Being an entrepreneur is about following your passion. Unless your passion is accounting, you’re probably amongst the majority of small business owners overwhelmed by “accounting speak”.

For business owners operating in the pre-Internet era, the fear was justified. Physically capturing and filing invoices and receipts; reconciling bank statements; and submitting the necessary paperwork to their accountants on time and in an orderly fashion became an ongoing nightmare.

Technology has since saved the day and reduced the paperwork.

A big step up from paper-based billing, email billing allows businesses to email their invoices as attachments to customers and have proof of payment emailed in return. While the more tech-savvy businesses automate the tracking of emailed invoices and payments, having to manage bills due and payments received can still be a time-consuming administrative task.

This is where cloud-based invoicing bridges the gap.

What is cloud-based invoicing?

Cloud-based invoicing describes any billing software that resides on the Internet. You simply log into the software wherever you are in the world and issue your invoices. More than just an online billing system, cloud-based invoicing:

  • Presents a professional face to your customer by providing standard, business-branded templates for your quotes and invoices.
  • Provides a secure environment for you to store sensitive business and customer data.
  • Saves you time – and, therefore, money – by automating the manual tasks of tracking and capturing invoices.
  • Automates follow-up emails for overdue accounts.
  • Integrates with payments received for seamless management of invoices out and monies in, depending on the platform.

PayFast’s online billing platforms are not only limited to online shopping carts, such as WooCommerce, Shopify and Magento. If you’re using WordPress to sell your services or single products online, WP Invoice is the perfect plugin to generate invoices directly from your website. Your invoice contains a “Pay with PayFast” button, allowing customers to immediately settle their bills.

If you prefer to invoice outside of your website, Snapbill is ideal for businesses requiring automated subscription or recurring billing with payment collection facilities. WHMCS, a platform for managing and billing hosting accounts, offers a mix of invoicing, client management, and payment collection features.

If you’re the owner of a fully operational e-commerce store, perhaps you should consider integrating your online billing with an accounting package, such as Xero. The biggest advantage of using cloud-based invoicing with cloud-based accounting is the way in which it takes the hassle out of accounting. Plus, if integrated with PayFast, customers can settle their accounts instantly via credit card, Instant EFT, Masterpass, and the full range of PayFast payment options.

Why integrate your online store with cloud-based invoicing and accounting

More than 1 million subscribers use Xero, which is online accounting software designed specifically for small businesses. Xero enables entrepreneurs to generate invoices, create expense claims, and manage their cash flow from their desktop or mobile devices as they go about their day.

Set up is relatively easy: Sign up, add company details, add the necessary bank accounts that money will be paid into and out of, and you’re good to go.

When you use Xero to handle all your payments and receipts, both you and your accountant could have access to reports and real-time information about your business transactions…wherever you are and whenever you want.

How PayFast merchants can integrate their invoicing with Xero

There are two ways in which PayFast merchants can use Xero to automate their invoicing.

1. Invoice manually with Xero
For the entrepreneur who offers a service, sells a single product, or whose website is not set up for selling, Xero could be used to create an invoice using PayFast as the payment gateway. The invoice will be generated with a “Pay now” link to pay via the PayFast platform. Payments received against the invoice will automatically be allocated to the correct customer details in Xero.

More about PayFast’s integration with Xero here.

2. Automatically export invoice data to Xero in real-time
Website owners who prefer to invoice directly from their online shops—including WooCommerce, Ecwid, Shopify, PrestaShop, and Magenta—could export their invoice data to Xero in real-time for up-to-date reporting.

Read more about how these different platforms integrate with Xero:

Ecwid
WooCommerce
Shopify
PrestaShop
Magento

While cloud-based invoicing and accounting doesn’t completely absolve business owners from the responsibility of understanding accounting basics, it certainly reduces the dread. Setting up Xero, or the cloud accounting package of choice, may require an initial learning curve. However, once the setup is complete, the automation will free you up to focus on other aspects of your business.

You’ll be smiling, your accountant will be smiling, and your cash flow will flourish as you make informed, real-time decisions about what’s right for your business.

 

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