Accounting Software for Small Business

Using accounting software
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m sure you put a lot of thought into starting your business. Buying the right accounting software demands a similar level of attention, because keeping good financial records is vital to your business success.

Choosing accounting software that suits your need is very important. Before buying software you need to consider your needs and whether the software can meet your business demands. On the other hand you do not want to get software that does everything a business might need but is so complicated that you will not be able to use it. So another important question is: “Who will use the software and is it easy to learn?”

In some cases you might also need to schedule a training session to make sure that people who are going to handle the software understand how to use it. If it’s a small business and you are going to be alone when you use the software, you should also consider the support that is accessible to you.

Because buying accounting software is a big decision, it is recommended to consult others who use accounting software and have experience in buying it. There are also many software review sites that can be useful.

Features Of Accounting Software

Small businesses can use a mix of management or financial accounting solutions depending on their business operations. Financial accounting mainly concentrates on allocation of business costs to goods or services, employing budgets for business functions and also helping to make the important financial decisions for the business. Management solutions can involve aspects like customer relationship management (CRM) and support functions as well as other functions to help you manage your systems.

Cloud v Desktop

Many businesses are now storing their essential data and content via a global network of computer servers known as the cloud. When asked, many new business owners have doubts about how safe is it to put essential and sensitive data on a server that is owned, maintained and secured by someone else. But just to clear the air, it is getting increasingly safer to use cloud features. Yes, cloud servers can be hacked, but you can also get viruses that destroy your information on your local systems.

Putting important information on a cloud server can be beneficial as you can assess your accounting details anytime and anywhere. All you will need is a web enabled device. It can also reduce the risk of the important data being lost as many small business owners do not backup their computers or particularly their accounting data properly.

Usage of cloud services can be time saving and cost efficient. An increasing number of accounting software programs provide this service. They directly back up all the data on a cloud network, so in case of any mishap such as if the data on the local computer gets erased, one can easily access all the accounting data using cloud.

On the other hand, the speed of a cloud system is dependent upon your internet speed. And even though technology is advancing at a rapid rate, some functionality on the cloud can be slower. For example, when you do something in the cloud it needs to communicate back to the server and this can be slower than your desktop where everything is together and instantaneous. Plus there is some functionality that can be done on a desktop that just simply can’t be done in a web browser as yet. So we are not convinced that the cloud is the panacea for everyone yet.

Things To Consider Before You Buy

As we said earlier, the first thing to consider before buying software is your business needs and whether the software can meet your business requirements.

Another thing to consider is how easy the software is to use. Many small business owners have never been taught accounting and can struggle with many of the options available. For most self employed small business owners we recommend an easy program that makes it easy to track the money coming in and going out of your business, create invoices, manage receivables and payables as well as inventory bought and sold without knowing anything about accounting.

The easiest program we have seen is called Simplazz 1-2-3 in the US, Simplazz 1-2-3 in Canada, Cashflow Manager in the UK and Cashflow Manager in Australia.

Of course, another thing that you should consider before buying accounting software is your budget. Accounting software is available in various different ranges when it comes to money. Some are highly advanced while some are very basic. You should be able to learn the software quickly to achieve the benefits you are looking for.

Types of Software Available

  • Accounting for Small Businesses: These are off the shelf systems that meet the needs of most small businesses. These software programs will have reports, accounting tools and everything that is needed to assess financial data. Some of the software that falls under this category has the ability for small businesses to add some custom needs and some have payroll functions for those with employees.
  • Business Management Software: Business Management software is specially designed for businesses that need to keep the track of point of sale and inventory control. These are more advanced than the basic categories and can provide with features like integrated billing, customer relationship management and even purchasing.
  • Free Solutions: Accounting software has to deal with many sensitive financial matters so most business owners are a bit skeptical of free versions of software. But there are a number of free software options available, often providing limited services like creating invoices, handling payroll and printing checks. As this software provides a very limited service, those who do not have a budget for paid software at the beginning mainly use it. But your accounting processes are vital to your business success and you should look at getting the best solution right from the start.

Some programs like Simplazz 1-2-3 / Cashflow Manager (mentioned above) have a free trial so it is worth taking the time to review that when you are starting out.

Keeping good records is extremely important to the success of your business and so is the right software that you can use and understand. Take the time to review the alternatives when you are getting started.