Is Accounting Hurting Your Brain? Try These 10 Finance Tools For Small Business

22/03/2016 9:57 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Some people in the world are numbers people. They love figures and maths and spreadsheets. Then there's the rest of us.

Many small business owners, who usually start their business because of their own speciality skills, can struggle with the daily grind of managing cashflow, budgets, invoicing and payments particularly if they've never had to do it before.

So here are 10 finance tools that won't break the bank -- or your brain.

1. Square Reader

This compact credit and debit card reader -- which plugs into the headphone jack of iOS or Android smartphones and tablets and turns it into an EFTPOS machine via an app -- has just been launched in Australia.

Small business owners can accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit or debit card payments and pay $19 for the reader and 1.9 percent per transaction with funds deposited quickly into any Australian bank account.

The service includes a dashboard where businesses can track their payments and help manage their cashflow.

The device has been tested by Aussie small businesses for 12 months and has been well received by mobile startups such as market stallholders, tradesmen and bike rentals.

square reader

Finance tools to help small businesses such as Square Reader are getting smaller and more nimble.

Michael Ferguson and Nate Thoreson, owners of Melbourne mobile taxi business St Kilda Rickshaws, say their business had previously been cash-only but they now accept card payments.

"We considered getting EFTPOS machines, but when we looked into it, it was more of a process," they said. "They're bulkier, you have more of a financial commitment to them.

"Square completely transformed our business. You just pop it into your smartphone, it takes all of 10 seconds to process a payment. We're beyond just taking cash now. We're taking cards."

2. Xero

If cloud accounting is the new black, then Xero is the fashionista with 100,000 followers on Instagram. Xero is an online bookkeeping and accounting software system that helps to reduce costly small business accounting fees by allowing owners to create, input and track professional invoices, schedule payments, manage PAYG and superannuation payments for staff and feed in your bank statements so you can reconcile your accounts instantly.

Xero has many partnerships, but its most recent is with Square Reader. So Xero customers who buy a Reader can connect that account to their accounting dashboard in less than five minutes which will reduce manual data entry and bank reconciliation. Xero is available via desktop and smartphone app, and costs from $25 to $60 per month.

3. Shoeboxed

This app is a great way to keep track of receipts as you receive them. All you need to do is take a photo of the receipt or scan it in and it extracts all the data for you and drops it into Xero, MYOB or Excel. Now is the time to ditch the real shoebox you've probably been using for so long. Pricing: From $16.95 to $129.95 per month.

4. Unleashed

Selling products via a retail store, market stall or online? Then you probably need some help counting your stock. Unleashed is an inventory control system to help control stock information -- whether you're storing it in your spare room or in a spacious warehouse -- including purchase price, sales and offers real-time profit and loss statements via the platform's dashboard. Price: $59 to $399 per month.

5. WORKetc

This all-in-one cloud-based business management tool combines a customer relationship management system (CRM), software to manage projects, billing and products, timesheets and expenses as well as allow staff to connect whether in the office or by remote. On the financial side, you can track and remind clients to pay overdue accounts, offer a self-service portal for customers, capture leads from within your own database and analyse your sales via custom reporting. Price: $78 to $395 per month

6. Spotlight Reporting

This tool offers the small business owner a clear picture of your operation by providing reports on financial performance, position and cashflow. It offers standard KPIs for you to measure your business's performance or you can create your own customised standards. The software will also deliver an executive summary to discuss highlights and business recommendations. Price: $15-$170 per month.

7. Invoice2go

This clever Aussie invoicing app allows small businesses to create and send invoices on the spot. The app is designed to ease cashflow bottlenecks and simplify administration and now has 200,000 users worldwide. Customers reckon that Invoice2go helps them get paid seven days faster on average and saves them more three hours a week in admin time. The app is free to download on iOS and Android.


Send invoices while you're on the move with Invoice2Go.

8. ATO app

As you might expect, the ATO app has many financial tools and calculators useful to small business owners. You can use it to compare your performance against similar businesses in your industry and measure your business's performance over time, calculate PAYG and superannuation withholding amounts and confirm key dates for lodging these, maintain your car log book and even search for lost super. The app is free to download on iOS and Android.

9. Point & Claim

This Australian expense management smartphone app uses OCR (optical character recognition) technology to capture traditional hard copy receipts by taking a photo of it. The OCR will then automatically extract the data and categorise the receipt based on the expense and your previous spending habits -- for instance if it's a receipt from a cafe where you normally meet a certain client, the system will note that and file it accordingly. You can view saved receipts in your secure online portal and export the data to your accountant. Price: Free to download on iOS and Android.

10. Forex Money Transfer

If you have overseas suppliers you can make fast, secure international payments with the Forex Money Transfer app by OFX (formerly Ozforex). The app allows users to set up repeat payments, track open payments and review past transactions, as well as track the current market and view market commentaries. There's 48 currencies to choose from. The app is free and available for download on iOS and Android.

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