Billing & Accounting Tools for SMEs, and Why You Need Them.
A significant challenge faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Bahamas is competition in the "informal economy." In 2017, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimated The Bahamas' informal sector at 20 to 30% of total economic activity.
Due to COVID-19, more recent statistics aren't available, but it makes sense that an "informal economy" has likely swelled since the pandemic, primarily due to a constricted tourism industry that led to high unemployment.
The bottom line is this, SMEs must aim for immaculate bookkeeping.
This will ensure:
More capital on hand, liquidity, and purchasing power
Higher credit limits with vendors
Fewer late payment charges
Better relationships with vendors and better profit margins
Better relationships with employees who get paid correctly and on-time
And more opportunities to communicate with consumers and end-users
Every sale matters when you're competing with an "informal economy." Let's explore some accounting tools that are easy to adopt. We've divided them into three categories: general bookkeeping platforms, invoicing tools, and accounting software. We've included a few popular examples of each, to help you get started, but there are tons of free & paid options that can be found by a simple GOOGLE search.
General Bookkeeping Platforms
General bookkeeping platforms allow users to manage their outbound invoices, payables, and receivables and may offer some help with payroll. Popular choices include QuickBooks and Sage (formerly known as Peachtree.)
The beauty of these all-encompassing platforms is that they put all your bookkeeping at your fingertips, and many can interface with cell phone apps.
The setback is that most rely on "cloud" computing. Your data is kept "in the cloud," which means it lives on a server - somewhere. If you store a lot of sensitive customer information (like health records or credit card numbers) these solutions might not be secure enough. In those instances, you'd probably prefer a bookkeeping software solution that stores smaller amounts of data in-house.
Invoicing tools are more specific than general accounting platforms. You can use them to craft professional letterheads, send and track invoices, and send payment reminders. FreshBooks has a good reputation and many positive reviews online.
Invoicing tools are most helpful for micro-businesses and smaller enterprises that don't need to manage huge amounts of client data or massive payroll.
If you have more than 25 employees, you'll benefit more from a cloud-based solution (above), or a software solution (below.)
Accounting programs like Zoho are meant to be maintained in-house, rather than exporting your data up to a "cloud." The best ones are user-friendly, feature-rich, and easy to learn.
They can handle your more significant demands for payroll, invoices, and payables, without sending that information out to another server. However, once your business scales towards a medium-large company, accounting programs become limited. If you think your enterprise has the ability to scale up significantly in the next few years, choose a bookkeeping platform. Otherwise, you'll be migrating data later, and that always comes with a risk.
Technology has made bookkeeping and accounting more manageable than ever. You just need to choose a platform and give it a try. There are hundreds of options available for Bahamian SMEs. If you'd like to share your favorite accounting tool for SMEs with others, let us know in the comments below. Share your opinions with us, we'd love to hear from you.
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