Is It Time To Take Your Business Digital?

Back when I planned to write this blog, Covid-19 wasn’t an illness any of us had knowledge of. Working from home was the exception rather than the norm, many people hadn’t made the transition to paperless working yet, and going completely digital was a maybe for the future.

Fast forward a few months and we can all see how much things have changed.

This blog might then feel a bit redundant as many of us have been forced into turning our businesses digital to try and stay afloat in 2020. But I think my original points still stand, making tax digital has been pushed further back and perhaps a few things have been forgotten in the rush to go online this year?

So, here are my thoughts on why you should take your business digital.Why having a digital business is more important than ever

Making tax digital is on the horizon

Making tax digital is the HMRC scheme for getting small business owners and the self-employed to go paperless with their tax returns and records. This means that in the future you will not be able to submit a paper tax return.

The scheme is currently for business owners (including those who make income as landlords, etc) earning over £10,000 per year and is set to roll out by April 2023 (earlier dates for businesses who earn significantly more or pay VAT, etc. You can check those dates here ). You’ll be required to send your details online every three months to HMRC rather than yearly, and your tax due will be calculated more regularly and accurately as a result.

What does this mean for you? It means rather than digging out your receipts and dealing with your books/accountant once a year, you’re going to have to do it quarterly instead (there was mention of it being monthly at one point). And the easiest way to keep on top of this is by using online accounting apps such as Quickbooks or Xero.

I would certainly suggest transitioning to an online accounting app now and getting used to it so that when Making tax digital is applied to you, you already know how to find the information you need. Many of these apps are looking to be able to send the information directly to HMRC too which is an added bonus!

GDPR records are easier to manage online

If you are holding personal or sensitive information about an individual and are subject to GDPR then you need to be able to keep those records safe and secure and be able to quickly and easily access them when needed. This might be for a SAR request or deletion notice.

Having filing cabinets full of paper records is less than ideal. It’s a much better idea to have everything hosted on a secure cloud-based app (that’s GDPR compliant!) so you can find the information within a few minutes and take the relevant action, something that could take hours with paper-based records!

Obviously, personal data records held online do come with their own set of risks. Do make sure you review your cybersecurity and it’s highly recommended you purchase cyber insurance if it’s not already included in your business insurance, as this can help cover your loss/fines if there is a breach of your security and personal information is stolen.

You can offer more services online

I think one of the key lessons 2020 has taught us is that even those of us with brick and mortar businesses or deliver services in person, can offer something online.

From online Pilates classes to wellbeing courses, opening an e-commerce store to delivering 1-2-1 Zoom sessions, there are so many ways that an in-person based business can go digital. While there may be some out of the box thinking required, now is the perfect time to sit down and reflect on your skills and expertise and what you have to offer digitally.

A blended model of in-person and digital might be the approach that works for you. Even things like affiliate marketing through blog and video content can add a new income stream to your business using your current expertise!

While 2020 hasn’t been like any of us imagined at the start of the year, and it has been a difficult time to get through, I hope that this blog has given you some reasons and ideas for taking your business online and getting a whole lot more out of 2021.