Pick the Best Accounting Software for Small Business

This is a guest post from Sara Collins over at NerdWallet.

As a small business owner, you know how incredibly frustrating it can be to keep track of records and finances accurately. By this point, keeping huge binders filled with indexed files and spreadsheets is an almost archaic practice; if you’re still operating this way, ask yourself “why?”. Doesn’t your small business deserve the same top-of-the-line software used by almost every mid-large scale business for financial planning and budgeting? You work hard enough to run your business – let these programs take at least a little of the weight off your shoulders.

I’ve taken a look at two of the best accounting software programs for small business which should just about cover your every need. These options are super intuitive and all about usability, so even if your expertise lies with event organization or food prep, you can still be your own accountant. If this English major can get a basic grasp on bookkeeping, so can you.

quickbooks1.) QuickBooks by Intuit
QuickBooks can easily organize your records, freeing up your time for other tasks. It consists of a double-entry accounting system, which means that it follows standard bookkeeping rules. You don’t have to worry about that because the program takes care of the debits and credits in the background. The 2013 version also allows users to create and share report templates. Reports can be sorted by industry type, user rating and/or popularity. QuickBooks is designed to be simple to use regardless of how clueless you may be when it comes to accounting. There’s even an online troubleshooting database and a community forums section, featuring many accounting professionals who can provide assistance for those of us who still aren’t quite sure what we’re doing. The site will even help you get in touch with a local expert if one exists near your location.

Information about your customers, vendors and employees is stored in the form of individual records. When you begin entering financial data on forms like invoices and purchase orders, these records will be used to automatically populate fields on your transaction forms. Record and transaction information will also be used to create the reports you’ll need to run. QuickBooks contains dozens of ready-made templates (again, catering to us newbies) and allows you to customize your output and/or export it into Excel. Because of the close integration throughout the system, you should be able to avoid duplicate data entry. QuickBooks is generic enough that it can be a good fit for a wide variety of business types and sizes. A Premier version of QuickBooks is available in several different industry versions, including Contractor, Manufacturing & Wholesale, and Retail.

sage502.) Sage 50 Complete
This accounting software is cleverly designed to anticipate the needs of small-business owners, from billing clients to tracking down inventory. Sage 50 Complete is specifically designed for small businesses and includes all the modules you need to run every aspect of your business, including accounting, billing, customer and vendor management, payroll processing, banking and inventory management. Providing everything you require and yet simple enough for non-accountants to master, Sage 50 Complete are one of the best leading industries accounting software on the market. It’s compatible with other products, and Sage software is scalable up to 40 users or 499 employees. Data entry screens in Sage 50 are easily navigated, and contain excellent look up options as well as tabs for related tasks. This software can do everything from printing pick lists to generating income statement reports.

This accounting system can generate more than 140 reports and includes the option to filter and track custom data fields. This small business software produces professional-looking invoices, prints checks and manages direct deposits. Sage 50 offers an excellent selection of third party applications that easily integrate with its core financial products. It has a powerful inventory manager that can handle a wide range of inventory data, including location, preferred vendor, substitutions, and assemblies. The payroll and employee module is also impressive. Sage offers excellent scalability in its products, where users can scale up from the Premium version up to the Quantum version, which can handle up to 40 system users. It can manage all employee details such as emergency contacts, accrued vacation time, commissions and overtime. Sage 50 is, as the name implies, complete.
If you’re looking for a new way to manage your business’s finances, don’t be intimidated by the software programs that can help you do it. All of their intricate capabilities are only designed to make your life easier. Making the decision to get started will be the toughest part – do your business a favor by checking out these programs today.

Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping consumers find the best interest rates.