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:
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.
Getting to help businesses like XpoActive grow, well that’s why we get out of bed in the morning!
Find out how the guys responsible for these fantastic exhibits started out, with a whole lot of passion, but with less than R2000 in a garage! We are excited to get to share their story with you.
XpoActive shares their #Lulalendstory
XpoActive creates bespoke, ready-to-go exhibitions stands, activation sets, and product launches. They have also recently branched out into corporate and retail interiors. They launched in 2009 and have seen fantastic growth since their inception.
Watch their video to hear more about how with some hard work, perseverance, and finance from Lulalend they have been able to grow from strength to strength.
Business Finance For Business Growth
Business debt can have a huge payoff for companies that know how to use it to their advantage. That is to say, business growth often requires some debt. Too many business owners fear it and think that by taking on debt they’re admitting that their business has problems.
But the value of debt is determined by how you use it. Having to expand your premises, make new hires, invest in new stock or manage your cash flow means that your business is growing from strength to strength.
Lulalend understands this and is also the best option for quick, easy business financing. Our application process takes 8 minutes and is done entirely online. Access up to R500 000 in 24 hours to take your business to the next level.
If you would like to know more about our finance you can visit our site where you can apply directly online.
For any small business cash flow is pretty important. A study from the financial services company U.S. Bank found that about 82% of startups and small businesses fail due to poor cash flow management. No one can run a business without having a firm grip on their cash flow.
One of the biggest problems is getting paid on time and not having to chase clients for payments. You know how it goes, you send an invoice and nothing happens. You send a reminder, still nothing. Eventually, a manual EFT happens and then you have to reconcile the proof of payment with your other payments that come in dribs and drabs. Seriously, who has time for that? Luckily it’s 2019 and there are some great solutions to help you take control of your cash flow, and get your clients to pay you faster.
Instant EFTs that are actually Instant
Allowing your customers to pay with PayFast’s Instant EFT service takes the waiting game out of EFT payments. When your customers pay through Instant EFT by PayFast the funds reflect immediately in your PayFast account, that way you can ship or fulfil their order immediately. It’s peace of mind for you and gives your customer instant service which they will love. What’s more, you don’t need to wait for proof of payment. The payment is immediately reconciled in your PayFast Transaction History and you can download this along with all your other payments received.
Cloud Accounting, it’s the future
Xero is a cloud accounting platform that has changed the face of accounting for small businesses around the world. If you’re still manually inputting and reconciling your accounts then it’s time for a change! With Xero you can send clients invoices with pay now links that allow your clients to pay immediately through various methods such as credit or cheque cards, Instant EFT, Masterpass or even bitcoin!
Once payment is made from a Xero invoice, this will reflect in your Xero account. You can even add monthly PayFast payments to your Xero account by uploading them to Xero so your business accounts will be organised in one place (in the cloud!) where you can access it from anywhere.
Cover your bases
It makes sense that if you have a brick and mortar store, sales tend to drop off during the week and pick up on the weekends when people aren’t at work. Did you know this is the opposite for online stores? You can see in the graph below that sales actually increase during the week for online stores with Monday and Tuesday being the busiest. So cover all your bases and set up an online store to increase sales during the week. That way you’ll have a consistent flow of cash coming into your business.
Keep your taxes under control
Submitting tax returns for small businesses can be a minefield and you need to make sure this part of your business is air tight. If you have an accountant to assist you then that’s great. However, if not you can make use of Tax Tim who’ve just launched a product specifically for small businesses. Tax Tim assists individuals and small businesses file their tax return by asking simple questions (in English… no tax jargon) and convert your answers into a fully complete tax return ready to be submitted to SARS for a small fee. Who knows, you may even qualify for a tax refund and you didn’t even know!
Keeping your cash flow under control is easily doable, set aside some time during your schedule to make sure you know what’s going on in your business and if you’re really stuck and find you need a little cash injection the good news is that PayFast merchants can apply for a Lulalend loan straight through their merchant dashboard. Visit payfast.co.za for more information.
It is quite widely known that the SME sector contributes up to 60% towards the Gross Domestic Product and labour force – which is why it is viewed as a lever for increasing economic growth.
You’d think with SMEs providing that much benefit traditional lenders, such as banks, would see the importance of making access to credit more easily accessible for SMEs, and work to find a suitable solution. The reality, however, is that 89% of SME’s that apply for funding through a bank don’t get financing that they went in for. There are various reasons why but often the process becomes too tedious and time-consuming or those that see it all the way through land up being declined.
This might sound quite discouraging if you’re a business owner, but the good news is that alternative lenders have started to take action and are addressing the need to assist SMEs. Not only that but they are holding each other accountable for responsible lending practices by driving industry standards through an organization called SASFA (South African SME Finance Association) to ensure SME customers are fairly treated and the reputation and sustainability of this SME Finance sector is maintained.
To read more about SASFA and how they are working with lenders like Lulalend to unlock economic growth read the full article here.
The slowing economy, recent rating downgrades, on-going political instability, and a growing budget shortfall is leading to low business confidence. SMEs are certainly feeling this: in our recent Key Funding Challenges for South African SMEs report, only 30% of SMEs believed they would achieve revenue growth of more than 50% over the next year.
Conditions are unlikely to change dramatically over the next few months, prompting many SME owners to wonder how their business will survive and thrive in 2018. During the course of preparing our recent research report, we spoke to a hundred SMEs across the country to find out what their key challenges are.
Here’s our round-up of the biggest challenges SMEs are likely to face in the year ahead, and how to overcome them:
#1 – Funding
With traditional lenders shying away from unsecured short-term business funding, many SMEs are left without the working capital they need to grow, take advantage of new opportunities, and negotiate more favourable terms with suppliers and customers. Access the credit emerged as the biggest challenge faced by South African SMEs, with three out of five stating it as a key obstacle to their growth. SME owners should therefore turn toward the new generation of digital-first lenders that can take the business’ overall health into account when assessing applications for funding, instead of relying on antiquated box-ticking exercises.
#2 – Marketing
Marketing, customer acquisition, and customer retention were among the top challenges among our SMEs surveyed. This is alarming, since nearly half said expanded marketing efforts would have a direct positive impact on business growth. Entrepreneurs should become familiar with cost-effective marketing tools such as websites, email marketing, social media, and public relations to build relationships with current and potential customers.
#3 – Cash flow management
Improved cash flow management emerged as a top challenge for local SMEs, with financial reporting and admin not far behind. One issue may be that of financial literacy: many entrepreneurs start businesses out of necessity, and lack the basics of proper financial management. There are a plethora of free online courses available to entrepreneurs that can help build a better understanding of financial management. Online accounting tools such as Xero can also provide excellent support to SMEs by automating much of the day-to-day accounting processes.