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What is the Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses?

Posted by Stephen King
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Accounting Software Comparison for Small BusinessesWhen it comes to your business, your bottom line is the driving force for the products, services, and decisions that carry your brand.

While this is obvious to any business leader, some elemental attributes of accounting simply aren't as cut and dry. For starters, your company's accounting system is the foundation of your payables and receivables. But, is it really doing all it can and should be doing for your business?

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As imperative as it may be, many executives just don't realize that all accounting solutions are not created equal. This miscalculation of today's technologies can leave a lot to be desired when it's time to review your facts and figures.

To dispel one-size-fits-all accounting software myths, we've created this comparison:

Intuit QuickBooks

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Intuit is one of the founding fathers of SMB accounting software with their flagship QuickBooks. For many people who aren't accounting professionals by trade, QuickBooks is the first brand that comes to mind when they think of accounting software solutions.

Does it really live up to its name in terms of functionality and reliability? Yes! In fact, the QuickBooks name truly does stand up to its reputation and brand awareness.

Intuit QuickBooks Screen Capture

Key Benefit: Customization & Data Integration

QuickBooks is a highly-customizable software, which is able to integrate a multitude of other programs and applications that businesses utilize for their day-to-day functions.

By optimizing the integration capabilities of QuickBooks, SMBs can house all of their important data in a single, accessible, and user-friendly space. The wide range of basic and advanced features makes QuickBooks great for small and medium-sized businesses in almost any industry.

QuickBooks' customization capabilities allow users to import and export data from various applications they use to track other business functions. Integration equals automation.

Because QuickBooks is able to communicate with multiple systems, there is less chance for human error in terms of data entry, and users don't need to waste time entering the same data into multiple platforms.

QuickBooks is the market leader, with a self-proclaimed 88% market share, because they have positioned themselves as an “eco-system” not just a general ledger. That is a big differentiator from the other accounting packages.

The QuickBooks Online (QBO) version has come a long way in the past 18 months, but it does not have the same functionality as the desktop (QBD) version. However, this eco-system strategy and architecture means, in some cases, QBO can do more than QBD.

Various departments' data feeds into a single QuickBooks platform, which then houses information such as:

QuickBooks Smart Back Office Wheel Chart

  • Time tracking (HR)
  • Inventory management
  • Payroll
  • Billing collections & cash flow
  • Bill payment
  • Expense management
  • Ease of Use

With QuickBooks, everything is accessible by way of a main, easy-to-use dashboard. The interface is intuitive and offers a snapshot of various important information such as income, overdue invoices, and profits/losses. However, ease of use means its easy to screw up.

You can close prior periods using a closing date, but you can go back and enter data in those closed periods if you know the closing password. But all prior period transactions are captured on a separate report, so auditing the books is really easy.

The Accountant’s edition has a lot of functionality the other versions don’t have, including data clean-up modules that catch common errors made by bookkeepers. Generally speaking, if you know what you are doing, this is the version you want to buy because it includes all the functionality of the other editions (Non-Profit, Retail, Professional, Manufacturers, etc.)

However, that increases complexity so don’t’ buy the accountants edition unless you know what you are doing.

Efficient Bill Payment

Bill payments and reconciliation processes are significantly more efficient with QuickBooks integration features. Invoices are received into a dedicated electronic inbox where the system then enters, codes, and routes the invoices for payment approval.

From there, the bills are paid online, reducing paperwork and streamlining an otherwise inefficient process that could easily let unpaid bills slip through the cracks.

User Satisfaction

According to FinancesOnline.com, QuickBooks receives a 96% user satisfaction rating, which is based on customer reviews from across the web. The company gives the software a rating of 9.4 out of 10.

Xero

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Xero has found its way to the accounting software world partly in response to Mac users' difficulty finding products that were compatible with their operating system. Today, Xero is a widely-used accounting software that is known to offer a good bang for the business buck.

Xero hit the market and immediately grabbed market share. Their biggest claim to fame may be that they were the reason QuickBooks Online (QBO) doesn’t suck anymore. Intuit was forced to re-write QBO from the ground up because Xero was the first really good online accounting system and it gave Intuit a run for its money.

Zero Screen Capture

Key Benefit: Great for Mac Users

Xero made its name in the Mac world, but it's also available for PC users. This software has features that specifically benefit business leaders who work on Macs, offering integration with hundreds of applications that businesses use every day.

Xero plays nice with QuickBooks, too, so if you've hired an outside accounting firm that uses QuickBooks, you can easily export your Xero data into a QuickBooks-compatible format.

Automation

Like QuickBooks, Xero allows for easy integration of multiple business functions' data, helping to automate reporting, reconciliation, payments, and other standard processes. Automated reporting allows for increased efficiency.

Customer Service

Xero offers 24/7 customer service, which is great for small business owners who, naturally, don't work a standard 8 to 5 schedule. Besides the convenience of anytime availability, Xero's customer service is renowned for being friendly, prompt, and flexible based on its customers' needs.

Users can call, chat, or email when they need help, and the company offers users the ability to schedule times that work best for them to avoid inconvenient waiting times. 

Wave

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For small businesses that don't need a lot of bells and whistles, Wave weighs in pretty well. This accounting software is good for very small businesses that have fewer than 10 employees, as the functionality is fairly limited and won't provide the in-depth detail and analysis big or growing businesses need.

That said, it's a great option for freelancers, consultants, self-employed individuals, or companies with only a handful of staff members because it does provide the essential functions necessary for accurate accounting and reporting.

Wave Apps Key Benefit: Free of Charge

For obvious reasons, the biggest benefit of any free item will be its cost. Wave is a free accounting software, which was created to make accounting functions easier for small businesses where the owners are already tasked with tons of responsibilities.

Bear in mind, however, that because this software is free, it doesn't have the advanced options or ability to integrate other applications that pay services offer users.

Easy-to-Use Interface

Wave allows users to customize their dashboards so regularly-needed information is readily accessible. The software can store company contact information, which can then be easily placed on invoices, payments, and other correspondences.

Syncing Features

Wave enhances efficiency by syncing with external accounts, easing reconciliation and tracking. It can securely connect to bank accounts, credit cards, PayPal, and other financial institutions' sites, eliminating the need to manually populate fields business leaders will need for proper reporting. 

Intacct

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Business owners who love to delve into reports and are strictly devoted to the financial aspects of the company may do well with Intacct.

Intacct Dashboard

Key Benefit: Cloud Computing

For busy on-the-go business leaders who need access to their information anytime, anywhere, Intacct's cloud-based accounting software is great in terms of accessibility.

Real-Time Reporting

Intacct is focused on providing comprehensive, real-time financial reporting. The reports allow for big-picture review and analysis of companies' monetary situations. Intacct is an advanced software that offers an unconventional Chart of Accounts, using what the company calls "multidimensional" charts.

Using this feature, users can easily add labels to define their various data segments, rather than relying on account numbers. Because of this, reporting is much easier for users who aren't necessarily familiar with accounting specifics to understand.

Mobile Accessibility

Because Intacct is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product, it's easily accessible from any web browser. This also means users can access necessary information when they're on the go, even if they're simply using their phones. Navigation is simple, but users who need to obtain more than just the information available on the dashboard will likely find it best to use a device that's equipped with a keyboard.

GrowthForce Extends the QuickBooks Platform
At GrowthForce, we implement advanced QuickBooks - centric accounting systems providing our clients with timely, customized financial intelligence that drives performance and profitability through data-driven decisions. By integrating additional apps and tools we extend QuickBook's functionality and lifecycle to provide a robust accounting platform without the cost of mid-market ERP software packages.

Interested in learning how GrowthForce can enhance your business?

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