Accountants are a special breed. They love long columns of numbers, articles about the tax code, and phrases like "double-entry accounting." Most people, however, don't enjoy these things as accountants do. In fact, normal people who run small businesses seem to want to get their accounting tasks accomplished as quickly as possible and focus on other things. Accountants may think you're missing out on the fun, but there are numerous software companies that make accounting software for small businesses that make accounting and bookkeeping quick and easy.
No discussion of accounting software is complete without a mention of Quickbooks. This extremely popular accounting software is the most common software program used by small businesses and many accounting firms have embraced it as well. It's perhaps the top accounting software for small business, and it's easy to see why.
You can access Quickbooks online from anywhere with a computer or a mobile app. This makes it a snap to get information when and where you need it. Quickbooks is also scalable, so it can grow as your business grows.
Their Simple Start plan covers most of the basics for a low monthly rate, but you can add services like inventory management and time tracking by upgrading your service as needed. Quickbooks also pairs well with third-party services like Paypal.
It's not all sunshine and roses, however. As good as Quickbooks is, some users report occasional problems getting the software to sync with banks and credit card companies.
Based in Canada, FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting software package touted for being extremely user friendly. If you have no accounting experience and feel overwhelmed by your business accounting tasks, this is the software program for you. Its easy-to-use interface covers all the basics, from generating and sending invoices to receiving payments. The software also makes it easy to send late payment reminders and automatically bill and collect late fees as needed.
FreshBooks offers a mobile app so you can access your data on the go, but its functions are limited. So are your invoicing capabilities. Different plans are available at different price points, but they do offer limited invoices. If you need to bill more than 50 clients per month you'll need to upgrade to the more expensive Premium Plan.
FreshBooks does a lot, but it started its life as a basic invoicing program and it sometimes shows. The package is a great help with basic accounting tasks but it doesn't offer any payroll service or inventory management. If you want a more robust program that does it all, you'll need to look elsewhere. If you're looking for a simple way to cover the basics, however, FreshBooks is an excellent choice.
Perhaps the very best thing about Wave is the price. The basic package is absolutely free, making it a smart choice for freelancers and small businesses who are watching their budget. The free app is limited, of course, but it does assist with a wide variety of tasks including invoicing, bookkeeping, receipt scanning, financial reporting, and income and expense tracking.
Like many other accounting solutions, Wave is an online platform that offers access through both a computer and a mobile app. If you want more from Wave, you can purchase additional services like payroll preparation.
Wave makes the majority of its services free, but it has to make its money somewhere. It does this by charging fees when used as a payment gateway. The gateway makes it easy to accept credit cards and ACH payments, but Wave's fees for these transactions are a bit higher than those of most other accounting software programs.
Wave will cover the basics and do so for free, but it doesn't offer inventory management or track time. If you want a more robust program, you may get frustrated with Wave's limitations.
Like Wave, SlickPie offers its accounting services for free. The platform is completely online. Once logged in you can generate invoices, compile financial reports, and manage important documents. As a bonus, SlickPie offers pre-built invoice templates but allows you to craft your own if desired. SlickPie also utilizes a bot that can automate data entry tasks.
SlickPie has a few perks, but it's also a reminder that sometimes you get what you pay for. Users report poor customer service and frustration with access. SlickPie doesn't offer a mobile app, so you'll need to be in front of your computer to use it.
With more than two million worldwide users, Xero is perfect for small businesses. The service offers several plans at different price points and can help you with managing multiple tasks and project management. Xero goes beyond the accounting basics, helping users with payroll integration, inventory management, and bank reconciliation. Xero offers a real-time view of your cash flow and even allows you to manage your fixed assets, which most other basic accounting programs don't do.
Xero lets you go beyond the basics, but only so far. Xero's customer service leaves a bit to be desired and its mobile app is extremely limited. Xero also breaks expense into its own application, which can prove cumbersome. Xero sometimes runs slowly and doesn't scale well. Your business will likely outgrow Xero as time goes on.
If you prefer to keep your data to yourself, Sage 50cloud is the program for you. This program allows you to work on and share data with the cloud if you wish, but it's a desktop-based software program that you install on your hard drive. Sage scales up quite well as your business grows and is known for its robust inventory management platform.
If you want the whole accounting enchilada, complete with inventory management, integrated payroll, and powerful accounts receivable and payable management, Sage 50cloud delivers. It also offers much more detailed information than many other small business accounting software packages.
Unfortunately, all this power comes with a learning curve. The interface looks old-fashioned and sometimes crowded, as well. And although you'll get a lot of powerful tools, you will pay for them. Sage is one of the most expensive accounting software packages currently available in the small business market. It does a lot, but it doesn't do it cheaply.
If you like all the functionality offered by Sage 50cloud but are trembling over the price, consider Zoho Books. This cloud-based program has an extremely limited payroll function designed only for New York, California, and Texas. It does everything else well, however, and provides detailed reports if you want them. Zoho offers project tracking and inventory management along with basic accounting functions, and it also tracks sales and purchases well.
Zoho's customer support is reportedly quite helpful and there are many resources available to assist you if you get stuck. So long as you don't need payroll services, Zoho Books keeps up well when small businesses grow. Note, however, that Zoho doesn't play well with others. Zoho works well within its own sphere, but it integrates with other services only minimally.
Another freebie, Sunrise is terrific at covering the basics. The program tracks income and expenses easily, generates invoices, imports banking information, and integrates easily with payment partners like PayPal, Stripe, and Square. The program's mobile app lets you do almost anything from your phone and utilizes the standard double-entry accounting format. Sunrise makes it easy to work up estimates as well as invoices and it's easy to use with a clean dashboard and more intuitive user interface than some of its competitors.
Sunrise handles reconciliations a bit differently than other programs, though, and some users experience a bit of a learning curve for this particular task. The program will generate financial reports, but they're very basic and don't offer much in the way of detail or analysis. But the price is right and you do get quite a bit for free.
If you're fulfilling the bulk of your entrepreneurial dream online, Go Daddy might prove a perfect fit for you. Inexpensive and easy to use, Go Daddy's accounting platform integrates seamlessly with Amazon, eBay, and Etsy to make online businesses simpler to manage. It makes invoicing easy and will calculate your estimated quarterly tax payments for you, which is pretty awesome.
Go Daddy was very specifically designed for an online business model and can be frustrating to use if you have a different approach. There's no project management function and it won't track your expenses or help you manage your inventory. Go Daddy makes tracking sales and receiving payments easy, but it doesn't help much with the expense side of the business.
Running a business means wearing many hats, which means you may have picked up on a few accounting principles over the years. If you have a pretty solid understanding of accounting practices, Accounting Edge can take you to the next level.
Accounting Edge offers inventory management, direct deposit tracking, full-service payroll support, and more. It's a bit more complex than most accounting software for smaller businesses and as such can do more for you. You may find it frustrating, however, if you don't understand accounting terminology and a few other accounting basics.
At E-Marketing Associates our specialty is planning and executing great online marketing campaigns that get measurable results.