Time-poor entrepreneur? Five apps every small firm should be using | There’s an app for that

November 1, 2021

SME speciality: cashflow forecasting

Why you need it: from powerful Premier League clubs to pint-sized pizza joints, Covid-19 saw businesses both big and small struggle with acute cashflow concerns after being forced to shut up shop during the various lockdowns. Of course, government loans and assistance helped, but some firms also kept finances in control by using Float. By giving businesses a real-time view of past, current and future cashflows, leaders can take an instant temperature check of their business’s financial health. The upshot? They can make financial decisions much quicker – and chase payments more easily.

Other benefits: Float models scenarios based on your current cashflow, giving you the chance to see how your finances could be affected if you hire new staff, lose clients or receive a late payment.

How it works with Xero: Float automatically syncs to Xero so you can easily view incoming cash, outgoing expenses, and whether any bills or invoices are overdue.

Without Float you could be: poring over spreadsheets into the small hours. By contrast, Float estimates businesses could save eight-10 hours a month using the app.

SME speciality: debtor management.

Why you need it: unpaid invoices are a big problem for British businesses. In fact, according to research by the digital banking platform Tide, UK firms are chasing a collective £50bn in late payments, with the average SME wasting 1.5 hours every day pursuing invoices.

Chaser – the clue is in the name – helps businesses keep on top of payments by doing all the difficult invoice sleuthing for them (in a polite way of course; even late payers will be sent an automated “thank you” message from Chaser). The app allows your customers to access a dedicated payment portal, so they can make instant card payments. Because of this – and other features – Chaser reckons invoices get paid an average of 16 days faster than usual, saving firms 15 hours a week on accounts-receivable tasks. So far, the app has tracked down £3bn worth of invoices.

Other benefits: Chaser creates customised schedules, allowing you to group customers by “good payers”, “long-term partners” or “bad payers”.

How it works with Xero: Chaser connects with the data in your Xero account in just two minutes (and syncs, automatically, every hour thereafter).

Without Chaser you could be: casting invoices off into the ether, waiting weeks while they pinball around various departments, until eventually you have to start pursuing payment through answerphone messages for the accounts desk and posting comments on social media.

The best new tech helps businesses share insights collaboratively. Photograph: PeopleImages/Getty Images

SME speciality: data capture and automation

Why you need it: blurting out “data is the new gold” has become something of a cliche in recent years. But the reality is too few SMEs are making the most of their data, which could be used to gain insights into customer behaviour or predict future events. Dext Prepare does an amazing job of pulling cost data from suppliers such as Amazon and PayPal before sorting it by tax, supplier and region, thus giving finance teams an illuminating real-time overview of their finances.

Other benefits: drowning in a sea of fiddly expenses receipts? Dext Prepare’s one-click photo upload will convert this pile of paper into digital text before analysing and categorising the data for you.

How it works with Xero: by syncing with Xero, all data in your chart of accounts will be categorised by Dext Prepare, which will push extracted key info to your purchase ledger or bank account.

Without Dext Prepare you could be: wasting precious hours typing figures into spreadsheets from receipts, invoices and bank statements. This manual admin could also lead to expensive errors and duplication, something unlikely to happen with the automation of Dext Prepare.

SME speciality: reporting and insights

Why you need it: it’ll turn your company’s datasets into graphs and reports that are so beautifully presented and easy-to-digest that even your granny could probably figure out what’s going on. Allowing Syft Analytics to give your intricate balance sheets and complex EBITDA reports a visual makeover can be hugely beneficial: within seconds, you and your team could be uncovering fresh insights, which could be used to create better reports, forecast cashflow and assess the cost-effectiveness of your firm.

How it works with Xero: integrate your Xero account with Syft Analytics and within minutes its plug-and-play tech will have refashioned your accounting data into stunning graphs and visuals.

Other benefits: Syft Analytics will even craft your data into a special, stakeholder-impressing branded pdf pack – which will be branded, and festooned with visually arresting graphs, of course.

Without Syft Analytics you could be: squinting at impenetrable spreadsheets until the gridlines disappear and you’ve developed a headache.

SME speciality: inventory and e-commerce

Why you need it: Harry Potter is one of Veeqo’s clients. Yes, really. The Harry Potter shop uses the Swansea-based inventory management software to monitor how many Butterbeer tea towels are in stock or whether it needs to replenish Bowtruckle wands due to a surge in demand. The likes of BrewDog and Dove also use Veeqo, possibly because of the way it seamlessly connects all e-commerce channels and monitors stock levels no matter how many warehouses a company operates.

Inventory management apps can provide strong insight for retailers into what is selling and what is not. Photograph: Reeldeal Images/Alamy

Other benefits: not only does Veeqo integrate with Xero (see below), but it also syncs with major sales channels (think Amazon, eBay, Shopify) and shipping carriers (Royal Mail, UPS, FedEx) too.

How it works with Xero: in Xero, Veeqo users can push orders as sales invoices, set cost prices for products and create purchase orders for a business’s suppliers.

Without Veeqo you could be: either running low on stock or having items stuck on shelves for months because nobody’s buying them. Very quickly, situations like this will suck money from your business.

Find, choose and buy the right apps to run your business in the Xero App Store. Visit apps.xero.com

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Life is like a running cycle right! I am a news editor at TIMES. Collecting News is my passion. Because my visitors have the right to know the truth and perfectly.

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