A lot of my process and Cloud integration clients are bookkeepers and accountants and it always amazes me how much paper they are constantly surrounded by. It is most extreme with bookkeepers, who often work out of a home office and manage with piles and piles of source documents (invoices, receipts, bank statements, etc).
I am constantly impressed by their ability to deal with these mounds of paperwork in a timely and coordinated manner, but I am constantly nagged with the feeling that there has to be a better way.
I put the challenge to myself when I started my own business to be as paperless as possible, partly for environmental reason but also for some quite practical ones. Like many consultants, I have a home office as a base but am often onsite with clients. I need all of my business information to be available when and where I need it (and not cluttering up my spare room). I’m very diligent, using bank transfers and the company credit card rather than cash at every opportunity and asking the same of my clients.
Despite my best efforts, however, I still seem to end up with a moderate stack of petty cash and other receipts at the end of the month. I used to dutifully collate these into expense types and chronological order, but there are only so many hours in the day and I found myself starting to put the task off more and more.
I have run into the Shoeboxed crew a few times at various events and recently I had a wonderful chat with Simon from the Sydney office, who turned out to be very passionate about the evolving needs of small business and finding ways for technology to help. They seemed like a really nice, dedicated bunch so I thought it was about time to give them a go.
I signed up for an account and within a few days got some of the ‘magic’ blue envelopes that they send out. Now instead of feeling stressed about the pile of unorganised receipts I have, I just pop them into an envelope at the end of each month and a day or two later I get a beautifully organised list. It takes me a few minutes to go through and reallocate some of the transactions if they aren’t quite right, but so much better than manually sorting and entering all that data.
I’ve been using Shoeboxed for a few months now and have become a real advocate for them. They are such an easy and fantastic way for small businesses to extent their admin capabilities without a lot of cost. There is a free plan, but the best benefits come from the monthly. After signing up I can happily say that I never plan to do data entry again!
The pushback I usually get from bookkeepers and accountants is that they can’t completely trust the account allocations and they still need to go back through the data. While this is true, think about all the physical space you can save by not having piles of client documents, the time in sorting through them, the convenience of portability and the reduced risk of losing anything in case of flood, fire or some other unknown.
In short, Shoeboxed is an awesome alternative to data entry and archiving problems, but it won’t replace your bookkeeper. You still need someone who knows the tax rules and your business to look over everything and make sure it ends up in the right place.