Do you know what type of accounting software you need for your business? What about a free accounting software package like FreshBooks? An inexpensive accounting software package like QuickBooks? If you are a small business owner, there is nothing more important than knowing how your money is spent and what revenue you take in. Unless you have that information, you won't be in operation very long to do anything else. Most businesses now, even tiny microbusinesses, use some sort of computerized accounting software to keep their financial records.
Accounting software ranges from very simple to extremely complex for large corporations. You don't want more features than you need but you do want what you need. In order to find the best accounting software package for your business, you have to determine the features that you need. Do you sell products? If you do, you will need inventory tracking in your accounting software package. Do you have employees? If so, you will need a payroll system in your software. Determine the features you need in your accounting software and then take a look at the choices below.
Here are some of the best choices, both free accounting software and more pricey software, and both online and desktop, from the simplest to the more complex, for small businesses:
Outright is an online accounting program designed for microbusinesses. It has no payroll and no inventory functions. It has a very nice, clean, and easy to follow interface. It allows you to estimate federal taxes and create financial reports. There is no complex setup and you can import data from your existing accounts. Outright has partners - Freshbooks which works with invoices and Shoeboxed and oDesk which work with receipt management and paying independent contractors respectively. It imports information from those applications. Outright is free so don't expect anything fancy, although for a small fee, you can upgrade. It is very basic but functional for the very small business.
The mission of FreshBooks, an online accounting software package, is to manage your books at a level detailed enough to satisfy an accountant. FreshBooks does more than work with invoices. You can track expenses and income, get tax reports ready for your accountant, and calculate sales tax. It also backs up all your income online. It is one of the favorite online accounting software programs.
There has been an ongoing debate about FreshBooks versus QuickBooks, although the two accounting software programs are for two different types of customers. Small businesses are strapped for cash right now, at the end of the Great Recession. QuickBooks may be more appropriate for a larger small business that has a more substantial cash flow.
- QuickBooks Simple Start Edition
QuickBooks Simple Start is an easy accounting software solution for your business. It is best used for small businesses with few employees. It organizes your business's finances, tracks your sales and expenses, and provides help for you at tax time. There is a free online trial for 30 days and then if you want to use Simple Start online, it is $12.95 per month. Our financial software guide has provided a nice review of QuickBooks Simple Start in order to help you make your choice.
Most of the versions of QuickBooks are excellent and I, personally, like them all. They have a lot of good features that small businesses need. In addition to being available online, you can buy most versions for both Windows and Mac.
- QuickBooks Pro
QuickBooks Pro 2012 has all the features of QuickBooks Pro 2011 with some of them improved and some new features. Some of the features carried over from the 2011 version are customer snapshot, batch invoicing, accounts receivable and payable functions, professional looking invoices and forms, the ability to email customers invoices and other correspondence, payroll management, and report functionality.
Improved features include worksheet formatting and memorized transactions. New features are industry-specific report templates, invoices, billing, and other tasks in a calendar template, and a Sales Lead center on top of other features. Write a review and let us know what you think.
- QuickBooks Premier 2012
QuickBooks Premium 2012 is one of the top of the line of the QuickBooks line of accounting software. It includes everything that QuickBooks Pro 2012 has in it plus a number of more advanced features. One of the most important advanced features, in my opinion, is its inventory control center that lets you track your inventory. In addition, QuickBooks Premier can cost each complete job, customize reports, track balance sheets by class, bill clients progressively by job phase, and much more. You can see a comparison between QuickBooks Pro and Premium but be sure and use our "compare prices" link before you purchase.
Bear in mind that QuickBooks Premier 2012 has modules for a variety of different industries if you need to use them such as the construction industry. It is also a big, powerful program that many small businesses may simply not need.
- AccountEdge Accounting Software
AccountEdge accounting software is the "jack of all trades" accounting software package. This software has innumerable features, but the accounting software portion is called AO, previously called MYOB Accounting Plus. One nice feature is that it has a banking program that allows you to receive your clients' banking data. You get comprehensive general ledger and asset management functions. The software produces compliant financial accounts in the chart of accounts. There are functions for comprehensive professional financial reports of many types.
- Sage Peachtree Accounting Software
The Peachtree Accounting Software package is a complete accounting solution for your small business. The 2012 version took the Gold Award of the HTC Vivid Top 10 Accounting Software Top 10 Reviews. If you have a microbusiness or a very simple small business that doesn't have to handle payroll or inventory, Peachtree is probably a more vigorous software package than you need. It does, however, have a number of levels of sophistication - the Pro package, the Premium package, etc.
If you have a more complex small business, Peachtree could be for you as it handles everything from job costing to inventory to vendor management. Reporting functions are excellent. Online banking is available. Peachtree is not the easiest of the accounting software packages to use or to learn to use and I feel that you need some accounting background to make the process easier. Except for a rather steep learning curve and the fact that you don't want to give the package to an inexperienced clerk in your business, it is an excellent accounting solution.