What is the one thing that always happens on New Year’s Eve? Well, an old year ends and a new one starts of course; and that means creating all those resolutions that are normally unrealistic such as buying your own island (I really think I’d like to do this someday). This year though, I decided that the only resolution I would make is to tighten up my business practices and get procedures in place that will ensure my business is growing each year.
One of the things I’ve been doing this month to ensure that goal, is spending a lot of time looking at the software I use and recommend. I’ve concluded that if a certain software is confusing to me, then it must be really bad for business owners that don’t think accounting software is as exciting as I do. Because of that, I am going to go through the best software I’ve found for keeping your business on track.
Let’s start with the basic accounting software. Ideally, this is where you should keep track of the day to day transactions such as reconciling your checkbook. But, most often, this is where everyone stops utilizing the software. They typically don’t think they need, or want, to learn to utilize the application to its full potential; let alone take time to discover add-ons that can really make the accounting software useful. I haven’t found an accounting package that does not work better and give you more efficiency when you add special applications to it – you often need to add things such as inventory tracking, or payroll, to have a complete accounting system.
My favorite accounting application is Xero, hands down. That’s not to say that others, such as QuickBooks Online, are not good options. Xero is just the one I prefer to use. Often, the software that you choose to use will be dictated by your accountant, CPA or CFO, suggests using. The reason I chose Xero is, because I love its interface, and its ease of use; but also because of all the apps that attach to it. By connecting other apps to any software, especially accounting software, it can expand the insights available to you, and you can have confidence in your numbers.
You might have seen me mention before is both Xero and QuickBooks Online are cloud based applications. The reason I so strongly promote using a cloud based application for accounting is, to make both your life, and your financial advisor’s life more balanced. No more missing the kids’ school concert because you were stuck in the office trying to figure out if you would have enough in the account to make payroll the next day, because you can check your balance on your phone. Using an online application allows you to not only go and enjoy the concert, but be sure tomorrow’s payroll is taken care of. It also means that your accountant can see what is going on in real time, how your business is performing, which enables them to give you a better and more accurate insight into adjustments you should make to insure you don’t have to worry about making payroll ever again.
Payroll can be a problem for some cannabis businesses, because not every bank will work with the cannabis industry. So, for payroll, I usually recommend an app called Gusto Payroll, because they don’t care what your industry is – as long as you have a checking account. With all the new banks popping up lately that are cannabis friendly, you should be able to find a bank even if you only run your payroll through them. Gusto is easy to use, and it is also a cloud application – allowing you to run payroll while waiting for that concert to start. Other payroll platforms include ADP, Surepay and several others. Most of the time, payroll software connects with your accounting software. If you have not been able to secure a bank, then most accounting firms, including mine, offer payroll services. You can do small payrolls right through most accounting software such as Xero and QuickBooks Online, but it depends on the state you are in, and how many employees you have, to be cost effective.
Inventory tracking can be a huge problem in the cannabis industry, simply because of all the mandatory state and local requirements you are forced to follow to track it. The problem is that none of the required software such as Metrc interfaces with any of the accounting platforms and that could make keeping accurate financials difficult, but not impossible. Because of the complexity of tracking inventory, we will cover that in another article.
Now that all the essential software is covered, we can talk about some of the more exciting and more fun software out there to help your business. OK, I think it is fun and exciting. Let’s start with CRM (customer relationship management) applications. They may not be an essential software for doing business, but a CRM should be up there pretty high. Most of these applications are similar to each other, the trick is to find one that works with the other applications you are using. Some of the more popular ones are HubSpot, Salesforce and Insightly.
The purpose of a CRM is to track not just sales, but also leads. If you don’t know that the dispensary you are selling your edibles to hasn’t made an order in the last month, then you can’t contact them to see what you can do to help them sell your product. CRM’s could also help you track your customer’s purchase habits, so you can send them emails alerting them to appropriate specials you are running. But be careful, as some states don’t allow you to track too much information about your customer, especially medical customers.
My favorite cloud application that I use with all my clients is, HubDoc. This software is great for your advisor because it will pull bank statements, automatically. My clients love this app too, because it allows them to take a picture of their receipts and then forget about them. It also allows you your vendors to send their invoices to a central e-mail address making the accounting process go much faster.
There are many other applications that I find useful in business, like Microsoft Office, or Google Apps for instance, ones for mileage tracking (MileIQ), ones for email marketing (MailChimp), and ones that make things easier for business owners to run their business. The software I am playing with now, in the hopes of introducing it to my clients in the New Year, is Zapier. What I like is that with Zapier, I can connect several different software’s together such as Xero, MailChimp and HubSpot CRM, so I only have to enter information in once and it puts it into the others, automatically.
As you can tell by now, I’m something of a software geek – I love experimenting with programs to see which one will help my clients. If you want suggestions making resolutions for your business, or have questions about picking software to make your accounting easier, give me a call.
Cynthia L. Finkenbinder, CPA is the owner of Alpha Omega Accounting, LLC in Northern Colorado. With clients in 28 states and five countries, she is an expert in 280E compliance, accounting and multi-state taxes, and an admitted software geek. Feel free to contact Cyndi if you would like her to address your question in a future article, or are in need of her professional services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website: http://alphaomega-acct.biz.