When your business was young and fresh, it probably made sense to start with the basics:

You gathered a selection of free and simple tools to help you manage your customers, talk to your teams, and crunch the numbers.

For most of you, that usually meant getting the entry-level version of something like Sage or QuickBooks – or even just hammering out data into Excel.

(Some of you might even remember doing the books in actual books!)

But when any business grows, it can quickly start to outstrip these basic tools. And your accounting software is no exception.

So how do you know when your current accounting system isn’t up to scratch? And how do you know when it’s time to switch?

Here are five of the biggest red flags to watch out for:

1.  You’re spending hours on accounting every week

Accounting can be a time-consuming task. And for most business owners, it’s definitely not the most exciting part of their week.

You need to enter data from your sales, bills, payments, and invoices across multiple platforms – which often leads to wasting time on double-entry data.

You’ve got to process and check all those numbers, find and fix the errors, and manually build reports and records that you can use to guide your business decisions.

It’s a nightmare. But here’s the good news:

All of that wasted time can be eliminated.

Modern accounting software uses automation and integration to take care of all the fiddly details that are dragging you down – giving you more free time to focus on driving your business forward.

So if you feel like you’re spending a huge chunk of each week just catching up with your numbers, it’s probably time to start looking at some better options.

2.  You’re struggling to get an idea of your finances

If you’re running a business with out-dated software or clumsy spreadsheets, it can be tough to get a fast and useful overview of your financial position.

You need speedy reports that are easy to read and understand – and you need to be able to get relevant data at any point in the week.

That means you need accounting software that can give you:

  • A simple and instant dashboard overview, with all of the numbers and stats you need
  • An accurate measure of your cash flow (with a live link to your business bank accounts)
  • A way to track your overdue invoices and the money you’re owed
  • And an easy-to-use report builder, with options for different filters.

3.  You only have access in one place

Running a modern business is all about flexibility. And with so many people working from home in the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to stay up to date across different devices and locations.

Your employees need to file expenses and submit sales data wherever they are. And if you’re working from multiple devices, you need to be able to access your reports and your dashboard at any place and time.

Older accounting systems are usually tied to one device and one set of records – and with the way we work today, that can start to feel limiting.

But with a modern accounting package, your numbers and records are automatically (and securely!) kept up to date across every device. You can double-check your budget while you’re in a meeting with a new supplier – or you can scan a receipt on your phone for every journey and business meeting as it happens.

4.  You’re not sure if your accounts are secure

If there’s one thing you really don’t want to lose, it’s your accounting records – especially if you ever come under scrutiny from the tax office!

Any piece of software can be vulnerable to crashes or threats. And if you’re using an older system (especially one that doesn’t get regular updates), you could be putting your accounting data at risk.

So if you’re not sure how secure your current system is, here are the questions you need to ask:

  • Does your accounting software get regular, automatic updates?
  • How often does your software crash? (And how often do the developers fix those issues?)
  • Does your accounting software make automatic backups?

And perhaps most importantly:

Are you using software from a company that takes security threats seriously?

If the answers to any of these questions sound worrying, you’re probably not secure – and that means it’s time to start looking for an upgrade.

5.  You’re having trouble sharing your accounting data

Beyond all the pitfalls we’ve outlined already, this is the feature that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Unless you’re a sole trader, managing your business accounts is rarely a one-person job. You need to be able to share your accounting records quickly and easily – generating reports and exporting data in a format that’s transferrable to the people who need to see it.

That could mean sharing it with your management team, your other employees – or with your trusted external advisors and accounting partners like us.

With a modern, cloud-based software package, you can grant permissions (with restrictions) to external users, giving them instant access to your live accounting data inside your own software.

It’s not just a handy quality-of-life improvement – it’s the fastest and easiest way for an expert accountant to jump into your business to find and fix any problems or concerns you have.

(And from our own experience, it’s a massively useful feature that’s helped us save our clients a huge amount of time and money!)

So what’s the best accounting software to upgrade to?

There are lots of different options when it comes to choosing new accounting software. And that means it can be overwhelming when you’re just starting to look at what’s out there.

But there’s one piece of kit that ticks every box we’ve just talked about – and that’s Xero.

We work exclusively with Xero here at Spotlight Accounting. And it’s the number-one accounting app that we recommend to all of our clients.

With Xero, you get all of powerful functionality you’d expect from a top-class accounting app. But what really sets it apart is the ability to grow alongside your business:

You can start with a basic package, and upgrade it as and when you need to. You can add in the connected apps and plug-ins you need – things like ReceiptBank or Float – to give you the exact set-up your business is looking for.

And the result?

You’ll get a flexible, customisable, and powerful accounting app that’s tailored to the needs of your business – one that can keep on scaling and adapting as your business grows and changes.

Ready to give your accounts an overhaul?

Upgrading your accounting software is a huge step forward in streamlining your business and taking the legwork out of your time-consuming accounting tasks.

But there’s another useful shortcut that can help your business save time and money (and headaches!) – and that’s bringing in the help of a team of seasoned accountants.

We’ve been helping companies of all sizes to stay on top of their finances for years – giving them the expert advice and guidance they need to make the best financial decisions to grow their business.

So if you’re looking for the fastest way to get the best results with your business’s money, give us a call or send us a message – and we’ll ask the right questions to find out exactly how we can help.