses, and other financial transactions.
  • Improve your process accuracy – automation cuts down on human errors by applying rules consistently and precisely. This means your financial calculations are more accurate, data is of a higher quality and the company has better compliance standards.
  • Save time and resources – all those tedious, repetitive manual tasks are now automated. This frees up valuable time for you and your team to focus on strategic activities, innovation and working more closely with your customers.
  • Become more cost-efficient – automation cuts back the labour costs that usually go hand-in-hand with manual tasks. You’re more productive, your operational costs are reduced and you don’t need any additional staff to grow the business.
  • Scale your business with ease – as your small business expands, automated systems are the special sauce that helps you scale up as quickly as possible. You can effortlessly meet the increased workload, grow your systems and stay agile and adaptable – two of the key skills for any ambitious business that’s looking for fast growth.

How can our firm help you with business automation?

Working automation into your business strategy is the fastest way to achieve your key goals.

With your main tasks and processes automated, you have a sleek, systemised business to drive your growth. And we’re always here to help you maximise this use of automation. We’ll help you review your operations to look for the automation opportunities – and can implement the most effective apps to add into your tech stack.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of automation, we’ll be happy to explain.

5 ways to ensure you get paid on time

5 ways to ensure you get paid on time

Worrying whether customers will pay you on time is a continual concern for business owners.

Late payment can lead to cashflow issues, unpaid supplier bills and the need to dip into your own pocket to cover your operational expenses. If you can improve the speed and likelihood of customers paying on time, that's good news for your accounts receivable targets and the company's overall liquidity and cashflow position.

Speeding up payment times

A sale is not a sale until the customer has actually paid you. Whether you’re an online business taking payment through your website, or a B2B company that sends out monthly invoices, you need the comfort of knowing that payment will be fast, smooth and frictionless.

Here are 5 tips for making sure that customers pay you as seamlessly as possible:

For eCommerce businesses, offer payment gateways to simplify payment.

When a customer gets through to your checkout, it’s vital to make payment as easy as possible.

Some customers may prefer to pay on a card. But offering a choice of payment gateways gives the customer more options. Instead of forcing customers down one route include payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay or Google Pay.

For companies using e-invoicing, put payment buttons on your electronic invoices

If you send out e-invoices to your customers, including payment buttons makes settling your bill as easy as clicking that button.

A payment button that’s linked directly to Paypal or Stripe removes several steps from the payment process. It’s straightforward and quick, getting you your cash without the hassle of BACs payments or transfers.

For businesses offering subscription services, automate those customer payments

When you’re offering a recurring, monthly service, you don’t want the hassle of sending out those invoices and getting involved in cash collection.

Think about automating the creation of recurring invoices in your accounting software, and get your customers to sign up to a Direct Debit platform, like GoCardless. Money is taken automatically on a pre-agreed date and the transaction matched in your accounts.

For retail companies, use card readers that sync with your accounting software

If you’re running a busy cafe or retail space, your customers just want to tap their card and go.

Integrating your card reader with your cloud accounting software removes all the tedious data entry and adding up of receipts. With a direct API between your POS card reader and your accounting platform, all the data is shared automatically.

For all B2B businesses, send your invoices out as early as possible

The sooner you issue an invoice, the sooner the due date will come around.

 If you’re working on a project basis, split the fee up into chunks and invoice out at key milestones throughout the project. It’s also a good idea to make your payment terms clear and enforceable on every invoice.

Payment within 14 to 30 days from the invoice date is a good standard to aim for (though 60 days, or even 90 days, is possible in some industries).

Fast payments improve your cashflow position and remove the need for time-consuming and stressful debtor chasing. By following these five tips, your customers have the smoothest route to paying you, and you get the cash that’s owed to your ASAP.

Talk to us about speeding up your payment times

We’ll help you review your payment process and cash collection to look for the main areas where you can make improvements. We can also integrate appropriate Apps for your business that can help you get paid on time.

Are you in control of your staff expenses?

Are you in control of your staff expenses?

Are you in control of your staff expenses?

When your managers and employees have their own budgets to utilise and spend, it's important to keep in control of these staff expenses.

It used to be standard practice to have a firm-wide company credit card that staff could use to make ad-hoc and recurring payments. But a company card can easily be misused and doesn't help you keep your spending in check.

Today's expense management systems, like Soldo, Pleo or Weel, all give you far greater control over your staff spending – with additional benefits that streamline your expenses process

The benefits of a cloud-based expenses management system

The evolution of cloud accounting and fintech software has led to a significant leap forward in the control your business can have over its staff expenses.

Expense management solutions are now fully digital platforms. Your team has flexible ways to pay for expenses and operational costs, with a greater level of control over how much is spent, who spends it and how these costs track against the company’s main cashflow position.

With a modern expense management app, you can:

Use virtual debit cards to pay for expenses 

Team members can be issued with virtual cards that are quick to set up, use and cancel, if necessary. Having multiple virtual cards helps you keep track of specific spending and allows employees to make payments directly from their phone or tablet.

Align each card number to a specific budget or cost centre

Each card number is linked to a defined budget, branch or cost centre. Instead of having one card that all staff spending is dumped onto, you have a defined card for each budget. This helps you track that person’s or department’s spending and produce drilled-down management information about their spending and outgoings.

Set card limits, so staff can't overspend

Each card can be given an agreed spending limit, to reign in overspending and casual use of the card without prior approval. Managers can approve spending prior to a payment being made, with full transparency over where the money is going and the agreed amount that can be spent.

Integrate your expenses system with your cloud accounting platform

If your accounting software has a suitable API, you can connect your expense platform to your digital accounts. This automates the whole process of recording, tracking and reconciling your outgoing transactions, saving you hours of data entry and admin time.

Get deep reporting on all expenditure

Tracking all your staff spending through the one platform means you have unprecedented access to data and reporting. This gives you the ability to track each department or branch and follow a clear breadcrumb trail for all outgoing costs and staff expenses.

Talk to us about getting in control of your staff expenses

Spiralling staff expenses can have a profoundly negative impact on your cashflow. But with a cloud-based expenses management system in place, you’re in full control of every transaction, every cost and the overriding impact on your cash position.

Talk to us about which expense management platform is right for your business, and the best way to integrate your chosen app with your main finance system.

3 cloud accounting tips to save your business time and money

3 cloud accounting tips to save your business time and money

3 cloud accounting tips to save your business time and money

Keeping on top of your accounts is a big part of running a successful and profitable business. But you don’t want to spend ALL your time dealing with bookkeeping and accounting tasks, especially when that time could be spent building customer relationships, or developing new products etc.

So, how do you keep your finances in check, while also spending less time on your accounts?

1. Bringing your accounting into the digital age

Switching to cloud accounting can be a revolutionary step for many business owners, especially when you look at the ways you can streamline and automate the basic accounting tasks.

By using accounting platforms like Xero, QuickBooks, MYOB or Sage, you get all the basics of small business financial management, but with the benefits of smart automation.

With most modern cloud accounting software, you can:

  • Automate the scanning and digitisation of your expenses and receipts
  • Automatically reconcile your bank transactions with your invoices and bills
  • Connect your accounts to other time-saving apps for mileage claims or staff expenses.

2. Getting paid faster and with less admin

With a cloud accounting platform driving your business, you also make it easier to send out e-invoices and get paid faster and more effectively.

Improving your payment times and cash collection can make a huge difference to your cashflow position, and also sets the right expectations with your customers – making it clear that you require to be made on time.

Using the invoicing function in your business software, you can:

  • Quickly send out electronic invoices as soon as a job is completed
  • Set up automated invoices to be sent out at pre-agreed points in a project
  • Include payment buttons on your invoice, so customers can pay via PayPal or card
  • Remove the barriers to payment and speed up payment times.

3. Getting a better overview of your important numbers

Using cloud accounting isn’t just about automating the time-consuming financial admin tasks.

By recording and tracking all the financial and non-financial data flowing through your system, your accounting platform can actually provide you with a goldmine of useful real-time information.

With cloud accounting providing your reporting, you can:

  • Access totally up-to-date real-time information, to improve your decision-making
  • Track your performance against targets to see how well the business is performing
  • Monitor spending and budgets to keep your cashflow under control
  • Understand your return on investment when it comes to sales and marketing activity
  • See how promotion has driven sales but reduced your profit, due to discounting.
Talk to us about setting up a more productive kind of accounting

If you want complete control of your finances and business decision-making, updating your accounting software and processes will be key to achieving that goal.

We can help you implement accounting software into your business, so you can maximise the benefits you get from automation and real-time data.

Get in touch to talk through updating your bookkeeping, payroll and more through cloud accounting.

Digital Signatures and Cyber Security

Digital Signatures and Cyber Security

Digital Signatures and Cyber Security

Authenticated digital signatures can be a valuable part of your cyber security approach. They are more efficient than printing, signing and scanning documents and provide one-off encryption for the highest level of security. In fact, they are more secure than a handwritten signature.

If you have a lot of documents that require signing within your business, whether internally or externally, using a digital signature app will streamline your workflow and make managing the signing of documents more accessible. Documents are also secured against manipulation after they have been signed.

However, not all digital signatures have the same level of verification and cyber safety.

Digital signatures vs Electronic signatures

It's important to understand the difference between electronic and secure digital signatures.

For example, you can scan your signature, save it as an image file, and attach it to documents. This is an electronic signature but not an authenticated digital signature and is easily copied and hacked.

An authenticated signature includes unique digital verification that uses public key cryptography technology within the signature. So, the signature comes with encrypted authorisation embedded in it, and it’s virtually impossible to hack.

Digital signature process

Digital signatures also provide an audit trail of the signature process – from sending the document to when it's read and signed, and sent back to the document owner.

Once you’ve created a document and sent it for signing, you can see outstanding documents at a glance and send reminders from within the platform.

There are many options available for authenticated digital signatures. Look at DocuSign, Adobe or Secured Signing to start with and ask others in your industry if they use a solution they would recommend.

Check their level of encrypted security and audit trail functions. Most are very simple to use, requiring nothing more than you opening an account, uploading documents and sending. The recipient may need to create an account, but some apps use a code sent separately to sign the document without the recipient needing their own account.

Digital signatures are an easy tool to help your business's cyber safety, and there are many other simple tips you can implement. Talk to us if you’d like to learn more about how your business can stay cyber-safe and secure.

5 ways to get in control of your business finances

5 ways to get in control of your business finances

5 ways to get in control of your business finances

Having proper control of your business finances is a big advantage. It helps you make well-informed business decisions and keeps your organisation profitable.

With so many digital tools for managing your bookkeeping, accounting and management reporting, it's never been easier to manage, track and forecast your financial position.

But what are the main tools you need? And how do you set up your financial systems, apps, processes and reporting to put yourself back in the finance driving seat?

1. Bring your bookkeeping into the digital age

Digital bookkeeping apps are a great way to digitise your receipts, records and source documents. This not only saves a lot of time at year-end, it also makes it much easier for you to keep track of your company’s finances and accounting. Keeping your receipts in a box to manually enter at period-end is no longer enough. Take the next step and digitise your receipts at source, so you have up-to-date digital records and copies of source documents.

Optical character recognition (OCR) software, like Dext Prepare or Auto Entry, scans the receipt, converts it into a digital format and stores it in the cloud.

2. Do your accounting in the cloud

Cloud accounting is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that helps you carry out all your main accounting and financial management online, without having to install any software.

Cloud accounting providers, like Xero, QuickBooks, MYOB or Sage, design their accounting platforms to take the pain and hassle of business accounting. You get all the tools and features you need to work on your accounting tasks. And your platform provider will also take care of all the data storage, backups and security of your data.

A good cloud accounting platform does more than just save your hard drive space. It also provides you with tools and dashboards that improve your access to management information, financial reporting, forecasting and projections, performance tracking and more.

3. Use the latest in expense management tools

Expense management can be a time-consuming and tedious job. But it’s also a vital task that helps you ensure you’re spending company money wisely and not overspending. If employees start going over their budget limits, this can be a costly mistake for the company and your cashflow.

Expense management tools, such as Soldo, Weel or Pleo, help you manage staff spending by giving employees virtual cards that are linked to a specific budget, account and code. This helps you track their expenses easily and make sure they’re staying within their budgeted limits. These platforms also give you detailed reporting and analytics, so you can see where money is being spent, and where savings can be made.

4. Make it easy to accept digital payments

The problem of slow payment is one of the most frustrating things for small businesses. If your customers don’t pay on time, this can result in a loss of revenue, poor cashflow and an inability to cover your basic costs and overheads. To resolve this issue, many companies have begun to switch to digital payment platforms that make it simpler, faster and easier to collect payment.

Payment platforms, like PayPal, Square or Stripe offer faster payment times and more control over the customer experience. Some platforms even integrate with your cloud accounting, so you get automatic bank reconciliations.

5. Embrace the latest in digital reporting and forecasting

With digital accounting changing so rapidly in recent years, there's never been a better time to embrace the benefits of the latest in digital reporting and forecasting.

Economic conditions are hard to predict. So it's crucial to be able to quickly analyse data, check your performance and make predictions about how your company will fare in the coming months. When you use cloud solutions for financial reporting and key metrics, you'll be able to monitor trends in real-time while having access to the data anytime, anywhere.

Having this information at your fingertips helps you make informed decisions faster than ever before – and that translates that into more sales, increased business growth and bigger profits.

If you’re looking to give your finances a touch of digital magic, please do come and talk to us.

We can walk you through the best cloud platforms, fintech apps and business tools to add to your app stack – so you’re ready to make the most of a digital approach to your finances,

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