07/04/11

By Claire West

Over one third (38%) of senior decision makers in UK small businesses are in the cloud — using one or more Internet-based applications (excluding email and online phone services) to help run their business, a YouGov survey has found. The shift to online for core business applications including online document, customer and financial management will see high growth percentages over the next 12 months. And a small but growing number of small businesses, almost one in 10 (9%), say they would like to use online services for all their main business applications.

The online survey of 500 UK small businesses was commissioned by Intuit UK, which today launched QuickBooks Online (www.quickbooks.co.uk), providing easy online money management for small businesses. The survey found that the most likely small business senior managers to work using online services is either aged 35-44 (63%) , London-based (66%), or a Mac user (71%).

How and Why Small Businesses go Online

The survey explored how and why UK small businesses use online services within their business, and what online services they plan to use in the future:

What online or cloud-based services small businesses expect to use over the next 12 months:

· Storage or document sharing services — 21%, an increase of 22%.

· Word processing, spreadsheet, or presentation services — 16%, an increase of 62%.

· Financial management — 13%, an increase of 33%.

· Customer relationship management services — 9%, an increase of 81%.

· Other — 5%, an increase of 25%

Why small businesses use cloud services:

· Access documents or services anywhere — 70%.

· Save time, with no need to install software — 41%.

· Easier to share information with others — 49%.

Main online or cloud-based services currently being used by small businesses

· Storage or document sharing services — 17%.

· Word processing, spreadsheet, or presentation services — 10%.

· Financial management services — 10%.

· Customer relationship management services — 5%.

· Other — 4%

"Small businesses in the UK are showing increasing confidence toward using online services to manage core business functions such as financial management," said Pernille Bruun-Jensen, managing director of Intuit UK. "In launching QuickBooks Online we are helping this new generation of businesses to securely access their books online and keep on top of their finances wherever they are. QuickBooks Online is new and tailored for the UK market, but built on a decade of experience in the US where we have more than 215,000 paid subscribers.”

Easy Money Management

Available on Mac and PC, Intuit QuickBooks Online helps businesses do their books, automatically backs up their data and offers secure access from anywhere. The key time-saving benefits include:

·Create and manage professional invoices — Design and create invoices, billing customers promptly and professionally.

·Track cash flow —Easily keep tabs on money going into and coming out of the business including sales and expenses tracking; get a real-time cash flow snapshot in a single screen.

·Manage VAT returns — Automatically track VAT and generate VAT returns.

·Handle multiple currencies — Work with customers and suppliers in their own currencies; easily convert back to sterling to view any gains or losses affected by fluctuating exchange rates.

Data Security

QuickBooks Online securely stores all financial data on central servers rather than on your computer, protecting it from computer damage, loss or theft. The service also backs up data automatically every two hours.

According to the YouGov survey, 60% of senior decision makers in UK small businesses, whose business use cloud services, cited automatic data backup as a benefit of online services. Some may have learned this the hard way with one in 10 (12%) reported having lost business data or files stored on computers at least once in the past 12 months after a crash, virus attack or hardware failure because they did not have a recent back-up.

Pricing and Availability

QuickBooks Online is available in three versions in the UK, including:

·QuickBooks Online Simple Start — Design and create professional invoices, keep an eye on cash flow and have one convenient place for your customer data. £9 per month for one user plus accountant.

·QuickBooks Online Essentials — Generate VAT returns with one click; handle multiple currencies, powerful reporting tools. £19 per month for three users plus accountant.

·QuickBooks Online Plus — Plan ahead with budgeting and customisable reports. £29 per month for 5 users plus accountant.

There are no contracts, it is free for the first 30 days and small business owners can cancel the service at any time. Customers who sign up by 4 May can trial the service free for 60 days.