The Best Deal Guide used social media to raise awareness and win votes – and we hope this funding will help their business become even more successful.
As the rate of technological innovation accelerates, we are not only seeing a new generation of digitally enabled, entrepreneurial businesses emerge, but likewise, traditional industries are being disrupted and existing small and medium businesses are being given a renewed competitive advantage.
For small businesses, their flexibility and agility to experiment with new technologies enables them to leave their larger, more static competitors behind.
This is particularly true when you consider the growth of cloud computing, which has played a transformative role in the business landscape across the board.
Many barriers small companies may have faced in the past – an inability to break into international markets or the prohibitive cost of purchasing infrastructure or software, for example – are being quickly broken down by technological innovations like the cloud.
Growth and flexibility
In its simplest role, cloud technology has allowed businesses unprecedented growth potential, through increased flexibility and reduced costs.
Previously, businesses were required to install, update and maintain their own applications, often restricted to on-premises use and with the associated overheads of in-house IT expertise.
The cloud has changed this completely and it is encouraging that so many firms are taking advantage.
However the cloud isn’t simply about reducing costs. For many businesses it is changing the way they work and interact with customers, partners and suppliers.
Whilst almost every company can find a use for the cloud, through simple solutions such as file storage, or sharing, it is a particularly compelling proposition for businesses dealing with and processing large amounts of data or shared information.
It is in these industries that the cloud can be seen as a real game-changer.
Being able to simultaneously access, collaborate and share information in real-time is revolutionary and offers businesses new ways in which they can meet customer needs.
At Intuit, we work with thousands of accountants, which is one profession that is being transformed by cloud computing. Many of the accountants we work with are also small business owners themselves.
Thanks to the cloud, instead of working with a client’s accounts retrospectively at month-end or quarter-end, they now have a real-time view of their clients’ financials and can take a more pro-active approach to offering advice and services.
They tell us that cloud solutions help them develop stronger links and relationships with their clients and create new revenue-generating opportunities.
Intuit is responding to this need, as many companies are, and we’re evolving our own offering to supply cloud-specific software and support packages, like QuickBooks Online Accountant and the ProCloud partner programme.
Accounting is just one industry in which the cloud revolution is changing the ways in which the industry is set up as a whole.
Take advantage of the cloud to stay competitive
So what is the lesson here? That if you are a small business in an industry that lends itself to cloud computing, now is the time to take advantage of the cloud and seek out that competitive advantage.
Your customers will very quickly consider this level of flexible, fast-paced service a requirement, rather than a bonus. If your customers are on the cloud, and you are not, you are putting yourself in an unnecessarily vulnerable position.
The expectation from clients and customers is that you not only understand the world they are working in but that you are able to work in it alongside them, offering the same level of flexibility with which they operate their own business.
Cloud technology offers a unique opportunity for startup and growing companies, an opportunity that could put them ahead of the curve in the eyes of their customers. The cloud is there to be explored. What could it do for you?
“I started the business on Valentine’s Day 2013 selling retro sweets and confectionery-themed bath products and jewellery.
“The inspiration for the business came about when Henry, my nine year-old son, went into a petrol station to buy some sweets – an utterly ordinary experience, a long way removed from my own fond memories of buying sweets in shops I was a kid. It got me reminiscing about sweet shops as I remember them and the excitement of agonising over which sweets to spend my precious pennies on. This magical experience no longer exists in the same way for Henry and other kids today – Sherbet Pip is all about bringing it back to life.
“The look and feel of the website aims to re-create the sweet shop experience and help adults re-live their fond memories of childhood. As a result, selling my jewellery is never quick deal! People spend ages making their choice in just the same way they did at the sweetie counter as children.”
“Sales have sky-rocketed!”
“I started out by selling online and assumed that would be how the business would continue as it grew. I sell steadily online but since I started trading face-to-face at events like StartUp Britain and local craft shows, my sales have sky rocketed!
“I have recently booked stalls at some bigger trade shows at large venues and realised that I would need to be able to accept card payments – that was when I started to look into mobile payment solutions. Other options on the market were way too expensive and just not feasible for my business. Intuit Pay is so much cheaper than other options as there are no expensive line rentals and you only pay for transactions as and when you make them.”
“Taking card payments has maximised sales”
“Intuit Pay has been brilliant and it was so easy to set up and use. I managed to show my husband, who helps out at shows, how to use it in about one minute and we have had no problems with it at all.
“Taking card payments has helped to maximise sales, particularly at events such as fetes where customers aren’t expecting to make purchases on gifts and they only bring enough cash for food. If they don’t have cash, customers often promise to buy online when they get home, but they rarely remember. Now that I can accept cards, people can pay on the spot and often buy more than they might otherwise have done because they get excited about the products. I hardly ever deal with cash now that I can take cards, and I have seen by profits soar as a result.”
Watch this quick video about Sherbet Pip, starring Rebecca and her son, Henry:
Not using QuickBooks yet? Try the app FREE for 30 days, no credit card required. You’ll get the app and full access to QuickBooks Online on the web.
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Access QuickBooks Online from your mobile device!
Get sales tasks done on the go, like managing customers, estimates, invoices, payments and sales receipts – right from your mobile device. This means less piled-up paperwork, more control over your accounting and bookkeeping, and more time for better customer service.
Manage your business anywhere:
• Create, edit, manage and email invoices
• Convert estimates into invoices
• View and update customer info
• Track payments and record sales
• Set up your company and taxes
• Schedule calendar appointments
• Always be notified when a customer calls
It’s easy to get started:
• Try the app free for 30 days, no credit card required
• Get full access to everything QuickBooks Online has on the web
• And then, if you love it, you can subscribe right from the app
What you’ll get on the web
• Make the most of all the QuickBooks Online features
• Gather business insights with over 20 reports
• Provide access to your accountant
• Plus much more…
See the QuickBooks Online Android app in action
As the StartUp Britain bus tour continues its journey north, stopping in Preston today, Preston-based accountant and QuickBooks ProAdvisor Paul Ainsworth shares his story about how he came to use QuickBooks. Paul will be on the bus today taking questions on accounting and finance so if you are heading down be sure to say hello.
“I started my accountancy practice, Ainsworth & Co, in 2005 after spending 20 years in industry in a variety of roles from chief accountant to finance and admin director. This experience in industry and commerce has enabled me to understand the issues that small businesses face on a day-to-day basis. My practice focuses on providing accounts, bookkeeping, computing and tax services to start-ups and small businesses in and around Preston. My clients are locally based and operate in a variety of business sectors, including construction, IT, design, health and lettings.
“I began using QuickBooks accounting software from Intuit as soon as I launched my business, and I find it is perfect for start-ups as it is forgiving and simple to use. The features which allow users to drill down into each transaction and find and correct mistakes are particularly useful for when small business owners are inevitably on a learning curve. I have always received positive feedback about QuickBooks from my clients.”
Cloud accounting is the future
“My clients’ diversity and the scope of services which I provide require a comprehensive use of QuickBooks and I am therefore able to provide extensive training and support. I am currently promoting the cloud-based QuickBooks Online with new clients as I believe that cloud accounting is the future for start-up businesses, particularly those who are regularly away from their base.
“The cloud offers so many additional benefits in terms of flexibility, time saving and access via smartphones and tablets, which are now making cloud accounting a significant part of the business process.”