Whether you think of yourself as a sparkle or a specialist, money management is important when running our own business. That means it’s pretty much all down to you.
Not only do you have to keep on top of your training, upskilling and certifications, you also have to cope with new legislation, constant competition from less qualified newcomers and finding work from ever more demanding, and ever more knowledgeable customers.
Most important of all, you have to get your finances right, and that’s no laughing matter when you’re working for multiple employers, being paid electronically, by BACS, direct debit, in cash - and no end of promises.
It is all too easy to get become a slave to admin. Invoicing, tax, bank accounts, logging expenses and receipts, reconciliation and chasing up payment all take valuable time. Our customers tell us it can take 60 minutes of emailing, checking accounts and filing expense every working day. The trick is not to allow the financial donkey to get in the way of the entrepreneurial cart, and the good news is it is easier than it seems.
The world of finance and bookkeeping is actually becoming just as exciting and progressive as the latest smart meters and intelligent buildings. Intelligent, real-time, connected financial apps come in many shapes and sizes, often leaving the banks playing catch up. These days you’re just as likely to find an old boy paying you electronically on his tablet device using PayPal as he is in crisp tenners. Amazon Payments has also created easy to use accounts linked to bank accounts to which people are turning, both as a result of and as a driver of bank branch closures.
These days, your smartphone can manage your finances in ways that were not even possible three years ago. Online and offline channels are increasingly being integrated and cashless payment apps are fast becoming the norm.
Invoices can be drawn up immediately on mobile devices, not after work when you’d rather relax. Expenses can be photographed and indexed, invoices can be sent, tracked and monitored, alerts can be sounded when money has been received or once an invoice has been opened, (making it harder for a customer to say it has not been received).
Apps can be connected to your current, or business account, so that what goes out, what comes in, and what’s pending can all be tracked in real time, giving you a rounded, accurate picture of where you stand. The cost of hiring accountants’ costs can be kept in check too, with a single electronic download - not a shoebox full of receipts.
There is lots going on in the world of electronic money, and much of it is about supporting the freelancers, one man bands and SMEs whose growth is underpinning the UK economy. Freelancers contributed £119 bn to the economy last year, a rise of £10 billion from the previous year, according to a study by industry body IPSE. Freelancers continue to be the fastest-growing segment of the wider 4.8 million self-employed population, making up 42 per cent of the sector and with a collective economic output ‘comparable to that of the entire motor sales industry’. Freelancers are rapidly becoming the mainstream, not the exception.
You might have heard of open banking, one such financial revolution that will help business to business customers use technology to access a much broader range of services, with new levels of transparency and control. It will make it much easier for you to access services from competing financial providers. Financial apps make those changes possible.
So while you might work alone, there’s a lot of financial software that’s there for you. While you might not sit in an office surrounded by colleagues, you’re part of a growing army of self-employed entrepreneurs. That’s why financial innovations and arrangements are increasingly coming your way, designed to stop finance from being a chore. Sure, bank branches are closing, cheques are being phased out and the government wants to stop cash in hand payments for work, but times are a changing for the better. Facebook this, WhatsApp that - finance app, all in under a minute, leaving you free to focus on your career, not your admin.