what is cloud accounting
what is cloud accounting

What is cloud accounting? Here’s a quick 101

There are certain, frequent accounting functions that just about every business needs, so why not simplify and automate where possible? Fifty-plus years ago, everyone was keeping their business books in a paper ledger. Over time, desktop accounting software and the use of networked servers did away with these paper records. Cloud accounting software is the next iteration, allowing you to integrate and automate while also protecting sensitive data. 

What is cloud-based accounting?

Cloud-based accounting is independent of your hardware. All the customer information you have, including receipts, invoices, contact information etc., exists online and powerful systems back it to prevent crashes. Cloud accounting software platforms can automatically pull data from outside sources, such as your credit card statement and bank account, reducing the need for manual or double entry. 

How does a cloud accounting service benefit business owners?

For start-ups and small businesses, having outdated or nonexistent accounting processes can take a toll on a business, wasting valuable time and exposing the business to risks. Cloud-based accounting apps provide a solution to some of the biggest business accounting struggles while also adding value through enhanced security, efficiency, and collaboration. And by transitioning your books to the cloud and automating manual processes, you can run your business from anywhere, even while on vacation

Advantages of cloud accounting systems include:

  • No downtime; continue to run your business wherever you have an internet connection
  • Maintain important records in preparation for tax filings
  • Store data off-site and access it from any device
  • Save time and money with faster access to the information you need to run your business
  • Fewer mistakes on the books due to direct connections to the bank and less manual data entry
  • Gain actionable insights into financial data with standard and customizable reports 
  • Access scalable tools that grow with your business
  • Run a more efficient business with more mobile and collaborative tools
  • Run a leaner, more streamlined business with all of the software maintenance, upkeep, and security handled by off-site experts
  • Seamlessly integrate with your other business tools and apps
  • Free up time to spend more on the tasks that require a human touch

Read more: Five reasons to move to the cloud this year.

Cloud Accounting Specialists: Where Cloud Life Meets Real Life

Is cloud accounting safe for your small business?

Cloud accounting is growing in popularity, partly because of the need for organizations to reduce the risk of fraud, both internally and externally. With cloud-based accounting apps, multiple layers of encryption keep your data safe from hackers and anybody else who shouldn’t have access. Experienced staff members handle all the maintenance, upkeep, and security, staying on top of threats and bugs. 

When should a small business use cloud accounting? 

Today! Businesses growing in a competitive marketplace are taking every advantage they can get. You can’t afford not to have a real-time picture of your financials or bog down your cash flow with repetitive, manual processes. You also can’t afford clunky traditional accounting software that’s painful to use. Switching to the cloud eases many of the challenges with desktop accounting software.

Do you plan on keeping your business open for the next few years? If so, you (hopefully) have a forward-thinking plan for your products and services. Why not take the same approach with your accounting and financial information? Don’t let out-of-date accounting systems and practices keep you from growing your business.

Read more: Does your business need cloud accounting software?

What are some of the key features and functionality of cloud-based accounting apps?

To truly maximize the benefits of cloud accounting solutions, you need to go all in with the available features: 

  • Real-time financial data
  • Payroll management
  • Bill pay
  • Claiming expenses
  • Data analytics for informed decisions
  • Reporting
  • Customized dashboard
  • Integration with third-party apps
  • Connection to banks to keep track of money going in and out
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Contact management
  • File storage
  • Inventory management
  • Intuitive invoicing with multi-currency payments 
  • Sending quotes
  • Accurate sales tax collection and reporting
  • Accounts receivable
  • Financial reporting
  • … and more!

What are the best cloud accounting apps? 

There are plenty of cloud accounting apps out there, but below is a list of our favorite apps to get you started: 

  • Gusto: one of our top payroll picks for small businesses that are growing quickly
  • BILL (formerly Bill.com): one of our top choices to help small business owners reduce theft and fraud
  • Expensify: simplifies the way employees request expense reimbursements by automating tedious expense reporting tasks
  • Xero: with thousands of integrations, Xero stands as the central foundation for all of your cloud accounting needs and online collaboration, reducing the need for double entry and missed data points

We partnered with Xero as our platform of choice primarily because of their dedication to usability. Xero has many powerful accounting features, state-of-the-art security, and integrations with over 700 business apps to ensure you’re getting the functions you need to run your business. Those are all essential pieces of the partnership. But Xero also considers the end-user experience in its design.

Read more about why we love using Xero cloud accounting to automate and simplify processes for your back office. 

What is a cloud accountant?

The biggest difference between a cloud accountant and a traditional accountant is that you and the cloud accountant collaborate virtually instead of meeting in person. The cloud accountant works online and reviews your financial picture in real time, providing extremely valuable support to a growing business.

Read more about what a cloud accountant does in a typical day. 

Yes, I need one of those! 

Today’s work environment demands fast response times and accurate information. You simply cannot afford to fall behind. Transitioning to the cloud has become mission-critical, but modernizing your business isn’t easy. It requires in-depth knowledge of cloud-based tools and how to properly integrate them with your current business structure. 

That’s where we come in. We started out in 1978 as a Jacksonville CPA and financial advisory firm. The founding partners have maintained a deep commitment to personal service as a core value, and they have never changed it in over 40+ years in business. With the rise of cloud-based accounting software, our partners knew how important it was to offer clients the latest technology—but they also didn’t want to turn into yet another piece of software that requires extensive training to use properly.

Financial Solution Advisors launched as a way to offer clients the best of both worlds—modern accounting software and practices combined with an old-fashioned dedication to client service in the heart of Jacksonville, FL. Our real-life, U.S.-based advisors are here to help you through every step of the process. We will recommend the right mix of tools and applications and help you identify pieces of your accounting that you can automate for efficiency and accuracy.

Once we get you up and running, you’ll learn what so many of our customers have found—cloud accounting is actually much more user-friendly than desktop accounting software. You don’t have to install files, deal with versions, remember to back up data, or wait around for patches and upgrades. You simply log in and get started.

Whether you’re a DIY-er in business bookkeeping, prefer a full-service outsourced accounting function, or fall somewhere in between, we have a service level to suit your needs. For more information about cloud-based accounting services, please reach out to our team.

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