Whether it’s flooding, Arctic conditions, or volcanic ash clouds, more and more, extremes of weather and ‘acts of God’ seem to be affecting our businesses (as well as our lives in general) and their chances of survival.  During last winter’s snow and ice, 1 in 5 workers failed to get to work, an estimated £600 million a day was being lost, and 2000-3000 companies were predicted to fail.  More recently the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) estimates that disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano cost the UK economy around £100 million per day!

And add to that, the current instability of the economy both in the UK and around the world, and the forthcoming emergency VAT and tax changes, the outlook can look bleak for start-up and small businesses (according to business information specialist, Dun and Bradstreet, 9% of businesses fail every year because of ‘disaster’!)  However, small businesses that are using cloud services such as cloud accounting (also known as SaaS, software as a service, online accounting software) have a distinct advantage over those that are still using traditional offline desk-top software.

The simple fact is that for most businesses, if you can’t get to your premises (snow/ash) or your premises and equipment are damaged or destroyed (flood/fire/theft) then you won’t be able to access all the essential information that you need on a day-to-day basis to keep things running (customer details, supplier details, accounting and banking details, lists of who owes you money and who needs to be paid, employee and payroll information).

1 in 5 companies suffer some form of major disruption each year, and 43% of those companies who’ve lost essential data never reopen, and 80% of them go out of business within a year.

One of the key features however, of cloud computing and in particular cloud accounting is that you can access your orders, essential accounting, business information and customer and supplier details from anywhere.

Kevin Doyle, MD of Construction Research Ltd found himself stranded in France for 5 days when the Icelandic volcano erupted in April, however, he was able to login to his accounts from his hotel, liaise with his accountant back in the UK and keep his business running: ‘We originally moved our accounts to cloud accounting with Liquid Accounts because of the uncertainty of internal back-ups and protection against theft and fire.  The ability to log on and access full accounting information from anywhere in the world is an added bonus.  As long as I have an internet connection, I can analyse and review sales, profits, customer history or indeed customer payments instantly.’

The other issue here is that, as well as remote access, all your data is being regularly, automatically and professionally backed-up to somewhere else other than your office, and usually to more than 1 location.  This is normally one of the key features of online software and a great advantage to the small business owner who generally can’t afford an extensive IT infrastructure and the expertise to go with it.

As another cloud convert, Stefan Rask, FD of StarSupply Renewables says:  ‘It was a disaster waiting to happen!  One of our brokers remembers in a previous job all their server discs crashing!  It’s only a matter of time before something like that happens if you’ve only got one server in your office – like ours in a cupboard.’

And this is backed up by figures from disaster recovery specialists:

99% of businesses don’t back-up their essential information daily

60% of back-ups are incomplete or out of date

50% of attempts to restore essential information fail

Only 25% of companies who do back-ups store them somewhere other than their office.

All of which means that if your offices are flooded, set alight or broken into, you are likely to lose some or all of your essential information and that you won’t be able to set up temporarily somewhere else and operate as normal – you might not even know who your customers and suppliers are to let them know what’s happened and what you’re doing about it!

An added bonus of using cloud accounting to make sure that your essential business information is backed-up in several secure locations is that your software (which is also held and managed remotely) is also automatically updated whenever there’s an update, upgrade or improvement.  This means that whenever the Government changes the VAT rate (as they are reportedly about to do) or any other tax rate or regulation your software will be updated to accommodate this without you having to do anything and you can carry on trading seamlessly without any extra cost, patches or hassle.

In summary then, cloud accounting has a number of benefits that can help small businesses survive and thrive through both the good times and the bad.  For the first time, small businesses can now access the sort of flexibility, accessibility and functionality of a grown-up accounting package that would previously have only been available to larger companies with plenty of money to spend, for a minimal, affordable monthly cost (usually around £20 per month).  Plus they also have access to the latest back-up and storage technology (again that previously would have been prohibitively expensive) and peace of mind that if the worst happens, they will be able to access vital information and keep trading.

The Liquid cloud accounting software is ideal for businesses of any size, particularly those that operate in multiple locations or who trade overseas. To learn more about how using Liquid to do your accounts can benefit your business, visit our website or contact us on 0845 450 7304.