A Quick Guide to Small Business Accounting Software - Page 2

By Pam Baker
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Specialized Small Business Accounting Needs

Your company may have accounting needs that go beyond the capabilities of standard accounting software. For example, some industries must adhere to specific compliance regulations. Companies that sell or do business overseas may also require multiple-currency accounting.

"You may need accounting software that works on a variety of devices and that focuses on the international client," said Jeff Eichel, CEO of FeaturedCustomers, a website that provides a list of accounting software with customer reviews. "It accepts and makes it easy to juggle exchange rates and different sales taxes, plus it's ready for new monetary systems like Bitcoin and cryptocurrency."

Your business might also benefit from tax automation capability, so look for that feature. Several accounting software packages offer it, but you may need additional help if you're an etailer. If so, take a look at Avalara, which also provides connectors to most leading accounting software.

small business accounting software

Familiar SMB Accounting Software Offer New Features

It's easy to think you know all about the accounting software capabilities of the brand you already use. And you might assume that you need to change brands to get something better. However, accounting software capabilities grow across the board at a rapid pace. If you're using an older version, you may be surprised by what newer versions can now do for you.

"Years ago it was a forgone conclusion that your company would eventually outgrow QuickBooks, and when that happened you would be pricing servers and hiring staff to support your investment," said David Valade, vice president of operations for Alta Vista Technology, a reseller of Microsoft Dynamics GP and Intacct.

"That's still a viable option, but I've seen consumers value having a cloud-based subscription service or a hosted offering over traditional, on-premises small business accounting software," said Valade. "For many people, not having to worry about backups and hardware matters almost as much as the features."

Circling back to Quickbooks, a perennial small-business favorite, it keeps growing. You can look at the full list of product innovations, but a few highlights include:

  • More automation across features that range from recurring invoices and bill payments, reconciling and categorizing expenses, to the syncing of data across bank and credit card transactions
  • Integrations with more than 150 third-party apps, the most recent additions being PayPal and Shopify
  • A collection of apps ranging from Google Docs and Sheets to a Windows App
  • A new POS system for restaurants (powered by Revel) that automatically syncs sales, payments, inventory, CRM, and payroll data to QuickBooks Online

Yes, QuickBooks offers a ton of useful and important upgrades. Probably a good bit more than most people expected, but the old favorite still faces stiff competition.

Experts Rank Small Business Accounting Software

"Xero is a rising star that now goes head-to-head with QuickBooks Online and even edges ahead in some areas," says Katherine Miller, accounting specialist at MerchantMaverick, a website that provides merchant account reviews on accounting and other merchant software, including POS and mobile payments software.

Miller calls Xero "one of the best options available for small businesses for ease-of-use, scalability, feature selection, and competitive pricing. Recent developments include improvements to the reporting system and the rollout of payroll for the US that currently supports 20 states."

Zoho Books, Wave—free, cloud-based accounting software—and FreshBooks round out the top five small business accounting programs on her list.

But the top lineup of accounting software varies according to who you ask.

"We definitely recommend QuickBooks online," says Mariah Tompkins, director at UK-based WKM Accountancy Services . "Xero offers different packages, but its cheapest package is very limited, and it also restricts the number of invoices you can create a month." Her other top small business software choices include Sage and Wave.

Indeed, asking your accountant what small business accounting software they prefer is a good place to start your research, for more reasons than one. "As a small business you may have to outsource services, your accounting software has to make it easy for your accountant and tax representatives to access it all," says FeaturedCustomers’ Jeff Eichel.

Now you're armed and ready to choose the small business accounting software that's right for you. Just don’t put it off for another year.

Pam Baker has written for numerous leading publications including, Institutional Investor magazine, CIO.com, NetworkWorld, ComputerWorld, IT World, Linux World, Internet News, E-Commerce Times, LinuxInsider, CIO Today Magazine, NPTech News (nonprofits), MedTech Journal, I Six Sigma magazine, Computer Sweden, the NY Times, and Knight-Ridder/McClatchy newspapers.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on April 08, 2016
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