From the Sept. 2012 Issue.
In this issue, we’ve focused many of our articles and columns on how the cloud, aka web-based technologies, are helping to change the way accounting firms do business. The benefits have reached firms of all sizes, helping streamline internal workflow processes, as well as their client relationships.
Many small businesses are also reaping the same rewards, since mobile tools and web-based business management, sales tools and accounting systems help business owners stay on top of processes and day-to-day operations, regardless of where they are.
Although some professionals may look at this “always plugged in” lifestyle as being a drawback, a recent report showed that most small business owners actually appreciate the freedom it gives them, whether they’re on the road for business, to attend their children’s activities or just to spend time with the family.
In the past, many small business owners have reported that regardless of financial capability, they were unable to take vacations as often as desired, or to fully enjoy their vacations when they did take one. After all, there are no paid vacation days for the owners of small businesses, and for the smallest, taking a day or more off often means that the lights, and revenue, go dark during that time.
Small Businesses & Mobile Tech
|Source: Manta SMB Wellness Index|
Accountants in small practices likely can empathize with this premise, since your clients don’t go on vacation at the same time, and may still need assistance with payroll and accounting issues. Even for accountants and entrepreneurs who’ve reached the stage where they can let another person oversee operations and client interaction for awhile (whether a few days or weeks), there can be control issues, as well as the lingering compulsion to check in on things and clients, to micro-manage from afar.
Cloud computing and mobile devices, from smart phones and tablets to netbooks, are relieving much of this anxiety. The survey of more than 1,200 entrepreneurs, which was conducted in late spring as part of the Manta SMB Wellness Index, showed that a little less than half of small business owners planned to take a vacation over this past summer.
While the above mentioned control issues, business pressures and the current economy certainly all played varying roles in their decisions, the report did not summarize the types of businesses surveyed. This could also affect a decision on a summer vacation, since those with peak sales or volume seasons during the middle of the year also would be unlikely to schedule a vacation during their busy season. That would be like asking a tax professional if they planned on taking a week off in early April.
Another reason for less than half of those surveyed planning a vacation is that 60 percent of the respondents expected to be working more this year overall than they did last year.
However, for those who said they were planning on taking a vacation, the cloud and mobile technologies played a role in the decision. This is because they say that these technologies allow them to stay in contact with their business and clients while they are away.
While only a few short years ago taking work on vacation might have sounded depressing to some professionals, the new reality is that small business’ workflow becomes a logjam, and many don’t envy the thought of coming back to a backlog of tasks and issues. So these technologies are easing their stress and 60 percent of those planning a vacation said that mobile access would actually help them enjoy their vacation more.
Now that the summer is pretty much in the rear view mirror and you and other tax and accounting professionals are getting ready for the fall season, consider these questions about yourself and your practice, because they are likely representative of your small business clients of similar size.
- Are you a partner, principle or owner of a small firm?
- Did you take a vacation this summer?
- If so, did you use mobile technologies to perform work or check in on client activities while you were on vacation? How often?
- Did it help you enjoy your vacation more than if you didn’t have that access?