Five Accounting Tools for Small Businesses
If you’re planning to handle the bookkeeping and accounting for your small business by yourself, you shouldn’t try it empty-handed. There are no prizes for doing all of your bookkeeping with pencil and paper (unless you see financial chaos as a prize). But you don’t have to rely on complicated, expensive, professional-level software to keep your bills, payments, and invoices in line.
Here are five easy-to-find, easy-to-use tools that can simplify accounting for small business owners who don’t happen to have an accounting degree.
Freshbooks is a flexible, mobile-friendly accounting program for service-based small businesses.
The price: After a 30-day free trial, plans range from $15 to $50 a month.
The good parts: Freshbooks is user-friendly and understandable for non-accounting types. Also, the system is personalizable, so users can add their own logo and colors and create custom invoices.
The less-good parts: Platforms like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon aren’t directly integrated into Freshbooks, so those accounting tasks will require some additional work.
Mile IQ helps you track business mileage, intuitively knowing when you’re traveling (how? Magic, probably) and allowing you to categorize mileage and record it for tax purposes.
The price: The Limited plan, up to 40 trips a month, is free; a more robust plan is available for $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
The good parts: Tracking and logging business mileage is a pain, and Mile IQ relieves the pain.
The less-good parts: If you’re already happy with your current tracking system, there’s no reason to shell out for something else.
QuickBooks is a full-service accounting solution that helps you track expenses, prepare taxes, accept online payments, send invoices, manage payroll, and run reports.
The price: After a 30-day free trial, plans range from $10 to $40 a month, with a discounted rate for the first six months. (Payroll functions are extra.)
The good parts: QuickBooks integrates smoothly with other popular financial apps and services like Square and PayPal, removing a lot of complicated steps and opportunities for error.
The less-good parts: The program assumes a certain amount of accounting knowledge that might be a little confusing to some small business owners.
Cloud-based accounting system Xero bills itself as “beautiful accounting software” and “the online accounting software alternative to QuickBooks.” So if beauty in your accounting software is a priority for you, Xero may be a satisfying option.
The price: After a 30-day free trial, plans range widely from $9 to $70 a month, with a discounted rate for the first six months.
The good parts: If you spend a lot of time on the road, Xero’s app lets you access all of its functions wherever you are. It also accommodates unlimited users without an additional charge.
The less-good parts: The small Starter Plan starts out really small—just five invoices, five bills, and 20 bank transactions a month. So anyone above the smallest of small businesses might find themselves in need of a more robust plan.
Those smallest-of-small businesses might also gravitate to Sage One, designed to suit the needs of the one-person businessperson*. It offers accounting functions including invoices, online payments, reports, time tracking, and expenses, as well as some project management features.
The price: Sage One’s basic mobile app, which only lets you record income and expenses, is free. After a 30-day free trial, prices range from $16 to $33 a month.
The good parts: Sage One’s intuitive interface and overall simplicity make it extremely easy to use. And its mobile-friendliness puts all of its features and functions at your fingertips, wherever you are.
The less-good parts: For all of the functions Sage One offers, some remain mysteriously absent—recurring invoices, for instance, and the ability to export some information, like customer and vendor lists.
*Sage One’s big sister, Sage 300, accommodates larger small businesses with financial, collaboration, and operations management features.