Invoicing from your pocket
When it comes to digital record-keeping in the small business world, accounting powerhouse MYOB is usually the first name that springs to mind. It hasn’t wasted its entrenched position, developing tailored features like its mobile offering, which transports the simple day-to-day functions of your business to your phone, leaving your computer to do the hard yards. The app lets subscribers invoice on the go, from a database of contacts, and takes payments, syncing all the data back to your desktop. By the end of financial year, your records (whether they are mobile or otherwise) are consolidated.
Arguably the sexiest name in bookkeeping, New Zealand-based accounting firm Xero added a powerful yet beautifully-designed layout that reconciles your bank, PayPal, and other accounts with in-house invoice and payroll functionality. With instant real-time reporting and a cloud storage partnership with Dropbox, you can review and action real-time reports at any point either at home or remotely via the cloud.
Quickbooks’ app range takes mobile invoicing a step further, with iPad users able to add photos and notes to customer invoices to give them full context. You can create quotes on the go, before instantly converting them into invoices to be signed electronically and stored into a standardised format for tax time. It will send you overdue invoice notifications, provide profit and loss statements and allow you to connect with over 80 partner apps including stock management, receipt tracking and a PayPal sync (think of it like the iTunes for accounting apps). EasyBooks offers a similar service, with added bank statement reconciliation so you can find missing transactions directly from the source.
Build that contact base
Customers who have purchased from you before are more inclined to do so again than ‘cold leads’, so documenting details for future targeting is a smart approach. Good Customer Retention Management Systems (CRMs) should track customer purchase histories, allowing business owners to pull their clientele’s preferences at a glance. A contact book that doesn’t waste time is central to the development of a good CRM system, and regardless of which organisational apps you use, contact-management app CamCard (ios, Android, $0.99c) is a quick way to add new contacts. Simply take a photo of a new client’s business card and it automatically enters their details into your contact book.
Accept payments wherever you are
It’s easy enough to fire off those quotes and invoices on the go, but getting paid can be a different story. Paypal Here is the most flexible: it accepts mobile payments, handles invoicing, logs cash payments, and flicks out instant receipts. It’s a cheap set up for small business, too: download the app and order the card reader ($99), which just sits on the back of your phone.
Similar POS (Point of Sale) tool Square Register works for small businesses by allowing them to enter sales items to process on the go. Order your own card-reading dongle for mobile card payments to instantly turn a quote, to an invoice, into an instant payment – invoiced and archived for tax time. Square currently only accepts mobile credit-card payments, but will add register functionality down the line.
Launched in 2015, Commbank’s Albert EFTPOS system integrates your Point of Sale system (both in-store and via a 3G mobile unit) and Commbank account into one, creating instant daily reports and account payments in one.
For personal finance:
Though it’s often pushed aside for small business owners, personal finance is no less important. Pocketbook has become hugely popular, counting your dollars and syncing to your bank account to categorise business and personal transactions. You can add invoices and bills and geo-tag receipts so you can see exactly where the money has gone. And, if you are your own worst enemy, weekly limits for ‘fun’ categories allow you to cap your spending. You can tag your deductable-purchases and compile them all in one, for easier collection at tax time.
Quick tips for invoicing
- These apps work best if you use them as you go, not in one big batch at the end of the year. Taking little steps to organise your invoices weekly or monthly is a lot easier than at the end of the year.
- Use the sorting power of these services to organise your records for you – it makes balancing the books a lot easier!
- Use email alerts to stay on top of unpaid invoices (or unpaid debts).
- Spread the workload: Use your phone and tablet for day to day invoicing and payments, but leave the big jobs to a more powerful desktop machine.
- Integrating your banking provider with their own merchant services can help save you account keeping fees, and provide instant payments on the go.
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