Traditional accountants are somewhat sceptical of just how useful advanced accounting software can be for small business owners. Often they will point towards the fact that they provide easy-to-use spreadsheets for their customers which are about as hi-tech as you need to get.

However, these spreadsheets will usually turn out to be some glorified Excel spreadsheet (if it isn’t actually an Excel spreadsheet), and are anything but easy-to-use for most people – unless you’re an accountant.

That poses the question: what can specialist accounting software provide for small business owners that an old-fashioned spreadsheet can’t?

The answer really depends on the software in question. In this article, we can only talk for Crunch.

Monitoring a businesses’ financial health

What Crunch offers every customer is an online system which enables them to access the financial health of their business, wherever they are, whenever they need the information.

For business owners, whether they be a one-man band (such as a freelancer or contractor) or small-to-medium-sized business, this is a huge step forward. In the past, business owners would have to make a specific request of their accountant to present a financial report detailing the health of their business. This would require all the information being collated and calculated (with you having to send the relevant financial data) and would probably see you being charged for the privilege.

Crunch enables you to see the financial health of your business whenever you want. This access to information is invaluable for making decisions on when to take money out of your business (such as paying yourself tax-efficiently in dividends) or when to reinvest. It can either alert you to financial difficulties or offer reassurance that everything is okay.

Easy and effective book-keeping

A system like Crunch enables users to easily draw up invoices or input expenses wherever they have internet access. For those who are VAT registered, it will automatically calculate VAT rates which is particularly useful considering the VAT increase.

What’s particularly good about Crunch is the way the system makes it easy for you to do all this. It’s not some horribly confusing looking spreadsheet, it’s specially designed for the non-accounting mind. Even if you usually find this stuff infuriatingly difficult, the Crunch system makes it sublimely easy.

The upshot of this is that book-keeping errors are unheard of. This is especially so with Crunch because we provide each customer with their own account manager who will check that everything is being done correctly and will always be on hand to help those experiencing any difficulties.

The recent news that HMRC will be cracking down on those businesses with poor accounting procedures (with £3,000 fines) means that maintaining an up-to-date, correctly filed and easily accessible account is becoming even more crucial.

Limited company accounting simplified

Traditionally, many business owners are put-off forming a limited company because of the associated hassle of running one. This is a real shame because it means missing out on the tax-saving opportunities that they offer. Online accounting software will help simplify this process as has been largely detailed above.

Paying yourself in dividends is one of the big advantages of running a limited company and the Crunch online system displays a graph which displays just how much of a dividend you can take out without going beyond the threshold. By paying yourself the right balance of salary and dividend means optimum tax efficiency.

However, one thing book-keeping software can’t provide you with is expert tax advice. That’s when you need expert accountants – which is just what Crunch provides for every customer!

Freeing up time for you and your business

Online accounting software can play a huge role in freeing up time for the small business owner to focus on their core business concerns. That means more time for gaining clients, marketing, expanding, re-skilling or simply kicking back!

There’s nothing worse than having to gather up files and bits of paper to organise and then send onto an accountant. It can be an agonising time-sapping process which everyone could do without. With online technology you can do without it!