Guest blog by Unicorn Accounting: Love it or hate it, finance is a key part of your e-commerce business. Whether your great idea sinks or swims comes down to that bottom line. It’s a crucial piece of the puzzle, but it’s not something that should eat into your day or cause you unnecessary stress. Let’s look at why streamlining your accounting process is so important, and how you should go about it.
E-commerce businesses can vary dramatically in size, but there are always savings to be made in time and resources by reducing the amount of time you spend on your accounting process. Whether you deal with the accounts yourself or have a dedicated staff member or even team, you should check you are maximising your efficiency.
Let’s start with a key concern of all business owners in e-commerce and beyond – time. In a global economy, there simply is never enough time. While you may be sleeping, your business is doing anything but; e-commerce runs 24/7, 365 days of the year.
With business churning away constantly, it is more essential than ever to manage your time. You cannot possibly be at your desk at all hours (although many have tried!) so realising the value of your time and assigning it to the correct tasks is crucial for both business success and your mental wellbeing.
If organising and streamlining your accounting process could win you back several hours a month, then it is, of course, the smart play.
Another bottleneck for many growing businesses is the level of resources. This may mean staff, it may mean money, it may be something else. Whatever the critical resource is, reducing the load spent on finances could help you utilise those resources somewhere better suited to growing your business.
If you are currently dedicating a staff member for several days a month on your business’ accounting process, reducing the time could free that staff member up for other tasks. If you are currently bringing in staff strictly for this task, or outsourcing, again you could stand to free up finances that could be better put into stock, or market research.
Growth not maintenance
Growing your business relies on having up to date financial data. If your accounting process has you entering data once a month, or worse scrabbling for invoices when you need them, then things have got to change. Not only are up to date electronic accounts a requirement for the Making Tax Digital initiative, but you will also find it impossible to successfully grow your business without a clear picture of where your finances and your stock levels are.
You may manage to tread water without up to the minute financials but if you are looking to increase your market share, your accounting process could wind up holding you back when you need to seek outsider investment or simply make the call on next quarter’s budget.
How to streamline your accounting process
The first step is likely the step that fills you most with dread. You can’t know how to improve systems until you have a clear idea of what you’re doing, what works and what doesn’t. Document what steps need to take place, and how you go about these. This step, in itself, will enable you to hand off the work to someone else if you are currently dealing with it yourself. Even if you would prefer to handle matters yourself, there will be times when you are on holiday, sick, or just too busy to deal with financial matters in a timely way.
Cut the filler
Once you know what steps take place, start by removing the steps that simply aren’t necessary. As businesses grow and your accounting process evolves, you may find you are still performing tasks that are no longer relevant or efficient for the size of your e-commerce business.
Automation isn’t scary
Next, look at the tasks taking you the longest and explore avenues of automation. If you’re using an accounting app such as Xero, you will find a lengthy list of apps (more than 700, including Expandly of course) to help you maximise Xeros’ efficiency.
Expandly recently mentioned the importance of Xero certification, and we are proud to be Xero Gold partners, so if you need a helping hand contact us for further information.
If your current approach to your accounting process is a little haphazard or time-consuming, it may seem difficult to envision the best way forward. Finding a trusted outside source who understands your business can be a quick way to get onto the right track.
At Unicorn Accounting, we specialise in helping e-commerce businesses. We will seamlessly move you over to Xero and help you discover the best integrations to shortcut your accounting process. You’ll spend less time accounting, be more up to date, and in a better position for business success.
Emily Cheshire is the founder and managing director of Unicorn Accounting – a specialist accountant for e-commerce businesses in the UK. With a forward-thinking approach to how an accountant should operate and our expertise in utilising cloud technology, we can leverage financial insights to help your business scale.