Opinion

Shoebox of dockets and receipts

Gone are the old days of rocking up to your accountant every year to get your tax done with a bundle of bank statements and a shoebox of dockets and receipts. 

No doubt there will be a number of small business operators who still do and see the look of anguish on the face of the accountant who has to sort out the mess. You will pay for this to done by the way. 

Dealt with properly, that shoebox has a wealth of business management information. This is especially the case with the amount a data capture technology around today. 

The ease in which business operators can transform this data into meaningful information will surprise you. This information enables you to not only better manage your business but will enable you to lift your profit margins and grow your business.

Gone are the days when these bits of paper were all you needed to satisfy the ATO and justify your tax deductions. 

There are accounting software programs around that make it easy to collate these bits of paper into a real business tool as well as meet you ATO requirements. They also reduce your accounting charge when it comes to having your accountant do your BAS and annual taxation return. 

The majority of these computer programs are very user-friendly. What I say to business operators who are looking for a computer program is to look at a number of them and the one that feels right and your feel comfortable and confident with is the one you need. 

There is no point choosing a computer program that you don’t feel right about. The job you purchased it to do becomes a chore and you will avoid doing it until the last minute when the BAS needs to be done or the tax return is due. 

We used QuickBooks for our transport business mainly because it was user-friendly but it also had the ability to split off the income and the running cost for each vehicle. 

It had the ability as well as split the administrative costs so we could identify the cost of compliance. Using this information you not only had an idea as to your profitability on a monthly basis but you had a clear idea on how profitable each of your trucks were and the administrative and compliance costs.

Having this ability to see the full picture of your business from this prospective enable you to make sound business management decisions. 

For example, if there is a truck that is costing too much in repairs and maintenance you can make an informed decision on what step you need to take to turn this around. From experience I can assure you the $1000 here and the $2000 there over a period can become out of hand unless you can identify exactly where and how it is being spent. 

There are a number of these computer programs that you can keep updated from your mobile phone. Most business operators are more than comfortable with using a mobile phone nowadays, so it makes sense to capture these transactions as you go about you daily work. 

If you are an owner-driver, you really need to consider looking at this option for your business.

If you are a bigger operator and you aren’t getting the business management information you need from your current computer software, give this serious consideration. Talk to your accountant or your bookkeeper. 

A word of warning though, make sure you select the software you feel, or your staff feel comfortable using.

It will be you using it every day so make sure it a workable tool not a burdensome chore.

About the author:

Graham Cotter’s passion is for small business, especially the road transport sector, and the significant role it plays in the Australian economy. 

Having both managed and owned a small-fleet operation for a number of years, Townsville-based Cotter has witnessed first-hand the difficulties small-business operators face in the day-to-day aspect of running a transport business and has now dedicated his life to assisting other business owners.

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