Managing your mobile business
Small business owners work hard and are often on the move. You may be out meeting clients, working on-site or travelling between jobs. If you have an office – at home or anywhere else – you probably don't spend a lot of time in it.
Mobile phones, tablets and laptops have made working on the go much easier. You can check emails, manage appointments and edit documents. But did you know you can also manage your accounts on the go?
Mobile accounting apps (sometimes also called mobile bookkeeping apps) let you manage expenses, send invoices and track your cash flow from anywhere. There's no need to wait until you get back to the office at the end of the day.
Mobile bookkeeping app or mobile accounting app?
Bookkeeping and accounting have different meanings but, when it comes to apps, these words are often used interchangeably. So when you’re shopping around, look for both.
Seven apps in one
A good mobile accounting app comes with a lot of capabilities, including:
1. Expenses app
Instead of stuffing receipts into your pocket or work bag, you can photograph them with your phone. The image is stored with your accounts, so you don’t have to worry about losing track of what’s been spent. You (or your staff) can also raise a personal expense claim using the app.
2. Receipt scanner app (optional)
A receipt scanner app like HubDoc or Receipt Bank will make it even easier to stay on top of costs. Once you’ve photographed a receipt, these apps will read the image and enter the data – like supplier, date and cost – into your accounting software for you. You just need to assign the expense to a client or a project and your job’s virtually done. You have to get these apps on top of the accounting or bookkeeping app, so it will cost a little extra. Even if you can't afford to make that investment today, make sure you get an accounting app that will integrate with a receipt scanner so you have the option in the future.
3. Mobile billing app
Send invoices directly from your mobile device, straight after you finish a piece of work. You won’t have to waste your evenings on billing, and you’ll be far less likely to forget about sending an invoice. Mobile billing helps you get invoices out faster, which can do wonders for cash flow.
4. Mobile invoice tracker
Because mobile accounting apps receive fresh bank data every day, you can easily see if and when payments have landed. The software spots payments and matches them to invoices for you – so you don’t have to sift through a bunch of transactions to figure out what’s been paid and what hasn’t.
5. Automated bookkeeping
These sorts of apps connect to your business bank account over the internet and copy across transactions into your business accounts. That’s a massive time saver and explains why these are also called mobile bookkeeping apps. This bank connection means that you get a very recent and accurate picture of money coming in and going out of your business. You will still need to reconcile and categorise this information but a lot of the raw data entry is taken care of.
6. Bank reconciliation app
One of the least-loved jobs of any business owner is bank reconciliation. That’s where you make sure the data on your bank statements matches the data in your accounting records. Most people sit down at a desk once a month and work through hundreds of transactions at a time. But a mobile accounting app will show you fresh bank transactions every day and allow you to reconcile them right there on your phone. You can do your bank reconciliation anywhere, for a few minutes at a time, which prevents ugly backlogs of work from forming.
7. Live cash flow dashboard
Keeping tabs on money coming in and going out is vital. Mobile accounting apps help you check cash flow whenever you like, with simple dashboards that show you things like revenue, expenditure, overdue invoices and payments that are due. The report refreshes every day, so you always have a current picture of cash flow.
A middle-aged business woman uses an accounting app on her phone as she walks down a bricked alley.
Accounting and bookkeeping apps allow you to take care of business from anywhere.
An accounting app for Android, iOS and iPad
Mobile accounting apps and mobile bookkeeping apps are online services. The software isn’t on your device. It’s online, and you simply use your phone to access it.
This means there are no compatibility issues. Online apps run the same way on any operating system. So it makes no difference if you change from Android to iPhone – or if you switch between phones, tablets and desktops throughout the day.
Towards easy accounting software
Mobile bookkeeping and accounting apps allow you to take care of important financial admin while you’re on the road. You can capture expenses, send invoices, see what you’re owed, chase payments, reconcile accounts, and see what bills are coming due. And because these apps keep pulling fresh data from your business bank accounts, you know you’re working with accurate numbers.
It’s accounting for business people that don’t sit at desks. Mobile accounting apps allow you to get the basics done, no matter where you are.
Are mobile accounting apps for you?
Mobile accounting apps – or mobile bookkeeping apps – are useful for almost any business. But they are great for sole traders and businesses that don't have dedicated office staff.
In other words, if you do most of the bookkeeping yourself, an app can really save you time. You can do things on the fly that might otherwise ruin your weekends.
When you're ready to start looking for an app like this, choose wisely. Get a system that offers a full list of features, make sure it syncs with your bank account every day, and check that it integrates with other apps (such as receipt scanning apps).