How to work with your accountant or bookkeeper to make smart digital decisions

- March 16, 2022 4 MIN READ

Jumping on the digital train can feel confusing and downright overwhelming for many small business owners. But an amazing resource to help you make sound digital decisions is right at your fingertips, in your bookkeeper or accountant, writes Xero partner and founder of My Bookkeeping Coach, Kimberley Rodney.

Since the pandemic’s arrival, we’ve seen a significant shift in how Australians use and value technology. This is especially true for many small business owners who, in the depths of disruption, embraced all kinds of tech in order to stay afloat.

But for many, that was a reactive response. And now, with uncertainty becoming widely accepted as the norm, small businesses can pause and reflect on just how far they’ve come in the past two years. What’s more, they have an opportunity to harness and build on the knowledge they’ve developed to realise their full digital potential.

Help to decide the best digital starting point for your business

What does this look like in practical terms? It begins with consulting an expert – and chances are, you already know one rather well.

According to Xero’s new report, The state of the industry, two-thirds of advisors influence the software decisions of their clients. Why? Because most accountants and bookkeepers are well versed in the technology that best serves small businesses, and uniquely positioned to advise their clients on what solutions could be a good fit for their specific needs.

So how can you best work together to make smart decisions? Below, we cover some of the most common barriers to tech adoption and ways to move forward in the right digital direction.

Young carpenter couple using digital devices to track business data

Common myths when it comes to adopting tech

There’s a widespread misunderstanding that digitisation and digitalisation are the same things.

In fact, digitalisation refers to a business’s evolution in tech adoption, often through incremental changes that lead to a shift in how one values and uses software. On the other hand, digitisation means moving all manual systems to digital ones, and is not an undertaking most small (or even big) businesses can achieve all at once.

Beyond this, the most common misconceptions we hear about as advisors are typically a variation of the following:

Myth 1: Digitalisation is too expensive

For those looking for a basic suite of tools to help run their business more efficiently, there’s a range of affordable price points to consider when it comes to tech. Nowadays, subscription models allow for some cost flexibility, as you can scale up or down your investments depending on your needs (and as they change).

Myth 2: Learning new software is more hassle than it’s worth

The beauty of most software – especially those that are purpose-built for small businesses – is that they save those using them a whole lot of time and energy. So it’s worth asking yourself, will the hours I invest into learning a new platform or app pay off in the long run? More often than not, the answer is yes, especially if you have an advisor to help you get set up and learn the basics. This is true for business owners who are just starting out and those who could benefit from extending their existing software suite.

It’s also a good idea to weigh up the qualitative and quantitative time-saving benefits of digitalisation. For example, Xero’s One Step research found that nine out of 10 Australian business owners who embrace technology are likely to spend the extra three hours they gain back every week (as a result of digital support) with family.

How can an advisor help me digitalise?

When it comes to digitalisation, a good place to start is by looking at the current systems or processes you have in place. Consider where you’re spending a lot of time and what causes you the most stress, then talk to your advisor about it. Together, you can work on finding a solution that feels right for you.

Remember, a trusted accountant or bookkeeper won’t make you run before you can walk – after all, tech adoption isn’t a race. So find a pace that challenges you enough without feeling overwhelming.

Once you get started, it’s a natural progression to build on your existing knowledge, exploring other solutions that could support different parts of your business.

3 digital habits every small business could benefit from

Small business owner using digital tech

1. Streamline your financial admin

As a bookkeeping specialist, I know most small business owners don’t go out on their own to learn about tax, compliance and finances. This is why I encourage all of my clients to adopt simple digital habits that will help them automate or streamline the administrative, yet critically important, side of their business – the numbers.

2. Learn about your data

To develop a deep understanding of your business finances, you need to critically review the information and reports your advisor shares. And in our day and age, accounting software makes this accessible, so ask your accountant or bookkeeper to teach you how to use it. Even the basic functionalities can go a long way in improving your financial and digital literacy.

3. A simple system to record expenses

Get rid of the shoebox and replace it with an easy-to-use, compliant and tidy system – like HubDoc – to capture and record your business expenses and receipts. Better yet, make sure it integrates with your accounting software to save you the hassle.

Whether you’re a native or novice when it comes to tech, the digitalisation journey is one that never ends; there’s always room for improvement or something new to learn. So it helps to have a trusted advisor by your side to navigate each step of the way.

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