Small business owners no longer need to buy expensive business accounting packages or spend hours looking at complicated reports. While any accounting package will be able to provide the basics for accounting, the ones designed for small businesses tend to simplify the process and will provide all of the essentials including business inventory, a general ledger and purchase history. One of the attractive options for small business owners is cloud based accounting software and services. When using cloud accounting the IT tasks such as version updates will be completed by the application provider.
When looking at options that a small business can use it is important to look at budget and the needs or a typical small office. There are 5 could based accounting systems that will work for most small businesses. These options all cost $20 or less per month and are easy to use, even for the small business owners with little to no experience with accounting tasks.
FreshBooks is one of the could-based applications that have been designed to help small businesses get organized and get paid. This is a hosted accounting service which allows you to access your accounts and data anywhere from a desktop computer or a mobile device. The data is also secure and backups are done for you.
The features of FreshBooks include online payments, time-tracking, taxes, accounting reports and expense tracking. Some of the highlights of the package include the customization of invoices, the sending of late payment reminders, managing of different rates for different projects, automatic and recurring expense tracking as well as profit and loss reports.
Any small business owner will appreciate the guided wizard and help boxes that appear when you start a new task. This will help you familiarize yourself with the software. Once you feel comfortable with the package you will be able to turn off the help.
FreshBooks offers a 30-day free trial and this will give you access to the basic business plan which will cost $19.95 per month after this time. There is an add-on store where you can find third-party applications which increase the functionality of the software as well as the features. Some of the apps are free like the Constant Contact Export while others will need a monthly subscription to use.
QuickBooks Online Simple Start will make the creation of invoices and the downloading of bank transaction very simple. QuickBooks is a go-to for many small businesses and QuickBooks Online Simple Start is a great value package for small office needs.
The online version will cost $12.95 a month and comes with a 30-day free trial. The software will help you create invoices, track expenses and sales, access business data on mobile devices and download any banking transactions. There are some other handy features with the system such as exporting of data to Microsoft Excel and the printing of checks.
If you are looking for some further functionality then QuickBooks online can provide there are a number of add-ons that you can look at. These will include the Payroll Bundle that helps you complete payroll. There is also a merchant service app that allows you to take credit card, debit card and check payments into QuickBooks online.
Another cloud-based accounting system that is worth a look is Kashoo. This is a simple accounting app that any small business will be able to use which offers access from a web browser and iPad.
The software features will include the connection to online bank accounts and credit cards, the creation of professional invoices, categorizing of expenses and income specifically for tax reporting and very simple dashboards. You will also be able to share your business data with your accountant online. The last features offered by Kashoo are secure, double-entry bookkeeping for bank reconciliations and financial statements.
Kashoo costs $16 per month, but there is a free version available. However, the free version is limited and users will only be able to complete 20 transactions per month with it.
If you have a small e-commerce business then Outright is an easy-to-use accounting system designed for you. The program will organize and track sales and your business finances all in one place. You will be able to see where your money is going at a glance and view your profit and loss statements and well as seeing who your customers are.
It is also possible to link existing accounts to the system including Paypal, eBay, credit cards, bank accounts and your Web store or FreshBooks. It is also possible to import your existing transactions history. Once you have done this Outright will download your new data each day. An additional feature is that Outright will also organize your information into IRS-approved categories which could decrease your workload and stress when it comes time to do your taxes.
Outright allows you to access your information through an iPhone app. The app lets you stay on top of your business while entering travel expenses and mileage that is related to your business. There is a free version of Outright available, but the plus version costs $9.95 per month and will be better for small businesses. The Plus version has more features than the free version.
Honourable mention to VATGlobal here who provide a solution like the ones above that will make it a lot easier to deal with ecommerce VAT and sales taxes.
When using Xero you will be able to customize reports and templates to fit the needs of your small business. You will also be able to share access to the latest numbers and look at cash flow in real-time. The dashboard offered by the package lets you view your bank balances, bills, expense claims and invoices. There is also an interactive graph that shows the money going in and out of your business as well as monitoring data accounts from the dashboard.
One of the best features that Xero offers is the capability to collaborate online so that a team can work on the financials. It is possible to share the data and collaborate with your bookkeeper and accountant. Xero will also let you invite an unlimited number of people for free, but also allows you to control what each person is able to see.
The invoicing system will let you customize your invoices and connect to customers through online invoicing. There is also an option to create recurring invoices and to schedule the bill payments. All payments will be tracked automatically.
Xero starts at $19 per month for the basic package. There are Android, Apple and Blackberry apps for the software. There are third-party add-ons which can increase the functionality of Xero.