30/11/2015 6:24 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Small Business Need To Work Smarter, Not Harder In Boom Times

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Customers watching barista make coffee in cafe

Nearly two-thirds of small businesses that are busier over summer aren’t prepared to cope with the increase in trade, research has shown.

The research, prepared for accounting software company Xero, showed that while 35 percent of the 515 small businesses surveyed in the lead-up to the Christmas period knew they would be busier, 67 percent hadn’t done anything to help prepare.

It also showed that 22 percent were still using paper-based accounting systems, and 34 per cent still use Excel spreadsheets for their business accounting, costing them valuable time in busy periods.

Xero managing director Chris Ridd believes small business should embrace technology to lighten their admin load.

“I think there's an ongoing challenge around education when it comes to the latest technology -- there's a huge difference between those who are savvy on the tech and those that aren’t,” Xero Australia MD Chris Ridd told The Huffington Post Australia.

“A lot of businesses want to utilise the tools available, but they just don’t find the time to do it before they get busy.

“As a result they’re always chasing their tail -- I mean, there were only 18 percent of businesses in the lead-up to Christmas who were actually using technology to compare what they did last year with what they should be doing this year.

“Having the right information is about being able to respond with the right staffing, or stock levels, and take advantage of business opportunities.”

He said that as Christmas was less than a month away, small business owners should start planning to delegate some of their responsibilities to ease the burden of longer hours -- and have a view to installing software to help them prepare for their next boom period as soon as time allowed.

“I wouldn’t suggest they go and deploy a new accounting system right now,” Ridd said.

“They can lean on their accountant and bookkeeper to take away some of the administrative overhead -- businesses have just come through the BASS quarter and a lot have been flat-chat doing that, so now they really want focus their time on the business, making sure they've got a handle on the business opportunities that lie ahead.

“We know that Australian small business owners are working hard, and many will have to work even harder over the summer holidays -- we want them to know that by embracing technology they could be lightening their load, giving them more time to spend with family and friends over their well-earned holidays.”

Aireys Pub on Victoria's Great Ocean Road use software to forecast how many meals they need to prepare for holiday period.

Tim Wood, co-founder of Aireys Pub on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, said his business wouldn’t survive without the use of an accounting system to help them plan for the busy summer months.

“In winter we probably serve 40 meals a day, but during summer that can multiply to 1100 meals on a busy day,” Wood said.

“If we haven’t forecast our figures from the previous month or year to plan ahead for those days, then we wouldn’t be able to prepare adequately.”

Ridd said many accounting packages offered free trials, allowing small businesses to try before they buy.

“In the quieter months, it’s a good time to take a look at your business and how it’s working or not working,” he said.

“It’s a good time to research and trial some of the new technologies to see which works for you and what will work for your business.

“Then implement it before you get busy again!”